(By Ned Hoskin, Staff reporter)
TROY ‹ The city's tribute to James Connolly, former Trojan and a founding father of the modern Irish republic, is going to be "the greatest Irish event in the city of Troy in modern history," according to organizer James Devine.
To be presented Aug. 16 and 17 in conjunction with the annual Irish Day festivities in Riverfront Park, the commemorative event will include the unveiling of a bust to honor Connolly who lived here shortly after the turn of the century. He was executed by British troops in Dublin in 1916.
International peace advocate Sean MacBride, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the American Medal of Justice and the Lenin Peace Prize, has written the introduction to the commemorative journal that will be produced for the weekend. In it, he explains the importance of the tribute to Trojans and to Irish people.
"Troy may well be proud of having had among its citizens in the years 1903-1905 an Irishman of the stature of James Connolly. He is one of our great patriots and also the foremost champion of the rights of the Irish working people," MacBride wrote.
"But, if the city of Troy is proud of having given shelter to James Connolly in those difficult years of his life, we in Ireland are eternally grateful to the city of Troy for having given shelter to one of our greatest Irishmen.
"We thank you for having done this, and thank you on learning that you are now honouring James Connolly."
MacBride's father was executed along with Connolly following the Easter Rising of 1916. Connolly, however, was the last of the leaders to be killed.
The bust that will be erected on the grassy patch of Riverfront Park down the hill behind the Uncle Sam Monument is expected to be completed by the middle of next week. It is currently being cast in bronze at the Dublin Art Foundry, Devine said.
John Lawe, general president of the Transport Workers Union, is working with businessmen in Ireland to arrange the transportation of the finished work of art to Troy, Devine said.
The granite block on which the bust will stand is being cut by Stefanazzi and Son, Inc., of Latham. The city of Troy is digging and pouring the foundation for the monument.
With a banquet planned for Saturday evening, the monument will be unveiled Sunday following a parade through the city scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m.
Among the guest speakers to attend the monument unveiling will be Thomas W. "Teddy" Gleason, president of the International Longshoremens Association and honorary chairman of the Connolly tribute; Lawe; Edward J. Cleary, president of the New York State AFL-CIO; George E. Carpenter Jr., secretary treasurer of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO; Morton Bahr, national president of the Communications Workers of America; a representative from the Irish Transportation and General Workers Union, of which Connolly was a president, and a representative of the national Ancient Order of Hibernians.
The monument may well, in a sense, fulfill a prophecy of Irish playright Sean O'Casey. In his autobiography, O'Casey described Connolly's passing: "the last of the lost leaders, loses his life, and becomes a marbled memory."
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