Irish-American Diaspora Nationalism
The Friends of Irish Freedom, 1916-1935
This book traces the history of the Friends of Irish Freedom (FOIF), an Irish-American nationalist movement launched in New York in 1916. At its peak, the organisation claimed 275,000 members and became one of the most effective propaganda machines in Irish-American history.
Sinn Féin leaders in America, such as Eamon de Valera, believed that the Friends should be used to secure ‘the great lever of American opinion’ in support of Irish objectives in the United States. Meanwhile, the leadership of the Friends, seeing themselves as Americans first, resented the dictation of Sinn Féin representatives in the US. In October of 1920, in an atmosphere of mutual recrimination, Sinn Féin publicly severed its ties with the Friends.
Events in Ireland influenced the development of the Friends; the impact of the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence are examined. However, Sinn Féin representatives in the US, preoccupied by events in Ireland, failed to appreciate the importance of the American social and political milieu in shaping the nationalist outlook of the Friends – an American outlook central to the foundation and history of the movement.
Michael Doorley is an Associate Lecturer in History with the Open University in Ireland and a graduate of University College Dublin and the University of Illinois at Chicago. His other works include Justice Daniel Cohalan, 1865-1946: American Patriot and Irish-American Nationalist (2019) and chapters in the landmark volumes, Ireland’s Allies: America and the 1916 Easter Rising (2016) and The Atlas of the Irish Revolution (2017).