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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Timothy Deacy, Irish Patriot and Leading Citizen of Lawrence, MA


Timothy Deacy (1839-1880) , Civil War soldier, Irish rebel and politician, died on December 10, 1880 in Lawrence, MA

Deacy emigrated with his family from Clontakilty, County Cork to Massachusetts in 1847 to escape the Irish Famine.  The family settled in Lawrence 35 miles north of Boston, the nation's first planned industrial city where immigrants and Yankees worked long hours in mills and factories.

The Deacy family had long been involved in Irish political insurrections, starting with the United Irishmen Uprising of 1798. In Lawrence, Timothy and his younger brother Cornelius joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood, formed in 1858 as a physical force movement to oust Britain from Ireland.  When the Civil War started, they enlisted in the 9th  Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in 1861.  Both brothers were wounded in May 1864, but continued to fight with their unit.

After the war, Deacy and 300 veterans went to Ireland in 1865 to train Irish soldiers for a planned insurrection. They returned to the States in 1866 and led an unsuccessful Fenian invasion of Canada, hoping to persuade the British Empire to free Ireland.  In January 1867 Deacy returned to England and raided Chester Castle, securing weapons and explosives for the Fenian Uprising in Ireland, which also failed.  Deacy and Civil War veteran Colonel Thomas Kelly were arrested and imprisoned in ManchesterEngland.  In a daring plot to free them, a Manchester police officer was killed.  While Deacy and Kelly escaped, three of the rescuers were captured, tried for murder and hanged in public.  They became known as the Manchester Martyrs.

Deacy returned to Lawrence and turned his energy toward politics.  In 1872 he won a seat on the Lawrence City Council and won re-election in 1874.  In 1876 he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He retired after one term due to failing health and ran a pub in Lawrence with his brother.  In 1880 he helped raise over $1,000 during Charles Stewart Parnell's visit to Lawrence on behalf of the Irish Land League. 

Deacy died on December 10, 1880 and received a massive funeral ceremony, attended by the Ninth Massachusetts Regiment band and an Irish pipe band.  Hundreds marched in the funeral cortege and thousands lined the street to bid their hero goodbye.

In 1990 the Irish National Graves Association designated Deacy's grave a national grave.  

In November 1992, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 8, placed a memorial tombstone on Deacy's grave at St. Mary's Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Lawrence/Andover.   Read more about Timothy Deacy at the AOH page on Lawrence History and from author Robert J. Bateman.  

(Editor's Note: Deacy's name has also been spelled Deasy and Dacey in various media accounts).

- Text Courtesy of Boston Irish Heritage Trail.