Category Archives: Republicanism post-1900

C.L.R. James on importance of James Connolly and Easter Week

C.L. R. James, 1901-1989

C.L. R. James, 1901-1989

The great revolutionary writer, activist and theorist C.L.R. James wrote the article below in 1941 (April 14) on the 25th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.  It appeared in the American left-wing paper Labor Action – James was living in the US and was a prominent figure in a Trotskyist group called the Workers Party at the time.  His party name was Johnson.  The piece is taken from the Marxist Internet Archive, having been transcribed and marked up by Einde O’Callaghan.  Not surprisingly, it contains a few small errors – such as numbers – and James is wrong to say “Easter week was the herald of the Irish revolution and the first blow struck against imperialism during the war at a time when the Irish revolutionary movement in Europe seemed sunk in apathy and the futile squabblings of exiles in cheap cafes.”  Hardly any Irish were political exiles living in Europe before the Easter Rising, let alone squabbling in cheap cafes.  


by C.L.R. James

Easter Sunday morning, 1916.[1] Three o’clock. James Connolly, Irish revolutionary leader, was talking to his daughter and. some of her friends, all asking why the revolt so carefully prepared had been countermanded.

Connolly knew that the arms from Germany had been intercepted, he knew that the arrangements had broken down, but he knew that the British government was going to strike. He could not let the revolt be stamped out without resistance. It seemed to him, and rightly, that the resulting demonstration would be too great. He would fight, come what may. There was a chance that if they held out long enough the whole country might rise. But, whether or not that happened, the blow had to be struck. It was in this spirit, long range revolutionary calculation, that Connolly sent the message to his followers calling on them to begin.

They prepared a declaration of the Irish Republic, signed by Thomas Clarke, Sean MacDiarmada, P.H. Pearse, James Connolly, Thomas MacDonagh, Eamonn Ceannt, Joseph Plunkett. About noon the next day a body of Irish volunteers marched down O’Connell Street, apparently on parade. In reality they were marching on the Post Office and they seized it. At that same moment, small detachments seized other key points in the city. A little over a thousand men, workers, and a few intellectuals at their head, had challenged the whole British Empire.

They held the center of the city for over five days. By Friday, 60,000 British soldiers were fighting 1,000 Irishmen while Dublin blazed in flames. The revolutionaries hoped that the country would follow them – but nothing happened, nothing at any rate that could then be seen and measured. On Saturday, President Pearse ordered the surrender. To even sympathetic observers it seemed that the Irish had merely once more shown themselves a brave but irrational and unpredictable people. Except Lenin, who wrote fiercely in their defense, not only as revolutionaries but in defense of the circumstances of their revolt.

A History of Bloody Repression

To understand this noble, but apparently futile heroism one must have some idea, however rough, of Ireland’s past at British hands.

It is customary to speak of Turks in the Balkans and Tsarism in Poland as classical examples of imperialist barbarism. Nothing in six centuries of European history has ever equalled the British strangulation of Ireland. To get some adequate idea of this, one has to study the Read the rest of this entry

Dublin Cole-Colley commemoration, Aug 29

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Celebrating Fenian hero O’Donovan Rossa on 100th anniversary of his death

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Dublin South-Central 1916 Centenary Committee being formed; bigi linn

Dublin South Central has a rich wealth of history connected to the 1916 Rising.  From the local IRB circle to Na Fianna, from the local Irish Volunteers to the Irish Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan, many local residents took part in the Rising and local areas, including the Phoenix Park and the South Inner City ,saw important battles during Easter Week 1916. Join us as we organise community celebrations of the most important event in modern Irish history.

The Dublin South Central 1916 Centenary Committee has been formed by local residents to organise community celebrations of the 1916 Rising in Dublin South Central.  Its launch will take place at a public talk on “1916 and the Irish Revolution” by Dr Ruan O’Donnell on Saturday July 4, at 4pm, in the Bosco Centre Drimnagh. Bigi Linn; All Welcome.

In review: Maurice Coakley on how Britain under-developed Ireland

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Maurice Coakley, Ireland in the World Order: a history of uneven development, London, Pluto Press, 2012

I read this book a couple of years ago and meant to review it then, but other things got in the way.  To make up for the delay, I’ve done something bigger – basically a mix of summary and review:

Coakley begins with a brief survey of bourgeois and anti-capitalist attempts to explain uneven development, from Weber and Durkheim to Gramsci, Jack goody, Immanuel Wallerstein and Robert Brenner. Coakley is concerend, in particular, with the different patterns of growth exhibited in Britain (especially England but also Scotland and Wales) and does so by exploring the unequal relations between them from the medieval era onwards.

Imposition of feudalism

He notes that the Anglo-Norman conquest resulted in the division of Ireland into Gaelic and Anglo-Norman regions. While the boundaries and interactions were fluid, they possessed different social structures. In the Anglo-Norman areas, a manorial/feudal economy was developed, with the local nobility owing allegiance to the English monarch. The peasantry which worked the land for the new elite included a layer of free peasants (largely transplanted from England) and a larger layer of unfree peasants (serfs) of Irish stock. This latter group was less free than the unfree peasants (villeins) in England itself. For instance, they had no legal rights at all.

The crisis of feudalism throughout the 1300s in Europe, including Ireland, explains the decline of Anglo-Norman power and the English language. It also reduced free tenants to labourers. This produced a significant return to England by peasants wishing to avoid greater subjection. The lords in Ireland were then forced to make concessions to Irish peasants. This combined with the impact of the plague largely finished off serfdom by about 1500.

The economy, moreover, had shifted in the 1300s back largely to pasture. This meant a different form of social organisation to tillage, where peasants laboured for a lord. Pasture involved a more kindred pattern of social organisation. The Anglo-Normans were also becoming Gaelicised. But Anglo-Norman-Gaelic Ireland was a hybrid social formation because as well as the kindred social organisation the major feudal lords were more powerful than their counterparts in England who were checked by the king from above and a large lower aristocratic layer and yeomanry below. Even in the Pale there was no yeomanry.

In the distinctly Gaelic and predominantly pastoral areas of Ireland, land and cattle denoted power. Access to land was dependent on kinship, with collective inheritance. While cattle were individually owned they were also dispersed; for instance, through being loaned to poor members of a clan. There was no significant surplus product which might create and sustain a Gaelic ruling class and state comprised of bodies of armed men; rather, “the principle of reciprocity permeated every aspect of Gaelic society”, although this did not mean equality. Read the rest of this entry

Free O’Donovan Rossa poster

11329874_1601429240129634_827128171281669211_nFrom Jim Lane:

The complete A4 size Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa poster produced by the Cork Volunteers’ Pipe Band Centenary ( 1914-2014) Project and appearing in the current video version No.1 (see below), is being made available to all.  By simply emailing me at  lanejames79@eircom.net you will be sent a copy which is suitable for reprinting. Very suitable for framing or displaying as a poster. It carries a great message, spoken by Patrick Pearse, over the grave of Rossa, in August 1915, No charge involved. Spread the message today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wa4QSQpvAnQ

 

Soldier of the revolution and working class intellectual: two tributes to Vol Tony Catney

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Funeral of Tony Catney

Below is the tribute to Tony ‘TC’ Catney written by republican POWs in Roe House, Maghaberry.  It was read out at his funeral in August 2014 in Belfast by Paul Duffy.  The text is taken from The Pensive Quill blog.

People assembled at the graveside of Tony Catney hardly need an introduction to the life and times of the man being laid to rest. There are so many dimensions to the life just ended that it would be impossible to catalogue them or squeeze them into some easy to deliver package. TC, as we all knew him, was a republican gem, a rough diamond with sharp edges and a razor sharp intellect to match.

People will remember TC in different ways and for different reasons. His friends will remember him fondly. His critics will see him more caustically. But the mischief in him would have enjoyed that. His attitude would be that if he was not annoying those he fundamentally disagreed with then he wasn’t doing his job. And the job of TC, as he saw it, was to bring clarity to matters that others tried to obscure.

For IRA prisoners TC will always occupy a Read the rest of this entry

Gay marriage referendum

I’ve written a feature-length article about this for another blog.  Because it’s written for a mainly non-Irish audience, it explains things that wouldn’t need explaining to Irish readers, but hopefully is still well worth a read by this blog’s readership.

You can find it at: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/irish-society-and-politics-and-the-referendum-on-gay-marriage/

 

 

The story of veteran republican Richard Behal

Maire Drumm oration at Liam Mellows commemoration

10426138_739143896162146_7338625163957999468_nBelow is the text of the oration delivered by Maire Drumm on Saturday, December 13, at the annual éirígi Liam Mellows commemoration.  The event took place at Mellows’ grave in County Wexford.  Wreaths were laid at the event by the Independent Workers Union and éirígi.

Mellows is one of the giants of Irish left-republicanism.  As a teenager he was a member and leader of the first republican military organisation of the twentieth century, the Fianna Eireann movement founded by Constance Markievicz.  Later he was a founder-member of the Irish Volunteers and led the 1916 Rising in Galway.  Following the defeat of the Rising and imprisonment, he played a vital role in rebuilding the republican movement, in particular the newly-republican Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army.  He was part of the Sinn Fein landslide in Ireland in the 1918 British general elections.  The republicans won 73 of the 105 Irish seats at Westminster on an absententionist and independence basis, duly establishing a parliament of their own in Dublin (Dail Eireann) and declaring independence.

Liam Mellows

Liam Mellows

When the British government refused to recognise the will of the Irish people and moved to use violence to suppress their will, Mellows was to the forefront of the resistance.  A war for independence took place from 1919-1921 when the more bourgeoisified elements of Dail Eireann supported a treaty with Britain which gave the British state continuing control of six north-eastern counties of Ireland while also creating a 26-county neocolonial state in the south and west (the Free State).  Mellows opposed the Treaty and was part of the central leadership of the republican side in the 1922-23 civil war until his execution on December 13 1922 by Free State forces while a prisoner in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin. – Phil   

Maire Drumm Oration:

It is an honour to be invited to speak at this commemoration to pay tribute to Liam Mellows and his three young comrades – Joe McKelvey, Richard Barrett and Rory O’Connor – on the ninety second anniversary of their execution by Free State forces. We also remember all those died in the struggle for national freedom.

Liam Mellows and his comrades were executed on December 8th 1922 without any trial and without any charge being laid against them.

In the eyes of the counter-revolutionary Free State government, the only crime was the four men’s adherence to the political objectives which had been succinctly set out in the 1916 Proclamation and expanded upon in the Democratic Programme of the Republic of 1919.

Those documents laid out a political agenda based upon national self-determination, social and economic justice and democracy; of cherishing all the children of the nation equally, of claiming the wealth of Ireland for the people of Ireland; of securing the greatest measures of political, social and economic freedom for the mass of the population.

Those revolutionary objectives were later ditched by an anti-Republican political elite in favour of a Treaty that saw the creation of two partitionist states within the British empire whereby control of the means of production and wealth generation would still remain in the hands of a small, but very wealthy, minority.

The men we honour today recognised that fact. They completely opposed the Treaty with its two state political solution to reinforce an all-Ireland economic status quo.

Those who led resistance against the Treaty and partition were well aware that the forms of government proposed would in no way be Read the rest of this entry

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