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Connolly, James (1868–1916)

William H. Mulligan, Jr.


James Connolly was an Irish labor organizer and socialist, and a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising . Connolly was the most ideologically sophisticated of the insurrection's leaders and the most sensitive to the needs and concerns of the Irish working class, which he saw in an international, rather than purely Irish, context. James Connolly was born in the Cowgate section of Edinburgh, Scotland, on June 5, 1868. His parents had emigrated from County Monaghan, Ireland, to Scotland in the 1850s. He attended St. Patrick's School but left school at an early age to work as a “printer's devil” at one of Edinburgh's newspapers. He joined the British army in 1882 and served in Ireland for most of his seven years in the military, which gave him a close look at how the British domination of Ireland operated in practice. Connolly was largely self-educated. He read Marx and Engels carefully and used their work as the basis of his own critique of British and Irish society. Connolly blended socialism, Irish nationalism , and Catholicism into his own program for revolutionary change in Ireland. In 1889 he returned to Scotland, having (as one writer put it) “discharged himself” from the army, and became active in Scottish socialist politics and Keir Hardie's Independent Labour Party. Like his father and brother, he took a job as a casual laborer, working for the Edinburgh Corporation cleaning ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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