William Orr

Orr, William, a United Irishman, was born in 1766, at Farranshane, in the Parish and County of Antrim, where his father was a farmer and bleach-green proprietor in comfortable circumstances.

William Orr was a member of the Society of United Irishmen, and in 1797 was arraigned, tried, and convicted at Carrickfergus, on the charge of having sworn in a soldier.

Although the only witness against him was proved to have perjured himself, and several members of the jury were drunk when they brought in their verdict, he was condemned to die, and his execution was hurried forward with a view to deter others from joining the organization.

His speech before sentence contained the words:

“I trust that all my virtuous countrymen will bear me in their kind remembrance, and continue true and faithful to each other, as I have been to all of them.”

He was hanged at Carrickfergus on the 14th October 1797, in his thirty-first year, most of the inhabitants leaving town on the day of execution, to show their detestation of the judicial murder.

Orr is described as having been a perfect model of symmetry, strength, and grace—his countenance open, frank, and manly.

“Remember Orr,” became a watchword during the insurrection; and the “Wake of William Orr,” by Drennan, was one of the most popular revolutionary songs.


308. Speeches from the Dock: Alexander M. Sullivan. Dublin, 1868.

331. United Irishmen, their Lives and Times: Robert R. Madden, M.D. 4 vols. London, 1858–’60.