Republican News · Thursday 22 January 1998

[An Phoblacht]

James Connolly Poole

James Connolly Poole was born in Dublin's Gloucester Street, later known as Séan McDermott Street, on 24 July 1917 and he died on 23 December 1997 aged 80.

James's mother was a friend of James Connolly - he helped her out when she fell on hard times and after one of their conversations, James Connolly said, ``if you have another son will you name him after me?'' And in July 1917 James Connolly Poole was born, the youngest of seven sons and one daughter.

This was not the family's first step into republicanism. James's uncle, Captain Christopher Poole, was in the 1916 Rising and another uncle, Joseph Poole was a member of the Fenian Brotherhood and was executed for a killing he did not commit on 18 December 1883 when he was 18 years old.

James Poole joined Na Fianna Eireann at a very young age and later went into the IRA. He was arrested in the Dublin mountains with others and served time in Arbour Hill. After his release he was back in the IRA and was interned in the Curragh for three years in the 1940s.

When arrested he did not give his real name but his mother's maiden name. At the time there were guns in the house so he gave a false name in order to save other member of his family from arrest and to give them time to get the guns to a safe place.

In the Curragh he became a fluent Irish speaker and for the rest of his life he spoke Irish at every opportunity he got. After his release from the Curragh he returned to the Republican Movement. He met his wife Mary and settled down but always remained in the Republican Movement.

With the split in 1969 James was one of the first to go with the Provisional Movement. The Republican Club was a social gathering for James and his old friends and was in existence into the late 1970s. When they had their ceilí and functions they always called on James to do MC.

James worked in Dublin Corporation until his retirement and he remained a true republican until he died.

Colonel-Commandant John Graham

On New Year's Eve, 1997, one of Ireland's noblest soldiers died. He was Col-Commdt John Graham, Director of Information on the Northern Command Staff of Oglaigh na hEireann, in 1941/2, and O/C of ``H'' Coy of Northern Command.

John was an inspiration to all who knew him during those dark days. His unbreakable spirit burned like a lighthouse, his days and nights filled with unceasing organising, teaching and publicising the Republican cause. He came from sturdy Protestant stock, and lived the example of the men of `98, walking fearlessly through many dangers.

He was the Editor of the Republican News, the paper of the struggle during the Forties. He was a founder member of the Ulster Union Club, a channel for Protestant patriots to recover their national birthright.

He founded and organised ``H'' Coy of the Northern Command, to perform special tasks, of which I had the honour to be a volunteer. This Company had six officers, five of whom were Protestant, all of whom behaved with great honour and endurance. In my book ``An Ulster Idyll'' John is referred to as John Grey, for security reasons, since at that time he lived in a loyalist area.

In the autumn of 1942, John was arrested in a raid on the printing plant on Crumlin Road in Belfast, and appeared in the Dock with Hugh McAteer, Chief of Staff, and David Fleming from Killarney, charged with Treason Felony - the crime of John Mitchel, a Protestant Republican 100 years earlier. He was sentenced to 15 years penal servitude, in ``A'' wing on the Crumlin Road, where he was a contemporary of Joe Cahill and Jimmy Steele. A bigoted judge taunted him with the fact that he was a Protestant, to which John replied: ``I'm proud to be an Irishman, and Ireland is still worth fighting for''.

In later years he struggled with bad health, but never lost his interest and enthuasism for contemporary events, and often chuckled with me over the escapades of the young men of today. ``Ireland was never as well served - these men have the determination to stick it out to the end - and they will win.''

By Vincent MacDowell

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