This week in 1897, James Connolly was arrested and detained for organising a series of protests in Dublin over Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, some of which resulted in riots.
James Connolly called the Jubilee a “feast of flunkyism” and wrote: “Join your voice with ours in protesting against the base assumption that we owe to this empire any other debt than that of hatred of all its plundering institutions.”
One march was held across the city, with a mock coffin draped in a black cloth with the words British Empire embroidered on it. Maud Gonne organised the production of a series of black flags, on which were written statistics of the famines/starvations, evictions and other social disasters that had taken place in Ireland during the long reign of Queen Victoria.
The coffin was eventually thrown into the River Liffey, with Connolly reportedly shouting as it entered the water, “Here goes the coffin of the British Empire.”
The following is a speech delivered by Connolly, as transcribed by the James Connolly Society in 1997.
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