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James Connolly

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James Connolly (June 5, 1868 – May 12, 1916) was a leader of the Easter Rising in 1916 in Ireland. He was captured, charged with treason, found guilty by court martial, and executed by firing squad.

"We succeeded in proving that Irishmen are ready to die endeavouring to win for Ireland those national rights which the British government has been asking them to die to win for Belgium. As long as that remains the case, the cause of Irish freedom is safe. I personally thank God that I have lived to see the day when thousands of Irish men and boys, and hundreds of Irish women and girls, were ready to affirm that truth, and to attest it with their lives if need be" From Connolly's statement at his court martial, 1916[1]

James Connolly was born in 107, Cowgate - then a slum area of Edinburgh's Old Town, nicknamed "Little Ireland"; his birthlace is marked by a plaque. His parents were immigrants from County Monaghan. [1]

As a socialist, Connolly had hoped that the workers of Europe would refuse to fight each other. As this hope failed to materialize he concentrated on the notion that Irish workers could never be properly treated under British rule. In his view, a successful rising against Britain would be a prelude to a more equal society in Ireland. When James Larkin went to America in 1914, Connolly came to control the Irish Transport and General Workers Union as well as the Irish Citizen Army. By 1915, the Irish Citizen Army had about 200 members and Connolly grew more anxious and appeared willing to lead them on his own in a rebellion. To prevent Connolly from leading the Citizens army in an independent rebellion, he was recruited to the military council in charge of planning for the rising. In this way the plotters hope to include both the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army in the Easter Rising.


“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle., unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs”. From "Socialism and Nationalism" in Shan Van Vocht, January 1897

"Only the Irish working class remains as the incorruptible inheritors of the fight for freedom in Ireland." from Labour in Irish History, July 1910

"We believe in constitutional action in normal times; we believe in revolutionary action in exceptional times." from The Workers Republic, 4 December 1915.

"Yes, ruling by fooling, is a great British art with great Irish fools to practice on." - From The Irish Worker, September 1914

"Apostles of Freedom are ever idolised when dead, but crucified when alive." From The Workers' Republic, 13 August 1898

Reviewed here

See also

  • Multitext Project in History Gallery: James Connolly, socialist, trade union leader, writer