According to Richard Hayes’ Biographical Dictionary of Irishmen in France, “an eyewitness of the day’s events describes him as ‘a little feeble old man who exhibited an appearance of childishness and fatuity, tottering as he walked and his countenance exhibiting little more than the smile of an idiot.’” Another witnesses described Whyte as having “a beard almost a yard long”. A sympathetic citizen who gave Whyte shelter for the night had his house pillaged by the Irishman in return. The day after this release, the hero of the Revolution was locked up again—this time in the lunatic asylum in Charenton, where he was to spend the rest of his days. Ironically, before the Revolution Whyte’s family had tried to avoid having him placed in Charenton because of the harshness of the regime there. So much for ‘liberté, fraternité’ etc…But at least in Charenton, he could have hooked up with one of his old acquaintances from the Bastille, the Marquis Sade, who had been shipped to Charenton on July 4, 1789.
Other Irishmen played a role in the events of July 1789 in Paris. One of the two titular chaplains at the Bastille was a certain Thomas MacMahon from Eyrecourt, Co. Galway. Fr. MacMahon, who was 70 years old in 1789, resided close to the Bastille in the rue Saint Antoine (4th arrondissement) and is believed to have said one of the last masses in the prison chapel. Ironically enough, the revolutionaries later granted Fr. MacMahon a pension of 500 livres.
A complice of Kavanagh’s in the storming of the Bastille was one James Bartholomew Blackwell (Ennis, Co. Clare, 1763 (or 1765) - Paris, 1820 (or 1825)), who had studied at the Irish College before joining one of the Irish regiments of the French army. Blackwell was a friend of a number of leading revolutionaries, most notably Camille Desmoulins and Georges Jacques Danton. On July 14, 1789, Blackwell was among revolutionary forces in the Faubourg Saint Antoine section of the city and possibly participated in one of the decisive assaults on the Bastille. In 1800, after a time spent in British imprisonment, Blackwell was back in Paris, staying for a time at the Hôtel de York at 56, rue Jacob (6th arrondissement), where, 17 years earlier, the British had signed a peace treaty ending the American War of Independence and recognising the American republic. In 1804, Blackwell was appointed colonel in Napoleon's ephemeral Irish Legion. During the Restoration, Blackwell was appointed lieutenant du roi at La Petite Pierre, a fortified castle near Saverne in Alsace. He died in Paris (one of his addresses was 25, rue Babylone in the 7th arrondissement) and he was buried in Père Lachaise. All trace of his sepulchre disappeared in 1992 when the authorities decided to recoup his burial plot, which had been left in a state of abandon.
Finally, one of the heads of the newly formed National Guard on July 14, 1789 was Count Robert O’Shee (Cloneen, Co. Tipperary, 1736-Paris, 1806), who was to become a benefactor of the family of Wolfe Tone a few years later.
Biographical Dictionary of Irishmen in France (1949)
Ireland and Irishmen in the French Revolution (1932)
The Green Cockade, the Irish in the French Revolution, 1789-1815 (1989)