Claiming Connolly: the legacy of James Connolly and Irish republicanism, 1966-2005

Philip Chilton

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

James Connolly‘s legacy is of pivotal importance for Irish republicans. Connolly took a leading role in the 1916 Rising; his execution by British forces made him a martyr in the eyes of republicans. Connolly‘s participation in the Rising, however, is not on its own sufficient to account for the prolific use republicans have made of him. The republican invocation of Connolly outstrips even that of Pádraig Pearse who himself played a leading part in the Rising and was similarly martyred.

That Connolly should be so commonly invoked and held in such high esteem by republicans is somewhat perplexing. Connolly, despite occasional republican denials, was a Marxist and Marxism was a doctrine that republicans generally repudiated. Understanding why Connolly became such a preeminent figure in republican discourse is part of understanding republicanism in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Because Connolly is both an icon and an enigma he provides a means by which to examine the development of republican ideas and the conflicting interpretations of his legacy.

This thesis also explores the political intricacies and ambiguities that are present in Connolly‘s own thought and activity - intricacies and ambiguities that may have allowed his ready adoption by variant republicanism.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014

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