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Octave Fariola in an Irish Prison

La Via Dolorosa

Historyeye | Kilmainham Gaol chained serpents main door Octave Fariola

The sinister carving over the main door of Kilmainham Gaol which would have greeted Octave Fariola as he entered the prison

Fariola wrote a vivid account of his Fenian adventures, including his long six-month spell as a prisoner in Kilmainham Jail. This was published in La Liberte newspaper and subsequently translated for Richard Pigott’s The Irishman. He referred to his time at the jail as his “Via Dolorosa”. Among the many torments he experienced there, he singled out for special mention the arrival of books in his cell that were not in keeping with his literary tastes. He also complained about frequent, unwelcome visits from a pious prison chaplain who was determined to show Fariola the error of his ways.

 

Fariola was particularly critical of Kilmainham's prison governor, Henry Price. He accused him of parading prominent prisoners like himself in front of visitors for their amusement. For all his radical, revolutionary leanings, Octave Fariola had a huge sense of social superiority. His blistering attack on a prison guard who shouted at him in the prison yard one day was characteristic:


...It was a pain to be dragooned by a miscreant who most likely had been some low-born bastard, reared by public charity in an alms house.

 

Fariola’s “torture” came to an end with the suspension of his sentence and his release from Kilmainham Jail on December 20th 1867, as indicated by the prison register. He always insisted that he pleaded guilty to the charges against him and had been sentenced to transportation to Australia . But Chief Secretary Bourke's papers provide a different slant. They imply that Fariola suggested the idea of going to the colony as part of a deal for turning Queen’s Evidence. The Home Secretary disapproved, calling the request “improper”.  Nevertheless, a deal must have been done. A note is lodged in Fariola’s hand acknowledging receipt of £35 from Lord Mayo, presumably for the cost of his ship's passage.

 

Historyeye | Kilmainham Gaol main entrance, Octave Fariola 1867

Kilmainham Gaol