John Devoy was an Irish nationalist leader and exile. He was the owner and editor of the Gaelic American, a New York weekly newspaper, 1903-1928. He dedicated over 60 years of his life to the cause of Irish independence. He is one of the few people to have played a role in the rebellion of 1867, the 1916 Rising and the Irish War of Independence (1919 – 1921).
He organised escapes from prison of senior fenian leaders, and in 1875, Devoy and John Boyle O’Reilly organised the escape of six Fenians from Fremantle Prison in Western Australia aboard the ship Catalpa. He was instrumental in the landwar and influenced Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell.
Pearse, who was very impressed by Devoy’s long and selfless dedication to the cause of Irish freedom, referred to Devoy as “the greatest Fenian of them all”.