Hallowed Ground --The Fenian Graves at New York's Calvary Cemetery

† Liam Ó Murchadha, do, scrí

The tragic lesson of An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger of mid-19th century Ireland during which, as John Mitchel pointed out, the English government encouraged and aggravated the Famine in Ireland, for the purpose of thinning the population - An Gorta Mór and the painful lessons of the 1848 “Young Ireland” Rising, were as instructive to the Irish as the Nazi-period and the Holocaust would later be to the Jews.  The population of Ireland was reduced by a half, with half of those gone never living to see the bright sun of Freedom, which shines upon America.

Consequent to 1848, the locus of Irish Revolutionary / Republican activity shifted from Dublin to New York.  That conspiratorial élite of Irish exiles (including: John O’Mahony, Michael Doheny and Michael Corcoran) would initiate activities which would bring about the formation of the 69th Regiment of New York, and other American militia units, not only to be ready to defend the Liberty of the land which had given them refuge, but also to prepare a cadre to assist in the future liberation of Ireland.  These men, among Ireland’s exiled children in America, would cause the formation of the IRB / the Fenian Brotherhood, which ultimately would organize the Irish Volunteers of the 20th century, and summon the nation to rise up and strike for freedom in the 1916 Easter Rising, which, in turn, led to the formation of Oglaigh na hÉireann, the IRA.

In a close spiritual communion with our Fenian dead, and with the still militant believers in the Fenian Faith, we continue to pledge to Ireland our love.  We are mindful of the example and of the words of Theobald Wolfe Tone in 1798, of the necessity “to break the connection with England, the never failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence” of All Ireland - Ireland, as Pearse taught, and as we would surely have her, Níl Saor amháin, acht Gaolach; Níl Gaolach amháin, acht Saor - “Not Free merely, but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic merely, but Free as well.”  Like those who erected this high cross we further pledge to continue to work in the cause of Irish Freedom. 

 Mindful of the Tradition entrusted to us, exemplified by this high cross guarding these Fenian Graves, we should again cite Pearse,  “… we know only one definition of freedom, it is Tone’s definition; it is Mitchel’s definition; it is Rossa’s definition.   

Let no man blaspheme the cause that the dead generations of Ireland served by giving it any other name and definition than their name and their definition.” 

 On this Feast of Christ the King, we should remember that Christ is the only king before whom any Irish knee should bend.  [Fenian Memorial, Sunday, 20th November 2011] ###   


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