Tuesday, 12 March 2013 23:51

Charles Joseph Kickham (Tipperary): Irish Heritage Hall of Fame Inductee

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Charles Joseph Kickham - Fenian & Author Charles Joseph Kickham - Fenian & Author

Famous Son Of Ireland:  Author/Poet Category:


Charles Joseph Kickham:

Noted Poet and Irish Fenian


A multi talented son of Co. Tipperary, from the valley of Mulliahone, Charles Joseph Kickham was the son of a prominent local draper and from a very early age he had strong inklings of literature and he stated that his lifes ambition was to prosper as a poet and novelist.


The historic failed 1848 Ballingary, Co. Tipperary, ambush was led by William Smith O’Brien and Charles Kickham and they were supported by rebel colleague and chief volunteer, John O’Mahony. Kickham escaped capture but was forced into hiding with a price on his head. Despite the necessity to lie low, he continued to be active in the fight for freedom.


He was the main associate of the Mullinahone Confederate Club at the time and also a prominent voice of the Tenant Rights League but when both organisations folded, Charles Kickham then decided the time had come to be more forceful.

He joined the Fenian Movement and became a prominent leader and directed all Irish operations in the company of colleagues Thomas Clarke Luby and the brave and noble, John O’Leary.


Finally and inevitably, the invaders of Ireland for almost eight hundred years, captured the Mullinahone Fenian in 1865.

Charles Kickham was then sent for a spurious trial and handed down a 14 years penal servitude sentence. The harsh prison sentence that awaited him was further complicated with his failing health at just thirty seven years of age.

From the age of fourteen Charles had been afflicted with partial deafness resulting from an accident and also major sight difficulties. When the presiding judge passed down his sentence he was unable to hear the words and the cruel sentence was conveyed to him by an ear trumpet.



In prison the warders did not spare the anguish of Kickham and his jailers ensured that he received no special concessions for his health. Meantime various Irish amnesty associations took Kickham’s plight to foreign governments in the hope that pleas to the British authorities might get a hearing.


After four years of incarceration and many pleas later, in 1869, Charles Joseph Kickham was granted his release on medical grounds but not before his health had succumbed to the rigours of his penal servitude sentence. On his discharge he undertook to refrain from all political activities but he had the power of the written word to damn many atrocities on innocent Irish citizens. He also sought to strive for a free and united Ireland.


He now immersed himself in his literary works and was commissioned after his release as Chairman of The Irish Republican Brotherhood. Kickham was very closely associated with leading Fenians, John O’Leary and James Stephens and became a great administrator and orator for the organisation.


A collection of literary works that flowed through Kicham’s pen are Knocknagow; The Homes Of Tipperary; Sally Cavanagh;

The Untenanted Graves; For The Old Land; Harvest Moon; Rory of The Hill; The Irish Peasant Girl;Home Longings which was also known as Slievenamon.


His association with newspapers included The Nation; The Celt; The Irishman; Irish People, the official appendage of the Fenian Brotherhood.


On the 22 nd August 1882, Charles Joseph Kickham of Mullinahone died at Blackrock, Co. Dublin at just fifty four years of age and he was interned in his native homeland of Mullinahone, Co. Tipperary.

Last modified on Wednesday, 23 September 2020 10:15