The James Connolly Festival is an annual, week-long series of events in radical arts, culture, and politics. It is a community-centred celebration of music, film, discussion and debate that brings together the ideas and thoughts of progressive and radical thinkers and organisations from around Ireland and beyond.
Since the festival’s inception we have sought to promote progressive arts, culture, and politics, providing a platform of discussion and debate for those seeking alternatives in a world where the lives of the many are dominated by the few. We challenge social inequality and the class barriers with which the arts are fraught, encouraging an inclusive and collective approach to artistic expression. Our annual festival serves as a celebration of the rich working-class culture that exists in Ireland and provides a space for the people of our ever-evolving country to express the wealth of their culture and articulate their experience of life.
James Connolly remains Ireland’s foremost working-class hero, founder of the Irish trade union movement. In his humble introduction to Songs of Freedom (1907) he famously remarked that “no revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression.” He noted that “if such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses” they would “seek a vent in song for the aspirations, the fears and hopes, the loves and hatreds engendered by the struggle,” and he commented that until the movement is “marked by the joyous, defiant singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement; it is the dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude.”
It is in this revolutionary spirit, and a recognition of the importance of culture to transcend society, that the festival finds its ethos.
As we enter our eighth year, the festival will take a hybrid form, returning to in-person meetings in the main but with some mixed and on-line events. The theme of this year’s festival is “Culture as a form of resistance and the environmental crisis.” This year we will have our biggest line-up to date and bring together guests from around Ireland and beyond.
The festival opens on Saturday 7 May with an event, hosted by the Trade Union Left Forum, featuring the newly elected general secretary of Unite, Sharon Graham. A debate on public housing chaired by CATU Ireland will feature Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on housing, Eoin Ó Broin, among others.
The New Theatre will be the venue for a discussion on “Traveller history, culture, and movements,” with an array of speakers and performers from within the Travelling community.
This year’s James Connolly Memorial Lecture is to be presented by the eminent Marxist thinker John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review.
PANA will host an event on peace and neutrality with Clare Daly MEP and Ed Horgan of Shannonwatch.
As the question of a united Ireland intensifies, the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum will hold a talk on sectarianism that will include Rev. Dr Mark Gray, Gerry Carroll MLA, and others.
On Friday 13 May the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign host a gig and Q&A with the musical duo Gazelleband (Palestinian oud-player Reem Anbar and musician Louis Brehony). The following night will have the actor Emmet Kirwan MC a show with the Irish rapper Rebel Phoenix and guests at Peadar Kearney’s basement in Dame Street.
The Small Trans Library will host a screening of Keyboard Fantasies. The left-wing Irish-language advocates Misneach will host a poetry and conversational event in Connolly Books.
And, as is customary, the festival will close on Sunday 15 May at Arbour Hill by the graveside of our greatest martyr, James Connolly, followed by a drinks reception and traditional music session to close the festival in the Cobblestone.
For more information on the festival you can find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using /ConnollyFest or the hashtag #JCF2022
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■ Information: James Connolly Festival
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