Last October, a statue of John Devoy was unveiled in Naas, Co. Kildare, the New York Fenian’s home county, aided primarily by the Kildare Association of New York, which raised the funds for the monument.
Though Devoy was highly instrumental in organizing the 1916 Easter Rising, his name is often forgotten, as he lived in forced exile from Ireland after his 1866 arrest for participation in planning an Irish uprising. Before his arrest, Devoy had been a leader in the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and once he settled in New York, became active in Clan na Gael, eventually aligning the two organizations.
He published the Gaelic American, a weekly newspaper, and worked tirelessly in support of Irish freedom, and helped to raise American funds to arm the Irish Volunteer. Pádraig Pearse, who visited Devoy in 1914, called him, “the greatest Fenian of them all.”
In 2008, Kildare man Seamus Curran founded the John Devoy Memorial Committee with the hope of raising funds to erect a statue of Devoy in Kildare. During the recession, the County Kildare Association of New York stepped in and helped raise the $45,000 necessary to erect the bronze statue of Devoy that now stands across the street from Our Lady and St. David’s Catholic Church, the very church where he was condemned from the pulpit for his political activities in the name of Irish freedom.
Though the project took several years to get off the ground, the unveiling came at just the right time, only months before Ireland’s centenary celebrations of the 1916 Rising that Devoy worked so hard to realize. ♦