In a speech delivered at a town meeting in Belfast in 1817 Drennan said, 'that, in the event of a full, free and frequent representation of the people in Parliament for the whole empire he would be reconciled to the Union. He would not unwillingly merge his country in a fair and faithful representation of these realms.' [Northern Whig 3 November 1893]
Even more interesting is the following statement by William Drennan in the Belfast Penny Magazine (31 December 1811) when he wrote, 'Be Britons with all your souls - and forget that your father called himself an Irishman.'
In 1891, the centenary of the founding of the Society of United Irishmen, for which Drennan wrote a prospectus, Irish nationalists and republicans tried to lay claim to Drennan. However they were answered by his son John Swanwick Drennan (1809-1893). The same thing happened in 1897 and this time they were answered by Drennan's grand-daughter, Mrs Maria Duffin, who said of him, 'Dr Drennan was at first opposed to the Union but afterwards modified his view of it.'
I wonder if Jack Duffin included that side of Drennan in his talk, or the fact that most of the United Irishmen in Ulster, both leaders and rank and file, soon became unionists?