Charlemont’s Former Resident, James Connolly

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Tenement Slums, Charlemont Mall

There are many people from Charlemont Street who have come and gone, but there is one name that stands out among them all. He was a revolutionary trade unionist/syndicalist; a socialist agitator and Irish republican. He arrived on these shores with a desire to make a better life for his family, and with a fiery determination, set in motion the struggle for the attainment of social justice, and national, and economic liberation, for the working class; that man was none other than—James Connolly.

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James Connolly, his wife Lille, and children

Moving to Ireland with his wife Lille and their three children, they arrived here in May 1886. Once here, they rented a single room in a tenement slum at 75 Charlemont Street, directly across from where Tom Kelly Flats are situated now. These were some of the worst slums in the country; at the time Dublin was in serious decay, and overflowing with poverty.

Some say that it’s the environment in which one live that shapes, and determines the outlook in life for man, and if the life of James Connolly is anything to go by, surely then this is the case.

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Doorway to a tenement slum on Charlemont Mall

Having arrived from abject poverty from his place of birth in Edinburgh, Connolly was no stranger to living in harsh conditions, indeed, it could be said that for the most part of his life, he, like so many of the millions of other working class toiling for the grinding capitalist around the globe, had to struggle very hard in life to make ends meet.

Connolly cut his teeth in socialism while in Scotland, where he was active in a number of left-wing organisations. When he finally moved to Ireland in 1886, in May of that year, he formed the Irish Socialist Republican Party (ISRP) while still residing in Charlemont Street at the time.
In later years he move to America and was active in the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) and the Socialist Labour Party of America.

Connolly is most notably recognised here in Ireland for his role as organiser of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, and as its Acting General Secretary, and a co-founder, and Commander of the fighting arm of the workers militia; The Irish Citizens Army.

And of course as Vice-President of the Provisional Government of the Republic, and the Commandant General Dublin Division Army of the Irish Republic. Connoly was executed for his role in the revolution on May 12th, 1916.

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The residents of Charlemont Street will see fit that one of our former neighbours is commemorated in the proper manner fitting our patriot dead. And have begun organising a plaque unavailing to mark the spot where this great man once lived.

This citizen’s led initiative is non-party political, and is welcome to everybody.

Further details such as a time and date to be announced soon.

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Bibliography

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