The Fenians are among the famous but also the most misunderstood organisations of modern Irish history. The common 19th century stereotype of a Fenian is that of a beastly peasant with a stick of dynamite. Unfortunately this still shapes modern opinions to a certain degree creating an inaccurate view that the Fenians were incoherent gun slingers.
The reality of the Fenians was very different. As an organisation it attracted members from all groups in both Irish and indeed American society through the later 19th and early 20th century. The portraits below reveal there was not one type of Fenian; there was many, from 19th century peasants to well dressed men pictured with US presidents Fenians and former Fenians were very diverse in appearance, politics and background.
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