Category Archives: James Connolly
Below is the speech delivered by Jim Lane at the commemoration for Seamus Costello on the 5th anniversary of his murder by the pro-Moscow ‘Official’ IRA. Jim was a member of the central leadership of the IRSP at the time, becoming its general secretary in 1983. The speech was delivered at Seamus’ graveside in Bray on October 3, 1982.
The original text had some very large paragraphs. I have broken these up, simply to make it easier to read. None of the text has been changed.
Special thanks to Mick Healy for passing the original text on to me and suggesting I put it up here.
Gathering beside the graves of our patriot dead is a long-established custom for Irish revolutionaries. In doing so, we honour our dead and seek strength and inspiration to help further the cause for which they struggled. Such strength and inspiration derives not alone in recalling the deeds of our dead patriots, but also in restating and clarifying our political philosophy, in terms of existing conditions. The deeds of our dead comrade, Séamus Costello, republican socialist and founder member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party are legion. This year in a fitting and timely tribute, such deeds have been recorded with the publication of a book by the Séamus Costello Memorial Committee. For an insight into the contribution that Séamus made to the revolutionary socialist struggle in Ireland, it is required reading, guaranteed to strengthen our resolve and provide inspiration. Therein can be found not alone an account of his life, achievements and writings, but an excellent collection of tributes from his friends and comrades. No words of mine spoken in tribute could match theirs.
Nora Connolly-O’Brien, recently deceased daughter of Irish socialist republican martyr James Connolly, considered him to be the greatest follower of her father’s teachings in this generation and hoped that his vision for Ireland would be realised in this generation.
For Tony Gregory, Séamus “personified more than any Irish man or woman, at least of our generation, the republican socialist – the revolutionary activist who organised and worked in tenant organisations, trade unions, housing action committees and cultural organisations.”
From the young men and women of the republican socialist movement, to whom he was friend and mentor, came the following tributes:
Gerry Roche – “Like Lenin, he was pragmatic in his tactics, and while recognising the corruption of the courts and parliament, he was quite prepared to use them as a platform while remaining totally inflexible in his politics.”
Seán Doyle – “Séamus Costello was a man of the people. He got his degree in working-class involvement, on the streets with his people, campaigning with them for justice.”
Niall Leonach – “He had an irrepressible dedication and energy to carry on with the struggle, to learn new lessons and to break new ground.”
Íte Ní Chionnaith – “Bhí a fhios aige in gcónai go raibh a bheatha i mbaol agus go mbeadh, an fhaí is a lean sé den obair a bhí ar bun aige ach níor lig sé dó sin cur as dó. Ba chailliúint gan áireamh é do phobal na tíre seo, thuaidh agus theas.”
And it was Miriam Daly, first chairperson of the Séamus Costello Memorial Committee and a member of the Ard-Chomhairle of the IRSP when Séamus was murdered, who highlighted the point that made him stand out as a republican socialist, when she said he never Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1981 hunger strike, 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), British strategy, Commemorations, Economy and workers' resistance, Elections, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Irish politics today, IRSP, James Connolly, national, Nora Connolly, Officials, Partition, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism 1960s, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Seamus Costello, six counties, Social conditions, twenty-six counties, Workers rights
by Mick Healy
The James Connolly Festival 2018 at the New Theatre in Temple Bar (Dublin) gave over Saturday night, May 12, to FIBI to commemorate the Irish who fought with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War and, in particular, Kildare socialist-republican Frank Conroy.
Kildare historian James Durney gave a short talk on the life of Conroy who died in Spain in December 1936.
Sive, the headline entertainment of the evening, performed an amazing acoustic set from her album, The Roaring Girl.
Then a man who needed no introduction, Kildare’s own Christy Moore, gave a surprise performance. He was a guest at the concert, but much to our delight took to the stage and performed four songs including “Viva La Quince Brigada” and “Lily”, about his home town of Newbridge.
The night before the event Christy, who had just finished a UK tour, rang to say he would like to pay his own tribute to Frank Conroy.
Sive at the Connolly Festival:
Christy Moore at Connolly Festival:
James Connolly (1868-1916) was a leading figure in socialist politics in Scotland, Ireland and the United States and a radical trade union leader in the USA and Ireland. In Dublin, he was one of the key leaders of the new Irish Transport and General Workers Union, through the massive Great Dublin Lockout of August 1913-February 1914. Later in 1914, Connolly became the leader of the workers’ militia, the Irish Citizen Army, that had been estaboished as a workers’ defence force in the lockout. Under the leadership of Connolly, Michael Mallin and Constance de Markievicz, the ICA was transformed into a revolutionary army.
He also wrote stirring songs of working class struggle.
In April 1916 the ICA and the republican Irish Volunteers launched an insurrection against British rule and declared an independent Irish Republic. After a week of fighting the rebels, under heavy British bombardment that was demolishing the centre of Dublin, were forced to surrender. Connolly and other leaders of the rebellion were tried by British court-martial and sentenced to death by firing squad. Connolly, who had gangrene as a result of a wound, couldn’t stand and was tied to a chair for his execution.
The Otago Socialist Society is hosting a talk on Connolly, not only to commemorate this great revolutionary working class leader but also to look at the continuing relevance of his ideas.
The speaker is a former activist in Sinn Fein in Dublin and a current member of Clann Eirigi. He will cover Connolly’s life; his perspectives on the working class and Irish national liberation; and his writings on revolutionary trade unionism.
Speaker: Dr Philip Ferguson
2pm, Saturday, June 2
Seminar Room, Third Floor,
Dunedin Central Public Library (Moray Place)
Posted in 1913 lockout, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Constance Markievicz, Economy and workers' resistance, Fenians, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish Citizen Army, Irish politics today, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Nora Connolly, Political education and theory, Public events - Australia and New Zealand, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Trade unions, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Women's rights, Workers rights
TRES BILLBOARDS FOR THE REPUBLIC: PRESENTED BY FRIENDS OF THE INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES IRELAND
A musical, artistic and historic celebration of Ireland’s International Brigaders with Jurama, a film about Charlie Donnelly, the Republican Congress veteran and poet.
We also present One Way or Another, a play on the life of Dinny Cody who was killed at La Rosas 1937, while historian James Durney will give a talk on the life of civil war hero Frank Conroy.
Finishing up the evening with music from the wonderful Sive.
Posted in 1913 lockout, 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), Commemorations, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish Citizen Army, Irish politics today, James Connolly, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, The road to the Easter Rising, Trade unions, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Women's rights, Workers rights
Accordingly, I will be running material by Marx (and Engels) on the subject of Irish freedom and its interconnectedness with the British revolution, as well as material by and about James Connolly.
This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of Connolly’s great co-workers, Constance Markievicz.
This blog already contains a substantial body of her writings and also articles about her. Most recently, I added her 1923 pamphlet What Irish Republicans Stand For.
Later this year, I will be putting up a substantial piece on her and the Irish revolution, something I began to write well over 20 years ago and put aside unfinished.
I will also continue my (so far rather haphazard) efforts to get up everything I have of Fintan Lalor’s writings and write something substantial on ‘Fintan Lalor and the Irish revolution’. I had made a load of notes for this last year and then lost them, so I have to start again; very frustrating.
I want to get something substantial up soon on Sean McLoughlin too, a kind of precis of the book by Charlie McGuire, a book I urge folks to go out and buy.
As always, I have a bunch of books – and it’s growing, also as always! – which I want to review. They go back to stuff published about five years ago now, I have been so lax in getting these reviews done. Aaaarrrggghhh!
And there are a few old articles from several journals that I want to get up here, but I have to type them up – a very time-consuming task.
Posted in 1798 - 1803, 1840s, Famine, Young Ireland & Irish Confederation, 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), British strategy, Constance Markievicz, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Engels, Famine, Fenians, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), Ireland and British revolution, James Connolly, Marx, Political education and theory, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Reviews - books, Revolutionary figures, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism
Posted in 1913 lockout, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish Citizen Army, James Connolly, Labour Party, Political education and theory, Revolutionary figures, The road to the Easter Rising, Trade unions, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Women
Today, February 4 (2018) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Constance Gore-Booth/Constance de Markievicz. To commemorate the anniversary, I’m putting up the text of her 1923 pamphlet What Irish Republicans Stand For.
I have had a copy of this pamphlet since the late 1980s – ie for about 30 years! – dating back to when I first began collecting her writings, many of which appear on this blog. I drew on her writings for my MA thesis which was written in 1995 and the first few months of 1996 – the thesis chapters also appear on this blog.
Ever since I started this blog in 2011, I have meant to stick it up here, but wanted to coincide it going up with some anniversary relating to her. I had intended, finally, to put it up on July 15, last year, the 90th anniversary of her death, but got caught up in other things and the day came and went.
However, the 150th anniversary of her birth seems an even better time. So, finally here it is. Nick Scullin typed up half of it from a photocopy of the original pamphlet; I typed up the other half.
At first, I thought it was published in 1924 but it appears that it is 1923. I don’t have access to libraries with copies of daily papers from that time so haven’t been able to double-check – Markievicz, for instance, cites several newspaper articles, giving the day of the month, so these could be looked up to verify 1923 is the year and not 1924.
The original includes the words, “Reprinted from Forward by courtesy of the Editor”. This was a left-wing Scottish newspaper, based in Glasgow. Revolutionary socialists such as James Connolly and John Maclean, plus others associated with ‘Red Clydeside’ wrote for it, as did a range of reformist socialists. After WW1, the paper was particularly associated with the ILP (left social-democrats). Although Forward had its own printing and publishing company, What Irish Republicans Stand For was printed by Civic Press Ltd of Howard Street in Glasgow.
We typed it up in line with the original pamphlet – ie where it used italics, bold, capitals etc, we left them in place and where headings were centred in the original, we left them centred. I have, however, put in gaps between paragraphs where the original simply indented a few spaces to indicate new paragraphs.
I’ve not corrected mistakes – eg Eamonn de Valera did not draw up the Democratic Programme (he, like Markievicz, was in prison in England at the time). Also, some of the language now seems quaint. Co-operative Commonwealth, for instance, was often used as a synonym for socialism. There was also the view that pre-Conquest Gaelic society was a pre-class society, so references to “Gaelic ideas” often referred to this; regardless of the exact nature of Gaelic society, certainly both feudalism and capitalism were imposed on Ireland from across the water.
It is also important to keep in mind the time in which this was written. A counter-revolution was taking place, reactionary elements within the independence movement were gaining control and imprisoning and murdering their former comrades, including people Markievicz had worked with. Although Markievicz staunchly opposed the Free State, the counter-revolution took a heavy toll on her and she died just four years after the end of the civil war.
The cover has a box with the following in it, just below the title and by-line. NB: the misspelling of Wolfe, Mitchel and Lalor are as on the cover.
“The conquest of Ireland has meant the social and political servitude of the Irish masses, and therefore the reconquest of Ireland must mean the social as well as the political independence from servitude of every man, woman and child.”
I offer this little leaflet humbly to the memory of Wolf Tone, of Mitchell, of Lawler, and of James Connolly to whom I am indebted for the faith and the knowledge that inspired it.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
WHAT IRISH REPUBLICANS STAND FOR
by Constance de Markievicz
Free State as Tool of British Capitalism
In these articles I am going to discuss Ireland and the “Irish Free State” from an economic point of view, and endeavour to show that this “Free State” is but a further attempt to force the English social and economic systems on a people who cling instinctively and with a passionate loyalty to the ideals of a better civilisation, the tradition of which is part of their subconscious spiritual and mental selves.
It was devised by the British Cabinet of imperialists and capitalists and accepted by their would-be counterparts in Ireland, whom they supply with money, arms, and men for the purpose of breaking up the growing movement towards the development of the Co-operative Commonwealth in Ireland. I claim that for this reason the Free State can never be acceptable to the people of Ireland, and, moreover, that this is the key that opens the door to a thorough understanding of the Irish question, and that there is no other key.
For 800 years Ireland has been devastated again and again by English armies and tricked by English politicians for but one object – the destruction of the Gaelic State to its last traditions and relics, and the establishment, in its place, of the feudal-capitalist state.
The military and political conquests were but means to this end, whole clans were massacred, dispersed or starved to death, whole provinces laid waste again and again for this one purpose – the forcing of an alien and repugnant civilisation on a civilised people.
It is only in latter years that the history of Ireland has been approached in a scientific manner, and that this has been made clear. Mrs Alice Stopford Green is the great pioneer in this work. For many years she has been digging laboriously into the past and bringing to light all that she has gleaned from the old documents that survive the systematic destruction of the records of Ireland’s greatness by the English.
James Connolly went further. A student of labour, viewed as a world question, from both scientific and historical sources, a man of practical experience as an organiser, agitator, and speaker in two continents, he mated his knowledge and experience with the facts disclosed by Mrs Green, George O’Brien and others, and has left us in his books a wonderfully comprehensive sketch of Ireland’s real struggle. Her past sufferings, her present slow awakening and struggle and her future hopes and aspirations.
I would appeal to my readers in his words: “The sympathetic student of history, who believes in the possibility of a people by political intuition anticipating the lessons afterwards revealed in the sad school of experience, will not be indisposed to join with the ardent Irish patriot in his lavish expression of admiration of his Celtic forefathers, who foreshadowed in the democratic organisation of the Irish clan the more perfect organisation of the free society of the future.”
Padraig Pearse also dwelt much on the Gaelic State. He emphasises his vision of an Ireland “not free merely, but Gaelic as well.”
The reason why the Republican movement was accepted by the people, and a Republic was brought into being by them at the price of such terrible sacrifice and suffering was that the ideals embodied in that Republic touched into life all that was most vital and most Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in British state repression (general), Constance Markievicz, Corruption, Counter-revolution/civil war period, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), James Connolly, Labour Party, Prisoners - past, Public sector/cuts, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Toadyism, War for Independence period, Women, Women in republican history, Workers rights
by Charlie McGuire
The Irish Civil War of 1922–23 is one of the most neglected events in Irish history. In contrast to the Tan War of 1919–21, a celebrated event about which a great deal has been written, very little attention has been paid to a conflict that not only exacted a heavier toll in terms of casualties, but was also more significant in shaping subsequent political divisions within the southern state itself.
Ken Loach’s acclaimed film The Wind That Shakes the Barley is perhaps the first film to look in any detail at the nature of the divides that existed within the Irish independence movement, and the manner in which these worsened after the signing of the December 1921 Treaty.
Leaving aside the predictable hostility from the armchair imperialists of the English Tory press, most serious critical comment concerning the film has been positive and has recognised the importance of opening up a debate on this important period in modern Irish history. It is as a contribution in this direction that this article on the experience of communists in the Irish civil war is intended.
The Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) was formed in Read the rest of this entry →
“There is always some excuse ready for evasion. The difficulty is, that every party likes some part of the truth; no party likes it all; but we must have it all, every line of it. We want no popular editions and no philosophic selections—the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” —Terence MacSwiney, Principles of Freedom
SIPTU’s Head of Research publicly announced in 2001 that the union would be sponsoring “the publication in several volumes of all Connolly’s articles and letters”, which would “at last enable us to appreciate Connolly’s own originality and greatness to the full”.1 I happened to be sitting next to him on the platform, and in my own contribution I welcomed the announcement but hoped people wouldn’t take it as a signal to sit back and think all was now well in the world of publishing Connolly. I was aiming for that curious amalgam that goes under the name of ‘cautious optimism’, and probably came off as a moany old begrudger. In fact, I was guilty of being far too generous altogether.
My presence on that platform was a result of the momentum that had been building up for five years previously. On the unveiling of a statue of Connolly in Dublin in 1996, I was allowed to point out in the programme that hundreds of his articles had never been made available since their original publication, and to republish the first Connolly work for twenty years.2 The year after, The Lost Writings was published, in which I assembled 65 articles of his unpublished since his execution. It never ceased to amaze me how many people were under the sincere impression up until then that all of Connolly’s work was available. The Collected Works title put on a reprint of previous Connolly selections in 1987-8 had been taken all too literally by many. Also in 1997 Red Banner began its ‘Hidden Connolly’ series, underlining that The Lost Writings wasn’t even the half of it.
A group including some prominent labour historians then tried to get an initiative off the ground which would assemble a team of researchers to publish all of Connolly’s works, an initiative which had the blessing of the Labour Party leader (dubious as that may be). But the SIPTU announcement cut the feet from under that. While ‘The Hidden Connolly’ continued to mine a seemingly inexhaustible seam, any impetus towards publishing Connolly’s complete writings was sucked into the Liberty Hall plughole.
The first fruit of SIPTU’s project appeared in 2005 in the shape of a Connolly biography by Dónal Nevin. It was a disappointing work, but promised Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1913 lockout, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish Citizen Army, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Labour Party, Political education and theory, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Toadyism, Trade unions, Unionism, loyalism, sectarianism, Women, Women's rights, Workers rights
I must admit that when I saw journalist Lindie Naughton had a book coming out on Markievicz my initial response was one of trepidation. Even if it was a good book, what was there left to put into a Markievicz bio that hadn’t already been covered by Anne Marreco, Jacqueline Van Voris, Diana Norman and Anne Haverty?
To my delight – especially since I bought the book after a few internet chats with Lindie – I can report that Lindie’s biography does bring more stuff to the table and is a really good read. In fact, I found reading the lead-up to the Rising had me quite excited, indeed riveted.
Lindie has made a good deal of use of the Bureau of Military History archives, most particularly the witness statements from the revolutionary period.
She seems to have been through papers of the time pretty methodically, looking for more stuff by and about Markievicz, as well as using the body of Markievicz’s articles that I dug up in the 1980s and put up on this site when I started it.
One result is that, even though I think a know a lot about Markievicz, I have found out more by reading this book. I think it’s also interesting that Lindie has brought a journalist’s research skills to the work – these are far superior to those of a so-called professional historian like Anne Matthews. And, speaking of Matthews, Lindie puts another nail in the coffin of Matthews’ attempt to frame up Markievicz for shooting an unarmed Dublin cop at point-blank range and then gloating over it (Anne Haverty also demolishes this frame-up). I did, however, think Lindie could have said a bit more about the problematic nature of the Geraldene Fitzgerald claim to have witnessed Markievicz killing the Dublin policeman and exulting over it, especially as she had mentioned to me some problems with the Fitzgerald statement. While Anne Haverty utterly demolishes Matthews’ attempt to stitch up Markievicz on that one, Lindie does, however, show it to be highly unlikely that Markievicz did any such thing. Also, Lindie notes that Connolly had specifically ordered ICA members not to shoot unarmed cops and soldiers.
Below is a page from Lindie’s bio. It will give you a taste for the book and, I hope, encourage you to go out and buy it. It deserves to sell well and be well-read. The extract deals with some stuff at Liberty Hall a few weeks before the Rising:
By the time the police returned, Connolly, Constance and Helena Molony, all armed, were Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in Constance Markievicz, Fianna, Historiography and historical texts, Irish Citizen Army, James Connolly, Nora Connolly, Political education and theory, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, The road to the Easter Rising, Trade unions, Women, Women in republican history