Ode to John Devoy, a Forgotten Hero

by Kyra Fitzpatrick

A forgotten hero it has been said
Was born in Kill at a time many tears in this country were shed

Just before the Great Hunger this child did arrive
And lucky for us Irish he was one who would survive

An immense grá for Irish freedom he held in his heart

And it was when he was young that he first made a start

In his quest to release us Irish from beneath British rule

He was beaten for not singing “God Save the Queen” in his school

Involved in three wars he was one of a few

To take part in all conflicts and see their goal through

A Republic in their beloved homeland they could agree
Was progress for the Irish to not have to bend the knee

Unfortunately for the crime of treason he was tried
And he served three years before he was exiled
Along with four other Fenians on The Cuba he went

And the rest of his life in America he spent

While exiled in America his work did not cease
For his homeland and kin still had no peace
To the Irish diaspora he sent a patriotic plea
To aid their beloved country and finally be free

The money he raised all went to the cause
And even though exiled he still came home without pause
To deliver some money into a Fenian brothers hand
Which would aid the boys in freeing their land

In 1876 he came up with a plan
To rescue six Fenians who were part of his clan

He sent the Catalpa to the Australian shore

To bring the men back to America, oh the British did roar

This man also played a role in funding the first sub
Which was to be used to deliver the Brits a good drub J.P. Holland had invented the Fenian Ram submarine
The intention to attack the UK with this mighty machine

Sadly for John he never did marry
But a love for a woman in his heart he did carry
In later years when he returned to his land

He met with this woman and again held her hand

Alas time had passed and they were both of an age
Where a marriage was not possible at this late stage
But they spent time together reminiscing the past
And talking about a possible peace in Ireland at last

In 1928 this Fenian passed on

And there was huge sadness in Ireland a hero was gone

In June ‘29 aboard the SS Harding he returned one last time
To his homeland that had shifted to a new paradigm

That John Devoy is a hero is without doubt

A man of immense standing with incredible clout

His whole life was dedicated to help us be free

And as a result in this Republic we no longer bend a knee.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. Kyra Fitzpatrick participated in Poetry as Commemoration workshops in Leitrim County Library, Ballinamore, facilitated by Mary Melvin Geoghegan in October and November 2023.

This poem was inspired by a meeting with a descendant of John Devoy.