there were no draft riots here, as no one needed to be drafted. Cleveland's Irish volunteered in numbers far larger than anyone suspected they would and they saw action on scores of battlefronts. To get an idea of how many answered Abe Lincoln's call, all one need do is to study the list of names of Civil War veterans inscribed on the walls in the display room of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square. One-third of all naval volunteers from this area were Irish, which isn't a bad showing, considering that they comprised only 10% of the population. Nationwide, over 200,000 Irishmen served in the Union and Confederate Armies and the division was roughly 140,000 to 60,000, with the North getting the larger number.

Organizations to Free Ireland: Trouble with the Church

       The strangest quirk of all, however, had to do with the Irishman's willingness to risk excommunication from his church by joining secret societies whose aim was the liberation of Ireland from English rule. Many of them did, in fact, accept excommunication from the church they so firmly believed in, because they considered the cause of their homeland's freedom everv bit as sacred as their immortal souls. It was not an easy choice for most of them to make and an abundance of anguish followed every such decision to retain their memberships in organizations their bishops had condemned as "socialist-inspired and anti-American."




       No doubt, a bit of explanation is in order. It all began in 1858, when an Irish nationalistic revolutionary movement became a reality on both sides of the Atlantic. The heart and soul of the movement rested in two autonomous divisions of the revolutionary organization -- a secret society in Ireland called the Irish Republican Brotherhood and an openly active branch in the United States called the Fenian Brotherhood. The American society, composed of both patriotic visionaries and embittered Immigrants was to be the fund raising unit that would supply the brothers across the tea with guns and other tools of war. The American Fenians also pledged to mount an armed expedition in support of the revolt that was to come.

       Since the Catholic Emancipation Act had been passed by Parliament only a few short decades before (1829), the Irish bishops wanted no rocking of the governmental boat, especially by a group of wild-eyed revolutionaries. When Charels Stewart Parnell and others founded the Irish National Land League and encouraged the peasants to withhold rent from their landlords, the bishops, in return for certain favors by English government officials, condemned the plan as immoral -- the peasants were guilty of thievery -- and threatened anyone so doing with excommunication.

       The American bishops, with a few notable exceptions, followed the lead of the Irish hierarchy -- the Fenians and Land Leaguers were to cease all socialistic, revolutionary activity, .....




disband their secret societies and concentrate their energies on becoming good Americans. Otherwise they would face excommunication, and that included all members in all such organizations. When the Land Leaguers of Cleveland informed Bishop Richard Gilmour that they saw no need to disband their Ladies Auxiliary, he, in turn, informed them that the ladies would be excommunicated as well.

       The Irish have never been an anti-clerical people. They had shared too much mutual suffering with the clergy and had seen too many priests go to the gallows on their behalf for that. However, after the Irish bishops sided with the British government in the mid-19th Century, they lost their affection for men of that clerical rank. The kindest words the Irish accorded their bishops was they had to act as they did, lest the Church would have lost its government dole.

       One of the reasons the Irish chose to disobey their bishops, both here and in Ireland, is that a considerable number of priests agreed with their assessment of the hierarchy and backed up their words by joining the secret societies themselves. The freedom of Ireland was at stake after seven centuries of foreign rule and oppression, so the bishops would have to give them a better reason to desist, than mere self-righteous words.

       This is yet another reason the Irish here were delayed in their political development. A great deal of their energies were spent debatinq the plausibility of the Fenian movement, if .....




not its efficacy, and there is no doubt that it was the focal point of action on the part of the more important local politicians. Though Americanization was already settling in, half of them remained Irish and Erin was on the threshold of gaining her freedom, so they thought. It would be another 60 years before the English Lion would withdraw his bloody claws from the heart of the Emerald Isle.

       The dilemma facing the Irish here, of excommunication due to their participation in secret societies, was solved in the latter half of the 19th Century. The renians bungled their way to oblivion shortly after the Civil War ended, when they attempted to seize Canada and hold it hostage until Ireland was freed. An army of Fenians did invade Canada and captured Fort Erie for a brief spell before retreating back across the border into the waiting hands of the American army. The whole affair was rather comic and the Fenians fell from favor with the mass of sympathizers it had in the Irish communities across the land.

       It was to give way to the Clan na Gael, an organization the American bishops didn't like any better than the Fenians. In due time, however, the Clan na Gael was to give way to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which, because of changes in the hierarchy and the soft-pedalinq of its aims, came to an acceptable status. The Hibernians peaked here in 1900, when they could boast of having 13 full "divisions" ready at a moment's notice to stage a parade for whatever occasion. Some proof of its .....(continued next page)