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Secret Societies in Ireland.

In view of the apprehension ''excited by recent events in Ireland* the; Cork correspondent of a contemporary gives some interesting particulars with regard to two of the secret societies which flourish in Ireland —the Fenian organisation and the Molly Maguire Society. He says ;—“ Among the secret societies which are all-important factors in Irish social and political life, the Fenian organisation occupies the leading position, not only in point, of numbers, discipline, and armament, but by reason of the difference of end it seeks to attain. This association is at this moment more formidable than at any time since the seizure of

the Irish People, and the arrest of the ‘ loaders of the movement in 1875. There 1 are in the United Kingdom between i 80,000 and .100,000 affiliated members, ' with available funds to the extent of i nearly L 60,000 and an armament which i though not commensurate with the : number of men, is increasing rapidly, and will be formidable enough before the close of the coming winter. There are probably between six and eight thousand Snider rifles, and an equal number of Colt Lefacheux . revolvers in .the hands of the Fenians jin this country, and a continual •‘stream of these weapons is flowing in. Munster and pre-eminently Cork, is the hotbed of-this society ; Ulster follows and Connaught is the least organised, poorest, and worst armed of the four provinces. The “ adherents of the cause ” are pretty numerous, too, in Scotland and England, especially in the manufacturing towns of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Durham. But powerful and extensive though the Fenian Brotherhood bo, it is not from this source that danger to life and property need be feared. Assassination or arson is no part of the Fenian programme. Rebellion, open and above board, and conducted according to the rules of civilised warfare, is the ultimate goal of the Fenian’s aspirations, and when it comes we shall have done with Fenianism for ever. Far different in its objects and the means it employs to attain them is the Western offshoot of Ribbonisnv —the “Molly Maguire” Society. Fenianism is political and sentimental ; : Molly Maguii’eism is agrarian and eminently practical. The Fenian would take the open field for battle; the Molly Maguire believes in treacherous murder from behind a hedge or ditch. Until the commencement of the anti-rent agitation, how nearly two years ago, the followers of Molly Maguire in the West could be counted only in units. Within the last twelve months they have increased to thousands. In Mayo alone there are from 5,000 to 7,000 affiliated members. The sole object, aim, aspiration, and hope of the' Molly Maguire is murder. The “brotherhood” avows no other purpose than the assassination of “ laid ” landlords, agents, et hoe genus omne. The oath taken, “in the name of Jesus Christ and his Holy Mother,” binds the brother to kill, “ if it were the mother who bore me in the womb,” should “ Molly require it for her safety and for her honor.” The songs and ballads of the movement are all glorifications of murder. “ Molly ” has few followers outside the borders of Connaught, but I have it on authority I would not venture to dispute, that to her malign influence is duethe Hew Ross outrage, which resulted in the death of Charles Boyd. The fact of Mr. Boyd being anything but a harsh landlord-would not save him if he had hut one enemy amongst the “ Sons of Molly.” The rules of the association are 1 few and simple. The oath, which is a blasphemous piece of ribaldry, and calculated to make the hair of a well-disposed J 'person -stand on end, is made as solemn arid binding as possible by being generally administered at midnight arrd in a kneeling attitude. There are no fixed weekly 1 or periodical contributions, a special levy 1 being laid upon each “brother,” according 1 to his position and means, when “ Molly ” has a job in hand. There are midnight musters but no attempt at drill. Weapons are purchased just as they are needed, ‘ and destroyed when the purpose for which ■ they are bought has been acomplished. ; There are signs, grips, and passwords, which are changed every three months. • The ranks are filled by a system of terror- ■ ism. It is no uncommon occurrence for a man who has refused to join the band • to be dragged out of bed, and either forced to take the pledge or beaten in a most ; merciless manner ; indeed, often maimed ■ for life. The spread of Fenianism for a time put a stop to this system of terrorism, !■ but the land agitation unfortunately revived it.

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Bibliographic details

Secret Societies in Ireland., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 173, 22 October 1880

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Secret Societies in Ireland. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 173, 22 October 1880