On Sunday October 10th 1869, Dublin heaved with excitement and trepidation. Political banners hung from houses while the city’s trade union offices buzzed with excitement. Despite a police ban on a planned procession through the city tens of thousands of people turned out. They were joined by thousands more who flooded into the city from across Ireland to participate in what was destined to be the largest demonstration in a generation.

Amid the clamour of marching bands and singing, over one hundred thousand people converged on Cabra, a sleepy village north west of Victorian Dublin, to demand an amnesty for Fenian prisoners. Now a sprawling suburb home to tens of thousands of people, in 1869 Cabra was a quiet village surrounded by farmland. But on October 10th that year these fields hosted the greatest demonstration Ireland had seen since the famine.

This demonstration was the culmination of one of the most impressive campaigns in later 19th century Ireland which saw one provincial newspaper proclaim ‘political demonstrations are becoming as fashionable in ‘the island of Saints and Scholars’ as the Bull fights in Spain1. The remarkable story of the Amnesty campaign of 1869 began two years earlier in Manchester, England, with the accidental killing of a policeman, an incident that led to the famous case of the Manchester Martyrs.

manchester attack

The Smashing of the Van

The path to the massive demonstration in Cabra began on September 11th 1867 when two Irish Americans were arrested for loitering in Manchester, England. It soon emerged that the police had unwittingly arrested two of the most sought after Fenians; Colonel Thomas Kelly and Captain William Deasy who were on the run after having participated in a failed uprising in Ireland earlier that year. Within a week the two were hauled before a court. As the horse drawn police van took them back to custody it was attacked by a large group of Fenians.

In the process of rescuing Kelly and Deasy the crowd accidentally killed a policeman the first ever killing of a police man in Manchester. In the aftermath a wave of anti-Fenian and anti-Irish sentiment swept through Manchester and three Irish men William Allen, Michael Larkin and William O Brien were arrested tried, convicted and sentenced to death under dubious circumstances. On November 23rd, 1867 the three were hanged in Salford gaol.

These executions in turn created a wave of anti-British sentiment across Ireland and among Irish communities in England. This was fuelled further when it emerged the three had been denied a Christian burial after their execution. The outrage was palpable; the day after their execution thousands attended a mock funeral for the three in Clerkenwell, London2. The three became known to the world as the ‘Manchester Martyrs’ and within weeks these three relatively unknown men Allen, Larkin and O Brien had become some of the most famous Irish political martyrs. The Freeman’s Journal described them as ‘humble Irishmen’ who ‘suffered for a cause they believed3. The editor of The Nation, T.D. O Sullivan wrote this famous song The Smashing of the Van in their honour in 1867. (Incidentally the song was not a Fenian song as the youtube user implies. O Sullivan and the Fenians despised each other – he doesn’t once mention the fact the prisoners were Fenians.)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8cpTt_MfL0&w=420&h=315]

While their execution would be evoked time and again in the following decades in the short term it set in train a series events that lead to the incredible scenes in Cabra in 1869.

Reactions to the executions

Through late 1867 the executions served to unify the various wings of the republican and nationalist movement in Ireland. Since the founding of the Fenians in 1858 their commitment to armed struggle had created tensions between middle class constitutional nationalists and the disenfranchised working class who tended to support Fenianism. For the first time both groups could now rally around the same cause. Even the Catholic Church who vociferously opposed the early Fenians (who had been staunch secularists) leant limited support.

While this new unified Irish nationalist movement presented an unforeseen and unexpected political challenge to the the British authorities, one might expect the anger to dissipate as time passed. Instead in early 1868 the anger ignited around the case of the Manchester Martyrs began to crystallize around the remaining Fenians being held in harsh conditions in British prisons in England and in Western Australia.

Allen, Larkin & O Brien

Allen, Larkin & O Brien

Many of these Fenians had been imprisoned before and during the failed revolt of March 1867 which had been ill prepared and heavily infiltrated by informers. The rising achieved few goals and resulted in many receiving severe sentences. By late 1867 there were one hundred and five Fenians being held in brutal conditions in prison4 These included such notables as John Devoy, John O Leary and a man who would come to symbolise the suffering of the prisoners collectively in 1869, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. He had had his hands manacled behind his back for thirty-five days during which he was forced to eat like an animal. It was the plight of these prisoners now that became the focus of the new found unity among the nationalist and republican movement.

Campaign fora Fenian Amnesty.

As the one year anniversary of the execution of Manchester Martyrs approached, all commemorative demonstrations were banned5. However, in early November a meeting was called in the Mechanics Institute on Marlborough Street, Dublin, with the view to campaigning for an ‘amnesty to those persons who are suffering for political offences’ 6.

Such was the interest in this cause that an hour before the meeting the hall in the Mechanic’s Institute was full.7 At the gathering, chaired by MP Isaac Butt (who had defended Fenian Prisoners in the mid 1860’s) a new movement demanding unconditional release of all Irish political prisoners was launched.

Throughout early 1869 branches of this movement were set up across Ireland. The establishment of a branch usually began with a public meeting after which subscriptions and signatures were collected for a petition calling for amnesty. Although the British government had released forty-nine prisoners in early 18698 who they deemed to have been naïve young men rather than leaders this did not stop the growth of the emerging Amnesty movement, which demanded a full amnesty for all prisoners.

Growing from strength to strength, the campaign amassed quarter of a million signatures and received the support of several municipal politicians in Ireland. They were also successful in garnering the equivalent of celebrity support when the prominent economist John Stuart Mill backed the call for amnesty9

This new campaign was led by a central amnesty committee which met each Tuesday evening at 8 o clock in the Mechanics Institute, Dublin. Incidentally the Mechanics institute, which would become the original Abbey theatre in 1903, was long associated with radicalism in the 19th century. It hosted a meeting addressed by Friedrich Engels and African American anti-slavery campaigner Sarah Redmond amongst others.

The Mechanics' Institute (which became the original Abbey Theatre) source: abbey.ie

The Mechanics’ Institute (which became the original Abbey Theatre) source: abbey.ie

In an age before the internet, detailed reports of the central amnesty commitee’s activities and meetings were published in several supportive newspapers such as The Nation and in particular The Freeman’s Journal.

While the organisation was fronted by the MP Isaac Butt, he had little interest in the day to day running of the campaign. In the late 1860’s only 10% of the population could vote and the Amnesty cause would have limited currency among upper middle class electors. The organisational side of the movement was largely left up to members and supporters of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. John Nolan, who was a member of the Supreme Council of the I.R.B. and also an early trade unionist was the de facto leader of the movement in Ireland. His tireless campaigning lead him to become known as John ‘Amnesty’ Nolan. Other prominent members of the movement included the London based Fenian J.P. Mc Donnell, who had been sworn into the I.R.B. by O’Donovan Rossa himself and could claim Karl Marx among his friends,10 as well as the republican Presbyterian lawyer ‘Honest John’ Martin.

Despite the limited successes of the campaign in early 1869 there was no movement from the British government on the remaining prisoners being held. It was clear the campaign needed to alter its tactics and strategy for it to win. This saw the campaign evolve from the previous strategy of gathering petitions to a more forthright campaign of engaging the population and in particular the peasantry and working classes on the issue. This change in strategy lead directly to the Monster Meeting in Cabra the following October.

Isaac Butt

Isaac Butt

The Amnesty Association

The Amnesty Committee was reorganised into the Amnesty Association11. The thrust of this strategy was based around a massive show of strength on the issue but this was not easily done. While the 19th century was very much the era of mass politics where demonstration of tens of thousands people were not uncommon, in the early part of the 19th century Daniel O’Connell’s several hundred thousand strong meetings had set a high standard. These numbers had not been repeated since the famine of the 1840s but this did not deter the Amnesty Association and they carefully planned how they would achieve similar numbers.

Before they dared to attempt to host such a major demonstration they held hundreds of smaller meetings across Ireland. The first took place on July 11th when several thousand people demonstrated at Mallow, the birthplace of the Attorney General Sir Edward Sullivan M.P. who was hostile to the movement. Throughout July and August meetings were held up and down the country and the issue gained momentum into September.

On September 5th twenty thousand people demonstrated in Bray probably in no small fact due to the fact that the chief organiser John ‘Amnesty’ Nolan hailed from the seaside town. A week later on September 12th four meetings took place in Longford, Dundalk, Kilkenny and Castlebar with crowds from five thousand demonstrating in Kilkenny12 to twenty thousand in Longford.13 While these numbers are and were impressive they were not unique in the post-famine period. In the 1850s tenants’ rights meetings had drawn huge crowds, for example in 1851 twenty thousand people attended such a meeting in the small mining town of Castlecomer in north Kilkenny. What was unique however was the intensity of these meetings through the summer of 1869. Over four hundred meetings were organised, primarily in Leinster, Munster and Connaught; only eight were organised in Ulster.14

Meetings were not limited to Ireland; across England, amnesty meetings and demonstrations were held, most famously in London in September 20th, 1869 when several thousand people marched from Finsbury circus to Trafalgar Square, a march organised by the radical internationalist group The International Democratic Association15

How the meetings were organised

The success of these meetings cannot be attributed solely to the fact that big demonstration were common in the 19th century, they were also well organised. The locations were usually selected due to their geographical or political importance; usually at a convergence between road and rail networks. Placards were erected across the surrounding countryside in the weeks before the demonstration while advertisements were placed in the nationalist press in advance. In an age before motorised cars people frequently travelled several miles to attend these meetings. For example at the meeting in Kilkenny the audience included people from Graiguenamanagh thirty kilometres to the south east and Freshford fifteen kilometres to the north west16 while some even travelled from as far away as Clonmel and Thurles.

The meetings were almost universally held on a Sunday afternoon which maximised the turn out given it was the only work free day in the 1860’s. The meetings were very vibrant often having several marching bands present. Attendees wore green ribbons and listened to speeches on the prisoners and wider politics usually from a priest, a politician and local and national representatives of the Amnesty Association.

It is difficult to tell exactly who attended these meetings. Overtly sympathetic press tended to focus on the dignitaries in attendance, however the Irish Times reported that at the Kilkenny demonstration the attendees were largely drawn from the city’s working class17. This corresponds with the fact that Fenianism drew its greatest support from the poor and also corresponds with the only demonstration we have minute detail on, that in Dublin on the 10th, October 1869.

Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa

Politics of the movement

The success of the movement during the summer of 1869 was in many respects astounding. The Amnesty Association managed to mobilise hundreds of thousands of people across Ireland and England on what was a relatively abstract issue. This was largely due to a three part message. Firstly they constantly repeated a deeply personal message which focused of the prisoners destitute families. This was supplemented by focusing on the horrific conditions the prisoners themselves endured particularly the case of O’Donovan Rossa. Secondly the movement tapped into the growing nationalist sentiment in Ireland through imagery around the concept that Mother Ireland was not whole while her sons languished in a foreign prisons.

Finally they were also able to tap in to wider resentments toward the British Government, particularly around the issue of tenants rights. Amnesty meetings were by no means the only major political campaign in the summer and Autumn of 1869. Across the country large tenants’ rights meetings were being held. While they were happy to tap into this sentiment the Fenians were not willing to allow tenant organising to detract from the Amnesty issue, to the point that they obstructed tenants’ rights meetings in the autumn of 186918.

The Great Meeting in Dublin.

The series of meetings across Ireland were all leading to a grand finale to be held in Dublin on October 10th, 1869. As the secretary of the association, John Nolan, explained the strategy was ‘to allow all Ireland speak on the question of Amnesty before the final capital meeting in Dublin‘ .19 It was clear this meeting was of immense importance to the Amnesty Association. It would reflect the strength of the movement as it was coming to the end of months of intense activity. It also had political significance given Dublin was the seat of British administration in Ireland and the island’s capital city. With over four hundred thousand people20 living in Dublin county alone a massive turn-out was important. To this end the central committee asked that no other town in Ireland hold a demonstration on October 10th. While other demonstrations were held on October 10th in defiance of this request, none were advertised in the national press; all focus was on Dublin.

The location


Cabra (courtesy of Al Katraz)

In order for it to be successful the location for this demonstration was crucial. There was nowhere within the city environs that could hold large crowds. To this end the Amnesty Association acquired a 32 acre field from David Donnelly, a farmer in Cabra. This site was perfect. Not only was it situated outside the Victorian city which gave space for a large crowd to congregate but it was also within walking distance of all three major train stations of 19th century Dublin – Amiens Street Station (now Connolly Station), Kingsbridge Station (now Heuston Station) and the now defunct Broadstone Station less than a mile away on Constitution Hill. The exact location of the site appears to have been in what was known then as Grangegorman Lower between the North Circular Road and the Cabra Road where Cherrymount Park housing estate stands today.

Guaranteeing a crowd was by no means easy. The success or otherwise of the demonstration would be determined on whether the city’s population and in particular the working class of the city, the group with greatest sympathy to Fenianism would turn out. In the 1860s the city’s working classes were organised through what were the forerunners to modern trade unions – trade associations. Many members of these associations were sympathetic to the issue and some had Fenian activists among their ranks.

However the United Trades Association, a conglomeration of these Trades Associations, had strict rules about not engaging in political activity. This had to be overcome for the Amnesty demonstration to be successful. On Monday 20th September John ‘Amnesty’ Nolan was allowed to address the meeting and it was unanimously agreed that the Amnesty was not a ‘political question with in the meaning of the rules of the United Trades Association’.21

After this decision, a committee was formed including both John Keegan of the Trades Association and Nolan from the Amnesty Association with the aim of mobilising the city’s working class behind the demonstration and the following week, Keegan and Nolan organised a meeting of the various trade associations to prepare.

While the working class would make the mainstay of the demonstration they were by no means the only group sector to whom the Amnesty Association appealed to. On September 30th commercial men ‘of all classes’22 were invited to a meeting in the Mechanics Institute.

Advertisment in the Freeman's journal on the 30th of September 1869

Advertisment in the Freeman’s journal on the 30th of September 1869

During these weeks the Amnesty Association received a lot of support from women in Dublin. Decades before the emergence of the feminist movement no meeting of women was organised so they could have their input. Instead on September 30th the Amnesty Association published a notice announcing it would make arrangements for women wishing to attend and they welcomed banners which ladies might make.23

From late September, Dublin was a constant flurry of meetings and activities around the Amnesty issue. On September 24th a New York company of the ‘Star Minstrels’ performed at the Rotunda24 supported by Dublin acts in aid of the prisoners families.

While the preparations were finalised tensions increased when it serious rioting broke out in Newry on the weekend of the 3rd October as Orangemen opposed an upcoming Amnesty demonstration in the town25

Nevertheless, during the final week before the demonstration, each evening as work ended meetings took place across Dublin as various trade associations and other organisations planned their participation. On October 4th the Ancient Order of Foresters, a charitable society met in the Mechanics Institute to be followed by shop and warehouse porters, grocers’ assistants and the barbers and hairdressers26 amongst others.

On October 6th a general meeting of all groups was held to plan the details of the demonstration. The demonstration was planned to gather in and around Beresford Place and the adjoining streets from 11 a.m. and then march to Cabra. The association expected large crowds and the various sections of the march were given staggered meet up times with the last group only congregating at 1p.m. In the following days sympathetic newspapers were littered with advertisements from trade associations and groups instructing their members where to congregate before proceeding to the meet up point at Beresford Place to join the main demonstration. Some even instructed their members on what emblems to wear.

Large numbers were expected from across Ireland as well. By October several hundred thousand people had attended meetings27 and many wanted to be present on the great day itself . To this end train companies put on special services to bring people to Dublin for the day28

Last minute challenge

As the day itself approached the Cabra field itself was prepared. Members of the Amalgamated Building Trades used timber donated by a local business to erect a huge stage from where speakers would address the crowd. By Friday evening all seemed set. Newspapers carried the exact details of the order of march and where each section was in the procession so there would be no confusion on the day.

The Nation Police

Police notice in The Nation October 9th, 1869

However at the eleventh hour the entire event was cast into doubt. Late on Friday evening, the Dublin Metropolitan Police announced that the march from Beresford Place to Cabra was prohibited although the meeting itself could go ahead in Cabra.

Worse still, as morning broke over Dublin on Saturday the 9th of October and the Amnesty Association tried to organise alternative arrangements, word filtered out that a magistrate from Monaghan, J.P. Madden was in South Dublin Metropolitan Police court trying to have the entire day’s proceedings banned as the presence of bands, banners and flags contravened the strict Party Processions Act. While this was rejected by the courts the Amnesty Association still convened meetings on the Saturday afternoon to decide what to do about the prohibition of the march.

To push ahead or not

It appears that the police action was purely a show of force and attempt to flex the muscle of the state in the face what was growing nationalism in Ireland. Nevertheless the police seemed intent on enforcing this gesture of authority. The newspapers on Saturday 9th carried notices that made this abundantly clear stating ‘that all necessary measures would be taken to enforce this measure’. This was no idle threat. Dublin in the 1860s was a heavily militarised city. Friedrich Engels the co-author of the Communist Manifesto who had visited Dublin just a few weeks earlier wrote to Karl Marx describing Ireland and Dublin as follows:-

‘The state of war is also noticeable everywhere. There are squads of Royal Irish all over the place, with sheath-knives, and occasionally a revolver at their side and a police baton in their hand; in Dublin a horse-drawn battery drove right through the centre of town, a thing I have never seen in England, and there are soldiers literally everywhere.29

There was no option but to call off the procession from Beresford Place but this did not prevent people marching from other locations. While technically the Amnesty Association would abide by the letter of the law this did not mean they were bound by the spirit of the same law.

The demonstration.

When Dubliners awoke on October 10th, 1869 months of tireless campaigning had come to an end and finally the strength of support for the cause of Amnesty in the capital would be tested. Nonetheless confusion must have reigned as the last communiqué in the press on the issue had been from the police prohibiting the procession from Cabra.

The city appears to have had a festive mood. Houses were adorned with banners supporting the prisoners while men and women wore green sashes and ribbons. Instead of one large procession to Cabra from early morning several smaller demonstrations began to make their way from the various train stations and trade association offices while local Dublin branches of the Amnesty Association marched directly to the field. On Bachelors Walk several hundred women assembled dressed in green wearing orange rosettes and marched to Cabra singing the song ‘O’Donnell Abú’ as they entered the field.

While the mainstay of the demonstration was the nearly 40 different trade associations and the local Amnesty branches from across Ireland they were joined by religious confraternities and civic organisations such as the charity the Ancient Order of Foresters. While many of the various sections contained marching bands, these did not strike up until they had passed the churches. At twelve o clock the scene at the Amnesty Association office at the Mechanics Institute was impressive as the various branches of the Association who had arrived from as disparate places as Derry, Cork and Castlebar marched to Cabra.

Cherrymount estate is now built on where Donnelly's field lay in 1869 (courtesy of Luke McManus)

Cherrymount estate is now built on where Donnelly’s field lay in 1869 (courtesy of Luke McManus)

By two o clock the roads surrounding Donnelly’s farm in Cabra were thronged with crowds as an estimated one30 to two hundred thousand31 people gathered. Across the field banners were held aloft with slogans such ‘God Save Ireland’ (a phrase associated with the Manchester Martyrs), ‘Erin weeps for her imprisoned sons’ and ‘Release the political prisoners32.’ After a rendition of ‘God save Ireland’ got the proceedings under-way, the crowd was addressed by MP’s, clerics, trade unionists and Amnesty campaigners in a meeting chaired by Isaac Butt. After the meeting drew to a close the various groups paraded off the field being lead by their marching bands playing tunes. While the Dublin Metropolitan Police attempted to stop this it was a pointless task given the size of the demonstration. While these remarkable events were reported in the press across Ireland and the world it also went into local folklore. In a world without cameras or computers, the easiest way to immortalise events was through song. The following song was composed about the demonstration in its aftermath. While its lyricist appears to have limited skills (the numerous mistakes were in the original), it is a contemporary view of the demonstration which has survived in a collection in the National Library. (It is from a Home Rule point of view and appears to be quite hostile to Fenian politics particularly in the last three verses.)

The Glorious meeting of Dublin held in Cabra. With an account of the bands and banners, Peace and order of that day For the liberation of the prisoners33


All you that loves old Ireland I hope you shall attend

And Listen to these simple lines the truth I have here penned

Its those brave unhappy men that Ires in dismal sells [sic]

The only crime they did commit they lov’d Irelane


Now Irisomen they are resolved to live in unity

And for to use all legal means to set these brave men free


The ten day of October in the year sixty-nine

Many thousands did assemble the cause it was devine

The bands did play and banners we’ve most glorious to be sees

And Erins sons and daughters they wore the lovely green


The first I will mention is the forester34 so grand

With lovely banners they did appear a credit to the land

Butchers, bricklayers and millers to with coopers did appear

And the brave brouge35 makers true & brave that never yet knew fear


At 2 o clock came? brave? But36 he took the chair

He said and smiled as he gaz’d round let Ireland not despair

Brave Henery Moor37 whose heart is pure & of true Iris mold

With Mc Sweeney to likewise O’Ne? Heroes true as gold


Five hundred thousand did attend upon that glorious day

From Belfast Newry and Dundalk & they in rich array

And Drogheda was not behind they always nobly stand

Their gallant fathers noble fought against Cromwell & his band


In parts of Ireland ……. meetings have been held

for to release those unhappy men from their cursed chains and cells

Tipperary Cork and Mallow & Galway of renown

Like heroes brave that hates being slaves they put all tyrants down


There was Wexford and sweet Bray …the Kingstown38 I go bail39

In the cause of freedom they never yet did fail

For when their country was in want, they pure bold and true

No traitor land nor wincing? Clan? May ever them subjue [sic]


O Donovan Ross & General Burk40 & likewise many more

For their sad fate each Irish heart they sadly do deplore

Confined in Dungeons dark & deep o dismal is their fate

Far from their wives and children dear with food not fit to eat


No separation we do want we only seek our rights

In France & Spain & the Crimea brave Irish men did fight

And everywhere in great foreign lands they won great renown

Through fields of blood they wa’ed41 for England & and the crown


Now Dublin city well may boast when they think upon that day

Our loss I’m sure they must a’ow it was a grand display

No drunkness [sic] or disturbance anywhere seen

But peace likewise good or er & they all were the green


Now to conclude & finish I have no more to say

May those brave men without delay be at their liberty

May trade and commerce flourish & all peace seen

And may we have our Parliament once more in Cotledge 42

Aftermath of the demonstration

The ramifications of the Amnesty campaign of 1869 and the Cabra demonstration in particular were felt across Ireland and even England for years to come. Within a few weeks the depth of its success was illustrated clearly during a by-election in Tipperary in November. The Amnesty Association, at the suggestion of the MP G.H. Moore43 stood the imprisoned Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa as a candidate. Although his rival, the Catholic Liberal candidate Denis Caulfied Heron eventually took the seat in parliament, this was after two elections. incredibly O’Donovan Rossa won the first election only to be disqualified because he was a convicted felon. This was remarkable given that the electorate was tiny and not normally inclined to support Fenian politics.

1869 Election Manifesto of O'Donovan Rossa source celt.ie

1869 Election Manifesto of O’Donovan Rossa source celt.ie

Although it would take another year of campaigning, the movement of 1869 delivered the winning blow on the Amnesty issue. The Associations tireless work had made Amnesty the primary political issue in Ireland and among Irish communities in England during 1869. As British Prime Minister Gladstone had won the 1868 election on a promise to deliver on Ireland he was forced to act and soon the prison gates were opening.

In December 1870 several Fenians being held in Australia were released and by February 1871 ten had returned to Ireland, including Thomas Cullinane, a man who had been originally been sentenced to death by hanging, drawing and quartering. This was followed by a major amnesty of prisoners in England in January in 1871.

In these cases the British government would not agree to release these men unconditionally. Instead they were released on the condition that they go into exile for the remainder of their sentences. Among the thirty-three released in January 187144 were John Devoy and Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, who both boarded a ship the ‘Cuba’ for exile in America. From the US these two men would have a huge influence over militant nationalism in Ireland for nearly five decades.

Cuba 5

In the following years the unity that had made the Amnesty Movement so strong failed to hold. In 1870 the Vatican issued a cyclical condemning Fenianism while the organisation itself was relatively disorganised in the early 1870s. However the election of O’Donovan Rossa began the uncomfortable relationship between militant Irish nationalism and electoral politics. In 1874 the Fenian John O’Connor Power successfully ran as MP for Mayo, for which he was expelled from the I.R.B. a few years later. Through the course of the following century the issue of electoralism would divide republican and nationalist movements in Ireland.

The Cabra demonstration did not end campaigning on the Amnesty issue. Throughout the 1870s numerous Fenians were imprisoned. In 1873 two massive meeting were again held on Dublin’s northside, at Clontarf and then Glasnevin, but it never reached the intensity it had in 1869 as the issue of tenants’ rights became the key issue steadily throughout the 1870s, resulting in the outbreak of the Land War in 1879. One of the last prisoners freed by the Amnesty Association’s campaigning was none other than the Fenian arms agent Michael Davitt. After his release he threw himself whole-heartedly into the land question, an issue the Fenians ten years earlier had attempted to suppress to keep the political focus on the Amnesty Association.

1Nenagh Guardian October 13th 1869

2Daily News (London, England), Monday, November 25, 1867

3Freeman’s Journal November 25, 1867 .

4Mc Conville , S. Irish Political Prisoners, 1848-1922: Theatres of War pge 153

5Mc Gee, O. The IRB; the Irish Republican Brotherhood from the land war to Sinn Fein pge 42

6Freemans Journal November 11th 1868

7Freemans Journal November 13th 1868

8Political Violence in Northern Ireland: Conflict and Conflict Resolution Alan O’Day pge 82

9The Nation Saturday, February 06, 1869

10He was also an early member of the first international

11The Nation,Saturday, May 29

12Irish Times, September 13th 1869

13Irish Times, September 14th 1869

14Political Violence in Northern Ireland: Conflict and Conflict Resolution, Alan O’Day pge 49

15Daily News (London, England), September 21st 1869

16Freemans Journal September 13th 1869

17Irish Times, September 13th 1869

18Page 22 Ireland in Transition, 1867-1921 edited by Professor David George Boyce, Alan O’Day & English, Irish and Subversives Among the Dismal Scientists pge 396

19Freemans Journal, September 24th 1869

20Census figures for 1871 showed a population of 405,000 a slight decline on 1861.

21Freemans Journal, September 22nd 1869

22Freemans Journal September 30th 1869

23Freemans Journal, September 30th 1869

24Freemans Journal, September 23rd 1869

25The Nation, October 9th 1869

26Freemans Journal, October 7th 1869

27Political Violence in Northern Ireland: Conflict and Conflict Resolution, Alan O’Day pge 49

28Freemans Journal, October 5th 1869

29Frederich Engels letter to Karl Marx September 27th 1869 http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1869/letters/69_09_27.htm

30Freemans Journal October 11th 1869 estimate

31Irish Times October 11th 1869 estimate

32The Irish Times, October 11th 1869.

33NLI LB 39988 v.1 20(b)

34Ancient Order of Foresters

35Coming from the Irish Gaelic bróg meaning shoe

36Isaac Butt who chaired the events

37The MP George Henry Moore

38Kingstown is the pre independence name for Dun Laoghaoire

39The word in the NLI original is clearly bail but it may be a misprint from the word sail. Dun Laoghaoire/Kingstown is a port

40This refers to Richard O Sullivan Burke, a leader of the 1867 rising who had been captured and imprisoned in Clerkenwell. A rescue attempt ended in disaster as far too much gunpowder was used to blow away the prison wall and nearby tenements were destroyed. Twelve people were killed and ninety were seriously wounded.


42The word Green is presumably missing. The last parliament prior to the writing of this song sat at College Green.

43The IRB The Irish Republican Brotherhood from the land league to the Sinn Féin Owen McGee pge 43

44Political Violence in Northern Ireland: Conflict and Conflict Resolution by Alan O’Day pge 49