Skip Main Navigation
Page Content

Join us for the inaugural Fenians, Fremantle & Freedom Festival from 5-14 January 2018. This 10 day festival celebrates Irish culture and its influence in Australia.

The Festival’s program showcases performances by renowned Irish musicians Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill and Declan O’Rourke. An outstanding Irish poet - Tony Curtis - will be joining the Festival for an afternoon workshop of creative writing and poetry. 

The Festival includes:

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 a Ceili dance by the beach at sunset.


Literature Festival – Award-winning Irish poet and writer Tony Curtis headlines the program; enjoy readings from ‘The Wild Goose’, 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.


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. The original edition of ‘The Wild Goose’ will be on free public display at Fremantle Prison during the Festival.

Story Telling and Walking Tours – Listen to Fremantle’s very own ‘Great Escape’ story of the Fenians on the Catalpa, 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 America.


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 of the Catalpa snatched the Fenians to freedom.


Film – Exclusive screenings of four contemporary Irish films never before seen in WA, 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.

Fenians Fremantle & Freedom Inc is a not-for-profit association created to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the landing of the Irish Fenians in Fremantle on board the Hougoumont, the last convict ship to arrive in Australia in 1868.

Save This Event

Event Saved