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John Mitchel with John Martin and Father John Kenyon [the three Johns]
, 1866

by Edouard Gatel

carte de visite photograph (support: 10.0 cm x 7.0 cm, image: 9.0 cm x 6.5 cm)

John Mitchel (centre, 1815–1875), Irish nationalist, publisher and journalist, studied for the church at Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in 1834. Within a decade he was involved in independence leader Daniel O’Connell’s Repeal Association, which called for the dissolution of the 1801 Act of Union, and was writing for Charles Gavan Duffy’s nationalist periodical The Nation. Increasingly radicalised, Mitchel joined the Young Irelanders and in 1848 started his own paper, The United Irishman, which openly advocated revolution. Consequently, in May 1848, he was tried and found guilty of treason and sentenced to fourteen years’ transportation, arriving in Hobart in April 1850. In Tasmania he resided with fellow Young Irelanders leader and childhood friend John Martin (left, 1812–1875), who’d been transported for treason in 1849. In 1853, Mitchel escaped by disguising himself as a priest and sneaking aboard a ship to Sydney and then making his way to San Francisco. After a period in Paris, Mitchel returned to America to edit the Virginian Enquirer and the New York Daily News, his unashamed Confederate sympathies landing him in jail again in 1865. During the last decade of his life, Mitchel published various texts, including My Jail Journal, or five years in British prisons (1868), an account of his time as a convict. Martin remained in Tasmania until 1854. Pardoned in 1858 he too returned to Ireland and was elected to Parliament in 1871. Martin died in March 1875 having contracted bronchitis while attending Mitchel’s funeral.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2016
Accession number: 2016.16