Fenians Festival presents
Fremantle 22 – 24 February 2019
Commemorating the courage and daring of John Boyle O’Reilly on the 150 year anniversary of his escape from Western Australia to Boston.
Celebrate with top class Irish and local musicians, hear readings of O’Reilly’s literature, enjoy free Family entertainment and dance on the Quay.
2019 Festival Events
Sharon Shannon Band
One of Ireland’s most popular national treasures Sharon Shannon will have your feet tapping to her accordion or tin whistle. Sharon has been entertaining people the world over since her debut recording became traditional Irish music’s best-selling album ever released. She has a lifetime achievement award and an honorary Doctorate in Music from NUI Galway.
Special Guest Susan O’Neill
Prodigiously gifted Susan O’Neill’s soulful & husky-voiced performance is truly something to behold. Using guitar, harmonica, trumpet and a loop pedal, Susan delivers a timeless and powerful blend of the old and new. Her inspirational fusion of soulful Irish folk and her own acclaimed original material makes for an entertaining and enchanting musical experience.
Lucky Oceans and the Zydecats
Lucky plays many styles of music – jazz, blues, country, western swing, folk, bluegrass – but gets truly interested when the boundaries come down and pure music is being made in the moment. A double Grammy Award winner, Lucky and his band, the Zydecats blend Louisiana style Cajun music with traditional Irish tunes to develop the innovative new sound of Gaelic Gumbo.
Fiona Rea and Tommy O’Brien
Fiona Rea has a passion for storytelling, connection and melody. For her ‘to sing is to breathe’ and, with a voice at once honest and delicate, she sings to make sense of the world. Teaming up with banjo and tin whistle player Tommy O’Brien, they blend their skilful playing of Irish melodies in a creative and inspirational way with the Zydecats blues/rock Louisiana beats. You’ve never heard Galway Girl played like this before!
Family Day at the Maritime Museum
Bring the Family to Fremantle to join the FREE fun day at the Maritime Museum. Follow the Shamrock Trail, view Free Family Films, watch a performance of Irish dancers, listen to stories of daring escapes.
All About O’Reilly – commemorating the life and works of John Boyle O’Reilly
The Orient Hotel played a big part in the story of the Hougoumont Fenians. Join us at this historic venue to hear about the amazing life and legacy of John Boyle O’Reilly. This event will include a talk, songs, poetry and a panel discussion about this remarkable man. It will culminate in the arrival of his novel Moondyne as it makes its way through the streets of Fremantle. Listen as guest celebrity readers bring life to a chapter of this story.
Céilí on the Quay
Come and experience a once-in-a-lifetime outdoor dance event – an epic Irish Céilí – think of it as a flash-mob family dance event for all ages and experience levels. Live music will provided by some of Australia’s best traditional Irish musicians with an experienced dance caller to take you through a series of fun and easy dances that everyone can enjoy.
An exciting new all-day event taking place throughout the streets of Fremantle. This inaugural event is a public reading of the entire novel written by John Boyle O’Reilly about Western Australia. The entire book will be read in public over 12 hours at sixteen historic locations.
The Fenians were young men, most between 19 and 30, who grew up in Ireland in a time of starvation, death and forced evictions – the years of the great Famine. Having exhausted all attempts to gain self-government through political means, they decided to fight for independence.
Some were in the English army, (military Fenians) and they recruited others to stage a rising. Their plot was uncovered, they were arrested, sentenced for treason, exiled from Ireland and transported to Western Australia.
After spending months in solitary confinement in English prisons it was probably a bitter-sweet relief to board the Hougoumont, where despite their sea-sickness, they shared stories, held concerts, wrote poetry and looked after their companions.
They also dreamed of escape. The most famous of the Fenians, John Boyle O’Reilly did escape on an American whaler, a year later and together with others in the USA and Ireland, organised a crowd funding venture to purchase a whaler, the Catalpa, and bust his mates out of Fremantle Prison. It’s a big story…. so read on…
Descendants and Relatives
Are you a relative or descendant of one of the Hougoumont Fenians? Does your family have a connection to the Fenian story in Western Australia? If so, we’d like to hear from you as we continue to build up a picture of the lives of the 62 Hougoumont Fenians, their supporters and descendants. Please contact us.
Do you have the skill and the passion to help make this Festival a success? If you can come to Fremantle, we’d welcome your practical help either before or during the festival. Please contact us.
All donations are gratefully accepted. Help us to realise this commemoration by donating now:
NAME: Fenians Fremantle & Freedom Festival
BSB: 633 000 ACCOUNT: 160679791
Fenians Fremantle and Freedom (Inc)
Is a not-for-profit organisation set up in 2017 for the following purpose…
- To honour the Fenians, their arrival in and departure from Fremantle, and the impact their lives had on Irish, Australian and US culture and history.
- To celebrate their lives through art, literature, history, music, dance and film events and festivals.
- Margo O’Byrne – Chairperson
- Donough O’Donovan – Deputy Chair
- Felicity Dillon – Treasurer
- Nadine McGill – Secretary
Joy Lefroy, Anne Golden, Declan Greaney, Elizabeth Dempsey, Tracy Routledge, Jim Kelly, Seamus Hughes