Random Ramblings from a Republican
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Aftermath of failed Fenian Rising

In the view of a military strategist, the 1867 Rising was a complete failure. But it planted in the minds of young men and women unshakeable thoughts of nationalism. It would be another 60 years before the Irishmen strove to free themselves once again from the British grasp with armed rising. The following decades are filled with Parliamentary action and "Home Rule" bills which lead nowhere.

The Fenian's bid for Irish freedom reincarnated the ideals of Wolfe Tone and Emmet and set armed rising as the normal means for its striving. It showed the world the spirit for freedom within the common Irish person was so large that it would never be completely extinguished. It re-iterated the fact that the Act of Union was a complete and utter failure in Ireland.

Marx and Engels' writings became to take hold with the working classes of Ireland. The founding of the International Working Men's Association in 1864 and the National Reform League. These organisations led the call for the repeal of the Act of Union. They supported the Irish cause and understood Britain's exploitation of the Irish working-class.

Following the Manchester executions Engels wrote to Marx saying:

"All the Fenians lacked was martyrs. These they have been presented with. Through the execution of these men, the liberation of Kelley and Deasey has been made an act of heroism which will now be sung over the cradle of every Irish child. The Irish women will take care of that. The instance of an execution for any similar act is that of John Brown after Harper's Ferry. The Fenians could not wish for a better precedent."

This would be proven true more than a half century later when the leaders of another failed armed uprising were put against the barrack and gaol walls and riddled with bullets. Their memories fueled a war against the Brits which brought them to the negotiating table.

Marx pushed the IWMA to initiate a campaign of agitation for Repeal, but was ultimately turned down. The general sentiment was that there was enough problems in England, and to let Ireland fend for themselves. Engels and Marx continued to push thru IWMA channels with the help of the Anmesty Movement to ultimately secure the early release of Fenian leaders in January of 1871.

The concept of a completely separate Irish Republic, in its modern sense, was firmly established thanks to the Fenian campaign. The 1867 failure also created a large network of sympathisers throughout the world. These networks would eventually form into organisations such as Clan Na Gael. Fenian's released from prison in England would travel to America, and continue their struggle by publishing writings and getting the word out about British injustice and Irish suffering. The Irish Republican Brotherhood, went underground, perpetually recruiting and building support chains.

The ideals of the Fenians were straight from the thoughts of Tone and Mitchel, as well as those of Thomas Russell and Thomas Davis. The general consensus in beliefs included those of democracy side-by-side with a revolutionary agriculturally based type of communism. These ideals of equality and freedom appealed to the large immigrant communities in the USA, Scotland, England and Australia; as well as in New Zealand and Canada.

A song, written by J. Boyle O'Reilly says it better than I ever could:

"Side bye side for the Cause, have our forefathers battled,
When our hills never echoed the read of a slave;
On many green fields where the leaden hail rattled,
Thru the red gap of glory they marches to their grave.
& we who inherit their name and their spirit
Will march 'neath the banners of Sasanach,
Must out and make way for the Fenian Men
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Ta ar la anois.

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