"The Scrap Was Taking Place"

Roddy Connolly was the youngest child and only son of James Connolly. In this interview he describes what his father was like both as a parent and an activist. Connolly was very involved with his children and encouraged their interests. Due to the nature of Connolly's trade union activities, the family moved from place to place living in Dublin, America and Belfast. While in America Roddy remembers that his father made sure the children read Irish history books.

He was always keen that we would have that Irish slant.

The family returned to Ireland in 1910 and settled finally in the Falls Road, Belfast in 1911, although over the next five years James Connolly spent a lot of time in Dublin due to his commitments to the trade union movement and later the Irish Citizen Army.

In Belfast Roddy joined Na Fianna Éireann and while his father it seems was quite supportive and favourable to Na Fianna and its leadership, that seems not to be the case with the Irish Volunteers. According to Roddy his father was not convinced,

Of the revolutionary fervour of a number of the leaders. He thought some of them spoke a great deal of hot air and that they would only be prepared to fight for a Republic under ideal fighting conditions.

A few weeks before the Rising took place, Roddy was asked by his father if he wanted to come to Dublin and fight with him. He transferred to the Irish Citizen Army in Dublin and worked with his father in Liberty Hall right up to Easter Monday.

On Easter Monday Roddy was appointed as Aide de Camp to James Connolly and Patrick Pearse and marched with his father from Liberty Hall to the GPO. He was only fifteen years old and recalls seeing Joseph Plunkett for the first time who was 'gorgeously apparelled in a uniform'.

By Wednesday the situation was becoming very dangerous. The gunboat Helga was shelling Liberty Hall and it was only a matter of time before she would attack the General Post Office. Realising this James Connolly decided that his son should leave the building. He remembers his father called him aside and told him that he needed Roddy to take important documents to William O'Brien, a comrade of James Connolly, who lived in Belvedere Place.

I remember my father was extremely upset...He was actually crying when he bid me what was actually our last goodbye.

Roddy was arrested with William O'Brien after the surrender and was taken to Richmond Barracks. The authorities did not know that Roddy was the son of James Connolly and he was told by Seán MacDiarmada to give a false name, which he did. His age meant that he was released a few days later but he never saw his father again. James Connolly was executed in Kilmainham Gaol on 12 May.

Roddy continued to be involved with the Republican movement. He was an officer in Na Fianna Éireann and during the War of Independence he was attached to the Glasgow Company of the IRA. He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty and fought with the anti-Treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War. He was the first President of the Communist Party of Ireland and later co-founded the Workers Party. In 1928 he joined the Labour Party and was elected to Dáil Éireann twice, 1943 and 1948. Roddy Connolly died in 1980.

Roddy Connolly was interviewed for the RTÉ Television project 'Portraits 1916' on 9 January 1966.