For a country that is often highly conservative, Ireland has produced many important and influential socialist activists, thinkers, and politicians, and many of them have come from Galway.
To celebrate and examine the lives and contribution of Irish socialists to their country and abroad, a two day symposium entitled Irish Socialist Lives takes place in NUI, Galway’s Moore Institute on Friday February 13 from 10am to 5pm, the Nuns Island Theatre on Friday 13 at 8pm, and Nuns Island again on Saturday 14 from 10.30am.
A range of contributors, including Prof Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Prof Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, Des Geraghty, and John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy, will describe the lives and consider the ideas of Irish trade unionists, agrarian radicals, Christian socialists, Marxists, Chartists, anarchists, and co-operators.
The event will be held under the auspices of NUIG’s History Department and the Irish Labour History Society. There will be a concurrent exhibition of historic trade union banners.
Among the highlights will be Prof Dáibhí Ó Cróinín on the proto-socialist ideas of Palladius - the man who tried to bring Christianity to Ireland before St Patrick (Friday at 12 noon ); Luke Clancy on the life of Michael Davitt (Friday at 10am ); a detailed look at the life of ‘Big’ Jim Larkin, chaired by Prof Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh (Friday at 8pm ); aqnd Des Geraghty on the great folk singer and Irish socialist Luke Kelly (Saturday at 8pm ).
Many of the Irish socialist figures to be discussed at the symposium have strong Galway connections.
Gerard Moran will be speaking on Matt Harris (1826 - 1890 ) on Friday. Harris was the Ballinasloe-based member of the supreme council of IRB, a tenants right advocate, Land League leader and Irish Parliamentary Party MP for East Galway from 1885 to 1890.
Charles Callan will speak on Maureen O’Carroll (1913 - 1984 ) on Friday. The mother of comedian Brendan O’Carroll, Maureen was born in Tuam and was the first woman elected a Labour Dáil deputy in 1954.
The following talks all take place on Saturday.
John Cunningham will talk about Lord Wallscourt (1797 - 1849 ), who established a small co-operative commune on his estate at Ardfry, Oranmore, in the 1830s.
Veteran trade unionist Michael Brennan will recall his youthful campaigning with Bobby Burke in north Galway in the 1940s. Burke was a Christian Socialist who ran a workers’ co-op in the remnants of his family estate at Tohermore, Tuam, in 1920s and 1930s
Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh will discuss trade unionist Gilbert Lynch who fought in the 1916 Rising and later served as a Labour TD for Galway.
Jim Monaghan will speak on Tom Ó Flatharta (1889-1936 ), the brother of the celebrated short story writer Liam Ó Flatharta. Tom was born on the Aran Islands and was also a short story writer. He helped found the US Communist Party, edited Chicago’s Voice of Labour, and later back in Ireland, he joined the Republican Congress and became editor of An t-Éireannach.
The symposium is open to the public and admission is free. For more information contact the symposium co-ordinator, John Cunningham on 086 - 8343667 or email [email protected]