“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…

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This 1920s Quiz Will Reveal Your Bolshevik Credentials

Earlier this month, I overcame the Moscow archival bureaucracy and received scans of a Personnel File belonging to an Irish Communist whose life I have been tracing for the past year. I knew exactly what would be contained within the folder - a 41 question anketa, a formalised questionnaire that all activists who worked for the Communist…

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.…

When the Bolsheviks Came to Dublin

Amidst the commemorations of the Easter Rising in March of 2016, no mention was made of a Russian connection to the seismic events that took place in Dublin one hundred years previously. Remarkably, however, a small delegation of Bolsheviks was in fact dispatched to the capital shortly after the republican insurrection took place. The precise…