John Devoy (1842-1928) was born near Kill, County Kildare. He became an active Fenian and after imprisonment was exiled to America. During his time there Devoy became a journalist for the New York Herald, and later editor of the Gaelic American. He then went on to become a leading figure of Clan na Gael, becoming its President in 1874. Carla King is a lecturer in Modern History at St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Dublin. W. J. Mc Cormack is Keeper of the Edward Worth Library (1733) at Dr Steevens's Hospital, Dublin, and former Professor of Literary History at Goldsmiths, University of London.
"Michael Davitt: From the Gaelic American" tells the story of a collaboration between two giants of late nineteenth-century Irish nationalism: John Devoy and Michael Davitt, in the formulation of the New Departure and the early emergence of the land agitation. Devoy (1842-1928), a Fenian who assisted James Stephens in his escape from Richmond prison, only later to be imprisoned himself for administering the Fenian oath, was to spend most of his adult life in exile in the United States. He was a leading figure in Clan na Gael and a journalist for the "New York Herald" and later edited the "Gaelic American", in which this account of Davitt was serialised. Michael Davitt (1846-1906), once a major figure in the Irish Republican Brotherhood went on to found the Irish National Land League. Although both men shared similar hopes for the Irish nation their methods and approaches were to diverge, and they fell out in 1882. This memoir is particularly informative for the period between 1878 and 1880, when the New Departure was initiated. However, Devoy asserts that Davitt remained more loyal to the Fenian ideals than most of his contemporaries recognised.
Introduction by Carla King and W. J. Mc Cormack
- Obituary, Michael Davitt passes away in Dublin
Michael Davitt's career
Davitt's relations with the Fenians I
Davitt and the Fenians
Davitt's relations with the Fenians II
Michael Davitt and the Clan na Gael
Returned to Ireland to open campaign
Davitt meets the Fenian leaders in Paris
The Paris conference ended amicably
Parnell's relations with Clan na Gael
With Parnell and Biggar in Boulogne
Sought alliances with foreign powers. On the eve of the Land League in 1879
The agitation launched at Irishtown
How Parnell accepted the leadership
Conditions which Parnell agreed to
Why the Fenians were hostile to Sullivan
The great Claremorris land meeting
"University College Dublin Press has now published over thirty ‘Classics of Irish History'. These contemporary accounts by well known personalities of historical events and attitudes have an immediacy that conventional histories do not have. Introductions by modern historians provide additional historical background and, with hindsight, objectivity."
"admirably edited and introduced … by Carla King and W J Mc Cormack."
Verbal Magazine Issue 12
"Scholars of nineteenth-century Irish and Irish-American politics should reacquaint themselves with these classics, part of a long running and immensely useful series from University College Dublin Press."
Irish Literary Supplement
'reissued with illuminating new introductions as a part of the Classics of Irish History series published by UCD Press, one of the most admirable … endeavours in recent Irish publishing history. More than this, these texts were also all political interventions.
John Devoy’s compelling account of the machinations at Boulogne and elsewhere was also a response to a death – Davitt’s passing allowing him to set the record straight on the political subtleties of the ‘new departures’ of the late 1870s … Devoy’s [text] existed in counterpoint to prevailing assumptions, [the author] determined to problematise what their fellow countrymen thought they knew of Ireland’s past. Devoy contested the widely-held view that Davitt was a Fenian who had come to his senses, his life a moral tale proving that ‘constitutional agitation is more efficacious in obtaining “reforms” and “redress of grievances” in Ireland than physical force.’ Devoy suggested that to use his ‘career as an agitator … as an argument against Fenianism’ was to fundamentally misunderstand Davitt’s politics. Instead, Devoy pictured Davitt as a separatist who sought to establish a modus operandi that would avoid the pitfalls of underground conspiracy and the moral bankruptcy of Isaac Butt’s loosely-defined federalism and preserve the integrity of Fenianism’s revolutionary republicanism.
Devoy also desired to refute the notion that his own meetings with Parnell were between ‘a cautious and taciturn Constitutionalist’ and a ‘loquacious Fenian’, insisting that they met as equals fully cognisant of the subtleties of their respective political agendas.'
Irish Literary Supplement