Henry James O’Farrell attempted to assassinate Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, during his visit to Australia in 1868. O’Farrell was born in Dublin, but his family migrated to Australia when he was a child. In 1867 he suffered a mental breakdown, probably influenced by alcoholism. The next year the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria’s second son, made a goodwill tour of the colonies. On 12 March O’Farrell took a pistol to a picnic put on for the duke at Clontarf, in Sydney, and fired at him, wounding him in the back. At first O’Farrell claimed he was part of a Melbourne Fenian (Irish nationalist) conspiracy. He later admitted he had acted on his own after dwelling on 'the wrongs of Ireland.' He was tried, found guilty and hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol on 21 April 1868. The duke attempted to spare O’Farrell’s life on the grounds that he was not in his right mind. In both Australia and New Zealand, O’Farrell's action heightened tensions between Catholics and Protestants.
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State Library of New South Wales
Photograph by Montagu Scott
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