Fenians a blast

• A standing ovation for Irish musicians Sharon Shannon, Susan O’Neill and their band. Photo by Nadine Magill

FREMANTLE’S Fenians Festival was a roaring success last weekend, say organisers.

More than 1000 people tuned in to hear John Boyle O’Reilly’s novel Moondyne read across the city, while 2000 people turned up to a family day at the WA Maritime Museum and several other events were sold out.

“The festival exceeded all our expectations,” festival chair Margo O’Byrne said.

“The inaugural reading of Moondyne was for many people very inspiring, so much so that people so emotionally engaged at Samson Cellars that they were cheering for the heroine and booing the villain.

“What was surprising for many was that the story that O’Reilly wrote in the late 1800s, in matters of social justice, is just as relevant today.”

Ireland’s ambassador to Australia, Breandán Ó Caollaí, read the final passage of the book after having flown across to WA for the event with his wife.

Noted Australian author Peter Fitzsimons was also a surprise reader, revealing that he’s got a book on the Catalpa escape due out in a couple of months.

Kidogo Arthouse owner Joanna Robertson, who came up with the idea of the festival to help explore her own roots, says Fitzsimons’ book presents a great marketing opportunity for Fremantle because it will spread the Fenians’ story to a huge audience.

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