James Connolly


Home Thrusts

(27 August 1898)

Workers’ Republic, 27 August 1898.
Reprinted in Red Banner, No.13.
Transcribed by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Walk up, walk up. Here you are, here you are, the greatest show on earth. An unrivalled and unsurpassable collection of political monstrosities, journalistic fakirs, ‘patriotic’ slum owners, parliamentarian contortionists, et hoc genus omne.

The last few words are Latin. I sling them in here promiscuous like, just to show off my accomplishments, and impress the reader.

Nothing impresses the reader so much as what he does not understand. That is why we have so long admired the Home Rule leaders. They but needed to open their mouths and talk, and talk, and talk, and still to talk, and the more they talked the less we understood, and consequently the more we admired them.

We just stood around them with our mouths open like a Malahide codfish waiting for the tide to come in –

And gazed and gazed, and still the wonder grew
Where such mere men could learn all they knew.

But at last we got tired of waiting and gazing, and began to think, and the result of our thinking has been a little surprising to ourselves and will be, ere long, somewhat disastrous to somebody else.

I have been informed by some candid friends that my strictures on certain leading lights in Irish politics are too extreme, that we should be more moderate and not run full tilt against so many people.

I admit the soft impeachment. We are somewhat extreme. If we examine the positions of those who have already come under the lash of the Workers’ Republic, we will find that the writers in this paper are indeed at the extremest possible point removed from the position of those we criticise.

We are extreme. Like the man who would preach honesty among thieves or truthfulness among lawyers, we are extreme when we would insist upon consistency among politicians, or honour among journalists.

We are extreme. As the man who, upon taking his son to initiate him into the mysteries of Donnybrook Fair, gave him as his sole rule of conduct, “Whenever you see a head, hit it,” we only know one maxim whereby our public action should be guided, “wherever you see a lie expose it, crush it, stamp it out of existence, even although it came issuing softly from the lips or embodied in the actions of he who had been your greatest hero.”

We attack no one whose actions do not deserve to be attacked. The best proof of this lies in the fact that no one has yet been able to contradict a single assertion we have made.

But come along to the next caravan and see our unique collection of Home Rule editors, watch the antics of these gay and festive animals, imported at immense cost from the fertile soil of Flunkeydom.

Here you are, gentlemen. Observe the playful gyrations of these ‘leaders of public opinion’ and say have we not reason to be proud of their abilities.

On the 15th August, 1898, there was held at the Mansion House, Dublin, a Banquet in commemoration of the patriotic efforts of Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen. Toasts were drank and Nationalist speeches made in accordance with the spirit of the commemoration. Amongst those present were the editors of the Independent, Freeman and Nation.

On Saturday, 20th August, 1898, there was held a Banquet in connection with the Health Congress in Dublin. The toasts drank included the health of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, the Army, Navy and Police. Amongst those present were (uncompromising patriots) the editors of the Independent, Freeman and Nation.

They drank the health of Her Most Gracious Majesty. And every drink cost as much as would have fed for a day some of the starving Irish families under the rule of Her Majesty. They toasted the British Army, our gallant defenders who on the morrow would cut our throats if their masters, the British governing class, ordered them so to do. They toasted the Navy – because it supplies the gunboats which enable our Irish landlords to send their evicting parties to the islands off our coasts and so exterminate the inhabitants. They toasted the police, because they are Irishmen who have sold themselves into the service of our oppressors, and so perpetuate what Diarmuid McMurchadh began. [1]

And they are all honourable men, most honourable men.

I have long felt the need of a revision of our National poetry. The present collections are very good in their way, but on the whole somewhat antiquated. We need something more up to date.

And as a contribution to such a collection our office boy has just handed in the appended production of the muse. He assures me he perpetrated this atrocity in a moment of inspiration after reading the list of persons present at aforementioned banquet.

(For the use of Home Rule Editors)

Who fears to speak of ’98,
Who blushes at the name,
God save our Gracious Queen,
Long may she reign.

He’s all a knave or half a slave
Who slights his country thus,
But we Home Rule men can fool men
Who put their trust in us.


Send her victorious, happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,

God save the Queen.

Hiccup, hiccup, hooray.

If our journalists can gulp down liquor as easily as they swallow their principles, what an amount they must have consumed.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, whose peculiar politics we have already referred to [2], in the course of his speech at this banquet expressed the hope “that the politics of Dublin would yet become of such a character that the Lord Mayor and the Lord Lieutenant [3] might yet become more intimate.”

To which the Express adds, the “logical sequence of such an utterance is an invitation to the Lord Lieutenant to a banquet at the Mansion House.” These people are great on banquets.

But the Evening Herald (Redmondite) chimes in thusly: “The Daily Express is a little too previous ... it will be time enough to talk of making up when the Lord Lieutenant – as Lord Lieutenants were wont to do before England robbed us of our rights – opens the Irish Parliament.”

Note that part I have italicised. If it means anything it means that England did not “rob us of our rights” until the Act of Union was passed. Shades of O’Moore, O’Byrne, O’Connor, of Hugh O’Neill, Red Hugh O’Donnell, Owen Roe, O’Sullivan Beare, of McCracken, Neilson, Napper Tandy, Wolfe Tone, all of who rose in rebellion against England, before the Act of Union, that is, before she had robbed us of our rights.

Lord Lieutenants were unknown in Ireland before the Norman invasion. They have ever represented a foreign dominion, and the fight for Irish ‘rights’ does not date from the year 1800, but goes back a trifle of 600 years before that event.

As a matter of fact there never was such a thing as an Irish Parliament. The collection of exploiters who met in College Green were not Irish in any sense of the term. Their Parliament was no more than the council of a horde of foreign brigands deliberating as to the best and safest method of plundering the natives.

Will somebody please start a night school for the purpose of imparting to Home Rule journalists some knowledge of the elementary facts of Irish history.

The Evening Herald of Monday had a very sympathetic leaderette on the Dublin Metropolitan Police and their grievances. It hopes those grievances will be remedied and that the men will be better treated.

How nice. On the 22nd June, 1897, these same policemen broke the heads of some 300 Dublin men and women for daring to demonstrate their antipathy to the jubilee rejoicings. [4]

Now, the Herald hopes these poor dear policemen will be better treated by their superiors. Is it as a reward for their jubilee exertions?

I hope –

That the DMP will get –

Their wages reduced to 16s. per week.

Their hours increased to fifteen hours per day, and no holidays.

And that all promotion will be stopped or given entirely to negroes from the coast of Africa.

If the Herald gets its wish, the police force will be the most popular situation in Ireland, and our Government will always have a ready supply of young Irishmen to do its dirty work.

If I get my wish, the police force will become a most unpopular form of employment, and men who would otherwise be recruits will swell the army of discontented, and be ready and willing to lend a hand when the time comes to serve notice to quit on the British Empire.

Please give a copy of this paper to the first policeman you meet as a love token from a




1. Diarmaid Mac Murchadha, king of Leinster, notoriously supported the Normans in their invasion of Ireland.

2. In the article Home Rule Journalists and Patriotism, Workers’ Republic, of August 13 Connolly referred to recent pro-British actions of Lord Mayor Tallon.

3. Representative of the British crown in Ireland.

4. The demonstration against Victoria’s diamond jubilee was baton charged by the police. Connolly played a central role in the demonstration and was arrested.


Last updated on 11.8.2003