NOTE: Links below allow the reader to access the 11 articles Rossa wrote in the Brooklyn Eagle in 1885.
Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa
Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa is a man who needs a well-researched book written on him. He was a middle class Irishman from Skibbereen, County Cork Ireland. He was interested in his Genealogy and attached, after, we hope, sufficient investigation on the subject, "Rossa" to end of his birth name. If one goes to the dictionary to look for "loose cannon" a picture of O'Donovan Rossa should be lodged there. His picture should also be in the definition of a Fenian. Rossa along with Patrick Ford could be called the fathers of modern terrorism for inventing the Skirmishing Fund which was set up to finance bombing missions to England from America. Although called by many "Jeremiah O'Dynamite Rossa" in actuality most of his peers describe him as a gentle man and not the ferocious beast many English and American newspaper reporters wrote about in the blaring headline style of the 1880s.
Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa and several others started the Phenix club in the town of Skibbereen in County Cork in 1857: "a society with a view to educate themselves and educate the country around into national life and activity." This euphemistic statement means "for promoting Irish Nationalism."
Rossa was visited by James Stephens carrying an introduction from John O'Mahony during Stephens' recruitment tour of Ireland for the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood (IRB) the Irish branch of Fenianism. Almost everyone in the Phenix club joined the IRB. Rossa and his friends drilled and trained in the mountains around his town. They were ultimately arrested but later let go since there was no real evidence of his participation except for a police informer (called "approver" by Rossa) named Daniel Sullivan Goula who perjured himself giving false testimony. Rossa was re-arrested in September 1865 during the closing of the Fenian Dublin newspaper, the Irish People for which he was the manager. His had job required him to tour Ireland collecting funds and inspecting IRB circles for James Stephens.
He was in jail from 1865 to 1871 at which point he was released if he agreed not to live on English soil. Rossa arrived in America in January of 1871 with John Devoy [later chairman of the Clan na Gael] and several others who were known to Irish American Nationalists as "the exiles." He was a member of the ill-fated Irish Confederation society which evolved from the Senate Wing of the American Fenian Brotherhood and then disappeared for lack of support. Rossa re-joined the O'Mahony-Savage Wing of the Fenian Brotherhood and also joined the Clan na Gael shortly after arriving in America in 1871-72. In 1877 Rossa was elected president of the Fenaian Brotherhood. Rossa organized, along with Patrick Ford, editor of the Irish World newspaper in New York in 1876 the "Skirmishinng Fund" by collected subscriptions and posting the subscribers names in Ford's newspaper. The object was to fund clandestine bombing operations in England. When the Clan na Gael under John Devoy took over the fund and pushed Rossa to the side, Rossa attempted to set up his own society "The United Irishman" for which he was ousted from the Clan na Gael. In 1885 Rossa in the The United Irishman proclaimed that "This dynamite work will go on till Ireland is free, or till London is laid in ashes." And modern research indicates Rossa, using funds from his newspaper also called the United Irishman, financed several bombing forays into England. The Clan na Gael ousted John Devoy and William Carroll and installed Michael Boland of Louisville and Alexander Sullivan of Chicago who led the Clan na Gael in a bombing campaign against English targets. Michael Boland later shown to be an English spy insured the majority of the bombers were caught.
Rossa had a drinking problem according to John Devoy who later wrote of him but perhaps the time spent in prison explains his later life somewhat. Devoy was upset with him for his United Irishman foray and for publicly advertising the Skirmishing Fund, but they made up later. Devoy always took from his meager funds to care for Rossa's family when Rossa was not able to.
This series of articles tells the story of Fenianism from Rossa's perspective and was used as a base for several books including "Rossa's Recollections" and "Irish Rebels in English Prisons"
Note: OCR [optical character recognition] is an imperfect way of transcribing documents there are always errors in spite of my editing the result. A researcher wanting to be precise in their quotations should consult the actual newspaper as presented online by the Brooklyn Public Library. Copying this transcription for commercial use is prohibited. Any questions should be directed to the staff at the Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Eagle web Page:
THE FENIAN MOVEMENT
An Account of its Origin, Progress
and Temporary Collapse.
By Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa
The '48 demonstration—The Sadlier and Keogh Affair—The Ecclesiastical Titles Bill—The Famine—The Crimean War—Gavan Duffy. The "Corpse on the Dissecting Table"—The Indian Mutiny—The Phenix Society—Corly Batt McCarthy (Sowney)— A Type of the Irish Rebel—The Feelings of the People Toward England—The Volunteers—The Old Parliament —The Union— English Bribery—Irish Recreancy—Tithes and Taxes—Beecher and Talmage Going to Mass.
James Stephens Sowing the Seed of Revolution. Renouncing Allegiance to England—Colonel P. J. Downing Sworn in—Four Brothers, All Fighting in the American War—Drilling—Taking the Oath Through a Telescope—Harvest Home in Newry—Fenian Ships from America. The First Arrests — Alexander M. Sullivan. Goula the Informer—Fitzmaurice the English Stipendiary — An "Unfortunate's" Blessing. Agitation — Silent Organization — England Playing "Garryowen" and "Patrick's Day" for the Irish—An English Lapdog Wearing Shamrocks—The Poorest of the People Faithful—Apprehension of the Phenix Men—The Irish Police—Bandon and Cork Jails.
Unconvicted Felons—Trying to Manufacture Informers in Prison—A Trial in Jail—No Reporters Admitted — Goula, Informer — False Swearing—Indicted for the Assizes—No Bail. England Opens Letters of Counsel to Prisoners—Father John O'Sullivan Kenmare Gives Information to Dublin Castle—Dan O'Sullivan (Agreem) Convicted in Tralee—Lord Bandon in O'Mahony's Castle—Bishop Moriarty—Hell is Not Hot Enough—Bishop O'Dea in the Confessional—His Character of Jeremiah O'Donovan—Father Tim Murray—Dr. Doyle—Father John O'Brien—Shamrocks in the Dock—Escape of Neapolitan Prisoners—Judge Keogh, Back to Prison—Release from Prison.
Ireland a Vast Prison—The Blessing of Living in America—No Security from Arrest in Ireland. An Englishman's House His Castle—Perpetual Coercion in Ireland—A Lull in Fenian Organization—England Did Not Put the Fear of God Into the Fenians—Croppy Pike—Surrendering Arms—Threatened to be Called up for Sentence -- A Tribute to McCarthy Downing—The Mitchels and the Moores — The Torch that Lights Slavery's Way—Stephens and Luby in Skibbereen—Prince of Wales Never King—John O'Mahony Visits Ireland — Patrick O'Regan and Edward J. Kelly Visit Ireland—Religion of the Fenians—Orangemen and Ribbonmem The McManus Funeral — Praying in Tipperary—Michael Doheny and the Priest—Captain Welply—His Widow a Nun—War Between England and America—The Irishman Fights Double Handed
The American War and Fenianism—Expected Conflict with England—Suppressing Meetings. Proclamation Read at Union Hall—John Limrick, a Magistrate, Forbidding Irishmen to Land—Another, John Sydney Townsend, Fighting to Defend the Country—Tearing Down Illuminations for the Prince of Wales' Marriage—Demonstration of Sympathy for the Poles—Stopping the Procession—Lowering the Flags—Extinguishing the Torches—Tom Somerville — The Crimean Soldier— Rhyming. James Anthony Fronde — He Tells Truths. Irishmen Must. Fight for Their Freedom Like Men and Strike England to Her Knees.
A Trip to America—James Stephens—Introductions to Richard O'Gorman and Others—The Post Office Park—The Policeman's Club—In the Station House—John O’Mahoney at Drill. All My Family In the War—Michael O'Brien Manchester Martyr—With Him when He Joined the American Army in Jersey City. News of His Death When I was in Millbank Prison—No Draft Law to Make Irishmen Fight for Their Country—General Thomas Francis Meagher—General Michael Corcoran. John O'Mahoney—A Day with Meagher in Jersey — Meagher Picking Blackberries. Meagher on the Draft Riots—Captain O'Shea and Captain Fitzharris Wounded at Gettys burg—A Night in Camp with Mike O'Brien and Colonel Downing at Riker's Island—John Ryan, Liverpool; J. P. McDonnell, Paterson. The O'Donoghue—Parnell—Mitchel— Meagher.
Thomas Francis Meagher—General Ryan Shot in Cuba—How He and Ireland Got Me Into the Commune Funeral—Major P. R. Horgan, "What Is Ireland to Me Now ?" — "Sure, I'm a Freeman Here"—One True Man In Ireland Worth a Thousand of His Kind In America, Irish People Agents Boycotted—The Priests Denouncing Fenianism—The Maynooth Oath. The Soldier's Story—rather Collins Burned In Effigy—Famine Deaths In Cape Clear. The Landlord Beecher—Rossa Loses his Relieving Officership—Parrot Patriots and Peacock Patriots—John O'Donovan, the Celebrated Irish Scholar—His Sons, John, Edmond, William, &c.—Father Meehan—Pagan O'Leary—The Fenian Red Coats—Organizing In the English Army—John Kearney Swearing In a Peeler--John J. Geary—The Cork Militia, &c.
The Fenian Fair in Chicago—The Rev. David Bell—Henry O'Clarence McCarthy—Visit to Manchester, Liverpool, &e.—Suddenly Called Back to Dublin—The Rotunda Meeting—The Agitators Skedaddle—The Moral Force Men's Second Meeting—Assaulted—No Help for it. James Stephens Visits America—Appoints Charles J. Kickham, John O'Leary, Thomas C. Luby Executive—James Stephens' Return. Meeting His Centers at Delgany—Next Year (1861) the Year of Action-1 Visit Ulster. Meet Orangemen, Ribbonmen, Presbyterians, Catholics and Protestants—Prison Rhymes, Saxon and Gaelic—Afraid of the Priest.
Shawn O'Neill Castile at Randalstown. Wm. Donough, Ballycastle—Died in Prison—Fair Head, Antrim—Meeting Three Englishmen. Lord Ledward and Fitzgerald—The Walls of Derry—Meeting Dr. McKnight—The Sleeping Warriors of Donegal—Thomas Neilson Underwood, Strabane—Maguire's Castle, Fermanagh—Paying Rent in Enniskillen—Visiting Tempo, Fivemiletown Clogher, Augher, Aughnacloy, Tynan and Caledon—Two Wives in One Grave in Tyrone—"The Queen's O'Reilly "—The Orangemen—The Ribbonmen. Frank Brownlee, Armagh; James Blaney Rice Tyholland; Joe Glass, of Monaghan. Dawson 's Monument, Cootehill—Meeting a Skibbereen Man in Cavan—Edward Duffy, of Roscommon—Died in Prison.
The Mission in Connacht - Edward Duffy. Meeting in Galway--The Irish Language. Meeting Men In Athenry, Ballinasloe, Ballymote, Sligo and Other Places–P. W. Dunne's People–Meetings in the Mountains Near Keish Caves–Society Against Society–In Ireland and America–The Clan nu Gael Society Turned Into an American Republican Politician Society–Saddled on Ireland's Miseries–Moyne Abbey–Killala's Round Tower–Irish Protestant Nationalists Faithful. Protestant anti-Catholic Bishops Denouncing Fenianism–Meettng George Henry Moore, of Mayo–Arranged Interview Between himself and Stephens – The Fenians of England. Want Permission to Fire the Cities–Marrying a Fenian Poetess–Opposition of the Priests
Breaking Down at sea—Organizing Throughout England—A Honeymoon Conspiracy TOUR. meeting John Nolan, A. 0. H., Manchester. Saying My Prayers — Edward McCloskey, Brooklyn ; Mike McLaughlin, Glasgow. American Officers Coming to Ireland—Council Meetings in Wicklow—Dick Harry. of Hoboken—Trip to Halifa x—America—D'Arcy McGee on Hoard — God save the Queen. Fourth of .July—Council Meetings at William R. Robert's—P. J. Meehan—P. W. Dunne. The Lost Documents — Corydon — Captain James Murphy, of Clerkenwell—Seizure of the Irish People Paper—Arrest and Escape Of JaMes Stephens—Captain John Kirwan's Account of the. Escape—John Kearney—John McClure — Tom Kelly — General Millen. Frightening the Irish Out of Ircland—The Cause of the Temporary Failure of Fenianism—Thanks to the Eagle for its Manliness.
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids