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Join us 5th – 14th January 2018

in Fremantle to learn what the Irish

taught us 150 years ago

and how relevant it is today!


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They arrived on the Hougoumont –  the last convict ship to Australia

on 10th Jan 1868.

Program Highlights:

Music – Gigs and concerts, late night music sessions & sunset bar. From Ireland & America:

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill, Declan O’Rourke, Kavisha Mazzella, Fiona Rea, Lucky Oceans, Brendan Woods, Rob Zielinski, Aminah Hughes, Ormond Waters, The Rogues, John Reed and more… Music Program Co-Directed by Lucky Oceans & Donough O’Donovan.

Family Day – Explore Fremantle’s connection to the Fenian story through walks, talks and family friendly activities; watch the sailing boats at Bathers’ Beach and bring the whole family along to join in and enjoy the fun of an Irish Ceili Dance by the beach at sunset.

Literature Festival – enjoy readings from the “Wild Goose” manuscript, the poetry of John Boyle O’Reilly and the work of contemporary Irish writers. Explore the contribution the Fenians made to Australian literature. The festival will encourage young writers to explore how this voyage shaped John Boyle O’Reilly’s later advocacy for human rights. Visiting Irish poet and author Tony Curtis will be in Fremantle especially for this event.

Art – Exhibitions of historical and contemporary art. The Fremantle Prison, will be displaying important documents from the Hougoumont as part of the prison’s exhibition of Transportation, plus a Maritime History Association exhibition on view at the Hougoumont Hotel. At Kidogo Arthouse 11 WA Artists respond to the writings of the Fenians aboard the Hougoumont on their 89 day journey to Fremantle.

Story Telling and Walking Tours – Listen to Fremantle’s very own ‘Great Escape’ story, see the places where this drama unfolded and get to know about a centenary old ‘crowd funding’ scheme that helped free these Fenians and take them to the USA.

History – A story where fact is more amazing than fiction! Hear how Fremantle’s residents feared an invasion to free the Fenians, how these cultured and educated men survived alongside the last of England’s criminals to be transported and how the Stars and Stripes saved the day.

Take a bus tour to recreate John Boyle O’Reilly’s escape and visit the place where the crew o the Catalpa snatched the Fenians to freedom.

Film – Exclusive screenings of contemporary Irish films as well as locally produced documentary, Waiting for the Vigilant (in conjunction with the John Boyle O’Reilly Association).

Commemoration Walk – Join with descendants of these Irish Fenians and remember those who supported them, as we take a ‘Walk of the Ancestors’ from Bathers’ Beach to Fremantle Prison. Aminah Hughes, Barry McGuire, Ormond Waters and Declan O’Rourke, Tony Curtis are amongst the distinguished presenters at this important historic commemoration. That evening a “Session” of Irish music will be happening at Kidogo Arthouse.

Kelp Beach Bar @ Kidogo Arthouse will be the Festival Hub and open from 4th – 14th Jan 2018 – with lots of great live concerts,  interesting events and a powerful exhibition.


If you are a descendant of a passenger aboard the Hougoumont click here




Sponsorship & Donation details:

[email protected]

+61(0) 401333309



Kidogo Arthouse / The Hougoumont Hotel / WA Maritime Museum / Fremantle Prison / Lionel Samson House / Notre Dame University / John Curtin College of the Arts / Lucky Oceans / Quest Apartments / National Hotel 

Culture Ireland / City of Fremantle / Government of Ireland Emigrant Support Programme

“I am Delighted to offer my support to the “Fenians, Fremantle & Freedom Festival” being held in Fremantle from the 5th – 14th January 2018. This festival commemorates an important moment in Irish and Australian history and will be of interest to all Irish and non-Irish people living in Australia, as well as people of Irish heritage all over the world. The arrival of the revolutionary Fenians in Fremantle on the Hougoumont was not the end of a failed chapter in Irish history but the beginning of almost uniquely successful one which would subsequently impact the histories of Ireland, Australia, the United States and Irish communities everywhere. The Festival promises to be a diverse and wish celebration of the finest of Irish traditional music, art, literature and history. I thank the Festival organisers for putting together such an interesting programme and I wish you every success in this wonderful endeavour.
–  Breandan O’Caollai
Ambassador of Ireland to Australia

“On behalf of the City of Fremantle and my fellow Elected Members I am pleased to offer my support for the “Fenians, Fremantle & Freedom Festival” to be held in Fremantle from the 5th – 14th January 2018.
This festival commemorates an important moment in Irish and Australian history and will be of interest to all Irish and non-Irish people living in Western Australia, and people of Irish heritage living all over the world.
I believe the Fenians, Fremantle & Freedom Festival offers an assortment of diverse events ranging from music and late night gigs to family friendly activities and will be enjoyed by all.
Fremantle is known for its festivals, and I believe that this 10-day Irish cultural festival will not only deliver a fun experience that will appeal to a broad audience but also provide financial benefit to many of the local businesses.
We wish the Festival organisers every success in their wonderful endeavour”.
– Dr Brad Pettitt
Mayor of Fremantle