A memorial to commemorate the Fenian Brotherhood’s invasion of Canada in 1866 was unveiled on Friday in Buffalo, New York. Political leaders and members of the Irish-American community were all on hand to celebrate and remember the inspiring invasion that happened over 150 years ago.
WKBW News in Buffalo reports that “the Fenian Invasion is an event of international significance, since it helped build momentum toward the independence of both Canada and Ireland.” In 1866, members of the Fenian Brotherhood, many of whom were Civil War veterans, invaded Canada in hopes of taking it as a bartering tool to use against Britain in exchange for independence for Ireland.
The mission, which was launched in Buffalo, New York, has had no long-lasting memorial to honor the early phases of the freedom-seeking mission. That changed this week when a memorial was finally unveiled to pay homage to the Fenian Brotherhood who sought independence for both Canada and Ireland.
Senator Timothy M. Kennedy spearheaded the effort to construct a memorial for the Fenian Invasion. Forming a committee of Irish-American advocates and historians, Senator Kennedy and his crew then launched an effort to spread awareness of the impact the Invasion had on America, Canada and Ireland.
“The Fenian Invasion has a unique place in Buffalo’s history,” said Senator Kennedy. “The Fenian Brotherhood battle-hardened American veterans first fought to keep our nation united and strong in the Civil War. Then, by launching this invasion, they significantly contributed to the national independence of Canada and eventually Ireland. The Fenian Invasion demonstrated that freedom and democracy are forces that no amount of oppression can stop. Even outnumbered and outgunned, the Fenians valiantly battled the British Crown forces. They played a pivotal role in Canada’s independence, and they helped inspire Irish freedom.”
“The monument commemorates more than our region’s Irish-American history,” added Senator Kennedy. “The Fenian Invasion was a global event, and this monument celebrates one of the many contributions Buffalo and Western New York has made to the global community.”
WKBW News writes of the 1866 Fenian Invasion: “Between 500‐800 members of the Fenian Brotherhood gathered in the Old First Ward, and on June 1, they launched their invasion of Canada from the Pratt Iron Works, which is now known as Tow Path Park. The outnumbered Fenians defeated the Crown forces at the Battle of Ridgeway. However, still reeling from the wounds and hardships of the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson sent Generals Grant and Meade to call the Fenians back from the invasion in order to avoid an international conflict.”
At the memorial’s dedication, Senator Kennedy was joined by NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Congressman Brian Higgins, Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder and Assemblyman Sean Ryan, as well as community leaders and members of Irish-American cultural groups.
“This monument honors the dedication and resolve of the Irish-Americans who fought bravely for both the Union Army, and on behalf of their motherland of Ireland,” said Comptroller Schroeder. “The Fenian Invasion showed that no matter how far away the Irish are from Ireland, their hearts and minds will always be devoted to the Emerald Isle.”