Freo's View


Posted in bathers beach, city of fremantle, fremantle prison, history, Uncategorized by freoview on January 10, 2018



The commemoration of the arrival of the Hougoumont in Fremantle started with a smoking ceremony by Whadjuk Noongar people on Bathers Beach this morning and ended in the convict-built Fremantle Prison with Irish music and good speeches.

The Hougoumont was the last convict ship to Australia, and brought with it over 70 Fenian political prisoners from Ireland.

Fremantle Prison is the largest convict establishment in Australia, and the best kept convict prison in the southern hemisphere, Fremantle Prison director Paula Nelson told the audience, among them acting premier Roger Cook, Irish Consul Marty Kavanagh, Minister Simone McGurk, Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and descendants of the Fenians.

Fremantle Prison will have a special Convict Tour from late February, so go and join one.

Also at the prison is a very good exhibition about the Fenians and the remarkable Catalpa escape.

It is time for Screenwest to initiate a feature film about the story of the Wild Geese and the Fenians in Western Australia. It would be a great movie!


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  1. freoview said, on January 10, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    The umbrella term Fenian is applicable, to be sure yet the Catalpa rescue was specifically to release the Young Irelanders or the “Men of 1848”. France, Poland, Germany, Sicily, Brazil, Denmark all saw dramatic mass protests. The tinderbox world of 1848 was ablaze with revolution hoping to rekindle the diluted gains of the French Revolution. Ironically the reluctant Protestant William Smith O’Brien, a nationalist MP was thronged by citizens wanting him to lead their freedom from foreign rule. Some shots were fired as he walked a country lane and the police took refuge in Widow McCormick’s cottage. The massive crowd of fans dispersed peacefully yet William Smith O’Brien was apprehended on a train a few days later. Even though he was a Westminster MP he was sentenced for treason and thus to be “hung drawn and quartered” but his sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment at Port Arthur. He was treated as a learned gentleman – having been educated at Harrow and Law at Cambridge University – and his cottage is still preserved next to the warden’s cottage in Port Arthur.
    Prior to his release in 1856 he wrote the Constitution for the early colony and established proportional representation for the Upper House. The other Young Irelanders languished in various jails including Fremantle and the American Fenians funded the purchase of a whaler to facilitate their famous escape.
    One of the Young Irelanders became the Governor of Nebraska whilst William Smith O’Brien did return to his ancestral home Dromoland Castle which is now a 5 star hotel on a swanky golf course just outside Limerick. Others did fight during the American Civil War, on both sides. The Irish flag and many others are of 3 colours representing the sentiments of the French Revolution and its hopes of citizens’ freedom from poverty, the death sentence plus the creation of universal suffrage. Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables barricades were thrown up across Paris streets in 1848 when the apprentice printers disgorged from a Paris Opera House to riot because of a political song sung by a female singer.
    Such was life before Netflix!


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