The first edition of the ‘FIANNA’ newspaper, published in February 1915. This ‘unofficial’ monthly newspaper ran for about a year and cost one penny per edition.
It featured many articles about Ireland, and Irish history, including a series of stories from Patrick Pearse. Many of these articles were in Irish. It also contained instructions on camping, drilling, signalling etc, and adverts for scouting supplies shops. From time to time it featured adverts for the ‘Irish Volunteer’ and ‘The Worker’ newspapers. It also published details of Fianna meetings, events and parades held throughout Ireland.
The newspaper was managed and edited by Percy Reynolds and Patsy O’Connor. Its target readership was initially Fianna members but after five issues, it was realized that the direction needed to change to attract more readers and it was decided to combine adult and boys stories.
In the June 1915 edition, the editor stated that:
“the difficulties in running this paper are great, the paper has not received the support it deserves nor the support expected when we started it. Some boys read it, the men have not taken the interest they should, and businessmen say it does not pay to advertise in such a paper. Therefore, a boy’s paper as FIANNA has been running – is an impossibility. The question now arises: have we been a failure? We know what is needed, and what is better, we can supply what is needed, and we therefore intend to have FIANNA appear next month not as a boys’ paper, but as a journal for man and boy combined. Without tampering with the boys’ paper, except to enlarge it, we will supply the Irishman’s demand with articles attaining a high literacy standard dealing with all classes of Irish problems. FIANNA will from next month (July) be two separate papers combined, and where there was a possibility of a failure with the boys’ paper alone, there can be none when it emerges a man and boys’ monthly combined”.
This change in format proved a partial success and the FIANNA at its peak was selling about 1000 copies a month. However in less than a year the FIANNA folded due to financial difficulties. Some of the failure may be attributed to the fact that it was not an ‘official’ Fianna Eireann journal and was not given support, financial or otherwise, from Fianna HQ. Another factor is undoubtedly the death of co-editor Patsy O’Connor who died in June 1915 and it was then left to Percy Reynolds to carry the literary torch on his own until the paper eventually ceased.
Despite the lack of financial success, which was needed to sustain the operations, it nonetheless proved a hit with Fianna scouts and younger readers, and was influential in attracting new Fianna members and spreading the message of separatism and patriotism. In fact it was even cited by Dublin Castle as a threat to the recruitment push for the British military and a police report at the time referred to it as a “disloyal journal which spread dissension”.