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The Jewish role in the Irish independence struggle… April 6, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Educative piece here in the IT from Brian Hanley… entitled ‘Jewish Fenians’ and anti-Semites: the Jewish role in the Irish fight for freedom’. A mixed picture as this quote from the conclusion notes:

Although some Irish separatists were influenced by anti-Jewish ideas, anti-Semitism had no place in the political programme, or activity, of the republican movement. The accusation that Bolshevism was a Jewish plot was unlikely to appeal to republicans, as they too were denounced as agents of Moscow. Instead anti-Semitic conspiracy theories flourished among their British and unionist enemies. Individual Irish Jews were clearly sympathetic to separatism and involved in republican activities. 


1. CL - April 6, 2021

” Nesta Webster, whose writings were embraced by Winston Churchill among others, believed that only the influence of Jewish revolutionaries could explain how ‘gay, happy-go-lucky’ Irish peasants had become rebels.” – B. Hanley.

” The Irish People was the name of a New York newspaper published and edited by Irish Republican sympathisers, including Martin Galvin and John McDonagh, under the aegis of Noraid, between 1972 and 2004.[7]”

Nosey Flynn is the character in Ulysses who accuses Bloom of being a Freemason. A columnist in ‘The Irish People’ who called himself Nosey Flynn regularly cited favourably the work on Nesta Webster.

Another favourite of Nosey Flynn was the Nazi, Francis Parker Yockey..

Gerry McGeough’s The Hibernian promoted the views of Father Denis Fahey. Fahey was the main influence on the anti-Semitism of Father Coughlin.

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2. Conor Kostick - April 6, 2021

During the great Belfast strike of 1919, there was reference in the Belfast Newsletter of ‘Jewish’ speakers addressing the crowds (with a negative connotation that they were ‘outsiders’. One Jewish activist was Simon Greenspon, of the Electical Engineers Trade Union at Harland and Wolff and a member of the ILP.
The Encylopedia Britannica used to have the entry: ‘As early as 1918 foreign Communists – notably Polish and Russian Jews from Glasgow – had been filtering into both Northern and Southern Ireland in considerable numbers.’

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EWI - April 6, 2021

There are some more examples which spring to mind, but a very well-researched and defining piece (and kudos to BH for being his typical mensch with the acknowledgements, a rare thing in the IT).

And then of course there were always the old favourite Blueshirt taunts of de Valera, hinting at Semitic roots.

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rockroots - April 8, 2021

There was some distinctly unflattering commentary in the pages of Larkin’s ‘Irish Worker’ towards the first generation of Jewish immigrants too. They, unfortunately, had few completely reliable allies anywhere across the Irish political spectrum. But then, they were no more a politically homogenous group than are the members of any other religion.

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3. CB - April 6, 2021

We recently had Brian on the Irish History Show to discuss this. Link here http://irishhistoryshow.ie/67-irish-republicanism-anti-semitism-and-the-post-war-world/

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WorldbyStorm - April 6, 2021

Thanks a million for the link. Great stuff.


4. Paul Culloty - April 6, 2021

And of course, the influence went both ways, with the Stern Gang campaign based on the War of Independence, and Yitzhak Shamir adopting “Michael Collins” as a nom de guerre:



5. roddy - April 6, 2021

With “anti Semetism” so prominent as a political issue today , am I alone in over 60 years of life if I declare that in all that time I have never come across a single person of the Jewish faith ? I have known people of African, Asian, Eastern European, Western European, North American,South American backgrounds but absolutely nobody from a Jewish family!


banjoagbeanjoe - April 6, 2021

I’ve met a few, very few. Two Dublin Jewish women in work in the last 20 years. Can’t remember any others.


roddy - April 6, 2021

The point I’m making is those fascist types who rant about “Jews” in all probability have never encountered or are likely to encounter someone from a Jewish background.

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Colm B - April 6, 2021

In Ireland, I have know three people of Jewish background during all my years.
That’s not surprising though, since the Jewish population of Ireland has always been tiny. I might be wrong but I think I read somewhere that the Jewish population of Ireland has sadly dwindled almost to the point of extinction.

Here in Glasgow it has a relatively large Jewish population. Before the pandemic some Jewish anarchists set up a restaurant/community centre in a former synagogue in Govanhill, to promote Yiddish culture.
While we’re on the subject, I have a great admiration for the Jewish Bund: their commitment to socialism, to cultural autonomy and opposition to Zionism was exemplary – largely lost in the Holocaust. Yet the tradition still lives on:

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WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

+1 re the Bund!


WorldbyStorm - April 7, 2021

I had a schoolmate who was Jewish, sound woman. Had some friends in London too. Again very sound.

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banjoagbeanjoe - April 7, 2021

Yes, the Jewish community in Ireland has been shrinking for decades. The woman I knew in work told me her daughter had gone to live in Manchester because there was a bigger Jewish community there.

Last point. The Jewish influence in Dublin at least has not been universally positive. I read somewhere that among the Jewish community in its heyday on the southside of Dublin, the lads were Shamrock Rovers supporters to a man.


sonofstan - April 7, 2021

@Colm B. – not exactly ‘tiny’ – there were once about 5,000 Jews in Ireland, but that is dwarfed by the size of Jewish communities in equivalently sized British cities alright. Here in Leeds, there would have 30k Jews early in the 20th century, and, in a city that didn’t see huge numbers of Irish, unlike Manchester or Liverpool, they would have been the most significant immigrant population then. The area of the city that was originally the Jewish quarter is now, basically, one big car park, and the fact that upwards of 20k souls were housed there tells you most of what you need to know about the conditions they must have lived in.
AFAIK, though I can’t find the figure, the Jewish population of Irelad has been rising slightly over the past few years, due to immigration of mostly US/ European Jewish people moving for employment. It’s around about 2.5k or thereabouts (both jurisdictions, I think). Leeds, though, still has a Jewish population at least three times that alone, in a city smaller than Dublin, and Jewish life is a great deal more visible than anywhere else I’ve ever spent time.
Joe’s right though: almost ever Jewish male I’ve ever met in Dublin was a hoop, including the man who taught me to drive.

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Tomboktu - April 7, 2021

Tangentially connected, but connected via a War of Independence veteran’s son, wasn’t it the case in the 1980s that there were more Jewish TDs (Briscoe, Taylor & Shatter) than Protestant TDs (Yates &, iirc one other).

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6. CL - April 6, 2021

” The existence of an organisation called the Loyal League of Yiddish Sons of Erin had somehow passed me by until this week. But as I now know, such a phenomenon did once, and for a time, add to the gaiety of Hiberno-Jewish relations…..
Soon, the Loyal League of YSE was hosting an annual banquet in joint celebration of St Patrick’s Day and the Jewish festival of Purim….
Eaten green matzo balls are soon forgotten, so the league had to be represented by the American Federation of Labour & Congress of Industrial Organisations headquarters, on Broadway, an organisation once headed by the Dublin-born and Jewish Michael Mann, who also chaired LLYSE meetings there.”

And of course a typical NY bar is full of Jewish drunks, Irish lovers and Italian intellectuals. (before the pandemic put a stop to the revelry)


7. Laochra Uladh - April 7, 2021

Wonderfully researched article.
In addition to the ones mentioned, a Jewish member of the ICA, Abraham Weeks, died during 1916.

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Sam - April 8, 2021

Arthur Wicks (who used the name John Neal in Dublin) was described in two first-hand accounts as having ‘Jewish features’ but all evidence suggests he was probably from a Church of England background. He was an Irish Citizen Army member, trade unionist, hotel waiter, socialist and (I believe) the only insurgent to die in 1916 who had no Irish background or ancestry.

See my 2016 article in Saothar:


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Laochra Uladh - April 8, 2021

Very interesting, maith thu for your detective work on that. It’s a good example of how an assumption can enter history as fact, as several articles have been written about Wicks based solely on what can be inferred from that line in the RoH.

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