How Charlotte Despard Came to Live in Ireland

  While rereading some of my notes recently, I came across a 1932 interview with Charlotte Despard, the Anglo-Irish-teetotal-theosophist-communist- pacifist-suffragette revolutionary, which I had transcribed in full. I thought it would be worthwhile sharing because it has some interesting details about the life of a unique figure from British and Irish History. The interview was…

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History Tells Us to Vote Yes to Repeal the 8th Amendment

It has rarely mattered more that you vote on 25 May, and, indeed, which way you vote. My personal journey to this referendum began in October 2012, at the candle-lit vigil for Savita Halappanavar on Dublin’s Kildare Street. Since then, a truly remarkable grassroots campaign has come into existence, itself built on decades of pro-choice…

Claude McKay and the Irish Revolution

In the summer of 1920, Jamaican poet Claude McKay attended a Trafalgar Square rally in solidarity with Irish nationalists. Wearing a green necktie, McKay mingled among Sinn Fein supporters who greeted him enthusiastically as "Black Irish" and "Black Murphy": With both hands and my bag full of literature I had to find time and a…

From Russia to East London — and back again: Eugeníe Bouvier (1865-1933), suffragette and socialist.

The British Newspaper Archive recently added the Woman's Dreadnought to their roster. Edited by Sylvia Pankhurst throughout its run from 1914-24 and later titled the Workers Dreadnought, this East London weekly was a unique addition to the suffrage media landscape. Topics ranged from Marxist analyses of Irish Republicanism to Esperanto vocabulary lessons. Between the pages of the Dreadnought we can also find…

“Too revolutionary for capitalist society”? A 1930 Soviet Profile of an Irish Artist

In August 1930, the Irish Friends of Soviet Russia departed London for Leningrad on board the Soviet ship Kooperatsiya (Cooperation). The delegation included veteran suffragettes Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Charlotte Despard and two Irish Republican stalwarts, David Fitzgerald and George Gilmore (traveling under a false name). Also amongst the travelers was Harry Kernoff, a young…

Shamrocks for Mayakovsky

National Poetry Day seems a good time to introduce a great poem by a remarkable Irish poet, Leslie H. Daiken. Born in Dublin in 1912, Daiken (originally Yodaiken) was an Irish author, poet, and radical political activist. He graduated with an M.Litt from Trinity College Dublin in 1933 and immersed himself in communist politics, first…

What Would a Progressive History Festival Look Like?

On Sunday, Kevin Myers, a columnist beloved of Irish editors in search of "controversy", was fired from the Sunday Times due to anti-Semitic comments. That very same day, Myers spoke at the Cork History Festival. These events and the social media conversation surrounding them got me thinking about the roster of speakers and topics we find at history festivals.…