Irish Socialist Republican Party

Published in 20th Century Social Perspectives, 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2005), Letters, Letters, Volume 13

Sir,

—With reference to the review of David Lynch’s Radical politics inmodern Ireland: the Irish Socialist Republican Party, 1896–1904 byFintan Lane in the May/June issue of HI, the ISRP did not come to anend in 1904. George Spain of Manchester was a member of the IrishRepublican Brotherhood. He fought in the 1916 Rising and the War ofIndependence and was a friend and colleague of the executed 1916leaders. He was also a member of the ISRP.
George Spain avoided capture in 1916 when it was arranged that thegroup of which he was a member abandon their outpost and be evacuatedbefore the final surrender. He was the first person to visit JamesConnolly in jail after the rising. George told me that after theexecution of James Connolly he became secretary of the ISRP. He wasprominent in the trade union movement. The headquarters of the ISRP wasin Liberty Hall. At one stage they wrote to George Bernard Shaw andasked him for books on the subject of socialism. GBS sent them a trunkfull of books, which were kept in Liberty Hall.
When it was decided to burn the Customs House it was anticipated thatthe Black and Tans would retaliate by attacking Liberty Hall. GeorgeSpain was given the task of going to Liberty Hall to take the recordsand documents to a safe place. As he was taking the last case ofdocuments out of Liberty Hall he met the Black and Tans going in. TheBlack and Tans took all the books on socialism and placed them in apile on the floor. They threw petrol over them and set them alight.George told me that at that stage the ISRP was a small party.
George Spain used the name George Fogarty when fighting the War ofIndependence. On the night before the attack on the Customs House TomBarry slept in his flat. George Spain told me that the socialismadvocated by James Connolly was not communism.

—Yours etc.,
LIAM SPÁINNEACH
Baile Átha Cliath 15

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