Thursday, February 2, 2012

11. The Black Donnellys by Thomas P. Kelley

The "Black Donnellys" lived near Lucan, north of London, Ont., in the nineteenth century. This Irish family had a reputation for violence and lawlessness, and did much to alienate their neighbours in a running feud that was imported from Ireland. In February 1880, a vigilante committee descended on the Donnelly farmstead and took justice into their own hands, leading to a brutal and controversial outcome.

The terrible Donnelly feud, reportedly the most notorious and violent in the history of Canada, began in the spring of 1847 only hours after Irish immigrant James Donnelly arrived in the town of Lucan, Ontario. For almost 33 years murders, gang wars, robbery, mass arson, derailed trains, and mutilations marked the town.

This was an interesting read. Reading it, I felt as though  I was sitting on a porch listening to someone's grandfather trade tales of the infamous family with his friends.  Although a terrible tale of bullying, vengeance and violence it also reads a bit like small town gossip.  There are some fringe members of the family that seemed ignored by the author despite their own tragic involvement.  If they were guilty of anything other than being related to the Donnelly's the author failed to share it.

If anyone is interested in learning more, they can visit Lucan, Ontatio and stop by the Lucan Area Heritage and Donnelly Museum. You can even trace the path taken by the Vigilance Committee the night of February 3, and early morning hours of February 4, 1880 when the massacre occurred.

1 comment:

  1. I purchased 'The Black Donnellys' by Thomas P. Kelley a couple of years ago from the Lucan Heritage and Donnelly Museum. I know it's based on a true story, and found it to be a very entertaining read. I also recently found a publisher that sells book number two of the series titled 'Vengeance of The Black Donnellys', it's available at