The James Connolly festival, (Wednesday May 9-Sunday May 13, 2018) now in its fourth year, is an annual community-centred celebration of music, film, theatre and debate, with a radical twist.

Since its foundation in 2014,  JCF has aimed to bring together fellow travellers, critics and all-comers in a conversation through words, music and performance about where our society is, and where it wants to go.

Last year, we marked the centenary of the October Revolution. This year we remember 150 years since the birth, in the Little Ireland district of Cowgate in Edinburgh, of James Connolly, trade unionist, socialist and Irish republican.  

Connolly was one of the founders of the Irish trade union movement, so one of our main goals will be to highlight the importance of trade unions for workers, especially among the young.

More broadly the festival is also  committed to promoting  art, feminism, culture and politics, embracing progressive Irish theatre and artists in a comfortable space for debate that promotes the exchange of ideas.



An extension of the 'James Connolly Memorial Weekend', in previous years, the festival has hosted Ifta award-winning actor/writer John Connors, comedian and writer and star of RTÉ's Nowhere Fast, Alison Spittle and musician Fiach, For the debate strand participants have included TDs Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and trade unionist Brendan Ogle, among many others.

Acclaimed national and international figures including Catalan nun and activist Sister Teresa Forcades and academics James Petras and Zoltan Zigedy  have all delivered the James Connolly Memorial lecture. 

Every year the lecture is followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at Arbour Hill on  Sunday, to mark the occasion of Connolly's execution and to pay tribute to him and to the other leaders of the 1916 rising.

James Connolly Festival 2018, Wednesday May 9- Sunday, May 13, 2018, Connolly Books, The New Theatre, 43 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. Ph:  +353 1 6703361

info@jamesconnollyfestival.com, info@thenewtheatre.com


Why Come

James ConnollyFestival 2018 May 9th - 13th

view dates & events

Why Come

James ConnollyFestival 2018 May 9th - 13th

view dates & events

Why Come?

The festival circuit is a busy one. What the JCF offers is something more intimate. Headquartered in The New Theatre, Connolly Books in Temple Bar, which for decades has been an asylum for thinkers, writers, artists and that 'sinister fringe', you will always feel welcome.


Getting people together to share in a performance is one thing, to encourage those people to then stay  and socialise after the event is as important, if not more so. This is why, every festival night, in our Red Room, we host a social event where people can relax, unwind, meet and discuss the politics of the day in a comfortable environment and friendly atmosphere.





In keeping with Connolly's ideals, JCF believes an emphasis on education is a key element in the struggle for social justice. Having the festival hosted in Connolly Books, the oldest and only radical bookshop left in Dublin, you will find all of Connolly's works as well as a wide range of historical and contemporary political, economic and cultural writers. The shop also stocks magazines, pamphlets and periodicals ranging from the collected works of  Connolly and Lenin, to the many publications of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. There are also books on revolutionaries such as Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and many more. The Communist Party of Ireland's publications are also on sale, including its monthly Socialist Voice and Unity pamphlets. And there is a wide range of more  mainstream publications too.


All events, unless otherwise stated, take place in The New Theatre, Connolly Books, East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2



From Cowgate to Citizen's Army

6-7pm, Free entry

From Cowgate to Citizen's Army: The Life of James Connolly.  It's opening night and to mark it, we will launch this exhibition on Connolly's life and work upstairs in Connolly Books.

The festival is run in association with the New Theatre. Since its foundation, some 20 years ago, it has earned a reputation as a home for new and emerging writers as well as more well known productions.


Pull Down a Horseman

7.30-9.30pm, €10
Red Room afterwards till late

Pull down a horseman.png

A classic of Irish political theatre, Pull Down a Horseman was written for the 50th Anniversary of the Rising in 1966. Based on actual events, Eugene McCabe's play depicts a secret meeting between Connolly, Pearse and other revolutionary leaders  held to take that momentous leap. Although just 40 minutes long, the play is packed with historical detail as their arguments and ideas are pitched against each other. Performed by the Clones Drama Society, featuring Brian O'Harte and James Cleary.

MAY 10


A Connolly Books/new Theatre presentation with....Ross Breen and October Fires"

Ross Breen

 8.30pm-11pm,Tickets: €13
Red Room afterwards till late

“… fresh, inventive and daring… The Irish music scene’s best kept secret? Maybe it’s time more people were  told.” – 9/10 Drop-d.ie

Kildare solo artist Ross released his debut, self-produced album When I Met The Devil  in 2011 to widespread acclaim.

Ross Breen: One Last Kiss

Since then, Ross has been awarded the title of Ireland’s Best Unsigned Singer-Songwriter by Newstalk FM’s The Tom Dunne Show; his song Monet having been chosen for extensive airplay from over a thousand submissions. Ross’ work has also been featured on various compilation albums and his song Life Support was chosen as the title track for a Delphi Records release in aid of suicide outreach and awareness body, Pieta House.

Ross has consistently impressed live having performed as a special guest with artists including Sinead O'Connor  Bell X1,  Declan O’ Rourke, Damien Dempsey and Oscar-winner Glen Hansard.  As well as completing a successful east-coast tour of the U.S. in late 2011, Ross built his fanbase performing at a number of Ireland’s premier festivals, including Electric Picnic, Body And Soul, Indiependence and Hard Working Class Heroes.

More recent releases from his latest LP, New Born Vibrancy, include Nobody’s Perfect and Idyllic Valley, with the latter reaching number one position in the Irish iTunes rock charts following an appearance for RTE1’s the Saturday Night Show.


Ross's special guest tonight

October Fires

October Fires are a genuinely exciting new band with an enchanting, deep and unique style. A tight-knit 4 piece, their music can be described as alternative pop rock.

Fusing their various musical backgrounds, which include choral, classical, pop, folk, soul, funk and rock, their sound is a breath of fresh air in an industry dominated by the generic. 

Their twin lead vocalists Carol Somers and Lisa Bakers' intricate use of harmony, weaves an absorbing vocal sound.


In Conversation with....Robert Ballagh

Friday May 11, 7.30pm-9.30pm,
Tickets: €8
Red Room afterwards till late

 Robert Ballagh

Robert Ballagh

One of our highlights this year will be an in-depth discussion with artist and activist Robert Ballagh hosted by  actor and impresario  Ronan Wilmot. The pair will explore Ballagh's past, future and his views on where art and politics continue to collide. In the past, Ronan has held similar 'in conversations' with others including musician and activist Glen Hansard.

Ronan has worked all his life in film, theatre, TV and music as an actor, director and playwright with The Abbey Theatre, The Project, The Focus and The Royal Shapkespeare Company, where he appeared in several productions, including Trevor Nunn's  award-winning production of Juno and the Paycock. He has also worked with the 7:84 Theatre Company, The Young Vic and the Royal Court Theatre in London.

MAY 12

The James Connolly Memorial Lecture, with guest speaker to be confirmed.

1pm, Free

tRes billboards for freedom fighters: (presented by Friends of the International Brigades Ireland, (FIBI)).

7.30pm-11pm, Tickets: €10

A musical, artistic and historic Celebration of Ireland's International Brigaders with Jurama, a film about Charlie Donnelly, the Republican Congress veteran and poet. We also present One Way or Another a play on the life of Dinny Cody who was killed at La Rosas 1937, while historian James Durney will give talk on the life of civil war hero Frank Conroy. Finishing up the evening with music from the wonderful Sive.


One Way or Another

This box-fresh play by 2016 PJ O’Connor award-winning playwright, Alan O’Brien, focuses on  Spanish Civil War combatant and casualty, Dinny Coady juxtaposing the tumultuous 1930s with the tumultuous 2018."



Jarama tells the story of Juanan , a trumpet player who played in a jazz group before the war and is now fighting for the Republic. The musician is located on the second line of the front, in the trenches located next to the Valencia road, next to the Jarama. We are in February 1937 seven months after the military uprising, after failed attempts to reach Madrid by the Francoists, now the battle is concentrated in the valley of Jarama, the Republican army holds and defends the attacks with the help of the  Brigades Internationals , which ended in a military feat that would end with more than 20,000 wounded, missing or dead, among them about a thousand brigadistas of more than 30 nationalities.They go hungry, cold, full of fleas, but morality remains high, they have help from international brigadistas, they make friends with some Irishmen, a poet,  Charlie Donelly  and O'Connor , at night their lives are told, especially After  Juanan got him a mortar, he starts having strange visions, the reality will not be the same anymore.



Songwriter, singer and community musician, Sive has a voice of extraordinary beauty. In the past,  has shared a stage with Kila, Mick Flannery and Gemma Hayes and in 2014, was voted viewer’s choice to appear on RTE's  Other Voices.

Sive: Turn Down the Silence



Sunday, May 13th, 2pm-4pm

Arbour Hill annual James Connolly Commemoration


Sunday, May 13th, 4pm-6pm, Free
Cobblestone, Smithfield


Confessionals by Victoria McNulty

The wind-up of the festival will be a session for all-comers in the Cobblestone pub in Smithfield,  featuring  rapper/performance poet Victoria Mc Nulty

A Scottish woman of Irish descent, Victoria has taken her recent show Confessionals on tour and has kindly agreed to celebrate James Connolly’s birthday with us with a performance of the work, accompanied by folk musician, Abi Normal.

Confessionals is a multi-disciplinary spoken word show. Written by  McNulty, with music by Abi Normal. Visual Art by Caireen Stewart and Kirsten Boyle. Abi Normal is a folk musician and promoter also from Glasgow. She is the founder of a Fail Better, a literary and independent music night in Glasgow.

Keep an eye on the site for more act announcements










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