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John Boyle O'Reilly


The most notable of the Fenian prisoners, John Boyle O'Reilly, escaped in 1869 in the American whaler Gazelle. He was a man of great literary ability, and after landing in America he became the editor of the Boston Pilot. He published a work of fiction treating with convict life in the colony under the title of Moondyne Joe. His poetical efforts included The Dukite SnakeThe Monster Diamond, and The Dog Guards at Rottnest, all being stories of a penal colony. Hitchcock: 62-63.


2. JOHN O'REILLY, Reg. No. 9843, Imperial Convict ; arrived in the Colony per convict ship Hougoumont, in 1868; sentenced to 20 years, 9th July, 1866. Description—Healthy appearance, present age 30, 5ft. 6in. high, black hair, brown eyes, oval visage, dark complexion; an Irishman. Absconded from Convict Road Party, Bunbury, on the 18th Febmary, 1869. It has been ascertained that the above absconder is at Boston, Massachussetts, U.S.A. He is at present co-proprietor of a newspaper named " The Pilot." Police Gazette, WA, Wednesday 10 January, 1877, p. 4.

References and Links

oreillyAmos, Keith 1988, The Fenians in Australia 1865-1880, NSWUP.

Barry, Liam 1992, The Dramatic Escape of Fenian John Boyle O'Reilly, CFN Publications, Australind.

Barry, Liam 2006, Voices from the Tomb: A Biographical Dictionary of the 62 Fenians Transported to Western Australia, Murdoch University.

Heseltine, William 2004, 'The escape of the military Fenians from Fremantle Prison: the warders' perspective', Fremantle Studies, 3: 26-45.

Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.

Murray, Sandra 2007, 'Escape! Fremantle to Freedom: an exhibition on the Irish Fenian convicts and their bold escape from the Fremantle Prison to America', Fremantle Studies, 5: 74-86.

Garry Gillard | New: 16 January, 2015 | Now: 19 November, 2018