John Devoy was a devout nationalist The chief goals of Fenianism are to give people the skills of organisation and of acting together; to develop qualities of leadership and to break down sectarian prejudice. It found Ireland disorganized, the people standing still and having no confidence whatever in themselves. It gave organised shape to the national idea, set the people moving in the direction of nationality and filled them with a spirit of self-reliance that has never since deserted them.
It gave young men an object to work for, an ambition, a desire to do and dare and sacrifice for the common good, and it brought men from all parts of Ireland together. Crude and incomplete as it was, ill-directed as were most of its operations, it gave a stimulus to national life that cannot be denied or ignored. It failed; but, for the first time in Irish history, the organisation lived through the failure, wrung important political measures from the English Government, and supplied Ireland with a living, active, permanent political force which must be counted with in all questions affecting the national welfare. Moreover, it trained a number of zealous, active, intelligent workers, filled with a restless activity and a burning desire to place their country among the nations. It prepared the way for a combination of the forces of the Irish race at home and abroad, and received among England’s enemies the habit of watching the course of Irish affairs. It also prepared the way for the Land League and supplied it with its founder, Michael Davitt, and the audiences that first listened to his doctrines.