James Connolly - From Edinburgh To Dublin and 1916 Easter Rising Leader
The historic image of James Connolly strapped into a chair for his 1916 execution at Kilmainham Jail in Dublin, is an abiding memory for millions of Irish men and women throughout the world. His limb and fragile body was about to be pierced by powerful gunfire that would end the life of a Famous Son of Ireland.
Born in Scotland, all his ancestry was Irish to the core and his Irish veins made him more Irish than many natives. It was the Irish Famine that forced the Connolly family to flee Ireland for Edinburgh and James was born to his farm labourer father and mother in 1868 in Edinburgh.
To compliment the family income it was necessary for young James to start work as a young boy in a printers office and later in a bakery.
The writings of men such as John Mitchell, Thomas Moore and Theobald Wolfe Tone, were a source of much learning for young James. By the age of eighteen he had a wandering lust that took him on travels around Scotland and England working in a variety of odd jobs.
He met and married an Irish woman and moved back to Edinburgh and worked as a dustman and even stood for election for the Socialist Party, but he was unsuccessful. In 1896 he made a historic decision to come to the land of his ancestors with the intention to devote his leisure time to the poor and the innovation of an Irish Republic. He founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party.
James Connolly proposed the nationalisation of canals, railways, loans at cost, a 48 hour week and free education to University degree level. In 1898 he issued a famous newsprint ‘The Workers Republic’ to enhance his Socialist ideals. This historic journal contained the first chapter and verse of his famous book ‘Labour In Irish History’ and this became the manual for the Irish Labour Party of the 20th century.
He emigrated to America from 1903 to 1910 where he again worked as a Socialist. On his return he joined the ITGWU, founded by Jim Larkin. The 1913 lock - out strike gave rise to the founding of the Citizen Army by Connolly to defend workers against police brutality.
In 1915 Connolly joined his Citizen Army with the Irish Volunteers. He became a member of the Military Council plotting the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin and he was one of the seven signatories to the historic Irish Proclamation.
On that fateful Easter Monday, James Connolly was at the forefront of his Citizen Army as they stormed the G.P.O. and in a fierce battle he received a bullet in the leg and continued to direct his men from a stretcher.
On surrender he was taken to Dublin Castle, sentenced to death by firing squad and was executed on 12th May 1916 midst international outcry.
A famous Irish ballad ‘James Connolly’ commemorates this Irish patriot born in Edinburgh.
‘Gone is a man who loved Ireland so well’.