O’Donovan Rossa support for Polish independence to be recalled

Historian to examine Fenian’s support for Poles at lecture in Dublin this weekend

As the State prepares to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the funeral of Fenian Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa at the weekend, O’Donovan Rossa’s championing of the cause of Polish freedom will be marked by a lecture in Dublin.

Gabriel Doherty of the School of History at University College Cork will give a lecture entitled "Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa: Irish nationalist and champion of the cause of Poland" at Polish House, 20 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2.

The lecture on Friday night by Mr Doherty is hosted by the Irish Polish Society and the Polish Embassy and will focus on O'Donovan Rossa's support for Polish insurgents when they rose up against the Russian Empire in January 1863.

Mr Doherty said the lecture is free with a particular welcome being extended to members of the Polish community in Ireland and he pointed that last weekend members of the Polish community in West Cork participated in a commemoration to O'Donovan Rossa.


Last weekend saw O’Donovan Rossa’s home town of Skibbereen in West Cork re-enacted a torchlit parade organised by the Fenian leader to express solidarity with the Polish insurgents and many Poles living locally participated in the re-enactment.

Meanwhile President Michael D Higgins will join Taoiseach Enda Kenny, members of the the diplomatic corps and other invited guests at Glasnevin Cemetery on Saturday morning for a state commemoration of the centenary of O'Donovan Rossa's funeral on August 1st 1915

According to Mr Doherty. O’Donovan Rossa who died in Staten Island in New York on June 29th 1915 was arguably the most famous of all Fenian leaders and his burial in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery a month later was one of the largest political funerals in Irish history.

“It was the occasion for Pádraig Pearse’s famous graveside oration that culminated in the words: ‘The fools, the fools, the fools! They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace !,”he said

“Given the involvement of the entire leadership cadre of the 1916 Rising, and the prominent role played by the Irish Volunteers on the day, the funeral can be seen as marking the beginning of the countdown to the 1916 Rising itself,” he added.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times