I’ve discussed my interest in utilising online resources for researching various historical topics a number of times on ASF, as can be seen in the two brief articles I wrote in 2011 and 2014 on the mainly American origins of the name “Irish Republican Army” (or “IRA”) where I used both newspaper and literary sources to uncover some of the earliest examples of it’s use. The world wide web has increasingly become an archive of human knowledge and this gives ordinary citizens ready access to many source materials that in previous decades and centuries were the sole purvey of academic researchers. In a sense we have all become our own historians and anyone can now investigate those aspects of history and culture that interest them.
This is particularly relevant for modern Irish republicans who have little excuse not to read the experiences of those who came before them. I find this particularly true of the Fenians, the 19th and early 20th century global revolutionary movement represented most famously by two groupings: the European-based Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and the North American-based Fenian Brotherhood (FB). Their successes and failures, victories and defeats, trials and tribulations from the personal to the organisational hold a mirror up to a present era. As much as the world has changed some things have remained the same. In that light I have gathered some original publications from the late 1800s and early 1900s which were largely authored by the Fenians themselves or their supporters which illustrate some of their contemporary experiences. Some of course are propagandist in nature, others however are more honest in their accounts. The majority come from Google Books or similar online repositories and all are copyright free for reading or distribution.
To provide context I have also included some modern examinations of the Fenian movement, its history and personalities, which you might find interesting. I hope to add more materials as they become available. Irish Republicans in one form or another managed to publish voluminous amounts of books and newspapers in the 1800s which have yet to be digitised by modern cataloguers so there is much, much more to come.
You can find the link to the online drive holding the publications here. They can be read on the web, downloaded or saved to a local device, or shared as you wish. Most are in PDF format for ease of use.