George McLaughlin, director of the Fenian Memorial Committee of America, will tell the story of the committee's roots in Central Falls, Rhode Island almost two decades ago.
It is intertwined with the story of the voyage of the Catalpa, a whaling vessel which sailed form New Bedford, Massachusetts with the intent of rescuing a small group of Fenians who had been sentenced to a life of penal servitude in the infamous Fremantle prison in Western Australia for treason against the crown.
Six men were indeed rescued and brought to America in 1876. They eventually distributed themselves, with the help of supporters, throughout different states, including Rhode Island, where James McNally Wilson settled, lived out his life and was buried. Many "secret" heroes helped all of this come true, but Father Patrick McCabe was an essential one for these six men, as he had been for John Boyle O'Reilly, who had earlier escaped from the same prison.
After the Catalpa escape, McCabe had to flee Australia and eventually he found a home in the wilds of southern Minnesota tending to mainly Irish immigrant farmers.
The Fenian Memorial Committee of America has placed markers and tombstones at the graves of four of the Catalpa Six and is now raising funds to do the same for Father Patrick McCabe, of Gowna, Co. Cavan. He is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, outside Waseca, Minnesota. This lecture will precede a fundraiser a week later for that purpose at the Galway Bay Pub in Pawtucket, RI (next to McCoy Stadium) at 2 pm on Saturday, April 6, 2019
The unveiling of the memorial stone and commemoration will take place on May 18, 2019 at St. Mary, Waseca, Minnesota