Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa was born in Rosscarbery, County Cork in 1831. In 1858 when James Stephens founded the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood and Rossa was amongst the first to join.

From 1853 to 1865 he was the business manager of the newspaper The Irish People. Rossa was arrested in November 1865 and put on trial for high treason. He was found guilty and sentenced to penal servitude for the term of his natural life. After six years imprisonment, Rossa was released under the understanding that he would leave Ireland. He left for the United States with his friend John Devoy and three other exiles
While in America he edited the United Irishman and published O’Donovan Rossa’s Prison Life: Six Years in English Prisons (1874); it was republished in 1882 as Irish Rebels in English Prisons. Rossa’s Collections: 1838 to 1898 were published in 1898.

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa died in Staten Island, New York on June 29th 1915. His funeral at Glasnevin Cemetery on the 1st August 1915 was stage managed for maximum effect and Padraig Pearse’s oration at the graveside was considered deliberately provocative. It included the lines: "the fools, the fools, the fools! — They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace."