Irish anarchists “are the least educated of all” (1900)

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In this British newspaper report from the Daily Chronicle of August 8th, 1900 readers are told that Irish anarchists in Britain “are the least educated of all” and “there are no Anarchists in Ireland”.

Leaving aside the stereotype, then common in England, that the Irish were a dim-witted lot, the “no Anarchists in Ireland” assertion is open to question.  What public presence, if any, anarchism had in the 1890s and early 1900s is only beginning to be looked into.  However we now know that there were active anarchist groups in the years before and after, thanks to researchers like Fintan Lane and Mairtin O Cathain.

In the years after the Dublin branch of the Socialist League declared for anarchism in 1886, anarchists like Thomas Fitzpatrick and Michael Gabriel had some influence in the labour movement, as evidenced by their election to the Executive of the National Labour League.

We also know that there was an anarchist group in Belfast in the 1900s. They brought over the Scottish anarchist John McAra, who spoke against the monarchy from the steps of the Belfast Custom House in 1908.  This had resulted in him being charged with sedition, and jailed for three months.


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The Daily Chronicle was a British newspaper published from 1872 to 1930, when it merged with the Daily News to become the News Chronicle, which ceased publication in 1960. It’s political stance was broadly supportive of the Liberal Party.

Thanks to Sam from the excellent Come Here To Me blog for this cutting.

Belfast attends 1912 Anarchist conference in Leeds


From the Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History (no.47, Autumn 1983) we have a report of Belfast anarchists being represented at the 1912 Anarchist conference in Leeds. Other than a mention that at least one delegate was present from Belfast, we have no further information about whether a functioning anarchist group was being represented, nor who the delegate was. Any further information will be welcomed. The report here is the one given to the Leeds Jewish Anarchist Group by its delegate.

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We do know that there were anarchists in Belfast at that time. John McAra, a Scottish anarchist spoke from the steps of the Custom House in 1908, which saw him arrested, charged with sedition and then jailed for three months. This was considered newsworthy enough to be reported in the Kentucky Irish American newspaper of Saturday, April 4, 1908.

The Belfast anarchist group which formed at this time appears to have died away after the First World War.