The word and bond of the Fenian Republic

The word and bond of the Fenian Republic
State Papers: Echoes of the past from the archives


Many people have wondered over the years about the ‘promise to pay’  of the Irish Republic in the 19th Century and early 20th Century. Great sums of money were collected but never really accounted for. Mystery surrounds these funds.

One of the files deals with the matter of the bonds issued at different times in the name of the Irish Republic in the 1860s, 1880s and 1920.

Fenians took the view that the Republic was already in existence having been proclaimed by a document posted into the mail box at Dublin Castle in March 1867.

They issued bonds to support the cause, and these are still fairly common collectors’ items.

The Taoiseach’s department receives queries from time to time about whether they were of any real value, and could they be redeemed.

According to the file, at one time they could be. The Free State government for a decade (June 1927-October 1937) maintained an office (in Liberty Street in the financial quarter of New York City) for the purpose of paying off the bonds at their $10 face value.

This was closed, however, soon after legislation .

So it seems that at least for a period the “promise to pay” of the original Fenian Irish Republic was indeed honoured by the Free State.

Quite how much was paid out is not revealed in the file, however.  One hopeful person who wrote to the department was told the bonds were no longer of value in the old sense, but that the National Museum might be interested in them as a mere historical relic.

[National Archive files 2016/28/202]