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"Troy Tribute to James Connolly" Set for 1986
National Hibernian Digest, Nov-Dec 1985

The City of Troy and New York's Capital District have a long and distinguished historical heritage. One of the moat important figures in Irish history, James Connolly, once made a home in Troy, but his association with our community has heretofore been unacknowledged. With your help, that will be changed forever on August 17, 1986 in an event which will bring national and international recognition to Troy.

The "Collar City" (Troy) was the first American community to provide a home and the means to earn a living for James Connolly and his family. His decision to settle in Troy was probably based on the fact that he had relatives in the city who could help him get settled and assist him in becoming familiar with American ways. Like other immigrant families of this time (1903), the children as well as the head of the family had to work to make ends meet. James took a position with the Troy office of the Metropolitan Insurance Company as a representative. His two daughters, Nora and Ina, earned money by pulling wagons through the streets collecting collars from "home workers" and delivering them to the city's shirt factories.

James had a life-long devotion to the labor movement. Much of his time In the United States was spent teaching working class people methods of organizing themselves to bargain collectively with their employers for better working conditions, hours and wages.

Connolly lived In Troy for two years, 1903-1905. In 1906 there was a national recession which brought very hard times to the workers he had as insurance clients. As a result, Connolly was put out of work himself and had to relocate his family to New Jersey, where he found other work.

In 1910 Connolly returned to Ireland where he assumed the leadership of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. During the next few years he devoted his energies to organizing the Irish Citizen Army and creating a plan to free Ireland of the colonial exploitation and oppression it had been suffering under British rule. This work culminated in the "Rising" which took place on Easter Monday, 1916. Under Connolly, as Commander of the Dublin Division, the rebels engaged the British Army for several days. One of the first acts of the burgeoning revolution was the reading, for the first time, of the "Proclamation of the Irish Republic". Signed by Connolly, Padraig Pearse and several other principals, this proclamation of Ireland as a sovereign state was to become the "declaration of independence" of Ireland.

Connolly and other leaders were executed without trial. But this attempt to overthrow British power in Ireland and the public executions became the motivating force behind a popular revolution which several years later did finally result in freedom and independence for the twenty-six southern counties of Ireland.

Today In Ireland James Connolly is considered to be not only a folk hero, but a principal historical figure and one of the most important political visionaries of Ireland's past.

The James Connolly Commemorative Celebration is planned for Troy on August 17, 1986. The events of the day will include a parade and festival at the Riverfront Park, a ceremony enshrining James Connolly as a "son of Troy", and the dedication of a monument to the memory of James Connolly.

The Connolly Commemorative Organizing Committee has already laid the groundwork for this celebration and has made the necessary arrangements with the City of Troy. Several important persons and organizations have pledged their support and active involvement. Among these are the Troy City Council, Members of the New York State Senate and Assembly, The Chairman of the Dail Eireann (the lower house of the Irish Parliament), The Irish Consul in the United States and the head of the Irish Labour Party (of which Connolly was a founder).

Your support is needed to guarantee that this historic day will be as successful as it has the potential to be. Attached is a list of ways you can lend your support to this effort. By this gesture you will be giving something back to the community which James Connolly chose to make his home and will at the same time ensure that the connection that James Connolly had with America will be known to future generations.

James J. Devine Chairman,
Organizing Committee
18 Cortland St., Troy, NY 12180

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