Parade today to honor James Connolly|
(By Ned Hoskin, Staff reporter)
TROY ‹ A cast of hundreds from both sides of the Atlantic gathered at Mario's Theater Restaurant Saturday to remember Irish patriot and labor leader James Connolly, a resident of the city from 1903 to 1905.
A monument to the man will be unveiled in Riverfront Park today following a parade in his honor that will step off in South Troy at 1 p.m.
In the commemorative journal published for the weekend, Connolly's aim and principle is expressed in a quote from the man himself.
"We mean to make the people of Ireland the sole and sovereign owners of Ireland, but leave ourselves free to adapt our methods to suit the development of the times," he wrote in 1910.
Connolly died in 1916, executed by British troops following the Easter Rising of the same year in Dublin, a conflict in which he commanded the Dublin garrison of the Republican forces.
One of the seven individuals who signed the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916, Connolly was "a founding father of the modern Irish Republic," according to Sen. Chris Kirwan of Ireland, general secretary of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union.
Connolly held the same post in the same union when he died.
"It's quite possible that without Connolly we would not have had an Easter rebellion (in 1916)," said Sean Cronin, a biographer of the man and featured speaker at the dinner.
And without the Easter Rising ‹ although it was not successful ‹ it is possible Ireland's independence would not have happened as it did, he said.
Cronin said the connection with Troy was "purely an accident," but that it is not insignificant.
After enjoying a positive reception on a tour of the United States in 1902, Connolly decided to pack up his family and move to this country. He first came to the home of his cousins, Thomas and Helen Humes of 447 Tenth St.
He eventually moved his family into a rented home at 96 Ingalls Ave., and he worked for Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. He lost the job due to an industrial depression and he moved to New Jersey in 1905.
His activities in Troy are not what make him memorable, Cronin said, but, "To Irish Americans everywhere, Connolly was a great man ‹ and, he lived in Troy."
Troy is a city with strong historic links to the early labor movement, and today's labor leaders have not forgotten that. Most of the support for the Connolly commemorative came from labor organizations at home and abroad.
"We don't celebrate enough today the things that have gone on in the past around here," said Art Fleischner, president of the Troy Area Labor Council.
"This is a really historic city, especially for labor," he said, and he is working to bring more of the area's labor history to light, he said.
Too often, "The story of Troy gets lost," when people discuss the history of labor and industry, he said.
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