Sunday, 13 November 2011

Fenian Movement and Irish Republican Brotherhood

Fenian Movement and Irish Republican Brotherhood

In America James Stephens and John O’Mahoney found anti-English feelings to be high and led them to believe that a revolt amongst Irish-Americans was a distinct possibility.  This became known as the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret society dedicated to armed revolution.  They published newspapers and kept the Irish in America informed about the situation in Ireland.  The language and editorial style of the paper was anti-English.  Stephens returned to Ireland and met with Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa who had formed The Phoenix National and Literary Society.

Irish Republican Brotherhood

They joined forces and in 1858 became the Irish Republican Brotherhood.  They became known as The Fenians.  The Fenian movement started demonstrations, found financial support and instigated armed insurrections.  They were totally committed to the complete separation of Ireland from England and were ready to use force to achieve this.

They regarded themselves as the revolutionary heirs of Wolfe Tone.  They planned a rising for 1867 but like many before it, lacked impact because many of the leaders were arrested, and a lack of communication therefore ensued.  The remaining leaders postponed the rising but word did not get to Kerry or England who carried on with little success.

The most significant event took place in September 1867, where two Fenian leaders were arrested and sent to Manchester for trial.  The van taking the prisoners to trial was stopped by a group of Fenians who attempted to free the prisoners.  In the attack, when someone was shooting off the lock, a policeman was shot inside the van and the prisoners and rescuers escaped.

A widespread manhunt began many Irish people were arrested, and eventually three of them were tried and sentenced to death.  They were Michael O’Brien, Michael Larkin and William Philip Allen and became known as the Manchester Martyrs.  All three were innocent and their deaths caused anger in Ireland and in the USA, which in turn gave strength to the Fenian Movement.

You should now read about Arthur Griffith.