Emmet became an heroic figure in Irish history. His speech from the dock is widely quoted and remembered, especially among Irish nationalists. Emmet's housekeeper, Anne Devlin, is also remembered in Irish history for enduring torture without providing information to the authorities.
Robert Emmet wrote a letter from his cell in Kilmainham Jail, Dublin on 8 September 1803. He addressed it to "Miss Sarah Curran, the Priory, Rathfarnham" and handed it to a prison warden, George Dunn, whom he trusted to deliver it. Dunn betrayed him and gave the letter to the government authorities, an action that nearly cost Sarah Curran her life. His attempt to hide near Sarah Curran, which cost him his life, and his parting letter to her made him into a romantic character, which appealed to the Victorian Era's appetite for Romanticism, which prolonged his fame.
His story became the subject of stage melodramas during the 19th century, most notably Dion Boucicault's hugely inaccurate 1884 play Robert Emmet, inaccuracies including Emmet and Sarah being portrayed as Roman Catholics, John Philpot Curran being portrayed as a Unionist, and Emmet being killed onstage by firing squad.
Robert's friend from Trinity College, Thomas Moore, championed his cause by writing hugely popular ballads about him and Sarah Curran, such as
- "Oh breathe not his name! let it sleep in the shade,
- Where cold and unhonoured his relics are laid!"
- "She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps
- And lovers around her are sighing."
Washington Irving, one of America's greatest early writers, devoted "The Broken Heart" in his magnum opus The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon to the romance between Emmet and Sarah Curran, citing it as an example of how a broken heart can be fatal.
Robert Emmet's older brother, Thomas Addis Emmet would emigrate to the United States shortly after Robert's execution and would eventually serve as the New York State Attorney General. His great-grand-nieces are the prominent American portrait painters Lydia Field Emmet, Rosina Sherwood Emmet, Jane Emmet de Glehn and Ellen Emmet Rand. Robert Emmet's great-great nephew was the American playwright Robert Emmet Sherwood.
Places named after Emmet include Emmetsburg, Iowa; Emmet, Nebraska; Emmet County, Iowa; Emmett, Michigan and Emmet County, Michigan. There is a statue of Emmet in front of the California Academy of Sciences, in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
There is a 1915 American film by Irish-Canadian Sidney Olcott entitled All for Old Ireland, also known as Bold Emmett, Ireland's Martyr or Robert Emmet, Ireland's Martyr.
Read more about this topic: Robert Emmet
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