THE EMERALD WHALER by William J. Laubenstein


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Based on historical fact but heavily padded with fictional talk, this is the story of the dramatic rescue in 1876 of six Fenian prisoners from the British convict prison in Freemantle, Australia, by an Irish-owned whaler, Catalpa, Captain John Anthony, out of New Bedford, Mass. The six men, leaders in the Fenian uprising of 1865, were arrested for treason by the British when the revolt collapsed and sentenced, first to death, then to hard labor for life in Freemantle. A seventh member of the party, O'Reilly, escaped from Freemantle and made his way to America, where other Fenians, the ""Clan-na-Gael,"" were planning to rescue the six men; later O'Reilly returned to Australia under an assumed name to help in the escape. With money raised by Irish sympathizers the Clan-na- Gael bought the whaler Catalpa and sent her on an ostensible whaling voyage to the South Seas; only her captain, Anthony, and first mate knew she was owned by the Fenians, or what was the real object of her journey. With the help of O'Reilly, good planning and better luck, the six men were rescued and Catalpa and the grumbling Fenians, who cared little for whaling, sailed back to America, killing whales on the way; she landed, to a riotous reception, in New York on Aug. 18, 1876. Understandably biased in viewpoint but well documented, this account of a little-known incident in Irish-American history will appeal both to professional and amateur Irishmen, to late adolescent devotees of over-long tales of adventure, and to students of the Fenian movement in America.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1960
Publisher: Bobbs - Merrill