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THIS HAS NEVER BEEN SHOWN AND COPYRIGHT IS RETAINED.

This is going to be one of the rarest posts you will see from me. I have owned it for over 35 years and it had hung over a fire in the lawyer's office who represented the Crown, at the trial. I will not give all the intricate details - the next post of the handwritten frame, which hung with this, will give most details. Because of coal fires the canvas was so black that we had to have it restored - square inch at a time - to remove the dirt of over 100 years.

Basically, it marks the start of the Irish Republican Army - only in those days they were called the Fenians. In 1867/68 a movement was started to begin a rebellion in Ireland - which in those days was one country. They had intended to attack Chester castle - steal the arms and take them to Ireland. This was foiled and Special Police were sworn in - in thousands - all over Britain. They also , planned to mount attacks in Canada and a special medal was awarded. ** Perhaps someone could show one and also give details of the Canadian episodes ? **

Returning to this panel - it was the painted canvas door to the 'Black Maria' (paddy waggon) that Sgt. Brett was in charge of escorting. The vehicle was drawn by two horses. The principals escaped to New York - may have been involved in Canada and poor Sgt. Brett was shot. Two of his attackers were hung at Belle Vue Prison in Manchester for which I have the brass front door key !! The panel is 29" long (70cm) and 22" high (53cm). The VR represents Queen Victoria's cypher,or monogram.

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My mistake - Salford Prison - not Belle Vue. I've still got the key if we need to break out - the problem will be that it was pulled down in 1893 !!

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Amazing!!!!

Wow!

The three escapees went on to be direct mentors to the men who founded the IRB/IRA. Robert Kee wrote brilliantly about this era of Fenianism in his "The Green Flag" trilogy.

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That's interesting info. - I don't know a lot about their early history - only, that I dodged their bombs in the early 70's ! ( had a bomb left in a building on my beat, I had to stay there and evacuate the building - all 20 stories of it!! Sir Trevor MacDonald turned up to report for ITV - never even spoke to me !!! I missed a comma on the names of those hung - it was three - not two. According to the write-up all three were hung together - in front of the prison. Imagine the crowds.

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That's interesting info. - I don't know a lot about their early history - only, that I dodged their bombs in the early 70's ! ( had a bomb left in a building on my beat, I had to stay there and evacuate the building - all 20 stories of it!! Sir Trevor MacDonald turned up to report for ITV - never even spoke to me !!! I missed a comma on the names of those hung - it was three - not two. According to the write-up all three were hung together - in front of the prison. Imagine the crowds.

In Irish Republican history they are called the Manchester Martyrs. They have been eulogised in song and story ever since. Their names were William O'Mera Allen, Michael Larkin and Michael O'Brien. The most popular song about them is called "God save Ireland" and starts off "High upon the gallows tree, swung the noble hearted three, by the vengeful tyrants stricken in their bloom." You can probably guess that it is not exactly a balanced account of what happened !

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Hi Mervyn,

Since you asked here is the latest Canada General Service Medal from our (my wife's area of interest) collection. It just arrived this week.

It is in mint condition.

Regards

Brian

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That's the medal Brian - now we need to know exactly what they were trying to accomplish in Canada - and were the two that escaped involved ?

Paul - I always wondered what they thought in Ireland - do you have any other info. on reactions , songs, etc., I would like to put it with the panel.

The panel was a court exhibit and part of the door that was forced to release the prisoners ( a two door van). They obviously showed the door damage and when the case finished the lawyer had the panel framed.

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Ah! I LOVE this subject. The 1865-1915 period of Irish nationalism is a fascinating era of history. These guys ALL knew each other and in some cases were married/related over two/three generations. What they thought of each other is fascinating too. Patrick Pearce was viewed as " very odd" by almost all of the nationalists, for example.

The old Fenian organization was closely tied to Tammany Hall in the USA and was (still is in some places: e.g. metro Boston) a HUGE political power. There was a Fenian camp from 1866-67 in the field behind my old house in Machias, Maine. I found some old US Civil war era buttons there once and a St. Mary's silver medal.

The Fenians hoped to trade Canada for Ireland once they'd captured her. The US federal government looked the other way while they organized their invasions.

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Ah! I LOVE this subject. The 1865-1915 period of Irish nationalism is a fascinating era of history. These guys ALL knew each other and in some cases were married/related over two/three generations. What they thought of each other is fascinating too. Patrick Pearce was viewed as " very odd" by almost all of the nationalists, for example.

The old Fenian organization was closely tied to Tammany Hall in the USA and was (still is in some places: e.g. metro Boston) a HUGE political power. There was a Fenian camp from 1866-67 in the field behind my old house in Machias, Maine. I found some old US Civil war era buttons there once and a St. Mary's silver medal.

The Fenians hoped to trade Canada for Ireland once they'd captured her. The US federal government looked the other way while they organized their invasions.

Didn't the raids into Canada continue into the 1870's?

Cheers,

James

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I have been 'enthralled' - and I mean that in it's true sense - by the information you are giving in relation to the panel. Being a police collector, I appreciated the importance of the piece - but, never went deeper into the causes behind the incident. Although one had to realise that it was the start of something that has continued for over 140 years.

I certainly didn't know they had planned to seize Canada - they thought 'big'. I feel we should avoid the modern IRA - too political - but surely the Fenians are an important part of our - and indeed , Ireland's - history. So I hope others will continue this post with stories from both sides.

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Didn't the raids into Canada continue into the 1870's?

Cheers,

James

Yes, but in Maine only just after the Civil War. I believe most of the other invasions continued via upstate New York.

Larkin later was a HUGE figure in the land reform movement, which is what gave the Irish Nationalists' their core voting majority voting block.

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Any chance of following this excellent thread up with the Irish Brigade in the Boer War and their history as a seperate post?

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Any chance of following this excellent thread up with the Irish Brigade in the Boer War and their history as a seperate post?

This is an excellent thread. Thank you, Mervyn.

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Didn't the raids into Canada continue into the 1870's?

Cheers,

James

Hi James,

You are correct the raids did continue into 1870.

I'll attached a photo of the two bars for the Canada General Service Medal for service during the Fenian Raids.

The CGS Medal with the 1870 bar came from the family whose Great-great-great-grandfather was awarded the medal, the ribbon is original.

Regards

Brian

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Brian - it must be quite rare to have medals with both of the bars. I am getting 'frustrated' - in all honesty I don't have a clue - apart from the note about them planning to take over Canada - as to what they actually accomplished in Canada. I expect I could Google, but it would be great if a Canadian member could give some details? After all, it's not every day you plan to 'take-over' a stable Commonwealth country !

Going back to the medal, it would be good to have one mounted alongside the panel - should you hear of one, please let me know. Best wishes

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Hi Mervyn,

You are correct this topic is well covered on the internet so I won't repeat it here. My wife has made an indepth study of the Fenian Raids and has purched the medals which reside in our collection. These are all named though I didn't list the recient's names with the two I posted earlier. The raids were meant to take Canada and then hold it to bargain with the British for a free Ireland. The Fenian army was made up of veterans of the American Civil War from both the North and the South. I think this in itself is pretty amazing considering that the Civil War had just ended. The American President Johnson supported this invasion, or so I have read, because he wanted the British to pay for their support of the South in the Civil War. Later he betrayed the Fenians and yet in the aftermath he told them his sympathies were with them. The reason for this betrayal was due to an agreement reached by the American and the British Governments for payments for the British support of the South. Sometimes it seems like writers paint the Fenians as naive amateurs however these were seasoned soldiers, while the taking of a country to hold it for ransom may be a bit naive they were acting out of patriotism for a free Ireland as well as believing they had the support of the American Government.

Below is a medal from the Veteran's Association of 1866. This association was formed by Canadian Veterans who fought the Fenians and is much rarer than the Canadian General Service Medal. My wife added this to the collection about three years ago. The ribbon is the original, the medal is not named and would have been given out to the members of the association and therefore is not an official issue. Still it is an artifact from the period.

Regards

Brian

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This is a closeup of the medal. It is very hard to see even in person. In the centre is Queen Victoria and behind her is a maple leaf (Canadian symbol) around this is written VETERANS ASSOCIATION 1866.

This is one of the Fenian Raid treasures of our collection along with the next item I will post.

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This is a battlefield find that I purchased over 40 years ago, (I hate to think that it was that long ago), and at the time I paid about $5.00. The shop owner actually didn't even want it in the shop so she let me have it for what she had paid for it.

It was found on the site of the Battle of Pigeon Hill, Quebec which took place on Friday, 8 June, 1866. The Fenians were lead by Col. Michael Scanlan, this was a victory for the Fenians. The grip is leather covering wood but very brittle and the hand guard has been broken off, probably by the farmer's plough as it was found in a field. The blade length is 28 inches. I don't know if this is British or American and due to the fact that the Fenians equipped themselves it could be British in manufacture yet used by the Fenians. Still it is an interesting battlefield artifact of an event that helped solidify the Canadian Nation and, I hope, in some small way, the cause for a free Ireland.

Regards

Brian

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Ok, so it looks like it was indeed 40 years ago that I purchased this item and the years have not been kind to my memory. I think I have taken all of the correct steps to post this image correctly this time. Sorry for the errors.

Brian

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Here's the link to the text of "Troublous Times in Canada" written by a veteran of the Raids:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19599/19599.txt

I own this medal, to Philip E. Noverre of the Queen's Own Rifles, who were at the main battle - Ridgeway. Noverre was one of the author's sources for the battle. His son was killed with the CEF. The medal had been brooched, and the clasp is a late issue version (note how the "6" nearly touches the border).

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