Jamaica Plain Man's Role in Creation of Irish Republic

An 1866 Irish Republic Bond. Courtesy irishamerican.com

An 1866 Irish Republic Bond. Courtesy irishamerican.com

When President Eamon de Valera of the Irish Republic stated the other day that it was his intention to pay off the bonds of the Irish Republic, which were issued in this country in 1866, it is recalled to the minds of some of the people here that they had invested in these issues.

Patrick J. McManus, who lives at 28 Eggleston St., Jamaica Plain, and is one of the best- known Irishmen in the city, had one preserved carefully in his home for years.  In fact, he had several, but they were lost, and the one he retains now is a keepsake.

"We Irishmen, who bought the bonds in 1866 are not looking forward to getting rich from them now," he said.  "They served their purpose at the time, for the money raised kept the Irish question before the minds of the people everywhere and so they were worth what we put in.

"The bonds were authorized by the Fenian Brotherhood, at the head of which was James Stephens in Ireland.  The bonds issued here were signed by John O’Mahoney and Daniel Sullivan.  They were in issues of $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $500.  I think there were enough issued to raise more than $100,000.

"A number of well-known Bostonians bought some, and they were not all Irishmen, either.  The Civil War was ended and out of the ranks of civil life stepped officers and men trained thoroughly to fight.  So the Irishmen figured out they would try to do something for Ireland.

"England had meddled so much in the war on the side of the South that the soldiers under Grant were sore.  And the Alabama Incident, particularly when the English yacht rescued the officers, made the sailors anxious to get a crack at England.

"Money was needed to send men and munitions across, and to plan for an invasion of Canada.  And the bonds brought in some of it.  But bonds were not needed to finance any campaign because the cause had backers enough throughout the country.  Still, it was thought advisable to give some sort of legality to the raising of funds.

"Stephens was arrested, but like De Valera he made his escape from prison in Ireland without any difficulty because in the Fenian movement there were men who held positions in the army, navy and other offices where they kept in touch with all that was going on.

"While the Fenian plans were not successful from the point of view of bringing independence to Ireland; yet they were not abortive, that is entirely.  For today the Irish can point to what took place in the late 60’s as one of the evidences that Ireland never accepted the Act of Union any more than did Wolf Tone, Emmet, O’Connell, Mitchell and other leaders since Pitt and Castlereigh stole the country’s liberty.

"Looking back now we can see how our movements from time to time worried England as the Irish Campaign is worrying her diplomats today.  As a matter of fact, when we planned the invasion of Canada in President Grant’s time it became noised about that as long as the Alabama Claims were unsettled a Union General was not going to be so particular about the fine points of neutrality.  And there came a speedy settlement.

"When they talk so much about religious differences in Ulster, I know that much of it is not true.  I was born in the north of Ireland and lived there as a lad.  And some of my best friends were Protestants. They are today.  It is the brewers, the lace and linen makers who keep the agitation alive.  And Carson is doing a good job for them as their attorney.

"But the people are reading the papers more these days, and they do their own thinking.  Look at the elections in Ireland and England of late.  Carson and Lloyd George are both getting licked.  That shows the trend of events.  The elastic band that England’s aristocracy is trying to snap around the world is stretching to the breaking point.  And America will break it by backing away from the tangle they are trying to get America into."

The $10 bond that Mr. McManus owns has pictures of Wolf Tone and Emmet on it.  There is a red seal in the center at the bottom, at the left of Mr. O’Mahoney’s name.  At the top in the center is a woman typifying justice, and a young man is reaching down to pick up a sword that has fallen from her hand.  It is printed in green and even today, 53 years after its issue – Feb 2, 1866, it is dated – it is in a good state of preservation.


This article originally appeared in the Boston Daily Globe on July 27, 1919.