In mid-1863, James Stephens informed his colleagues he wished to start a newspaper, with financial aid from John O’Mahony and the Fenian Brotherhood in America. The offices were established at 12 Parliament Street, almost at the gates of Dublin Castle. The first edition of the Irish People appeared on 28 November 1863. The staff of the paper along with Charles Kickham were Thomas Clarke Luby and Denis Dowling Mulcahy as the editorial staff. Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa and James O’Connor were in charge of the business office, with John Haltigan being the printer. John O’Leary was brought from London to take charge in the role of Editor. Shortly after the establishment of the paper, James Stephens departed on an American tour, and to attend to organisational matters.
American Fenians made plans for a rising in Ireland, but the plans were discovered on 15 July 1865 when an emissary lost them at Kingstown railway station. They found their way to Dublin Castle and to Superintendent Daniel Ryan head of G Division. Ryan had an informer within the offices of the Irish People named Pierce Nagle, he supplied Ryan with an “action this year” message on its way to the IRB unit in Tipperary. With this information, Ryan raided the offices of the Irish People on Thursday 15 September, followed by the arrests of John O’Leary, Thomas Clarke Luby and Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. The last edition of the paper is dated 16 September 1865.
Before leaving, Stephens entrusted to Luby a document containing secret resolutions on the Committee of Organisation or Executive of the IRB. Though Luby intimated its existence to O’Leary, he did not inform Kickham as there seemed no necessity. This document would later form the basis of the prosecution against the staff of the Irish People. The document read:
I hereby appoint Thomas Clarke Luby, John O’Leary and Charles J. Kickham, a Committee of Organisation or Executive, with the same supreme control over the Home Organisation (Ireland, England, Scotland, etc.) I have exercised myself. I further empower them to appoint a Committee of Military Inspection, and a Committee of Appeal and Judgment, the functions of which Committee will be made known to each member of them by the Executive. Trusting to the patriotism and ability of the Executive, I fully endorse their action beforehand, and call on every man in our ranks to support and be guided by them in all that concerns our military brotherhood.
9 March 1864, Dublin
Charles Kickham was caught after a month on the run. James Stephens would also be caught, but with the support of Fenian prison warders, John J. Breslin and Daniel Byrne was less than a fortnight in Richmond Bridewell when he vanished and escaped to France.
Image: Irish Republican Brotherhood, 1858, preceded by Young Ireland, Newspaper, Irish People