Archive // Irish Political Writings // The Fenians 1867

The Fenians
The Irish Republican Brotherhood, or the Fenians, was founded at a meeting in Dublin, on March 17th, 1858. This organisation was to have a profound effect, at various junctures, on political developments in Ireland over the ensuing sixty years. The I.R.B. was a secret oathbound movement, dedicated to establishing an Irish Republic by force of arms.

A number of the founding members had been involved with the Young Ireland movement and had been influenced by the writings of James Fintan Lalor. They recognised the fact that replacing the English system of government with an Irish system would prove to be a worthless gesture if it amounted to nothing more than replacing the English system of exploitation with an Irish one. An article published in ‘The Irish People’ in 1865 attested to this belief when it proclaimed ‘something more even than a successful insurrection is demanded. And what is that? An entire revolution which will restore the country to its rightful owners. And who are these? The people’.

The internationalist dimension of the Fenian movement was evident in the fact that a number of prominent Fenians were members of the First International. It is also worth noting that both Karl Marx and Frederich Engels argued strongly in favour of the Fenians and the cause of Irish independence.

Though the Fenian uprising of 1867 was not a success, it did not result in the eradication of the movement. The Fenians went on to launch a campaign against Britain in the 1880s, were active in organisations such as the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Gaelic League, and would play a central role in the organisation and planning of the Easter Rising in 1916.

Please click on the links below to access documents related to this topic

1867 Fenian Proclamation // 151kb

The English Government and The Fenian Prisoners by Karl Marx // 650kb

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