CELT document E900002-044

In this Supreme Hour of Our National Danger

James Connolly

Edited by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh

In this Supreme Hour of Our National Danger

In this Supreme Hour of Our National Danger


9 January 1915

‘The report is a terrible indictment of the social conditions and civic administration of Dublin. Most of us have supposed ourselves to be familiar with the melancholy statistics of the Dublin slums ... We did not know that nearly 28,000 of our fellow-citizens live in dwellings which even the Corporation admits to be unfit for human habitation. We had suspected the difficulty of decent living in the slums; the report proves the impossibility of it. Nearly a third of our population so lives that from dawn to dark and from dark to dawn it is without cleanliness, privacy or self-respect; the sanitary conditions are revolting. Even the ordinary standard of savage morality can hardly be maintained. To condemn the young child to an upbringing in the Dublin slums is to condemn it to physical degradation and an appalling precocity in vice.’ (Irish Times)

The above quotation is from the Irish Times' comment upon the report of the Inquiry into Housing Conditions in Dublin issued during the last days of the great dispute of 1913-14. We reproduce it to-day because there is a danger that amid the clash of arms, and the spectacular magnificence of international war, the working class voters of Dublin may be dazzled or chloroformed into forgetfulness of the horrors, and the responsibility for the horrors, that lie around them and degrade and destroy many thousands of their lives. It is our duty to our own class, to our country, and to ourselves to see that the voters do not so forget, but that on the contrary they seize the opportunity given them by the elections to strike as hard a blow as they can at the system responsible for such atrocities, and at the political parties which uphold that system.

Of course, we will be told that 'now in this supreme hour of our national danger', etc, all ideas of war between classes should be laid aside and we all should co-operate harmoniously together. In answer we would ask – Has any capitalist or landlord shown any forbearance towards the workers more than they have been compelled to by the force of law, or by the power of labour unions? Is it not the fact that 'in this supreme hour of our national danger' the employers are seizing eagerly upon every pretext to reduce wages and victimise the workers? The great loyalist firm of Switzer and Co have enforced a severe cut in the wages of the employees in their drapery  p.153 establishment, and their example has been followed all over the city and country. The firm of S. N. Robinson, coal importers, have cut down the carting rates for all government contracts, so that their drivers now receive from 2d to 6d per ton less for coal carted to government establishments than they are entitled to receive. The law says that all government contractors must pay the standard rate paid in their district, but this firm laughs at the law and steals their employees' wages. 'In this supreme hour of our national danger' rents are going up, prices are steadily mounting to the sky, more and more men, women and girls are disemployed; more and more we see few workers compelled to do the work usually done by a greater number, and persistently as all the necessaries of life go up the wages of the labourer are relentlessly hammered down. 'In this supreme hour of our national danger.'

Nay, let the truth be told though the heavens fall! The greatest danger that we see at the present moment is that the whole brood of parasites and spongers upon Labour whom our past agitations have dragged into light, the vile crew who have waxed fat and wealthy by the robbery of Dublin's poor, the slum landlords of the vile and disease-laden Dublin tenements condemned alike by the laws of God and man, the sweaters whose speciality is the grinding down of women and girls, and all the unclean politicians, ward heelers and personators who have fastened upon the vitals of the working class – the greatest danger is that these enemies of their kind should succeed in escaping the public wrath under cover of the excitement and confusion of the war.

Therefore we cry aloud that all might hear: War or no war those slums must be swept out of existence; war or no war those slum landlords are greater enemies than all the 'Huns' of Europe; war or no war our children must have decent homes to grow up in, decently equipped schools to attend, decent food whilst at school; streets, courts and hallways decently lighted at nights; war or no war the workers of Dublin should exert themselves first for the conquest of Dublin by those whose toil makes Dublin possible; war or no war the most sacred duty of the working class of Ireland is to seize every available opportunity to free itself from the ravenous maw of the capitalist system and to lay the foundations for the Co-operative Commonwealth – the Working Class Republic.

'In this supreme hour of our national danger', we call upon the Working Class of Ireland to remember that the only enemy  p.154 it actually knows of is the enemy that lives upon its labour, that steals its wages, that rackrents its members, that oppresses its women and girl workers, that constantly seeks to encompass its social degradation. All the fleets and armies of the 'alien enemy' are not as hurtful to our lives, as poisonous to our moral development, as destructive to our social well-being as any one street of tenement houses in the slums of Dublin.

The Municipal Elections are the most important things for the moment in the interest of our class. That the flag of the Dublin Labour Party should float victoriously over each of the seven wards it is contesting is more essential for the better interests of civilisation in this island than the planting of the flag of a robber empire upon the ramparts of some alien capital in Continental Europe.

Our call then is for Volunteers for this great fight to redeem Dublin from the hands of the capitalist barbarians.

Will Magnificent Dublin of the Workers magnificently respond?

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Title (uniform): In this Supreme Hour of Our National Danger

Author: James Connolly

Editor: Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh

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Electronic edition compiled by: Benjamin Hazard

proof corrections by: Aisling Byrne

Funded by: University College, Cork via The Writers of Ireland Project

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2. Second draft.

Extent: 2182 words

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Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2006

Date: 2010

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E900002-044

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

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  • Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh (ed.), James Connolly: The Lost Writings (London 1997).

Selected further reading

  1. James Connolly and William Walker, The Connolly-Walker controversy on socialist unity in Ireland (Dublin 1911, repr. Cork 1986).
  2. Robert Lynd, James Connolly: an appreciation, to James Connolly, Collected works (2 vols, October 1916, repr. Dublin 1987) i, pp. 495–507.
  3. Lambert McKenna, The social teachings of James Connolly (Dublin 1920).
  4. Desmond Ryan, James Connolly: his life, work and writings (Dublin 1924).
  5. G. Schüller, James Connolly and Irish freedom: a marxist analysis (Chicago 1926, repr. Cork 1974).
  6. Noelle Davis, Connolly of Ireland: patriot and socialist (Carnarvon 1946).
  7. Richard Michael Fox, James Connolly: the forerunner (Tralee 1946).
  8. Desmond Ryan, Socialism and nationalism: a selection from the writings of James Connolly (Dublin 1948).
  9. Desmond Ryan, 'James Connolly', in J. W. Boyle (ed.), Leaders and workers (Cork 1960, repr. 1978).
  10. C. Desmond Greaves, The life and times of James Connolly (London 1961, repr. Berlin 1976).
  11. François Bédarida, Le socialisme et la nation: James Connolly et l'Irlande (Paris 1965).
  12. Joseph Deasy, James Connolly: his life and teachings (Dublin 1966).
  13. James Connolly, Press poisoners in Ireland and other articles (Belfast 1968).
  14. James Connolly, Yellow unions in Ireland and other articles (Belfast 1968).
  15. Peter McKevitt, James Connolly (Dublin 1969).
  16. Owen Dudley Edwards, The mind of an activist: James Connolly (Dublin 1981).
  17. Derry Kelleher, Quotations from James Connolly: an anthology in three parts (2 vols Drogheda 1972).
  18. Peter Berresford Ellis (ed.), James Connolly: selected writings edited with an introduction by P. Berresford Ellis (Harmondsworth 1973).
  19. Samuel Levenson, James Connolly: a biography (London 1973).
  20. James Connolly, Ireland upon the dissecting table: James Connolly on Ulster and Partition (Cork 1975).
  21. Nora Connolly O'Brien, James Connolly: portrait of a rebel father (Dublin 1975).
  22. E. Strauss, Irish nationalism and British democracy (Westport CT 1975).
  23. Bernard Ransom, Connolly's Marxism (London 1980).
  24. Communist Party of Ireland, Breaking the chains: selected writings of James Connolly on women (Belfast 1981).
  25. Ruth Dudley Edwards, James Connolly (Dublin 1981).
  26. Brian Kelly, James Connolly and the fight for an Irish Workers' Republic (Cleveland, OH 1982).
  27. John F. Murphy, Implications of the Irish past: the socialist ideology of James Connolly from an historical perspective (unpubl. MA thesis, University of North Carolina at Charlotte 1983).
  28. Anthony Lake, James Connolly: the development of his political ideology (unpubl. MA thesis, NUI Cork 1984).
  29. Frederick Ryan, Socialism, democracy and the Church (Dublin 1984). With reviews of Connolly's 'Labour in Irish History' and Jaures' 'Studies in socialism'.
  30. Connolly: the Polish aspects: a review of James Connolly's political and spiritual affinity with Józef Pilsudski, leader of the Polish Socialist Party, organiser of the Polish legions and founder of the Polish state (Belfast 1985).
  31. X. T. Zagladina, James Connolly (Moscow 1985).
  32. James Connolly and Daniel De Leon, The Connolly-De Leon Controversy: On wages, marriage and the Church (London 1986).
  33. David Howell, A Lost Left: three studies in socialism and nationalism (Chicago 1986).
  34. Priscilla Metscher, Republicanism and socialism in Ireland: a study of the relationship of politics and ideology from the United Irishmen to James Connolly, Bremer Beiträge zur Literatur- und Ideologiegeschichte 2 (Frankfurt-am-Main 1986).
  35. Michael O'Riordan, General introduction, to James Connolly, Collected works (2 vols Dublin 1987) i, pp. ix–xvii.
  36. Cathal O'Shannon, Introduction, to James Connolly, Collected works (2 vols Dublin 1987) i, 11–16.
  37. Austen Morgan, James Connolly: a political biography (Manchester 1988).
  38. Helen Clark, Sing a rebel song: the story of James Connolly, born Edinburgh 1868, executed Dublin 1916 (Edinburgh 1989).
  39. Kieran Allen, The politics of James Connolly (London 1990).
  40. Andy Johnston, James Larraggy and Edward McWilliams, Connolly: a Marxist analysis (Dublin 1990).
  41. Lambert McKenna, The social teachings of James Connolly, by Lambert McKenna, ed. Thomas J. Morrissey (Dublin 1991).
  42. Donnacha Ní Gabhann, The reality of Connolly: 1868-1916 (Dublin 1993).
  43. William K. Anderson, James Connolly and the Irish left (Dublin 1994).
  44. Proinsias Mac Aonghusa, What Connolly said: James Connolly's writings (Dublin 1994).
  45. James L. Hyland, James Connolly: life and times (Dundalk 1997).
  46. William McMullen, With James Connolly in Belfast (Belfast 2001).
  47. Donal Nevin, James Connolly: a full life (Dublin 2005).

Connolly, James (1997). ‘In this Supreme Hour of Our National Danger’. In: James Connolly: The Lost Writings‍. Ed. by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh. London: Pluto, pp. 152–154.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  author 	 = {James Connolly},
  title 	 = {In this Supreme Hour of Our National Danger},
  editor 	 = {Aindrias Ó~Cathasaigh},
  booktitle 	 = {James Connolly: The Lost Writings},
  publisher 	 = {Pluto},
  address 	 = {London},
  date 	 = {1997},
  pages 	 = {152–154}


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Creation: by James Connolly

Date: 1915

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Keywords: political; essay; prose; 20c

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  6. 2005-09-10: Text scanned. (data capture Benjamin Hazard)

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