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The fenian party A new Ireland

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More balls in this photo than the stitching room of the O'Neills factory

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University of Cambridge graduates Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt were killed in Friday's attack by convicted terrorist Usman Khan.

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WHERE DOES THIS FENIAN WORD COME FROM? This word is Celtic, “Na Fianna” which was a mythical ancient army to defend Ireland. The hostile feelings created in Ireland after the British ambivalence during the Irish potato famine (1840s) and England’s historical control/abuses/interference (e.g. squashing Irish Independence in 1865) lead to rebel groups like the Irish Republican Brotherhood in the 1850s.

In 1858, similar U.S. Irish immigrants, formed the “Fenian Brotherhood.” The Fenians planned armed assaults across Pre-Confederation Canada. At first, the Fenians easily organized weapons, financing and enthusiasm from thousands of Irish-Americans. Their plans were fairly known as the Ottawa Times reported one of the Fenian cells near Lake Champlain may well be plotting an attack, a few weeks before the Frelighsburg, Quebec raid occurred.

When this attack came, the Fenians met no military resistance – the militia was distant. Their takeover was hardly effective however. Instead, they began on a looting rampage of shoppes and homesteads, even stealing farm animals. Along with many settlers, Miss Caroline Tittemore filed a war damages loss claim to Ottawa. She had left her house and went to her friend’s in Frelighsburg to not be alone. During the raid, some Fenians happened to step into her friend’s yard and she saw her own home-made quilt wrapped around one of them. Angry, she raced outside to yank it off the back of the thug over gales of laughter from other Fenian looters/raiders. (Editor’s Note: Wonder if Caroline was a Willoughby Quilt Raffle Winner? :-P )

The Fenians left here when they learned Canadian forces and volunteers were en route. The Fenian troops were poor military-wise as they lacked direction, ample reinforcements, weapons, ammunition, food etc. Returning to the US, many tried to bring back as much stolen property as they could carry. U.S. President Andrew Johnson had made a decision that enraged them. He stated the U.S. Neutrality Laws of 1818 would rule. No more Fenian raids into Canada would occur with the US being complacent. At the US border they faced US soldiers who arrested them. While the Fenians did attack in Upper Canada (then Canada West), the raids also occurred in Manitoba, Quebec and New Brunswick and were felt though-out the British provinces. These raids involved some deaths and serious injuries on both sides each time they occurred.

In 1898, Ottawa presented Medals to those involved in the Fenian raids to recognise their bravery and duty in defending Canada. This medal pictured was given to Private H.H. Hastings of Missisquoi County (Missisquoi Historical Society Collection).

Sources:
Darch, Heather. Township’s Heritage WebMagazine. “For the Sake of Ireland: The Fenian Raids of Mississquoi County 1866 & 1870”. 2014
Smith, P.G. Military Magazine Fenian Raids: Invasions of British-ruled Canada. Feb. 2000

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THE UNBROKEN FENIAN

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