CELT document E900002-064

To the Seafarers of Ireland

James Connolly

Edited by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh

To the Seafarers of Ireland

To the Seafarers of Ireland


4 March 1916

We wish again to draw the attention of all thoughtful Labour men and women to the extraordinary attitude of the officials of the National Seamen's and Firemen's Union to the claims of their members in Ireland, and more especially in the port of Dublin.

As our readers are aware the seamen and firemen formerly engaged on the boats of the City of Dublin Steam  p.205 Packet Company, upon being ordered, refused to take the boats to sea after they had been worked by clerks and others scabbing upon the dockers out on strike.

These men refused, that is to say, to scab upon their mates who were members of the Irish Transport Workers' Union. For this refusal the National officials of the Seamen's and Firemen's Union declined to grant them any strike allowance, and for many weeks they have been dependent upon Liberty Hall for their weekly pittance. Now we find that the seamen of the London boats are also on strike for an increase of wages, and again the officials of the Seamen's and Firemen's Union refuse to grant them any support. Is it not time again to ask our Seamen and Firemen brothers the simple question: For what reason do they pay into a Union that deserts them immediately they need its assistance?

A Union that appears to hate the name of any Irishman that still clings to Ireland.

We would respectfully submit to all the seamen and firemen whose domicile is in Ireland that experience has proven to them that they cannot expect any justice from the national officials of the Union in question.

We also respectfully submit to them that the experience of the whole Trade Union world teaches that Labour should be organised as Capital is organised, viz, upon an Industrial basis. That the seaman cannot win without the help of the docker, and the docker is immensely strengthened by having the support of the seaman. That as they are both serving the one employer in the one industry they should be both organised in the one Union.

The only possible alternative to that system of organisation is the amalgamation of all unions of general labour into one body, such as was contemplated in Great Britain before the outbreak of war stopped all possibilities of immediate progress upon sane lines. Such amalgamation would make it possible to reorganise all the constituent bodies upon industrial lines as we have indicated above, and at the same time avoid the danger of crossing the interests of unions now sectionally organised. Those unions being first amalgamated their sectional interests would be eliminated from the problem. But the application of that solution to the shipping industry was rendered impossible by the fact that Mr Havelock Wilson and his Union refused to join with a general labourers' organisation, and insisted upon remaining aloof as a sectional union.


As usual he preferred to play a lone hand, and to break up the labour ranks. It is only when he is in trouble that he remembers the principle of the Solidarity of Labour. At other times he only scoffs at it.

But his action in refusing to join an organisation that would have linked up the Seamen and Firemen in one Union with all the workers of the docks and harbours, and with the ranks of general labour everywhere, coupled with his persistent attacks upon the principle of solidarity in Ireland, clears the air sufficiently to permit of action being taken to properly deal with him. We believe that the Dublin seamen and firemen do not desire any longer to be members of such a strike breaker's union as the NS & FU is being made into. We believe that they wish to be enrolled in the ranks of organised Labour in Ireland, and to be a part of the militant movement of Labour in this country.

If they so desire, if we are correct in our estimate of their aspirations, we submit to them that it is time they took steps to organise a Seafarers' Section of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. Such a section should be open to all seafarers whose domicile is in Ireland. Linked up with the dock labourers as they would be their interests would be at once identical, and the motto, 'Each for All, and All for Each', would become a reality, having immense influence upon their industrial progress. We are confident that we could secure recognition of their membership card in all the ports of the world, and that the new departure would mean a gain rather than a loss to those who prefer the deep sea boats.

We have been patiently watching the rake's progress of the NS and FU in its despicable attitude to its Irish branches. We believe that the time has come for the Irish seafarers to do what the Irish Dockers have done so well for themselves under our banner, viz, throw their lot together in an Irish organization, and by so doing increase their power as well as the power of the shore workers – and thus unitedly to form a force that would set the fighting pace for the Labour Movement of all the world.

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Title (uniform): To the Seafarers of Ireland

Author: James Connolly

Editor: Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh

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Electronic edition compiled by: Benjamin Hazard

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

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2. Second draft.

Extent: 1985 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: 2011

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

CELT document ID: E900002-064

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

Source description


  • 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 M. 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). ‘To the Seafarers of Ireland’. In: James Connolly: The Lost Writings‍. Ed. by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh. London: Pluto, pp. 204–206.

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

  author 	 = {James Connolly},
  title 	 = {To the Seafarers of Ireland},
  editor 	 = {Aindrias Ó~Cathasaigh},
  booktitle 	 = {James Connolly: The Lost Writings},
  publisher 	 = {Pluto},
  address 	 = {London},
  date 	 = {1997},
  pages 	 = {204–206}


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Creation: by James Connolly

Date: 1916

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  • The text is in English. (en)

Keywords: political; essay; prose; 20c

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  1. 2011-02-05: Conversion script run; header updated; new wordcount made; file parsed. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2006-01-25: File proofed (2), structural and content markup applied to text; header inserted and file parsed. (ed. Benjamin Hazard)
  3. 2005-12-01: File proofed (1). (ed. Aisling Byrne)
  4. 2005-09-10: Text scanned. (data capture Benjamin Hazard)

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