John Blake Dillon (1816 - September 15, 1866) was an Irish writer and Politician who was one of the founding members of the Young Ireland movement.
John Blake Dillon was born in the town of Ballaghadereen, on the border of Co. Mayo and Co. Roscommon. He was educated at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth and Trinty College, Dublin before being called to the Irish Bar in 1841. It was during his time at T.C.D. that he first met and befriended Thomas Davis.
While working for The Morning Register newspaper he met Charles Gavan Duffy, with whome he and Davis founded The Nation in 1842. The Nation was dedicated to promoting Irish Nationalism and all three men became important members of Daniel O'Connell's Repeal Association, which advocated the repeal of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland.
The young wing of the party, of which they were key members with William Smith O'Brien and Thomas Francis Meagher, came to be known as Young Ireland and advocated the threat of force to achieve Repeal. This was in contrast to the committed pacifism of O'Connell's "Old Ireland" wing. This posturing eventually led to the farcical Young Ireland rebellion of 1848 where a countryside devestated by the Irish Potato Famine failed to rise up and support the rebels. Even though Dillon was opposed to the rebellion he was arrested as a Young Ireland leader, convicted of High Treason and sentenced to death. Popular opinion, however, forced Queen Victoria to commute the sentence to transportation for life in Tasmania. Before this could be carried out though, Dillon escaped to France and, eventually, to The United States where he served the New York Bar.
Dillon returned to Ireland on amnesty in 1855 and was elected as a Member of Parliment for Roscommon. By now he advocated a federal union of Britain and Ireland and denounced the violent methods advocated by the Fenian movement.
John Blake Dillon died of Cholera in Killarney and is buried in Glasnevin cemetry, Dublin. He was the father of John Dillon and Grandfather of James Dillon.