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A Centuries Old Connection Between the US and Ireland Meets in Modern Belfast

Sean Napier Center and a very special guest with the walking stick

“Do we have any Americans here?”. Sometimes a straightforward question gets a surprising response? This happened over the weekend in Belfast……

The Father of Irish Republicanism and leader of the 1798 Rebellion, Theobald Wolfe Tone, was once exiled in the US.

While his attempts to enlist the support of revolutionary America were not successful, it was in the US that he made contact with the French which led to their support for a Rising.

The United Irishmen were formed in Belfast, a hotbed for radicalism and democracy inspired by the Republican movements in the US and France.

Belfast Historian, Séan Napier, and Colm Dore, this summer set up a highly successful walking tour of Belfast city center based on the history and meeting places of the United Irishmen.

Mr. Napier told the Irish News, "Every week on the tour outside the Assembly Rooms, we ask if there are any Americans present because at one point we discuss the non-too-complimentary words of Theobald Wolfe Tone, who characterized the USA, alongside the British, as being 'money grabbers',"

One of the US visitors on the trip stepped forward and explained the context of Wolfe Tone’s opinions. But who was this well-informed American? He was Bill Tone, a Florida man, in his eighties and a direct descendant of Thomas Tone, Theobald Wolfe Tone's uncle.

Mr. Napier said the revelation was, “awesome but rather surreal".

"There we were in Crown Entry, walking in the very footsteps of these great historic figures in the presence of one of Wolf Tone's uncle's descendants. It was a wonderful connection with the past to the modern-day," he said.

Bill Tone and his extended family have been visiting and researching the history of his family when they decided to join the tour.

A connection spanning centuries met in the heart of Belfast.

For more information on the tour check out Belfast #1798 UnitedIrishmen Walking Tour Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite

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