Documentary on One

DocArchive: The Gralton Affair

A biography of Jim Gralton, the Leitrim communist who died in New York 1945 - the only Irishman to be deported from his own country (Broadcast 1977) ...

DocArchive: The Gralton Affair

A biography of Jim Gralton, the Leitrim communist who died in New York 1945.

As a young man, Gralton joined the British Army but deserted when he refused to serve in India. He then went on to work on the Liverpool docks and the Welsh mines, before taking a job as a ship's stoker and moving to New York in 1909.

But he never broke his links with Ireland - after the 1916 Easter Rising, he set up the James Connolly Club in New York, and travelled back to Ireland, involving himself in politics and joiing the Workers' Group.

After the parish hall in Leitrim was burnt down by the British Army, Gralton was instrumental in building of a new hall - the Pearse-Connolly Hall, which woudl become a venue for communist meetings and dances.

He organised communist meetings in the hall, but parish priest branded it a "den of iniquity". On Christmas Eve 1932 it was burnt to the ground.

The following year, the de Valera government ordered Gralton to be deported as an 'undesirable alien'. He went on the run, but was eventually deported later that year.

He stayed in New York for the remainder of his life, and became a trade union organiser and a member of the Irish Workers' Club and the Communist Party of the USA.


Produced by Pat Feeley

First broadcast 20th March 1977

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries

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