The Fenian Invasion of Canada, 1866

Wednesday, 5 December, at 8.15pm in the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone

Talk by Dr David Doolin

Fenians and Canada

A contemporary, albeit heavily romanticised, version of the ‘Battle of Ridgeway’ in 1866 (Us Library of Congress)

Summary This talk will focus on the 1866 Fenian Brotherhood’s incursions into British North America. It will show that this relatively little known and often derided episode is of greater importance than historians have previously allowed. The Fenian invasion of Canada was a seminal event that exposed the international dimension of the Fenian Brotherhood and the interests of Irish migrants, while it shows how Ireland’s revolutionary past was inextricably tied to American global history and, indeed, U.S. imperial competition with Britain in the North Atlantic. This exploration of the Fenian invasion offers an innovative look at a forgotten past, which challenges many ideas about Irish immigrant assimilation in America, and the international dimensions of Irish revolutionary nationalistism in the 19th Century.

Speaker Dr. David Doolin’s research and teaching covers both Ireland and North America with a focus on the Irish in America, the Fenian Brotherhood, stories of American immigration, as well as aspects of American Empire and America at war. His book Transnational Revolutionaries: The Fenian Invasion of Canada, 1866 was published in 2016, to coincide with the 150th year anniversary of that event and the book was launched by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, in the presence of the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers, at Dublin’s Mansion House. Dr. Doolin has taught courses in American, European, and Irish history at University College Dublin (UCD), Maynooth University, and currently for the Arts programme at the Dublin Business School. He previously lived, studied and worked in the United States from 2004 to 2014. He is currently working on a book chapter for a forthcoming anthology to be published towards the end of 2019; his chapter looks at the continuity of Irish American transnational revolutionary intrigue, by exploring connections between the Fenian leadership from the 1860s up through the 1910s.

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