James Carey

Criticism

Life
1845-1883; town councillor and building-contractor as well as Fenian and, ultimately, an informer; leader of the Invincibles whose Queen’s evidence in the wake of the Phoenix Park murders of 6 May 1882, elicted by Superintendent John Mallon (DMP) ) led to execution of five others - viz., Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Daniel Curley, and Tim Kelly; Carey was subsequently assassinated by one Patrick O’Donnell, a bricklayer, on board the Melrose Castle out of Capetown, where he had travelled with his family to begin a new life; O’Donnell was hanged at Newgate in turn . ODNB DIB DIH

[ top ]

Criticism
See Tom Corfe, The Phoenix Park Murders: Conflict, Compromise and Tragedy in Ireland, 1879-1882 (1968), and Senan Molony, The Phoenix Park Murders: Conspiracy, Betrayal and Retribution (Mercier 2006).

See also under John Mallon [q.v.], the police inspector investigating the Phoenix Park Murders.

[ top ]

References
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, notes that Charles Stewart Parnell alluded to Carey as ‘that remarkable informer whose proceedings we have lately heard of’ in a damaging comparison to William Edward Forster (Chief Secretary, 1880-82) in a Commons speech of 23 Feb. 1883; Carey was assassinated between Cape Town and Natal [306-07n.].

[ top ]

Notes
Betrayal & execution: The evidence of James Carey and Michael Kavanagh resulted in the conviction of Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Daniel Curley, and Tim Kelly, who were sentenced to death by hanging while numerous others were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. The hangings were conducted by William Marwood in Kilmainham Gaol between 14 May and 4 June 1883. Marwood was the first exponent of the ‘long drop’ method of hanging which resulted in a broken neck and unconsciousness prior to death by asphyxiation. (See Wikipedia pages on Phoenix Park Murders and Marwood.)

Lit. allusions: Carey is the narrating persona in Samuel Ferguson’s dramatic poem“At the Polo Ground”, printed in Lady Ferguson’s Sir Samuel Ferguson and the Ireland of his Day (1896). There is a more famous allusion to him in the “Eumaeus” chap. of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922).

[ top ]