On April 11, the Sean Heuston Society Dublin hosted their monthly free educational lecture in the National Museum of Ireland (formally Collins Barracks), with Derek Warfield, formally of the Wolfe Tones, giving a brilliant lecture on Irish involvement in the American Civil War and the Fenian invasion of Canada.
As with most things pertaining to Irish history, reality is never as black and white as we would have it appear. While the vast majority of Irish fought on the side of the Union, estimated at over 150,000, this was less to do with ideological disposition and more to do with the volume of Irish fleeing the Great Hunger landing in Union dominated cities like New York and Boston, desperate and starving. Irish refugees stepping off the infamous ‘coffin ships’ were drafted into the Union Army to fight in a war they knew very little of.
While their ranks were much fewer, the Confederate Army also contained a number of Irish regiments and units, such as Charleston Irish Volunteers. Many other Irish fought in local regiments such as the 10th Tennessee Infantry Regiment.
Consistent across both armies was the Irish love of song and music. Many of the tunes and lyrics from the time survive yet to this day and this is where Derek Warfield and his new collective, the Young Wolfe Tones, come into their own with brilliant renditions of these songs. Between such musical treats, Derek sets out a comprehensive talk on the various Irish characters, regiments and key battles of this period. We were glad to have availed of the opportunity to hear him.
As always, this event was followed by a questions and answer session, with many guests fielding a range of questions to Derek, all of which he was more than glad to deal with. All Sean Heuston Society educational events are free to the public so feel free to join us next time around.
(Link to Warfield Video 1)(Link to Warfield Video 2)