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Left Archive: The Irish Republican Congress Revisted – Patrick Byrne (former Joint Secretary with Frank Ryan), Connolly Association, 1993 August 22, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Connolly Association, Irish Left Online Document Archive, Republican Congress.

To download the above document please click on following link: IR REP CONG 94

Many thanks to NollaigO for donating this document to the Archive.

This document was printed in 1993 by the Connolly Association, however it appears it was originally printed in 1986 as a preface from C. Desmond Greaves makes clear. As Nora Harkin writes in the Foreword:

At a meeting on 27th February, 1993, in the County Museum Letterkenny, to mark the centenary of the birth of Peadar O’Donnell, the Chairman, Kevin Monaghan, reminded the large gathering that as two of the speakers (I was one) had been lifelong friends and comrades with pear in the good cause, the time was opportune to obtain information from them about him because in a few more years they mightn’t be around.

She continues:

The story that Paddy Byrne, the other ancient speaker, has to tell in this pamphlet on the Republican Congress (1933-39) will provide an answer to many questions bearing on this period of Peadar’s long life. There is little printed material on this phase of Socialism in Ireland. Modern historians and revisionists are given to dismissing it as a putsch arising from a split in the IRA caused by Peadar O’Donnell, George Gilmore, Frank Ryan and Michael Price, which collapsed after the Convention in Rathmines Town Hall in September 1934. This version is however at variance with the facts, nor was the leadership confined to four well-known names in the Republican hierarchy.

And concludes:

This pamphlet deserves a place in Irish social history and should be seen, not just as a milestone on the road to a Socialist Republic, but as a signpost for Young Ireland, showing the way to the future.

As C. Desmond Greaves notes in his preface:

[Patrick Byrne’s apology is hardly necessary. [His] memory is as clear as a bell. His account is as authentic as any of the printed sources and more so than most.

Byrne was a member of the Connolly Association, and as Greaves notes ‘the Connolly Association began its existence as the London Branch of the Republic Congress’.

The text by Byrne offers an interesting insight into his perception of the genesis and development of the Republican Congress. The issue of a ‘reborn Irish Citizen Army’ is particularly intriguing as is its outcome and the obvious similarities with later debates about militarism in the context of revolutionary social organizations. Perhaps most notable though is the consciousness of fascism [and ‘clerical reaction’] in an Irish context and how this fed into response by Republican socialists later in the 1930s to the Spanish Civil War.


1. C. Flower - August 22, 2011

I’m very happy to see this and look forward to reading it.

At the moment I’m entering George Gilmore’s “The Irish Republican Congress”, with its foreword, in quotable text on Politicalworld.org, for discussion purposes. The thread is locked until the text is complete – this is likely to be some time later this week.


The IRC seems to to have been an enormously interesting and important venture in Irish politics, although as Gilmore says, one that failed. The experience can be quarried for valuable lessons for the present era, which is also one of intense capitalist crisis. This document by Patrick Byrne will help to give an all-round picture of the Congress.


2. 21stcenturypartisan - August 23, 2011

Its a very interesting pamphlet alright, I think its the one where its mentioned that Rep Congress gave Brendan Behan his first job!


3. “Irish Republican Congress” by George Gilmore  « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - August 23, 2011

[…] a quick note from Jim Lane to mention that on foot of the Left Archive post here… The Republican Congress book by Patrick Byrne, in it’s first  contributed comment […]


4. Cass - August 23, 2011

Pleased to know there are still some of these available. I recommend it highly, not only for the detailed account of the Congress and the very interesting contextual introduction, but for its quality of political analysis, which is much in advance of most of what we see today.


5. Rosalie C. Popick - August 21, 2012

While at this time writing the biography of George Gilmore, currently concentrating on Ch 4 and the Irish Civil War, although I have read on line some summaries related to the Spanish Civil War, I do intend to read more fully Byrne’s rendition of the Republican Congress. Most especially to learn how Byrne became joint secretary with Ryan. As I remember from Gilmore’s earlier edition of THE IRISH REPUBLICAN CONGRESS and the next two publications as well as his other writings throughout the next thirty years regarding the Republican Congress that followed the initial publication in 1935, it was Gilmore who was joint secretary with Ryan.


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