Phoenix Rising – 3 Fenian Flames

So the 1867 Rising failed?
The Fenians were overwhelmingly peasant and worker in membership and had no support among the general population. They distrusted the upper and middle classes. They made consistent anti-landlord propaganda in their paper and they were at war with the Catholic Church (which actively supported the UK connection) in such an outspoken way as has not been dared by any group since

free state constitution
De Valera  certainly didn’t make that mistake again.
He personally supervised the writing of the 1937 Constitution. A draft was presented personally to the Vatican for review and comment on two occasions even though the “special position” of Catholicism was held to derive merely from its greater number of adherents. De Valera did resist pressure from right-wing Catholic groups to make Catholicism an established church or to declare it the “one true religion”.

What did the Fenians achieve?
They were partly responsible for spurring William Gladstone
into his stated mission “to pacify Ireland”. This led to the rise of Home Rule, constitutional nationalism and the issues surrounding it.

In 1874 a leading Fenian said: “I make no objection… that the Home Rule Platform should be accepted as a compromise… but we must be told when it is going to be finished, for I don’t want, and I will not be a party to seeing, the ambition of a certain class of people satisfied while hunger exists in the land and the emigrant ships take our best me away to be slaves of other nations” (D.Thornley: Isaac Butt and Home Rule, p.243).

What happened after the 1867 Rising?
fenians high treason
Fenians were charged with high treason and went to prison
When they were released they emerged as a disparate body, with different attitudes in different places at different times

3 Fenian Flames were their legacy
phoenix 3
1) Constitutionalism:
much of the leadership of the Land War, Land League and subsequent land agitation came from current and ex-Fenians.
land league poster
The Land League movement of tenant farmers was seen as a challenge to British rule in Ireland.
1 June 1879: Fenian leaders Meet Parnell
john devoy
John Devoy,
Michael Davitt
Charles Stewart Parnell, Co Wicklow landlord, MP for Meath. They agreed Fenians and constitutional nationalists would combine in a struggle to reform the Irish land-system. The mass basis of Fenianism was harnessed to Parnellism, and transmitted to his successors and the land league was linked to Home Rule

Today we have Republicans meeting Queen Elizabeth II

phoenix 6
2) Physical Force
The Invincibles of the 1880s were a militant underground Fenian group. They formed in response the coercion of the Land League tenant farmer movement. They wanted to ‘make history’ and established a grouping within the Fenian network to assassinate government administrators in Ireland. On May 6 1882, Frederick Cavendish, the Chief Secretary for Ireland and his Under Secretary, Burke, were brutally stabbed to death by group calling themselves the Irish National Invincibles

O’Donovan Rossa’s Funeral Oration

The 1916 Rising

Neave was assassinated in 1979 in a car-bomb attack at the House of Commons. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) claimed responsibility

phoenix 5

3) Separatism by nurturing a distinctly Irish culture

John O’Leary was the  head of the Young Ireland Societies.They organized the late 19th-early20th century literary revival, using history, education and commemorations
oleary plaque
They were much more interested in the cultural aspects of nationhood than their predecessors They were the outworking of the socially-aware republicanism represented in the Proclamation.
Today we have Riverdance

a new Irish language movement

and the 1916 societies
one  ireland, one vote
Today, 98 years to the day from the Proclamation of the Irish Republic on the steps of Dublin’s GPO the 1916 Societies reaffirm that republic

So what’s an unrepentant Fenian bastard?

Derogatory name for a Catholic; most often used in the northeast area of Ireland. Synonym: Taig

Use: a term of abuse

Click to access 1867_Fenian_Proclamation.pdf


9 thoughts on “Phoenix Rising – 3 Fenian Flames

  1. Indeed Willie – De valera didn’t actually opt for “one true religion” but things would have been much,much better all round if he had gone for full separation of Church and State as the fenian proclamation wanted and as the French and Americans had done. Italy has it in theory but not in practice


    • Agree with that. If only those who had followed had been as committed to the secular ideal as the political forbears they claimed to follow. I am a Fenian for many of the reasons spelled out in the three posts. Republicanism, secularism, language, culture, social and economic justice, etc. I think it’s time for the ideological aspects of Fenianism to make a comeback!


      • Yes Séamas thanks for commenting.
        I do agree the Physical Force strand of fenianism has tended to overshadow all the others. Apart from the horrors of death, imprisonment, suffering and destruction, it signified a lot more was lost in the process as the focus shifted to see who could endure the most.
        I suppose the Republic thinks it did the job for them and there is nothing more to do while the Northerners realize it didn’t do the job for them – so we are back to constitutional nationalism once again.But this time without a major issue like the Land War to unite the people. And the cycle continues . . . . with Her Majesty coming to celebrate the 1916 centenary. Talk about back to the future!!


  2. Pingback: Unionists/Loyalists Hold Nationalists and Republicans In Contempt | the

  3. Pingback: Fenians!!! | the

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