Happy Birthday James Connolly

New Mural of James and Nora Connolly. Falls Road, Belfast.

Happy birthday James Connolly and it’s great to see so many people taking the day off to celebrate. Perhaps we can make this a holiday every year? There have been several events in Edinburgh over the weekend including the football tournament for the James Connolly Cup (photos here) and a wreath laying ceremony (photos here and video here) at Connolly’s plaque in Edinburgh’s Cowgate. In Belfast there was the unveiling of a fantastic new mural of James Connolly and his daughter Nora. James Connolly’s life and work continue to be an inspiration throughout the world and as Scotland moves towards independence it is the writings of James Connolly that will guide republicans, socialists and other progressives.

As for all the other stuff going on this week it is just another reminder of why the monarchy must go and the British state with it. While in Scotland the decision by local authorities to fund Orange marches on the back of this nonsense is deeply offensive but not a bit surprising. It also underlines the point republicans have made for years that Scotland has a serious problem with bigotry and anti Irish racism that cannot be reduced to football. In Scotland these issues are structural and sadly the vast majority of the country (and politicians) seems unable to face up to that reality.

JCS tell Betty Battenberg she is not welcome in Connolly’s city. 1999

It should go without saying, but needs repeating, the James Connolly Society is totally opposed to Betty Battenberg and her parasite family. We support those individuals and groups who actively oppose the monarchy and do not believe republicans should be meeting these people or any other way pandering to them. As is often the case Connolly hits the nail right on the head.

Diamond Jubilee (1897)

“The great appear great to us, only because we are on our knees:

Fellow Workers,

The loyal subjects of Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, etc., celebrate this year the longest reign on record. Already the air is laden with rumours of preparations for a wholesale manufacture of sham ‘popular rejoicings’ at this glorious (?) commemoration.

Home Rule orators and Nationalist Lord Mayors, Whig politicians and Parnellite pressmen, have ere now lent their prestige and influence to the attempt to arouse public interest in the sickening details of this Feast of Flunkeyism. It is time then that some organised party in Ireland – other than those in whose mouths Patriotism means Compromise, and Freedom, High Dividends – should speak out bravely and honestly the sentiments awakened in the breast of every lover of freedom by this ghastly farce now being played out before our eyes. Hence the Irish Socialist Republican Party – which, from its inception, has never hesitated to proclaim its unswerving hostility to the British Crown, and to the political and social order of which in these islands that Crown is but the symbol – takes this opportunity of hurling at the heads of all the courtly mummers who grovel at the shrine of royalty the contempt and hatred of the Irish Revolutionary Democracy. We, at least, are not loyal men; we confess to having more respect and honour for the raggedest child of the poorest labourer in Ireland today than for any, even the most virtuous, descendant of the long array of murderers, adulterers and madmen who have sat upon the throne of England.

During this glorious reign Ireland has seen 1,225,000 of her children die of famine, starved to death whilst the produce of her soil and their labour was eaten up by a vulture aristocracy, enforcing their rents by the bayonets of a hired assassin army in the pay of the –best of the English Queens’; the eviction of 3,668,000, a multitude greater than the entire population of Switzerland; and the reluctant emigration of 4,186,000 of our kindred, a greater host than the entire people of Greece. At the present moment 78 percent of our wage-earners receive less than £1 per week, our streets are thronged by starving crowds of the unemployed, cattle graze on our tenantless farms and around the ruins of our battered homesteads, our ports are crowded with departing emigrants, and our poorhouses are full of paupers. Such are the constituent elements out of which we are bade to construct a National Festival of rejoicing!

Working-class of Ireland: We appeal to you not to allow your opinions to be misrepresented on this occasion. Join your voice with ours in protesting against the base assumption that we owe to this Empire any other debt than that of hatred of all its plundering institutions. Let this year be indeed a memorable one as marking the date when the Irish workers at last flung off that slavish dependence on the lead of ‘the gentry,’ which has paralysed the arm of every soldier of freedom in the past.

The Irish landlords, now as ever the enemy’s garrison, instinctively support every institution which, like monarchy, degrades the manhood of the people and weakens the moral fibre of the oppressed; the middle-class, absorbed in the pursuit of gold, have pawned their souls for the prostitute glories of commercialism and remain openly or secretly hostile to every movement which would imperil the sanctity of their dividends. The working class alone have nothing to hope for save in a revolutionary reconstruction of society; they, and they alone, are capable of that revolutionary initiative which, with all the political and economic development of the time to aid it, can carry us forward into the promised land of perfect Freedom, the reward of the age-long travail of the people.

To you, workers of Ireland, we address ourselves. AGITATE in the workshop, in the field, in the factory, until you arouse your brothers to hatred of the slavery of which we are all the victims. EDUCATE, that the people may no longer be deluded by illusory hopes of prosperity under any system of society of which monarchs or noblemen, capitalists or landlords form an integral part. ORGANISE, that a solid, compact and intelligent force, conscious of your historic mission as a class, you may seize the reins of political power whenever possible and, by intelligent application of the working-class ballot, clear the field of action for the revolutionary forces of the future. Let the ‘canting, fed classes’ bow the knee as they may, be you true to your own manhood, and to the cause of freedom, whose hope is in you, and, pressing unweariedly onward in pursuit of the high destiny to which the Socialist Republic invites you, let the words which the poet puts into the mouth of Mazeppa console you amid the orgies of the tyrants of today:

But time at last makes all things even,
And if we do but watch the hour,
There never yet was human power
That could evade, if unforgiven,
The patient hate and vigil long,
Of those who treasure up a wrong.


  1. June 5, 2012

    The struggle of James Connolly, the Irish people, and so many others against the tyranny of the British Crown continues to this day to be an inspiration to persons throughout Mother Earth. Thus, the celebration of James Connolly’s birthday is an important celebration of the struggle for freedom, justice, and independence of ALL people worldwide. Happy Birthday James Connolly!!! Onward, then, my sisters and brothers! Onward, in struggle!

    Larry Pinkney, Editorial Board Member & Columnist, THE BLACK COMMENTATOR
    & Associate Editor, INTREPID REPORT

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