James Connolly Festival 2023

The annual, week-long James Connolly Festival returns on 8-14 May 2023.

The purpose of the festival has always been the promotion of working class consciousness in arts, culture and politics. By way of achieving its objective, the festival features a number of artists, activists and educators from left and progressive movements.

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 and struggle.

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 in both depicting and contributing to the class struggle raging around us, that the festival finds its ethos.

This year’s edition will cover a large variety of topics with special emphasis placed on war and peace. The festival kicks off on Monday 8th May with a discussion led by Eddie Dempsey (RMT), Denise Curran (Mandate), Jimmy Doran (Trade Union Left Forum) and Michelle Byrne (The Week At Work podcast).

This will be followed on Tuesday evening by a discussion on “Tackling Racism In Our Communities” featuring local activists and politicians such as Senator Eileen Flynn, Joe Mooney (East Wall), Julianna Sassi (CATU) and Helena McCann (Dublin Communities Against Racism).

Wednesday 10th May will be marked by the showing of a play by Aoibh Johnson; the event starts at 7.30pm at The New Theatre. The Daughters of Róisín is “a poignant ode to Ireland’s hidden past that explores the church and state sanctioned abuse against women over the last 100 years.”

On Thursday 11th May an event focused on the 75th anniversary of NAKBA, also known as the Palestinian Catastrophe, will take place at the New Theatre and will be led off by Awad Abdelfattah (Middle East Eye), Zoe Lawlor (Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign), Farrah Koutteineh (Communist Party of Ireland) and Daniel Lambert (Bohemian Football Club).

Friday 12th May is marked by two events. The New Theatre will host a discussion at 7pm featuring Mick Wallace (MEP), Patricia McKenna (Former MEP), Dr Karen Devine and Graham Harrington (CPI). The discussion will centre on defending Irish neutrality and will be immediately followed by the Connolly Rave in new Dame street venue Pawnshop with DJs Cathy Flynn (DDR), Naoise and Glenn Fitz.

Notably, Saturday 13th May will be marked by the pinnacle of the festival, the James Connolly Memorial Lecture. This year’s edition of the lecture, to be given by Andrew Murray, focuses on US imperialism and the growing alarm over the possibility of a third world war. The lecture will start at 4pm and take place at The New Theatre. On the same day, the Theatre will host movie screenings accompanied by live scoring. This event is being organised by the Small Trans Library.

Sunday 14th May is Connolly Sunday, the festival’s end date, and will include a special James Connolly Commemoration featuring Jimmy Corcoran (Communist Party of Ireland) Cllr Cieran Perry (Independent) and Harry Hawkins (Communist Party of Ireland) at 2pm in Arbour Hill. It will be followed by a festival-closing music event and Cuba Fundraiser. Kicking off at 4pm in The Cobblestone, it will feature local musician Sean Óg and others.

For more information on the festival check www.jamesconnollyfestival.ie or find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using /ConnollyFest or #JCF2023.