James Connolly’s Intellectual Achievements

[This interesting list of James Connolly’s intellectual achievements was carried in notes that Desmond Greaves made for one of his lectures on Connolly, which are among his papers.]

  1. Connolly was born in the Cowgate slum of Edinburgh, where he used charred sticks for pencils.
  •  He learned French, German, Italian and Irish, and attained some fluency in each. 
  • During the course of his life he edited five working-class periodicals, three of which he initiated himself, and contributed to many more. 
  • He wrote a book that is still a classic, Labour in Irish History.
  • Having started as a manure carter, he became a builder’s labourer, a proof-reader, a linotype operator, an insurance collector, an engineer, an organiser for the Socialist Party of America and a Trade Union official. 
  • He worked in three countries, Scotland, Ireland and the USA, making his mark in all three over the comparatively short political lifespan of 27 years. He was only 12 years in Ireland as a political worker. 
  • He expressed opinions on every important issue affecting the working class of these countries and solved independently some of the most complex questions of political theory and international policy.