Capt Mackey

William Francis Lomasney

Extract from: ‘The Fenian Chief’ by Desmond Ryan (Page 352)

Transcribed by Stephen Lomasney


William Mackey Lomasney (1841-1884). B. Cincinnati, Ohio, of Irish parents. Father a Fenian, Lomasney returned to Ireland to take part in the expected Rising of 1865. Arrested in Cork and permitted to leave the country together with John McCafferty. Returned, 1867, and took a leading part in the capture of Ballyknockane Constabulary barracks. When the insurgents were pressing the police to surrender, Father Neville arrived and asked Lomasney to guarantee the safety of the police if they surrendered. He replied "Here is my revolver, let the contents of it be put through me if one of them be injured." After the collapse of the Rising, Lomasney became famous for his raids for arms on Cork gunshops and coastguard stations, with which he plagued the British authorities for nearly twelve months after. On 7 February 1868, he was captured in Cork, acquitted on a murder charge and sentenced to twelve year’s penal servitude for treason felony. Released under the amnesty of 1871, returned to the U.S., settled in Detroit as a proprietor of book and stationary store. Active Clan na Gael worker in the American Land League. Made several visits to Ireland in a simple but complete disguise achieved by shaving off his beard. Took up dynamite activism. It was apparently on his third dynamite mission that he attempted to blow up London Bridge by boat with two others. All three were blown to fragments in the explosion. No bodies were ever found.

Article in the “Irish Independent", Wednesday, 10 October 1956.

Transcribed by Stephen Lomasney

William Mackay Lomasney, then aged three, arrived in Detroit from County Cork in 1844. After service in the northern army in the Civil War, he came to Ireland, where he led an attack on Ballyknockane R.I.C. Barracks in Co. Cork. One of those serving under him in this attack, James Francis Xavier O’Brien, later became a member of the House of Commons and at the time of his death in 1905 was both a Member of Parliament and General Secretary of the United Irish League.

After other adventures Lomasney was sentenced to death in 1868 by Judge O’Hagan, a young Irelander. Lomasney told this Judge that it ill became a man who had advocated insurrection in ‘48 to rebuke a man who followed his preaching .......

Lomasney was reprieved - he was an American - and on his release in 1871, returned to Detroit where he set up a book shop and Catholic repository at 96 Michigan Avenue. Devoy and he had been fellow prisoners in Millbank gaol. Lomasney was small and full of energy. He attended a secret Clan na Gael meeting in Chicago in 1881 where he strongly opposed Alexander Sullivan, so much so that he threatened on e of Sullivan’s supporters with a revolver.

On December 13, 1884, Lomasney with his brother and John Fleming, rowed under London Bridge to blow it up but instead blew himself, his companions and the boat to bits. Lomasney left a widow, four children and an aged father. The Clan allowed a pension to Mrs Lomasney. At the trial of Sullivans it was alleged that he, the custodian of the Clan pension fund, had neglected to pay her so that the family had been in want.

©John Lomasney 2015