One hundred years ago today in Dublin the great James Connolly was executed by British soldiers acting for the English crown. As he looks down from his apotheosis we hope he is smiling on Scotland, his home, as we take up the call to cast off our chains.
Oidhche mhath Seumas, agus soraidh slàn. On a bright spring morning in Dublin one hundred years ago a volley of rifle fire rang out over the stonebreakers’ wall of Kilmainham gaol. Tied to his chair, with shrapnel in his chest and ankle, James Connolly lurched forward, lifeless, after his execution. His cause of death was British rule over Ireland’s land, like the tens of millions of others in other lands under London’s fist. His crime was that he fought for the freedom of a people kept in hunger under the tyrannical imperial regime of the British crown. His victory was that his fight and passing signed the death warrant of that empire in Ireland.
It was sad to think that these three brave men who met their death so bravely should be fighting for a cause which proved so useless and has been the means of so much bloodshed.
– Company Sergeant Major S.H Lomas of the Sherwood Foresters
Exactly one hundred years ago today the Edinburgh born Saighdiúir na hÉireann was murdered by the British military administration in Dublin. Connolly was not the first to be felled by the invaders bullet, and nor would he be the last. Yet in his standing and in the bravery of his falling he inspired and continues to inspire na Gàidheil to reject the violence and the oppression of an Sasunnach wherever his bloodlust leads him. Young James Connolly left his native Scotland in the ranks of the British Army for Ireland, leaving behind a nation that needs him still.
In Edinburgh and in Glasgow the butcher’s apron flies above the saltire when all the country is astir to tear it down. Our resources are plundered for the engorgement of the treasuries of Westminster while our old and our young, our sick and disabled are left destitute in a British made poverty. Our own lovers of London rule, the flunkies of the gentry and the establishment, bleat about our struggle becoming like that of Ireland’s – attempting to inspire the fear of turmoil and violence in us. They presume that Ireland’s struggle stirs a revulsion in us, but they’re wrong.
How can we be reviled at the memory of Connolly, who was so much a son of Alba as he was of Éire? How can we fear the memory of the socialist who said to his priest that he would pray for all men who would do their duty according to their lights, before smiling and saying, “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” He knew and he teaches us still that the mouths that sing God Save the [that title I cannot bring myself to write] do so to their own hunger. No Çhiarn Vannin, Saxon or Hanoverian, will ever put food in their bellies before first vomiting it out. So good night James, and fare you well. Pray for us, the Gaels as yet unfree.
James Connolly – Irish Rebel