Category Archives: Nora Connolly
The first edition of Constance Markievicz’s prison letters was put together by Esther Roper, the partner of Markievicz’s sister Eva Gore-Booth, to whom many of the letters were addressed. The editon was published by Longman Paul in 1934. Roper, with help from Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington, one of the executors of Markievicz’s will and longtime friend and fellow activist, wrote a substantial biographical essay for the book.
Over 50 years later Amanda Sebestyen worked on a new edition and wrote her own introduction. This edition was brought out by the feminist publisher, Virago, in 1987.
Thirty-one years later (last year, 2018) Lindie Naughton, the author of a new recent biography – Markievicz: a most outrageous rebel (Dublin, Merrion Press, 2016) – has put together a new edition. This edition returns the letters to their original form. (Lindie notes, “Consulting the originals in the National Library of Ireland makes it obvious that the published versions of the prison letters skirted around some sensitive issues and blanked out the names of people who quite possibly were still alive at the time of the original publication.”)
The prison letters come from her various stints in jail: May 1916-July 1917 in Mountjoy (Dublin) and Aylesbury (Buckinghamshire); June 1918-March 1919 in Holloway; June-October 1919 in Cork; September 1920-July 1921 in Mountjoy; and November-December 1923 in the North Dublin Union.
Moreover, this edition adds a bunch of letters that haven’t appeared in print before. These include letters to Read the rest of this entry
In 1935, Trinidadian Marxist C.L.R. James, a leading figure in the Trotskyist movement in Britain at the time, and an important figure in pan-Africanism, visited Dublin to speak about the Italian invasion of Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia).
James would meet Nora Connolly O’Brien and the Irish visit would make a significant impact on him.
Later he would write about the impact of James Connolly and the 1916 Rising on himself (see here).
Well worth reading is the piece Donal Fallon has just written about the visit, see here.
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
The 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