extends a few hundred feet east, then turns north to meet College Street. Though Google Maps calls these tiny perpendicular streets "Mechanics Lane" and "Markhams Lane," respectively, Liam McKone has two reasons for referring to the unassuming thoroughfare as "Skinner's Alley."
For one, that's what it was called when it was the site of the cooper shop of John Lonergan. Lonergan, who would become a captain of the 13th Vermont Infantry
in the Civil War, used his business as the headquarters for the Vermont chapter of the Fenian Brotherhood, a militia dedicated to the cause of Irish independence.
The second reason for the "Skinner's Alley" moniker is that it seems to have been named for the Dublin alley that was the site of that city's skinning and tanning trades.
For McKone, a historian who sits on the board of the Burlington Irish Heritage Festival
, all roads — literal and figurative — lead back to Ireland. Which is why he's chosen Rí Rá
, the Irish pub on Church Street that faces "Skinner's Alley," as the site of the inaugural meeting of the local chapter of the Fenian Historical Society. It'll take place in the pub's back-room "library" on Sunday, January 18, and is open to anyone with an interest in Irish and Irish American history. Irish heritage is not required.
The Fenian (pronounced FEE-nee-an) Brotherhood
was originally founded in Ireland itself, where it was promptly outlawed; in Vermont and other states, the militant organization was widespread. Its current incarnation aims not to free Ireland from the yoke of British rule but to commemorate the history of Irish nationalism.