By Peter Murphy
Fictional history inspired by true events
Published by Peter Murphy, with the assistance of Fred Rea, editor of The Irish Scene magazine and proprietor of Gaelforce Promotions Publications, Perth, Western Australia.
In 2014, due to my Australian/Irish background, I began researching for a book (Irish Lives in Australia) those contributions Irish people, had down the decades, made to the fabric of Australia’s heritage and culture. And although I uncovered hundreds of stories and anecdotes relating to amazing gold-finds, engineering, aviation, maritime, agriculture, building, rebellion, religion, politics, art, music, literature, drama, sport, war and peace, nothing intrigued me more than those of a group of unwilling Irish immigrants known as Fenians and the role they would play in helping shape the fabric of Australian society. However, there was one particular story that stood out from the rest, and which still resonates to this day: the attempt on the life of Queen Victoria's second son, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, at Clontarf, Sydney, Australia, March 1868 by alleged Fenian assassin Henry James O'Farrell.
During O’Farrell’s trial, it was claimed by his prosecutor that his murderous act was the work of a desperate Fenian killer, while his defence counsel claimed his crime was carried out by a man bereft of any legal or moral responsibility. Once O’Farrell had paid the ultimate price for his crime, much evidence of his true state of mind when he committed his crime would surface later; albeit far it too late to save his neck.
And while much has been said and written on an incident that would shake the very foundation of the British Empire, very little is still known about exactly who was Henry James O’Farrell including his true motivation for wanting to murder a member of the Royal family.
In endeavour to help understand more about O’Farrell and his motive for wanting to murder a member of the Royal family, I decided to put on hold my research on ‘Irish Lives in Australia’ and concentrate more on the O’Farrell story itself by self-publishing Fenian Fear. However, where I’ve deviated from your regular ‘history book’ is I decided to play ‘devil’s advocate’ and get inside O’Farrell’s deranged mind and tell his story ‘from the inside out’. I’ve also taken liberty in exploring O’Farrell’s prison confidant, Father Thomas Dwyer including the role he played in the whole murky affair. And although a work of fiction based on true historical events, Fenian Fear is a timeless story that echoes even louder today; especially during a time when our civil liberties are constantly under threat from conservative political forces.
Fenian Fear I hope will encourage the reader to, read more widely, see more clearly, think more deeply and challenge themselves.
Fenian Fear will knock you back $25 (includes postage within Aust) and can be ordered by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Murphy was born in Dublin, Ireland in the 1950s and emigrated to Australia in 1970. Peter lectured for several years in Ecologically Sustainable Tourism at South West College of TAFE, Bunbury, Western Australia (WA), and worked several years as a Conservation and Heritage Officer with the National Trust (WA). He wrote articles and essays for the National Trust (Australia) periodical, as well as poetry, short stories and articles for The Irish Scene magazine (Perth, WA).
In 2017, Peter wrote and directed the short film In Search of the Vigilant (2017) based on the escape of Irish political prisoner John Boyle O’Reilly from the Swan River Penal Colony of WA in 1869.
Peter has just completed writing a children’s book in collaboration with a local aboriginal (Nyoongar) artist which will hopefully be published end of 2018. He is currently writing a novel based on the true story of 62 Irish political prisoners transported on the convict ship Hougoumont to the Swan River Penal Colony of Western Australia in 1867-68.
Peter retired from working life in 2016 and now lives on a nature reserve in the jarrah forest in the South West of WA with his partner Sallie and where he spends most of his time writing and educating visitors to be kind to Mother Nature.