James Connolly

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James Connolly

Séamas Ó Conghaile
James Connolly2.jpg
Born(1868-06-05)5 June 1868
Cowgate, Edinburgh, Scotland
Died12 May 1916(1916-05-12) (aged 47)
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland

James Connolly (5 June 1868 – 12 May 1916) was an Irish republican, socialist, and trade union leader. Although mainly known for his position in Irish socialist and republican politics he also took a role in Scottish and Statesian politics. He was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World and founder of the Irish Socialist Republican Party.

James Connolly played a key role in the organising, planning and execution of the failed Easter Rising which occured from the 24th to the 25th of April 1916. During this event James Connolly led an armed workers militia called the Irish Citizen Army which he formed on the 23rd of November 1913. Using this militia of 250 working peoples (which Vladimir Lenin refered to as, "the first red army in Europe") Connolly aimed to, in alignment with the forces of Michael Collins, Patrick Pearse, Tom Clarke, Sean Mac Diarmada, Joseph Plunkett, Eamonn ceannt and Thomas MacDonagh, take advantage of the [United Kingdom's]] distraction in the First World War to liberate Ireland from the British empire and form a free Irish Republic, with James Connolly and the Irish Citizens Army aiming to create a 32 county Irish Socialist Republic.

This attempt at socialist revolution, which predates the October Revolution in the Russian Empire by nearly a year, sadly ended in tragedy as all of the leaders of the revolt, including James Connolly, were executed by the British Army after the fall of the rising.

Connolly was executed on the 12 of May 1916 after being taken from a military hospital and tied to a chair where he was executed by firing squad and had his body dumped in a mass grave along with the other leaders of the revolution. His last recorded words were to his wife and daughter, "The socialists will not understand why I am here; they forget that I am an Irishman" These words show that he was both a socialist and an Irish nationalist and so even though the Rising was not directly socialistic he still sought to liberate Ireland from the clutches of British imperialism


Posthumously James Connolly has become a symbol of Irish Socialist Republicanism, often being included in the Heads of Marxism-Leninism in Irish propaganda alongside Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin (and depending on ideological leanings Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong). Images of James Connolly are used in this vain by several Communist and Socialist groups, most notably the Communist Party of Ireland and its youth wing the Connolly Youth Movement which is named in his honour.