The Avondhu - By The Fireside
Upon release, Patrick along with the others released, despite receiving a hero’s welcome in Manchester, was unable to regain employment due to his IRA conviction and returned to Ireland later that February.
ON HOME SOIL
Patrick re-commenced Volunteer activities after returning home by joining up with the 6th Battalion 3rd Tipperary Brigade again and entered Cahir Barracks after it was evacuated by the British Military in March 1922. He was active in the local area, primarily Ardfinnan, Clogheen and Ballyporeen.
When the Civil War commenced Patrick took the Anti-Treaty side and saw active service fighting with Republicans in Cahir,
Tipperary, and Nine Mile House.
However, six months later Patrick was back in Manchester where he was unable to regain employment due to his IRA conviction and emigrated to Boston with fellow IRA member, Richard Duffy from Claremorris, Co. Mayo. He was travelling a well-trodden path for defeated Republicans; of his Ballyporeen Company Volunteers, five would settle in Boston and another ten elsewhere in North America. Likewise of his Manchester Company volunteers, three would settle in Boston and 7 others in the North America. Many of these would remain friends for life.
Patrick Fennell settled in Boston for the remainder of his relatively short life, he passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, 8th August, 1950 aged 53. His life circumstances in Boston were to be all too familiar to Irish families in every parish and street throughout Ireland at the time. He lived among family, friends and comrades and certainly retained his national, county and parish identity. When Patrick Fennell arrived in Boston port on Tuesday, 21st February 1923 onboard S.S. Ausonia from Liverpool, he was preceded by two of his 11 siblings in emigrating to Boston and within another 3 years, there would be 6 Fennell siblings from Cooladerry in Boston.
His oldest brother Robert Fennell was first to emigrate in May 1912, initially working as a shoemaker before joining the ranks of Boston Police force and marrying Mary McGrath, raising 10 children. Nora Fennell emigrated next in October 1916, working as a ‘Salad Woman’ and marrying Matthew Beechinor from County Cork and reared 2 children.
Patrick himself arrived next in February 1923, initially he laboured as a roofer but acquired and ran a restaurant The Emerald Café in Roxbury, Boston. A few months later in August 1923, William Fennell arrived via Southampton having laboured in Aberavon, Wales and worked for the Boston Elevated Railway as an electrician.
Michael Fennell arrived 3 months later, most likely as a result of the Civil War ending as he was a member of the Ballyporeen Company IRA, in both the Independence struggle and also fought on the Anti-treaty side. Like his brother William, he worked in Wales before arriving in Boston where he laboured also. Paul Fennell, in April 1926 was the last to arrive in Boston, where after doing a shift in the restaurant, plied his trade as a carpenter. He married Julia O’Riordan from County Cork and reared 4 children.
Of the remaining Fennell siblings, Margaret had already emigrated to Manchester by the time Patrick arrived. She lived her life in Manchester, marrying John McLoughlin and reared one child. Margaret was a regular visitor to the Cooladerry homestead where her sister, Elizabeth Fennell, died at the young age of 18 in 1913 and David, who was farming, passed away from TB aged 35. John Fennell had joined the Christian Brothers in 1915 and taught in various secondary schools throughout the country, until spending the last 10 years in Wexford and passed away in 1970 after 55 years in the order. Finally, James Fennell joined An Garda Síochána and served primarily in County Cork. He married Eily Barry Murphy from Blarney Road, Clogheen and lived latterly in Dublin until passing in 1961.
As a result of the emigration and youthful passing of the siblings that remained in the homestead, there was no Fennell remaining at home and William in Boston initiated the selling of the remaining land and house at Cooladerry in May 1967.
Ballyporeen’s loss was certainly Boston’s gain as the Fennell’s were very active in all aspects of commercial, political and social life which is reflective in the organisations that Patrick was actively involved with, namely Boston Liquor Dealers Association, Clan-na-Gael, Irish Republican Arms Club of Boston, Tipperary Football Club, The Emerald Clan, The Celtic Traditional Musical Society and most prominently, County Tipperary Association of Greater Boston.
Indeed, when Patrick paid his only trip back to Ireland and Ballyporeen in August 1947, there was a surprise send-off party comprising all the bodies above, along with various Boston Irish County representatives and ex-Governor of Massachusetts, Maurice J. Tobin. Patrick was presented with “a valuable gold watch as a token of appreciation and wished him God speed and a happy re-union with his relatives and friends in Gallant Tipp”.
I’ve no doubt that when Patrick Fennell returned to Cooladerry and Ballyporeen 84 years ago in 1947 and met up with family and friends, the topic of conversation must surely have reflected on that faithful night in March 1921, 100 years ago this year, in Ballyporeen and Manchester. What we’d give now to be a bystander listening to those conversations.
Military Archive Pension Files for Patrick Fennell, Charles Harding, Thomas O’Brien, Michael Hayes. Manchester Evening Post, The Nationalist, Irish Times and The Boston Globe newspaper reports/articles. RTE Century Ireland articles.