“The Fianna League of America”
In early 1914, senior Fianna Eireann officer Michael Lonergan emigrated to New York in America.
Lonergan had been one of the most active of all the Fianna officers since its inception in 1909. He was one of those at no. 34 Camden Street on August 16th 1909 and since that historic day he worked hard and devoted his life to the cause.
When he made the journey to the United States he didn’t give up his passion for Ireland or the boys of Fianna Eireann.
In a letter sent to his old comrades on the Fianna executive he tells of being inspired by watching the annual Bodenstown pilgrimage in 1914 on a newsreel in a movie theater and he recalled that “the Fianna got a good cheer as they marched past on the screen”. He went on to say that their “kinsfolk in America have learned of our doings in connection with the Howth gun-runnings, and immediately the value of our organization jumped in their estimation”.
With this momentum, he set about establishing an honorary Fianna organization to be known as “The Fianna League of America”. He contacted as many prominent Irish-Americans as he could to assist in this new movement. Among those who he contacted, and who eventually agreed to help, were John Kenny, President of the Irish Volunteers committee in New York, Joseph McGarrity of Clan na Gael, P.J. Conway President of the Irish American Athletic Club, Patrick Kavanagh, President of the New York Gaelic League, Michael Murray, President of the Shamrock Club, John Carroll, President of the Irish Republican Veteran’s association, and a host of other well connected Irish Americans.
Michael became the new organization’s first treasurer and secretary and John Kenny of the Irish Volunteers Committee was elected president.
The annual subscription was one dollar and all funds were sent back to Fianna headquarters in Dublin.
The organization was a huge success, even attracting members from non-Irish backgrounds. On September 7th 1914, not long after the establishment of the league, a ‘Monster Athletic Carnival’ was organized by the Fianna League and held at Celtic Park to raise awareness for their own association and the Fianna and Volunteers back in Ireland. The event also proved to be a successful fundraising exercise, raising thousands of dollars of much needed funds for the movement back home.
by Eamon Murphy