Cohalan’s background

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In explaining the background to the development of Cohalan’s nationalism, his work on behalf of Irish independence should be noted. Throughout his life, Cohalan remained a staunch supporter of the Irish nationalist cause. Cohalan’s grandfather and father left Cork at the height of the Famine in 1847 and, like the descendants of many Irish emigrants to America, he harboured a deep hatred of the British Empire. Paradoxically, this was matched by an intense devotion to American prin-ciples of government and institutions. Cohalan’s father, Timothy Cohalan, had joined the Fenians in the 1860s and Daniel himself joined Clan na Gael in the 1890s. Although never a member of the Clan executive, he soon gained the confidence of Devoy, who valued Cohalan for his political and social connections. The Clan was a source of funding for the IRB and Cohalan played a key role in raising such funds. Knowing his importance, Irish nationalists of all hues, including Patrick Pearse and Douglas Hyde, beat a well-worn path to his door seeking funds and support. Cohalan, along with Devoy, helped coordinate Clan support for the 1916 Rising and also met with Roger Casement prior to his mission to Germany. Cohalan was a key figure in the launch of the FOIF, just a few weeks prior to the 1916 Rising. After the war the FOIF claimed 275,000 members and has been described as the ‘most effective propaganda machine in Irish-American history’.

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