Irish nationalism

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Post by wangrong on Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:19 am

The whole of Ireland had been under British rule since the end of the Nine Years' War in 1603. The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) was founded on 17 March 1859 by James Stephens, with the aim of establishing an independent democratic republic in Ireland. The IRB was a revolutionary fraternal organisation, rather than an insurrectionary conspiracy; Stephens believed that a "thorough social revolution" was required in Ireland before the people could become republicans.[1] The Fenian Brotherhood was founded in New York in 1859 by John O'Mahony, ostensibly the IRB's American wing.[2][3] By 1865 the IRB had an estimated 100,000 members, and was carrying out frequent acts of violence in metropolitan Britain.[4] The Irish community in Manchester accounted for more than 10 percent of the population,[5] and one contemporary estimate put the number of Fenians and Fenian sympathisers living within 50 miles (80 km) of the city at 50,000.[6]
In 1867 the Fenians were preparing to launch an armed uprising against British rule, but their plans became known to the authorities, and several key members of the movement's leadership were arrested and convicted. Two succeeded in evading the police, Thomas J. Kelly and Timothy Deasy, and travelled from Ireland to mainland Britain to reorganise and raise the morale of the Fenian groups there in the wake of the failed uprising.[7] Both were Irish Americans who had fought with distinction in the American Civil War – Kelly achieving the rank of colonel and Deasy that of captain – and both had played important roles in the abortive uprising; Kelly had been declared the chief executive of the Irish Republic at a secret republican convention, and Deasy commanded a Fenian brigade in County Cork.[8]
During the early hours of 11 September 1867, police arrested two men found loitering in Oak Street, Shudehill, suspecting them of planning to rob a shop. Both were charged under the Vagrancy Act and held in custody. The Manchester police were initially unaware of their identities, but their colleagues in Ireland identified them as Kelly and Deasy.[9]

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