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Historic Kilkenny
James Stephens

On the 26th of January, 1825, James Stephens, Fenian and founding member of IRB was born. He was born in a house on Blackmill Street near St. Mary's Cathedral. The house where he was born is marked with a plaque outside it today.

Almost nothing is known of his early life, although there is a baptismal record that strongly suggests that he was born out of wedlock and raised by non-birth parents, a source of shame, concealment and perhaps a compulsion to prove his worth.

Stephens was imprisoned, but with the help of Fenian prison warders, John J. Breslin and Daniel Byrne, he was there less than a fortnight in Richmond Bridewell. Already a radical in the Irish Confederation in 1848, Stephens took part in the Young Ireland rising and after escaping prison, he fled to Paris, where he got to see first-hand what revolution had done for France.

Stephens' actions had a profound influence on Ireland's drive for Independence and freedom. He woke up the nation and rallied support throughout the country. He also started a paper, called the 'Irish People' on the 28th of November 1863. James Stephens actions inspired many to stand up against the British when there wasn't many people to look up to. Stephen's IRB was one of the key institutions of nationalism and by far the longest-lived revolutionary secret society of its era.

The military barracks in Kilkenny is named in his honour. A local GAA club is also named after him. He is buried in Glasnevin cemetery surrounded by a number of other notable Irish figures.

James Stephens died on the 29th of March 1901 and his funeral to Glasnevin cemetery took place on the 31st March. His coffin bearers were; James BerminghamMichael Davitt, C. G. Doran, Michael Lambert, William Brophy and William Hickey – all '67 veterans.

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