The second annual 'James Connolly Festival' will host a broad list of cultural and political acts and events - with music, theatre, poetry, films, art, debates and lectures intended for a new risen people.
In May of this year the Socialist Voice, in association with The New Theatre, will host its second week long political / cultural festival in the heart of Dublin City. This festival is an extension of the 'James Connolly Memorial Weekend', where esteemed national and international guest speakers such as Sister Teresa Forcades and James Petras have given the James Connolly Memorial lecture. This is followed by a wreath laying ceremony at Arbour Hill on the Sunday, to mark the occasion of Connolly's execution and to pay tribute to him and to the other leaders of the 1916 rising.
The aim of the festival is to promote progressive culture and to facilitate debate around current and contemporary politics. James Connolly of course was one of the founders of the Irish trade union movement, so one of the main goals of the festival will be to highlight the ideas of Connolly and the importance of trade unions for workers, especially among our youth. The festival will also promote non sexist culture and politics and will embrace progressive Irish theatre and artists, which will allow for a comfortable space for debate, that promotes the exchange of ideas and cultures.
The James Connolly Festival 2016 will most certainly be the place where politics and culture meet.
There will be discussions on women in Ireland 100 years after 1916 – which will see Clare Daly, Colm O’Gorman and Kellie O’Dowd asking – and hopefully answering – the question of how far exactly women have come in Ireland since the Rising. We'll also be hosting a panel talk on the extraordinary story of the Right to Water campaign – and consider, as we await a new government, its next steps. Speakers include R2W's Brendan Ogle.
From theatre to spoken word to debate, the festival has something for everyone. Among our biggest attractions this year will be a series of readings from the Non-Stop Connolly Show, Margaretta D’Arcy and John Arden’s classic play on Connolly’s life, while Lockdown, Gearóid Humphreys’ thought-provoking and entertaining dramatisation of our collective agonising over how we should remember 1916 – continues our theatre strand.
No festival is complete without music. This year, we’re delighted to be hosting Anderson, the Dublin singer who’s making waves on the city’s music scene. He’ll be joined by the young duo Bad Sea, featuring the powerful and precociously jazzy vocals of Ciara Mary Alice Thompson. John Connors, probably best-known for his turn in the Love/Hate TV drama, will bring us an exclusive night of Traveller music and culture, a unique presentation which is sure to attract great interest, while Fiach Moriarty – among the most compelling singer/ songwriters on the scene – will also be making an appearance. And lest we forget, Evelyn Campbell will be showcasing her own inimitable brand of folk and protest songs.
To get people together and share in a performance is one thing, however to allow then those people to socialise after the event is just as important if not more so. That is why the festival will host a social event each night in the Red Room where people can relax, unwind meet and discuss the politics of the day in a comfortable environment and friendly atmosphere.
The festival and the organisers of the festival firmly believe in Connolly's emphasis on education being a key element in the struggle for social justice. Without education and particularly political education our people will continue to suffer under current and future governments Debt and Austerity policies.
Throughout the festival there will be film showings both in the theatre and in the Red Room, including Donal Higgins’s acclaimed documentary on the 1934 Republican Congress. Films will be announced closer to the festival date.
This year’s talk will be given by Dr Priscilla Metscher, a native of east Belfast who taught Irish studies at Oldenburg University in Germany from 1974 to 1999. She has published many articles on the history of radical Irish politics and is also the author of James Connolly and the Reconquest of Ireland (2002).
In her talk she will address the theme “Republicanism and Socialism in Ireland: From Wolfe Tone to James Connolly.” She will explore the history of radical ideas in the period between the development of democratic republicanism, at the end of the eighteenth century, and the 1916 Rising, covering such areas as the United Irishmen, the Young Irelanders, the Fenians and the Land League movement up to the emergence of the working class movement and the socialism of James Connolly at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The festival itself will be in the only radical bookshop left in Dublin – Connolly Books. Here you will find volumes of books, magazines, pamphlets and periodicals ranging from the collected works of James Connolly and V.I. Lenin, to the many publications of Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels. There are also books on great revolutionaries such as Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and many more. The Socialist Voice paper will also be on sale which is one of Ireland's leading papers on all matters concerning the left.