Ireland’s Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, recently opened “Labor & Dignity – James Connolly in America,” a new exhibition produced by Glucksman Ireland House, New York University with funding from Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
James Connolly, one of Ireland’s national icons, spent considerable time abroad, particularly in the United States, where he witnessed the successes and failures of labor radicalism and unionization, and of working class conditions resulting from unregulated corporate expansion. Those experiences influenced his actions during the Dublin Lockout of 1913, which was part of a larger transatlantic effort to secure the rights of the working class in the years before World War I.
Despite major advances made by Irish labor activists in the 19th century, Connolly found that employers still had the advantage when he arrived in 1902. Over the next eight years, he was among an influential second generation of Irish American leaders in the United States who rallied immigrants from all over Europe to press for the dignity of labor. Turning homeward, he insisted that the fight for Irish nationalism was inseparable from the battle for the rights of all workers, in factories as well as on farms.
The exhibition is Glucksman Ireland House’s first contribution to Ireland’s Decade of Commemorations (see http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland) which was announced in 2012 by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. It is also part of a year-long series of special academic initiatives to mark the twentieth anniversary of Glucksman Ireland House, established as the Center for Irish and Irish American Studies at New York University in 1993.
Professor Marion R. Casey, a faculty member at Glucksman Ireland House, and Daphne Dyer Wolf, a PhD candidate in History and Culture at Drew University, curated the exhibition, which was designed by Hilary J. Sweeney. Both Ms. Wolf and Ms. Sweeney have a M.A. in Irish and Irish American Studies from New York University.
“Labor & Dignity – James Connolly in America” is on display at the Consulate General of Ireland, 345 Park Avenue at 51st street, New York City until October 30th. Public hours for the exhibition are Monday through Friday, 10am -1pm; a photo ID and appointment are necessary to enter the Consulate offices. Please contact Iain Coleman at 646.532.2778 to make an appointment.
Following its run at the Consulate General of Ireland in New York, “Labor & Dignity – James Connolly in America” will be at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany (www.irishamericanheritagemuseum.org) for the month of November. In December it will tour to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.