Category Archives: Nora Connolly

Lindie Naughton’s biography of Markievicz

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

Republican Congress doco – in review

Nora Connolly - she was right! She should be given her due.

Nora Connolly – she was right! She should be given her due.

by Shan Van Vocht

A few nights ago I finally got around to watching the Republican Congress DVD. The revival of left-republicanism in the wake of the Provisional leaderships’ sell-out is a very welcome development.  Among other things it has sparked renewed interest in important left initiatives in the 15 years following the Treaty between the British ruling class and the southern Irish bourgeoisie.  So this document is a very worthy project.  At the same time I think it has some important weaknesses.

Let’s not beat around the bush.

What is the utterly despicable Ann Matthews doing in it?  Her life these days is devoted to attacking republican women of the early 1900s, especially Markievicz.  She says things about these women that are blatantly untrue (like we only have Markievicz’s word for it that she was second-in-command at Stephen’s Green), she suppresses evidence that doesn’t suit her vilification of Markievicz and others (for instance, she uses Free State unionist judge Willey’s 20-years-after-the-event ‘memory’ of Markievicz breaking down at her court-martial while not telling readers that the official court-martial record shows no such thing), she’s written a viciously anti-Markievicz play and her two books on republican women of the 1900-1940 period are extended diatribes aimed to destroy these women’s reputations.

West Brit audiences and readers no doubt love what she writes.  However, she should be absolutely persona non grata on the left and yet she pops up here and there – in this doco, as speaker at a left meeting in Sligo with Declan Bree in the chair for chrissakes, launching her book on the ICA in the GPO with Eamonn McCann for chrissakes helping her.  And in the Republican Congress DVD she claims the Cumann na mBan women who initially were favourable to Republican Congress backed off as they were “religious conservatives”. Sure, Sheila Humphreys was a right-wing Catholic!!!  She also claims there were no political brains in Cumann na mBan, as if they were all airheads like herself.  Chrissakes, why would the makers of this documentary invite her to spout this ludicrous crap in their documentary?!!!!  (Matthews’ stuff on republican women is so off-the-wall, I started to think a while ago that she might have mental health issues.)

My two other gripes was that they gave a platform to fake-left Read the rest of this entry

Nora Connolly – a brief note on her life

nora2The following piece appeared on éirígí’s facebook page.  Now being unemployed, and living a quiet life in a place near the end of the world, I hope to have more time to write, especially as I only want to work part-time for the rest of my life.  Near the top of what I want to write is an appreciation of Nora Connolly.  As I’ve indicated before, too often in discussions re Republican Congress it is Peadar O’Donnell who is primarily remembered.  In my view, in the political fight that led to the effective break-up of Republican Congress, Nora Connolly was right in arguing for the transformation of the Congress into a revolutionary (socialist-republican) party and O’Donnell and his supporters (who wanted it to be a coalition of republicans, including attempts to involve elements of Fianna Fail) were wrong.  The pressing need at the time was for a revolutionary party; such a party might then help coalesce and lead a wider alliance, but the party was key. 

Nora, in my opinion, has never been given her full due, probably because she made the subsequent mistake of going off into the Labour Party and, later, serving as a De Valera-appointed member of the Seanad.  Those mistakes, however, don’t wipe out her impressive credentials from before the Easter Rising, through the Rising and war for independence, through the civil war (at one point in time she was acting paymaster-general for the IRA), the 1920s and the organising of Republican Congress.  It was only after the defeat of her arguments there that she ended up feeling she had nowhere to go and the fact that Labour had begun talking again about the ‘workers republic’ idea that led her into Labour.  To her credit, she didn’t stay and become an apologist for Labour, the way her brother Roddy did.  The formation of the IRSP and the apparent leftward development of the Provisionals brought her back into activity in her late 70s and early 80s, especially around the hunger strikes of 1980-81.

From éirígí on facebook, June 17:

The veteran Irish socialist republican, and daughter of the great James Connolly, Nora Connolly O’Brien passed away on June 17, 1981.

Nora lived her life in absolute dedication to the cause of Irish National Liberation and Socialism.

Nora was a veteran of the 1916 Rising, the Tan War and the war in defence of the Republic which followed. Like her father, Nora believed that the class struggle and the national struggle in Ireland were the same fight, and during the 1930s Nora was a key organiser in the left wing Republican Congress.

In the 1970s Nora described Seamus Costello as Read the rest of this entry

New Peadar O’Donnell Society: a few comments

Nora

How about some recognition for Nora Connolly who was actually right in the dispute in Republican Congress?

Below is a statement announcing the establishment of the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum; underneath it are some initial comments of mine; there is an article on the blog, here, about the first meeting referred to in the opening paragraph of the statement

Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum

This month a group of socialist and republican activists from a variety of backgrounds throughout Ireland came together in Dublin to establish the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum. The concept of the forum arose from a series of seminars that in turn had their origin in a symposium on “Republicanism in the Twenty-First Century” hosted by the Communist Party in September last year.

The aim of the forum is to promote the ideas of socialist republicanism, as best expressed by James Connolly, Liam Mellows, and Peadar O’Donnell. The forum is named after Peadar O’Donnell in recognition of his outstanding role as a union organiser, republican soldier, author, enemy of fascism, friend of the worker and small farmer, committed socialist, and lifelong activist for peace and against imperialism.

At a time when our people are being ground down daily by the brutalities of the bankrupt capitalist system and the inability of the two failed states in Ireland to provide any solution to their problems, the Peadar O’Donnell Forum believes that the time has come for a decisive break with the present system—or, as Connolly so memorably put it, to set about the reconquest of Ireland.

All Ireland is under the domination of Read the rest of this entry