It reminds me of the day, 13 years ago, when we met the current President, Mary McAleese, in Wicklow town.
We’d visited the gaol before, when we were researching Nicholas’s story. This is where he spent many bleak months waiting for sentence to be carried out after his trial in December 1799, and many more months after Lord Cornwallis commuted it to transportation on January 17, 1801.
While we were there we met Joan Kavanagh of the Wicklow Heritage Centre. Hugely knowledgeable and helpful, she told us stories of Wicklow in 1798. Biddy Dolan came up, of course, and Joan knew Nicholas Delaney’s name. We swapped stories about Nicholas and she and put us on the trail of other local historians.
Wicklow Gaol was undergoing restoration, ready for the bicentenary of the Irish rebellion, and we were thrilled to get an invitation to its reopening on May 30th 1998.
After the ceremony, we had a quick chat with the President. Sadly there are no photos of this as we were too busy talking. But here are some of a very special day in our hunt for the story of Nicholas and how a landless peasant became a convicted murderer and an Australian pioneer.
Coming soon… more about Sarah Simpson