Pádraig Mhícheál Airt Ó Domhnaill or Patrick O'Donnell, (born 1835, Gweedore, County Donegal, died 17 December 1883, London) was responsible for killing James Carey, leader of the group that carried out the Phoenix Park Murders in Dublin, Ireland.
The hunt for the perpetrators was led by Police Superintendent John Mallon. James Carey, a town councilman in Dublin, was arrested but he struck a deal and turned Queen's evidence, agreeing to testify against his co-accused. Five men were hanged at Kilmainham Jail for the killings between May and June 1883 because of his testimony. They were: Joe Brady, Daniel Curley, Tim Kelly (19 years of age), Thomas Caffrey and Michael Fagan. In exchange for betraying his former comrades, Carey was given safe passage to South Africa.
Under the assumed name "Power", Carey travelled on the steamer Kinfauns Castle, with his wife and seven children, and then on the Melrose for the second part of the voyage. O'Donnell, who had come from the USA via Donegal and London, travelled on the same ships, in company with a young Donegal woman who purported to be his wife (in fact he was still married to another woman). Carey kept up his assumed identity for most of the voyage, but later he let his guard drop, provoking a row in Cape Town and displaying his revolver. A barman there became aware of Carey's real identity, and informed O'Donnell.
The two men had been drinking together in the second class cabin aboard the Melrose before the shots were fired, somewhere between Table Bay and Algoa Bay. O'Donnell shot Carey in the neck and twice more in the back as he staggered away.
After the death sentence was passed and the Judge refused to let him speak O'Donnell shouted "Three cheers for old Ireland! Hurrah for the United States! To hell with the British Crown!"
A plaque commemorating O'Donnell's execution stands at his birthplace in Mín an Chladaigh, Gweedore. A huge crowd assembled in Gweedore, on 22 January 1884, to celebrate a mass for the repose of his soul. There followed a mock funeral and an empty coffin was placed in the O'Donnell family burial plot, his followers kneeling in prayer around the grave. Wreaths of immortelles were placed on the coffin which bore the inscription Sacred to the memory of Patrick O'Donnell, executed at London 17th of December, 1883.
A monument was erected in Derrybeg, Gweedore, in the year following his execution. Its inauguration attended by villagers and family alike. The local priest at the time expressed his disapproval of a monument commemorating a man who committed murder. It stands tall, between the former town hall and a pub to commemorate the sacrifice of a local hero. The enscription on the cross reads as follows, I ndíl chuimhe ar Pádraig Ó Domhnaill as paróiste Gaoth Dobhair a cuireadh chun báis i bpríosún Newgate i Londain ar an 17 Nollaig 1883 de thairbhe a ard dílseacht d'Éirinn, which translates as In memory of Patrick O'Donnell from the parish of Gweedore who was sent to death in prison in Newgate in London on the 17 December 1883 because of his loyalty to Ireland.
A memorial in his honour was erected by a Ladies committee from New York and the newspaper Irish World at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. It reads "In Memory of Patrick O'Donnell. who heroically gave up his life for Ireland in London, England 17th December 1883. Not tears but prayers for the dead who died for Ireland". His remains have been located by the National Graves Association and a plaque was placed on the site.
Several pleas were made for his life by Victor Hugo and by other important personalities abroad, notably in the United States. The US Library of Congress archives has a poster depicting a highly patriotic tribute to Patrick O'Donnell along with a popular song written in his honour. Many Irish republicans in County Donegal and abroad would have sung it for their latest martyr.
While they pinioned his arms, he smiled on the slave,
Cursed be the Saxon! how could they deny,
But O'Donnell has gone! he has died for our cause!