At dawn on the 12th of May, 1916 a badly wounded James Connolly was tied to a chair in the Stonebreaker’s yard in Kilmainham Gaol and executed by a firing squad. He was 47 years of age. In his short life he lived the life of many men. He was the last of the signatories of the proclamation to be executed.
On the 12th of May 2016, Milltown Malbay will make its own small contribution to the centenary commemoration of Connolly’s death with an evening of film, music and chat at Friel’s Pub in the town.
There will be a showing of a Marcus Howard documentary, a short film called The Death of James Connolly and some archive footage of Nora Connolly O’Brien reminiscing about her father. Guest speaker will be noted Galway based poet, Kevin Higgins, who will speak about Connolly and recite some appropriate poems.
“James Connolly might seem somewhat of an anachronism in today’s society: “The past”, as they say, “is a foreign country”, but Connolly was right for his time. Class differences may be largely eroded in today’s society, but in many respects they remain entrenched: the connection between wealth and power remains. Who took the brunt of the austerity measures imposed by government while a small clique got richer of the back of it? And we all know now that austerity was never the solution, but an accelerant.” said Tim O’Brien, organiser of the Connolly event.
“Homelessness is a major issue that cannot be disconnected from the issue of families being evicted from their homes for myriad reasons. Focus Ireland estimates that there are 5,000 people homeless at any one time in Ireland. There are over 350,000 people living in consistent poverty in Ireland as we speak. The health service is not keeping up with demand. This is a scandal as great as that facing Connolly. And I believe that Connolly would have been at the forefront of these campaigns, including the campaign against water charges. It may be more insidious today, but concerns about equality and social justice remain,” added Tim.
“So I think that it is fitting that we take this time to remember one of the true champions of working people. And that is the purpose of the evening. With the proliferation of documentaries, dramas, and features in newspapers, we are all experts on 1916, the signatories and the participants in the Rising. The 12th will not be a history lesson, or a theoretical exercise. It will simply remember Connolly through the words of his daughter, his grandchildren and poet Kevin Higgins. A good night is anticipated,” concluded Tim.
The event is supported by Friel’s Pub, Jean Kennedy of SIPTU, O’Brien’s Publishers, Sean Malone, Dark Windows Media and Marcus Howard of the Dundalk Institute of Technology.