Fenians in Dungarvan Bay, The Journey of the Erin’s Hope

This months guest blog looks forward to a significant anniversary this year when in June of 1867 a band of Fenian freedom fighters were landed in Waterford having journeyed across the Atlantic to join in a planned insurrection.  The ship was commanded by a Waterford man, and although it was unsuccessful it was none the less a courageous act and I’m delighted that my cousin James Doherty took the time to write it up for us.

Invasion has threatened Ireland on numerous occasions in modern history. In 1867 however, this threat lay untypically, to the west. The British administration were not worried about a European superpower attempting to use Ireland as a stepping stone towards the mainland rather they were concerned with landings by members of the Fenian Brotherhood. A nationalist Irish organisation pledged to the violent overthrow of British rule in Ireland.

In 1867 the Fenians announced their plans for rebellion in Ireland. The organisation however was riddled with informers and the planed uprising only produced a few skirmishes with police and rioting in Tallaght that was quickly brought under control. Unaware of the failed rising, plans were hatched in New York to send a large quantity of munitions (Between 5000- 8000 rifles and several small cannon) and a party of forty Fenians to support the rebellion in Ireland . On the night of the 13th of April 1867 the Brig Jacmel set sail, bound for Ireland and insurrection[i]

“The Brig Jacmel”
From Harpers Weekly

In charge of the maritime element of this expedition was Captain Joseph Kavanagh of Passage East, Kavanagh (also spelled Cavanagh) had been recruited to the Fenian movement in New York by a tavern keeper called Baston who also hailed from Passage[ii].

On the 18th of May the Jacmel by now renamed the Erin’s Hope approached the Irish Coast. Almost immediately things started to go wrong. When the gun-running expedition arrived off the Sligo Coast she showed the pre-arranged signals but got no reply. Captain Cavanagh who was in charge of the expedition went ashore where he met a co-conspirator Richard O Sullivan Burke. O’Sullivan Burke advised Kavanagh of the real state of the insurrection and advised him to leave the area immediately. This was timely advice as the authorities had dispatched a gun boat to investigate this mysterious brig.[iii]

Initially Cavanagh set sail for the Cork coast where he had been led to believe some of the Fenians were holding out. However due to bad weather and having to play cat and mouse with Coast Guard cutters the expedition arrived off the Waterford Coast near Helvick on June 1st. At this stage the members of the expedition were getting desperate and they hailed a fishing boat and asked to be brought ashore. A local fisherman (under considerable duress) landed 32 Fenians which were then spotted by a vigilant Coast Guard who immediately raised the alarm.

The Waterford News of 7th June described in colourful terms the circumstances of this mini invasion. “Not since the French landing at Killala has more consternation been caused by the news of the landing of Fenians” The News went on to describe how the “foreigners split into groups of three and four and scattered through the countryside”, 26 Fenians were quickly arrested and brought before magistrates in Dungarvan where a variety of elaborate cover stories were sworn to. The authorities mounted an armed guard on the local jail whilst a transfer to a more secure location could be arranged. Throughout all this it was reported that the Fenians were in remarkably good spirits.[iv]

In what amounted to almost a carnival atmosphere the Fenians were brought in seven carriages to the jail in Waterford the next morning. The streets in Dungarvan were thronged and the prisoners were led out to great cheering. Security was very tight with a large party of the constabulary and sixteen soldiers of the 17th Regiment. On arriving at the outskirts of Waterford City the party was met by Mr. H.E Redmond R.M and a further force of thirty constabulary armed with breech loading rifles[v]

Waterford city jail – Ballybricken via

On Monday the 10th of June the group of prisoners that had been sent from Dungarvan received two visitors a Detective Talbot and J.J Corydon. Talbot and Corydon (real name Corridon) were loathed by the Fenians as Corydon was an arch informer and Talbot had infiltrated the Fenian movement working as a double agent . The Waterford News of the 14th of June described their visit to identify Fenians. The paper referred to the “two obnoxious characters” and in colourful tones compared Corydon to Judas Iscariot. Corydon’s visit and his notoriety ensured a crowd numbering in the thousands which necessitated the whole force of Waterford Constabulary being turned out to escort the informer and the spy to the safety of the train station[vi].

The security surrounding this Fenian situation may have seemed excessive however subsequent events would prove otherwise. In addition to the main body of Fenians who had been detained and brought to Dungarvan a smaller party of four had been arrested heading towards Cork and had been brought to Youghal. These were to be reunited with their compatriots in Waterford.

On the night of the 13th of June four Fenians in the company of a small party of constabulary from the County of Cork stepped off the 8.45 train in Waterford. They were expecting to be met there by the local police but were disappointed. The Cork detachment of police started to proceed towards the gaol exciting considerable local interest. As they went some of the local police they encountered joined the group as the crowd following them grew larger and more hostile. Soon stone throwing began and the local police advised taking shelter in the Lady Lane police station and calling for reinforcements. [vii]

Just after 9pm the reinforced party left the Police Station heading for the gaol. The force of police now measured forty on foot and fourteen mounted. However the hostile crowd had also grown in force consisting of “Salters and Labourers with a sprinkling of fisherwoman who would prove the most formidable of assailants”. A full scale riot ensued as the police battled their way towards the safety of the gaol with the prisoners receiving many blows in the chaos.

At the gaol once the prisoners were safely secured the Constabulary turned to face their assailants who numbered in the hundreds. Head Constable Barry ordered a bayonet charge which resulted in “one unhappy man named Walsh being stabbed through the heart” and several other rioters and police seriously injured. It was stated later that the prisoners were highly incensed by the actions of the crowd and were grateful to make the safety of the gaol.[viii]

A monument in Helvick of the event via

By the 14th of June both sets of Fenian prisoners were together and were sent by train to Dublin. The Evening Mail reported that the prisoners were met at the Kings-Bridge terminus by a strong detachment of mounted constabulary and two full troops from the 9th Lancers[ix]. Meanwhile the Erin’s Hope would loiter for some time around the Irish coast until still having made no meaningful contact with Irish Rebels it would set sail and return with its weapons still in their boxes.

Although unsuccessful the Erin’s Hope returned to a hero’s welcome in New York City and Kavanagh returned to life as a ship’s Captain. Despite his flirtation with the Fenian movement Kavanagh would later become a supporter of John Redmond. Dr. Nicholas Whittle Sinn Fein director of elections would complain in later life of the “fatalistic loyalty” shown to John Redmond by the people of Waterford and used Captain Kavanagh as a prime example of this support[x]

Captain Kavanaghs last resting place
Crooke graveyard, Co Waterford

Guest Blogs…The intention of the guest blog is to offer a platform to others who are writing about the maritime heritage of Waterford harbour an opportunity to publish their stories. If you would like to contribute a piece, please email me at russianside@gmail.com. The only criteria is that it needs to have a maritime connection to the harbour and a maximum word count of 1200 words. I will format, source the photos if required and add in the hyperlinks. Guest blogs will be published on the last Friday of each month. 

I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can connect with me to receive the blog every week.  Simply email me to request to be added to my email list at russianside@gmail.com.

[i] ttp://www.waterfordmuseum.ie/exhibit/web/Display/article/323/3/The_Fenian_Landing_At_Helvic_The_Jacmel_Sails.html

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Waterford News 07/06/1867

[v] Ibid

[vi] Waterford News 14/06//1967

[vii] Cork Examiner 15/06/1867

[viii] Ibid

[ix] Dublin Evening Mail 15/06/1867

[x] Nicholas Whittle , Statement to the Bureau of Military History  1913-1921



Happy National Limerick Day everyone! 🎉 Here’s an Irish limerick to celebrate:

See Ireland, go on take a leap!
Across all the land you can sweep.
See our castles so grand
The sea, hills and the land,
And all of it covered in sheep!

We’re famous for books and U2
And a landscape that’s not very blue,
Because it’s all green
We’re a place to be seen
And the craic’s only mighty, it’s true.


Sets in Leuven, an Irish set dancing festival

Irish set dancing in the amazing city of Leuven, where even the Liberator once studied.
A city with long and very strong links with Ireland.
A residential set dancing weekend with ceilis and workshops to mark the 400 plus 10 anniversary of the Flight of the Earls will take place at the historic Irish College in Leuven, Belgium on May 12, 13 and 14 2017.
There will be workshops with Edwina Guckian (for steps) and Ronan Healy (for sets) and The Flight of the Earls Ceili Band will play their mighty tunes for the ceilis.
Although the Flight of the Earls may be seen as the end of the old Gaelic order in Ireland, the time they spent safe and welcome in Leuven in 1607 is something we continue to commemorate to this day. We look forward to welcoming you here to be part of that commemoration.
Fri 12/05 19.30 – 22.00
Sets in the chapel with recorded music
(Free of charge)
Sat 13/05 11.30 – 13.00
Steps workshop with Edwina Guckian and Ryan Owens
(€5 at the door)
Sat 13/05 14.30 – 17.00
Steps workshop with Edwina Guckian and Ryan Owens
(€5 at the door)
Sat 13/05 14.30 – 17.00
Sets workshop with Ronan Healy
(€5 at the door)
Sat 13/05 20.00 – 23.45
Ceili with The Flight of the Earls Ceili Band
(€12 at the door)
Sun 14/05 10.00 – 12.00
Steps workshop with Edwina Guckian and Ryan Owens
(€5 at the door)
Sun 14/05 13.30 – 16.30
Ceili with The Flight of the Earls Ceili Band
(€12 at the door)

#OTD in Irish History – 12 May:

Source: #OTD in Irish History – 12 May:


563 – St Columcille establishes a community on Iona.

1641 – Thomas Wentworth, English viceroy of Ireland and Earl of Stafford is beheaded. From 1632–39 he was Lord Deputy of Ireland, where he established a strong authoritarian rule. Recalled to England, he became a leading advisor to the king, attempting to strengthen the royal position against Parliament. When Parliament condemned him to death, Charles signed the death warrant and Wentworth was executed.

1784 – J.S. Knowles, dramatist and Baptist preacher, is born in Cork.

1806 – Brigadier General James Shields, US army, and the only person to be elected a senator by three states, is born in Artmore, Co Tyrone.

1823 – Daniel O’Connell founds the Catholic Association, an organisation dedicated to obtaining the franchise for Catholics.

1916 – Irish Patriots, Seán MacDiarmada and James Connolly are executed at Kilmainham Gaol.

1921 – A group of Black and Tans traveling from Listowel towards Athea arrested four young men (Paddy Dalton, Paddy Walsh, Jerry Lyons, Con Dee) in Gortaglanna. One of the men, Con Dee, attempted to free himself from captivity and escaped, though injured by a bullet. Three of the other men are shot dead on the spot.

1944 – Cork-born Venerable Edel Quinn, one of the outstanding missionary figures of the 20th century, dies of TB in Nairobi, Kenya.

1950 – Birth in Dublin of internationally acclaimed actor, film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator, Gabriel Byrne.

1952 – Birth of former long-distance runner, Patrick “Pat” Hooper in Dublin. He represented Ireland twice and his personal best is 2:17:46. He is the older brother of marathoner and three-time Olympian Dick Hooper.

1981 – Francis Hughes, Irish political prisoner, dies on hunger strike in Long Kesh Prison. His death comes a week after the death of Bobby Sands on 5 May, the first to die in a republican campaign for political status to be granted to IRA prisoners. In Dublin a group of 2,000 people tried to break into the British Embassy.

1983 – Birth of actor, Domhnall Gleeson, son of actor, Brendan Gleeson. He is best known for his portrayal of Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter film franchise, General Hux in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Caleb in Ex Machina and Tim Lake in About Time. He has acted on both stage and screen, earning a Tony Award nomination in 2006 for his role in the Broadway production The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

1997 – Sean Brown (61), a Catholic civilian, was abducted by members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) as he locked the gates of Bellaghy Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Brown was beaten before being shot dead and his body was found the next day beside his burnt-out car at Randalstown, Co Antrim. Brown who left a wife and six children was a GAA official and was often the last person to leave the Bellaghy GAA club.

1998 – British Chancellor Gordon Brown hands the Yes campaign in the North a monster financial boost when he unveils a bumper £315 million plan — over twice what was expected.

1999 – US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton become the first woman to be granted the Freedom of Galway city, following in the footsteps of her country’s former presidents, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

2003 – Dublin City Council votes by an overwhelming majority to call for the preservation of a house in Moore Street where the leaders of the 1916 Rising have their last meeting and decide to surrender to British forces.


Stretching Ireland’s western seaboard, the Wild Atlantic Way is the longest defined coastal touring route in the world. Over 2,500km in length, spanning Ireland’s western counties, the route takes in some of the most breathtaking scenery you’ll ever see. 

The Wild Atlantic Way is not a destination but a journey. Here, you’ll discover warmth in the wild continuous landscape and visit the most spectacular places: UNESCO World Heritage site Skellig Michael; the largest karst landscape in the world, The Burren; and the traditional Irish towns dotted along our western coast.

The Wild Atlantic Way is alive with literature, music, stories, and surf. Its landscape, flora, fauna, and sheer size have inspired everyone from WB Yeats to John Lennon.

Where else would the rolling landscape and Gaelic spirit inspire the dreamers, and the Atlantic Ocean call the world’s greatest surfers? Where else could attract such storied names as actor Sean Connery, Hollywood legend Maureen O’Hara and beloved poet Seamus Heaney over the years?

The Wild Atlantic Way, that’s where.

Here’s a list of the 10 locations you can’t afford to miss on the route:



Bathe in the Gaelic spirit of the Sliabh Liag cliffs – one of the highest marine cliffs in Europe. Tread the routes of Christian pilgrims, echoed with the wild Atlantic Ocean waves. Explore Silver Strand, a hidden beach only accessible by sea or steps; watch artisans weave Donegal tweed; and kayak along Ireland’s mighty cliffs.


Find a place alive with literature, music, stories, and surf. This part of the Wild Atlantic Way inspires the dreamers, the change-makers and thrill-seekers. The ocean swells beckon surfers from all over the world, while its passage tombs, picture-perfect villages, and green, rolling hills leave spirits renewed. No wonder Irish poet WB Yeats fell in love with its beauty, writing it’s here that “peace comes dropping slow.”


You’ll find warmth amid the wild on the beautifully vast Erris Peninsula. If you venture to this welcoming part of Ireland, you’ll be amazed by the expanse of open land. With striking contrasts of light and dark, many experiences await you here. The white sand and crystal clear waters of Inishkea Islands are a beachcomber’s dream; collect seashells on Blacksod Bay, and visit Ireland’s largest colony of Atlantic grey seals.


A magical place that kisses the west coast of Ireland, Clew Bay has an island for every day of the year, so storytellers say. Explore the island of Dorinish, once owned by The Beatles’ own John Lennon, who came here to “get away from it all”. The bay’s beach marries pure Blue Flag shores with submerged drumlins forced into existence an ice age ago. The beautiful water world awaits you.


Where water and mountain crash, the Atlantic surf has shaped everything from Connemara’s unique fjord to the spirit of the city of Galway. Welcome to Ireland’s largest traditional Irish speaking region. Along its Atlantic coastline, you’ll meet the most spirited of locals who’ll give you “Céad Míle Fáilte” – a hundred thousand welcomes. Visit Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord; take a boat to the traditional Aran Islands; and explore the Irish music that awaits you on your return.


Even in the wildest of places you can find calm and even in the raw, weather-beaten conditions there is warmth. The Burren means ‘the great rock’ and this moonscape of karst limestone is a World Heritage Site. Between the cracked limestone that stretches over 250km you’ll find pretty wildflowers, rich in flora and fauna. As well as megalithic tombs and monuments older than Egypt’s pyramids, you’ll take away memories that will last a lifetime.


A little dream world, Dingle town is a hub of literary and creative culture. Music plays long into the night, and festivals can be found along its winding roads. With the watchful gaze of the Blasket Islands, wander ruined cottages; take in dramatic views from Slea Head; discover the stories; and taste its famous seafood cuisine.


Ascend through mystical scenery encircled with unspoilt lands. Kerry’s majestic energy and breathtaking landscapes will shimmer in memory long after you’ve gone. Explore UNESCO pilgrimage site Skellig Michael, which writer George Bernard Shaw described as “part of our dream world”. Climb old stone age ring forts, indulge in local chocolate making, and not to forget the national parks – a feast for the eyes.


Like watercolours made real, West Cork’s towns seem to have sprung from a dream. Perhaps it’s because the timeless air of the Beara Peninsula allows nature to set the pace. The Atlantic Ocean here meets the Gulf Stream, and the micro-climate allows for lush vegetation. With harbours, coves and colourful towns, there’s plenty to do. Sail around one of the 100 islands; visit castle ruins; and take in one of West Cork’s stunning sunsets – known locally as ‘Europe’s last’.

There’s no end to the discoveries to be made on the route, find out more with our selection of Breathtaking Moments along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Landhuizen en kastelen in Ierland

Nergens komt de geschiedenis van Ierland zo goed tot uiting als in onze landhuizen en kastelen. Een knap staaltje architectuur en eeuwen geschiedenis worden prachtig gecombineerd in een verbluffende natuurlijke omgeving. Kom even langs voor een kopje thee, of nog beter: breng er een nacht door.

Graag eens genieten in een landhuis? Hieronder zeven suggesties om uit te proberen……

Crom Castle, county Fermanagh

De graven van Erne hebben ruim 350 jaar lang van Crom Castle genoten. En nu kunnen wij dat ook. Het kasteel is een idyllisch paradijs van heuvelachtige parken en beboste eilanden, gesitueerd in Upper Lough Erne. De westelijke vleugel van het kasteel is recentelijk voor het publiek geopend voor bezoeken van een week of voor lange weekenden; het kasteel zelf blijft echter het privéhuis van zowel Lord als Lady Erne.

Clonalis House, county Roscommon

Graag eens slapen in het huis van de laatste Koningen van Ierland? De lijn van de familie O’Conor kan rechtstreeks worden teruggeleid naar de laatste koningen van het Koninkrijk Connacht. Dompel jezelf onder in antieke luxe in een onwaarschijnlijk mooi landschap en maak kennis met Pyers en Marguerite O’Conor Nash, die met hun gezin sinds 1981 in het huis wonen. Marguerite maakt gebak om u tegen te zeggen,en alle jam, brood, cake en gebak die in het huis worden opgediend, worden eigenhandig door haar gemaakt.

Dungiven Castle, county Londonderry

De familie O’Cahan regeerde over de streek rond Dungiven Castle tussen de 12de en 17de eeuw en noemde dit kasteel hun thuis. Als je ooit de melodie Danny Boy hebt gehoord, dan heb je ook van de familie O’Cahan gehoord, aangezien het oorspronkelijk de Treurzang van O’Cahan heette. Met een historie vol legenden en schoonheid is het kasteel nu een viersterrenhotel,dat trots kan zijn op een bekroond restaurant.

Castlewellan Castle, county Down

Blijf een weekend of neem voor een week je intrek in Castlewellan Castle in county Down, in de stijl van de Schotse baronie. Het kasteeldomein beschikt over prachtige landerijen met een meer, een doolhof en een bos en is gelegen tegen de achtergrond van het Mourne-gebergte. Het is uitnodigend, huiselijk en gewoon verbluffend. In Castlewellan Forest bevindt zich eveneens een Vredesdoolhof van ruim een hectare groot om in te verdwalen. Perfect dus.

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Enniscoe House, county Mayo

Diep in het westen van Ierland staat een elegant Georgiaans landhuis dat het thuis is van Susan Kellett, een rechtstreekse afstammeling van de oorspronkelijke familie die in de jaren 1600 de landerijen van Enniscoe House ontginde. Enniscoe House beschikt over een betoverend mooie, Victoriaanse ommuurde tuin, een museum en een centrum op het landgoed, waarin de historie van de familie behandeld wordt. Je kunt er vissen op Lough Conn, direct aan de achterdeur, en zowat alles doen wat je graag eens in de openlucht zou willen doen. Susan staat bekend om haar gastvrijheid en in combinatie met de schoonheid en geschiedenis van Enniscoe zul je je thuis voelen, al is het wellicht ietsje groter.

Bantry House, county Cork

Egerton Shelswell-White is een rechtstreekse afstammeling van Richard White (de Earl van Bantry). Dit past in het plaatje, want Shelswell-White is nog steeds bewoner en eigenaar van Bantry House. Het wordt bejubeld als een van de mooiste historische huizen die in Ierland te vinden is; gasten kunnen er de nacht doorbrengen met bed and breakfast of met hun eigen proviand. Je kunt zelfs een tochtje maken met een lid van de familie Shelswell-White, als je verbeelding al niet geprikkeld wordt door een verkenning van de nabije Bantry Bay …

Newbridge House and Farm, county Dublin

Newbridge House ligt verscholen tussen bijna 150 hectare heuvelachtig Iers landschap. Heuvels en valleien omzomen het huis en verbergen een kalkoven, speelterrein, hertenpark, kasteelruïnes en boerderij. Dat noemen we nog eens multitasken! De oorspronkelijke familie die het huis bezat, was de familie Cobbe, van wie de afstamming teruggaat tot de 15de eeuw. Houd je ogen open terwijl je op bezoek bent, want af en toe bezoekt de familie Cobbe dit verbazingwekkende huis nog.