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Easter Rising relative Sarah Connolly told to “go home” from Centenary event because of British accent

Sarah Connolly. (Picture via TheJournal.ie/Sarah Connolly)
Sarah Connolly. (Picture courtesy of TheJournal.ie)

A DESCENDENT of one of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising martyrs claims she was abused because of her British accent at the recent centenary commemorations in Dublin.

Sarah Connolly, 29, is the great-great-granddaughter of Scottish-born Irishman James Connolly, who was executed for the part he played in the 1916 Easter Rising.

She was attending a reception at Dublin Castle on Easter Sunday for 1916 relatives to mark the 100th anniversary of the rebellion that kick-started Irish independence – with around 3,000 people in attendance.

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Ms Connolly told TheJournal.ie that she was approached by a man during the ceremony and verbally abused.

The man, she claims, called her disrespectful for speaking during a rebel song and said she did not belong at the ceremony with “an accent like mine.”

Ms Connolly was born in Dublin and emigrated to Britain as a child with her parents, before returning to Ireland at the age of 12.

Scottish-born Irish republican James Connolly. (Picture: WikiCommons)
Scottish-born Irish republican James Connolly. (Picture: WikiCommons)

She has retained her English accent – and after finishing university once again moved to Britain.

“I was told I was being disrespectful towards 1916 for talking through a song, that the event wasn’t about me, that I didn’t belong there with an accent like mine and that I should go home,” Ms Connolly told TheJournal.ie.

“He repeated that I should go home multiple times.”

James Connolly was born in Edinburgh to parents who had emigrated from Monaghan and settled in the Irish stronghold of Cowgate.

At the age of 14, he joined the British Army and was stationed in Ireland for nearly seven years – during which he developed a deep hatred for the army he was serving.

He became involved in the Republican movement in Ireland, lending his signature to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, and was executed on May 12, 1916 for the part he played in the uprising.

Ms Connolly said: “I was, and still am, devastated and so hurt. I’ve spent my life defending myself and battling for others to accept me as Irish and on such a historic and positive occasion I wasn’t expecting a racist bigot to make his feelings known in such an unnecessary manner.”

She added that one of the deepest insults was that the man verbally attacked her without knowing her history or story.

“Everyone I have told this to has been so embarrassed and angry and they have apologised on his behalf,” she said.

“They don’t need to apologise and I don’t want an apology from him either but what I do want is for people to know that racists like him still exist in Ireland.

“If an Irish man with an Irish accent is more superior than anyone else in this country, then those who feel that way need to reassess what they were commemorating as they can’t lay claim to two of the 1916 leaders as well as the countless other Irish who were born or lived outside of the country and fought in 1916.”

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James Mulhall
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James Mulhall is a reporter with The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @JamzMulhall

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14 comments on “Easter Rising relative Sarah Connolly told to “go home” from Centenary event because of British accent”

  1. Niall Gòrdan

    This is a disgrace and perhaps even a total misunderstanding of history. Focus should not fall upon an accent! All Scottish people do not sound like, say, The Proclaimers - Highland accents are different and distinctive. Smalltown clannishness at its worst.

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  2. Anonymous

    I am second generation Irish lady with an English accent who plays Irish music and I have spent many a year in an Irish pub and I know that it is just not acceptable (especially to the older generation) to chat through someone singing a song, rebel or otherwise. The person who told her off obviously did it in the wrong / racist / disrespectful way but maybe just maybe she should have been a little more respectful to the person singing. I don't know her, I'm sure she's a lovely person but I'm just saying that respect goes both ways.

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  3. Steve

    Patriotism :
    The Last refuge of the scoundrel.
    I am English and lack any Irish Blood.
    I am ,however, completely persuaded as to the Rightness of the Easter Uprising and after the resulting bungling by the British Authorities the fury of Dubliners and those of all Irish folk.
    A Century later Immigration and intermarriage abroad leaves a vast number professing Irish descent.
    A Nation was created in Blood and righteous anger, not the United Ireland many still desire but ,nonetheless, a True Nation of highly educated and mobile people who are found all across the World.
    Ireland should be proud of what it is and celebrate a chaotic and frankly shambolic Uprising that in spite of itself created an amazing Nation.
    Do not let individual crassness mar those well deserved commemorations of Brave Men and Women and the regrettable civilian casualties.

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  4. Steve

    Just one bigot.
    Celebrate the Easter Uprising
    Remember all the Dead
    A Great Nation defeated an Empire with a shambolic rebellion yet within a Year Home Rulers were in general changed to Republicans by the mismanaged British response.
    Be Proud of all that was achieved by inspired Irish Men and Women.
    Honour that Memory and their Legacy

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    • Ian MacDonagh

      Not just one bigot unfortunately. I was also at the Castle, being a great grandson of Thomas MacDonagh, was grand. I actually met relatives of Sarah there. That morning I was going back to my hotel after watching the parade on O'Connell street and my brother and I were berated numerous times for having English accents. I grew up in Dublin and moved to England when I was 12 but I never expected to get shouted at over my accent especially on this important weekend.

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  5. Simon Hughes

    I feel sorry for Sarah encountered a crass bigot at this event. Unfortunately it is a reality of life that these bigots can be found everywhere and it is no surprise she met one in Dublin just as you will meet them in every town and city in Ireland and the U.K.

    It would have been a great story if she had taken her phone out and photographed the lout so that his despicable racist abuse could be exposed to the rest of the world or reported him to the security staff and have him removed from the event. Unfortunately he will will probably continue to racially abuse innocent people unfettered.

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  6. Boston, USA

    Plenty of non-Irish accents helped make the Free State. Plenty of folks with New York, Boston, and Chicago accents bought bonds and lobbied for Irish freedom. A disgrace that a descendent of Connolly would be disrespected. It would be like a descendent of George Washington or Paul Revere being dis-respected at a July 4th ceremony here. Irish folks had to go to America, Britain , Australia and even South America to find work. We all have accents. Rude to disrespect us. The vast majority of people of Irish heritage live outside of Ireland.

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  7. Boston, USA

    So strange as to how some Irish who complained about British censorship and intolerance have no issue with censoring others or treating others poorly. Fortunately, most in the huge Irish world diaspora reject this ignorance. The men and women of 1916 would reject this behavior.

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  8. Frank

    Sad, your story is a reflection on what we have become as a consequence of hate.

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  9. LouliLou

    I totally agree that the man being ignorant, he should not have made her accent an issue. It was bigotted and uncalled for. However he did have a point about blabbing her mouth during a song as part of the ceremony. Relative or not she should have hushed her gums and shown more respect. I would gave pulled her for that. Now she is crying to the press and the British papers have run with that story about the celebrations.... like the Daily Mail, instead of the more positive aspects of the celebration and the Brits are picking up on it to slate and tar all the Irish.... so I guess she has made it all about her after all, and muddied what should have been seen as a positive day. If she was that upset she could have waited until the ceremony was over and then spoken to the man, I'm sure he would have been mortified to realise who she was but then she might of had to anwser his questions around why she was being inconsiderate & rude too.

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  10. Leslie Eric

    I disagree with the glorification of violence so can not support those who attend such ceremonies

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  11. Annie Gibson

    I am so amazed that there were some thumbs down to Steve's comments. He was praising the Irish and all what they stand for. Yes, he is English. So what?? He did nothing to those courageous men who were killed during the Easter Rising. You should be ashamed if you put your thumbs down. The British came to my country of Canada and abused our land and people, but I do not blame the British today. The Scottish hate the English too. They in a lot of ways did far more damage to our First Nations then the English. Get over yourselves and enjoy what you have.

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  12. Tadhg

    Welcome to Ireland. A land of brit bashers. Don't worry they hate black people even more.

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  13. D.Murray

    These heroes are so ridiculously proud of their accents and birthplaces you'd honestly believe they chose them in the womb!

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