James Connolly

Almost hidden away on Cowgate, Edinburgh, this bronze plaque, erected on 8 June 2016, commemorates the birthplace of James Connolly, who was born to Irish parents. It states:-

To the memory of James Connolly born 5th June 1868 at 107 Cowgate renowned international trade union and working class leader founder of Irish Socialist Republican Party member of provisional government of Irish Republic executed 12th May 1916 at Kilmainham Jail Dublin

James Connolly (Irish: Séamas Ó Conghaile) was an Irish republican, socialist and trade union leader. He left school for working life at the age of 11, and became involved in socialist politics in the 1880s.

He is mainly known for his Irish socialist and republican politics, but he also took a role in Scottish and American politics. He was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World and found the Irish Socialist Republican Party.

Alongside James Larkin, he was centrally involved in the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU) in the 1913 Dublin lock-out and following which the men formed the Irish Citizen Army (ICA). Following Larkin’s departure to the United States, Connolly took over the leadership of the union and the military wing of the ICA.

Connolly opposed Britain’s long rule in Ireland and was one was one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising in which he commanded the ICA throughout. Following the defeat of the rising and the arrest of the majority of its leaders Connolly was taken to Kilmainham Gaol, where – unable to walk – he was strapped in a chair and executed by firing squad for his part in its proceedings.  

Fighting Talk by Mark Metcalf : The life and times of James Connolly book review