Who the Fenians really are

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XXX (4) start of chapter

I was passing through an hospital in Buffalo, which was in the charge of a community of Irish Sisters, when the gentleman by whom I was accompanied asked me if I should like to see 'a live Fenian.' I replied that I had seen more than one specimen of the genus Fenian before, and that I had no special curiosity to see one on that occasion. 'Ah,' said he, 'but he was one of the raiders into Canada, and was severely wounded. This case may be interesting to you for this reason—that it affords the best reply to those who, in their eagerness to put down a so-called secret organisation (and, God knows, it puzzles me to discern where the secresy is), represent all who belong to it as infidels and everything bad. This young man, who was wounded at Limestone Ridge, is, to my personal knowledge, one of the best-conducted men in this city. He was and is a monthly communicant, and, I can answer for it, he is exemplary in every relation of life. He is, besides, a man of superior intelligence. Now I am, if anything, an anti-Fenian; yet I tell you it is absurd to suppose that the organisation is what it has been described by your English newspaper correspondents.' The appearance, manner, and bearing of the wounded man, who was sitting on the side of his bed, and who laid down a prayer-book as soon as he saw the visitor approaching, evidently justified the description given of him by my companion.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

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ebook: The Irish in America