Provides access to important unpublished documents concerning major events in Irish history. Texts are faithfully edited to high standards by leading specialists. Each narrative is presented in context with a full introduction and notes.
Andrew Bryson was the son of a Presbyterian leaseholder and prominent United Irishman in Co. Down. Though rapidly promoted to 'colonel', he does not seem to have participated in the county's few skirmishes during the rising of 1798. After a few months in hiding, he was punished not by execution or transportation, but by compulsory enlistment in the regular army. In a long and reflective letter to his sister, written in 1801 after his escape to New York, Bryson provided a vivid chronicle of his enforced travels through Ireland and beyond. The chaotic state of the Irish jails, and the casual cruelty often displayed by jailers and yeomanry, is described in sometimes painful detail. Sustained by his idealism and native wit, Bryson survived the long march from Belfast to Waterford and the even more rigorous voyage to Martinique. The letter ends with an absorbing account of sadism, sickness and the Irish expatriate solidarity in that exotic Caribbean setting.
The editor reconstructs the fraternal and intellectual bonds which supported Ulster's United Irishmen, even after their dispersal across the globe. The publication of this forgotten manuscript is a major contribution to the bicentennial commemoration of Ireland's bloodiest rebellion.