The Origin of the Wild Geese

We have had numerous requests from members as to how the Wild Geese originated, I could of course just say that as my call was the WGI, I decided to form a small group of veterans, with the help of 4 friends called Neville, Neil, Frank in the City and Frank the Yank. I would of course be telling a Big Fat Lie, because that was only how the Wild Geese International was born.

Read on for the True story

We travel back in time to 1868 when 62 Fenian convicts were being transported to the Swan River Colony. The men who called themselves “The Wild Geese”, are best remembered for the highly organized “Catalpa” escape from Freemantle in 1876. they came to the colony on the sailing ship Hougomont and it is remarkable how a group of convicts made the best of prison life by finding outlets to keep up their morale and to turn the long journey to their advantage.

With the encouragement of the 24 year old chaplain, Father Delaney and under the Nelsonian eye of the captain, they held classes, set up discussion groups (QSO’s) and produced a news paper,             “The Wild Goose”. The group’s literary achievements and the camaraderie of this phase of their adventure must be highly praised. These men were great idealists, they were a marked contrast to the sharp money-making settlers who ran the colony in those days, It was their faith in their belief that kept them going. The men most prominent were John Boyle O’Rielly, Denis Cashman and John Sarsfield Casey.  O’Rielly, who was a promising young reporter with the Lancashire Guardian until he joined the British Army at 19, became a Fenian  and a remarkable leader in no time.  Eventually he recruited 80 members of his regiment to his cause.  After he escaped from Bunbury in 1871 he became editor of the Boston Pilot in Massachusetts and president of the Press Club.  His real distinction was as a poet; he was widely read in North America and Ireland but was not neglected in WA.  The Authorities here were not happy with his exposes of the convict system, but his novel ‘Moondyne Joe’ and a book of verse ‘Song of the Southern Seas’ were the first works to emerge from WA.  Cashman, a young Waterford City schoolteacher with a wife and three children, was leader of his local Fenian group.  He was arrested for being on the street after curfew and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.  On the Hougomont he took over the management of the aWild Goose.  He was pardoned in May 1869 and made his way to America, where he was re-united with his family.  He became assistant to O’Rielly and wrote a biography of the great land reformer, Michael Davitt.

A man I omitted from the aforementioned ‘most prominent’ was the editor of The Wild Goose, John Flood, who studied law at Dublin University, Flood had the strongest literary talent.  After he was pardoned in 1871 he went to New Zealand but was deported back to Australia as a former felon.  He produced a weekly newspaper ‘The Irish Citizen’ in Sydney and later followed the gold rushes to Queensland, where he edited The Cooktown Courier and The Gympie Miner.  At the time of his death in 1909 he was secretary of the Queensland    Mining Managers Association.  Casey, nicknamed “The Galtee Boy” wa a barman in a Cork pub.

During part of his stay in the colony he was employed as a schoolmaster at York by Bishop Matthew Gibney, who later had an encounter with another troublesome Irishman, Ned Kelly.  Casey was one of several Fenians employed as teachers or tutors in lonely Settlements throughout the colony.  After he went back to Ireland he was appointed coroner for East Limerick.  He died in 1896.  As an organisation the Finians attacked the British at the height of their Imperial Power.  Fear of them took a long time to abate in this state.  Following the “Catalpa” episode all their writings were banned.  It became an offence just to sing ballads that sprang up around them.  Perth author and historian George Russo visited England and Ireland to research for material to tie up the loose ends for a new book on the subject.

You will no doubt gather from this article that the name Wild Geese is associated with freedom and freedom loving people.  This was carried on in the 1960’s by Col. Mike Hoare and his Wild Geese 5 Commando in the Congo where they were directly responsible for saving the lives of thousands of white men, women and children from the Simbas.

The Wild Geese International today is a group of freedom loving ex-combat veterans who have all “Been down that road before”, and who will continue to fight for peace and freedom via the Airwaves.

Yours till the far distant future when our feathers moult for the last time and we are finally grounded. 

Wild Geese 01 John G.O.C. International.