In remembrance of the Great Dublin Lockout of 1913 and the pivotal role labor organizers played in Ireland’s independence, Ireland’s Ambassador Consul General Noel Kilkenny traveled to the Capital Region to honor the legacy of that country’s great labor organizer and independence leader James Connolly on Friday, November 1, and officially opened Ireland’s exhibit, “Labor & Dignity: James Connolly in America” on loan to the Museum after being on view at the Irish Consulate in New York City.
Consul General Kilkenny was joined by Danny Donohue, President of CSEA and International Vice President, AFSCME; Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings; Governor Andrew Cuomo’s representative Mary Kavaney; New York State Senator Neil Breslin and State Assemblymember John T. McDonald III; Workforce Development Institute Executive Director Ed Murphy and Government Relations Director Paul Shatsoff; representatives of New York State Public Employees Federation and the New York State United Teachers; other state labor leaders; members of the New York State Senate and Assembly American Irish Legislators Society; local officials, and members of the original 1986 James Connolly Memorial Commemoration Committee.
“Ireland’s ‘Labor & Dignity: James Connolly in America’ exhibit honors the great labor leader’s life and work in America, including in Troy, before he moved his family to the New York City metropolitan area, and then back to Ireland, to help organize labor on much larger scales,” stated Ed Collins, Chair of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “The Irish American Heritage Museum is very honored to have been selected by the government of Ireland to present this celebrated exhibit and related programs honoring James Connolly and the labor movement.”
James Connolly, who briefly toured America in 1902 and then emigrated from Ireland to America in 1903, lived for two years in Troy before relocating with his family in 1905 to Newark, New Jersey, to become involved in organizing labor on a more national stage in the United States.
|- Photo courtesy of the James Connolly Upstate NY Regional GMB
During his years here in Troy and Newark, Connolly retained a deep interest in political, trade union and cultural events as they unfolded in Ireland. In 1910 his dream of returning to Ireland became reality, and in 1911 he was appointed an organizer for the Irish Transport and General Workers Union founded by Jim Larkin.
Connolly was a major force during the so-called ‘Great Lock-Out’ of 1913 in Dublin to protect striking workers. Connolly was not only a labor organizer in Ireland, but also one of the seven signatories of the 1916 Easter Proclamation who paid for his patriotism with his life when all seven were executed for their roles in seeking Ireland's independence. In 1986, a statue of James Connolly was dedicated to commemorate his efforts to organize workers in Troy and the Capital Region. The Irish American Heritage Museum has developed a brochure about his time in Troy to accompany the exhibit during its November presentation at the Museum.
The exhibit had its premier opening in New York City at the Consulate General of Ireland, 345 Park Avenue, on September 27. In addition to its Grand Opening at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany on November 1, it will premier in Dublin, Ireland. The Museum is part of the team that helped develop the exhibit that includes, among others, Glucksman Ireland House at New York University, Hofstra University, Rutgers University, the AFL-CIO, the National Ancient Order of Hibernians, International Union of Operating Engineers, Irish American Labor Coalition and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
“Labor & Dignity: James Connolly in America” is open to the public at the Irish American Heritage Museum, 370 Broadway, Albany, during the Museum’s public exhibit hours: Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, 12 noon – 4 p.m. Metered parking on Albany streets is available weekdays and is free on weekends. Visitors should not park in the private lots behind the Museum. The suggested donations for admission are: $3 adults, $2 seniors and free for children 14 years of age and younger. Museum Memberships are also available upon entry. Donations and memberships help fund the Museum’s educational programs.