how the monument came to be

monument to Jim Connell in Crossakiel

On 26 April 1998 a monument to Jim Connell was unveiled in Crossakiel, Co Meath, Ireland on the spot where he addressed a crowd of 600 in 1918. 

He was born nearby in Kilskyre in 1852. 

He wrote the song "The Red Flag" in 1889 and it quickly became an anthem of the international labour movement.  It has been sung, with fire and fervour, for over a century. 

Jim Connell died in 1929 in London.

Peter Cassells, Jim O'Brien, Mary Turner, Tommy Grimes at the unveiling of the monument

Memorial unveiled by Peter Cassells, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (and Meath man)

Members of the Jim Connell Memorial Committee:

Peadar Byrne, Jim Butler, Tommy Grimes, Patrick Gibbons, Patrick O'Higgins, Claire Keane, Dan Keane, Rosaleen O'Brien, Jim O'Brien, Christy Smith, Sean Smith, Jimmy Tunney, Kay Ward

Tommy Grimes, Ann Grimes, Claire Keane, Rosaleen O'Brien, Dan Keane, Jim O'Brien at the Workingmen's Club in Dublin 
May 1998


The bronze bust of Jim Connell was sculptured by artist, Michael Keane, from Trim, Co Meath




 trade union councils: 

Meath, Dublin, Cork, Clonmel, Bray, Limerick


Labour Party, Democratic Left, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Sinn Fein

public bodies: 

Kells Urban District Council
Meath County Council

 and more . . .


Jim Connell

the man who wrote



About how the monument came to be erected, 
Claire Keane has written the following 
for this website:
"Some people have a vision to see something achieved, but few will have the determination of Kellsman,   Tommy Grimes to turn a dream to reality. 

Andrew Boyd, the man who rescued Jim Connell from oblivion, and Francis Devine, started Tommy on his long road to commemorate Connell in his birthplace.

Meanwhile, in Connell's adopted land, the Lewisham Borough Council and the British Labour Party purchased the house at 22A Stonton Park, Southeast London, where he had lived and unveiled a commemorative plaque on it.  Relations between Kells and London developed, owing in no small part to John O'Shea, former Mayor of Lewisham and to Tommy Grimes and Kells Urban District Council.

Through this association in 1997, a substantial financial commitment was secured from Paul Kenny, London Regional Secretary, GMB and Steve Pryle of Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Council towards a memorial in Meath. 

A committee of  local people and trade union activists began work on the project with support from Kells UDC.  Obtaining a site was an initial hurdle, but the generosity of Crossakiel Handball Club and Tidy Village Committee ensured that Connell's memorial would have a home.  Financial assistance for the project was sought from other trade unions, both British and Irish, and other political and cultural organisations.

The efforts culminated in the unveiling on the 26th of April 1998 of a memorial in Crossakiel and it was fitting on the day, that Mary Turner, first Irish born President of GMB, should join Peter Cassells, General Secretary ICTU,  in unveiling the memorial to Jim Connell in Crossakiel along with many who had travelled from London, other parts of the UK, Northern Ireland and Europe for the occasion.

The memorial, now completed, belongs to the working people of Ireland and to the labour movement internationally".

Claire Keane herself played an important role in the process, including the production of  a booklet commemorating the day, which is full of interesting information. 

Claire Keane in Crossakiel

Come back to Crossakiel in 1999. 
For more about the night of trade union song 
on 24 April 1999,
click  here

The song as sung by Jimmy Kelly on the day in Crossakiel and later in the studios of  DWR at  DCU, as well as other recordings of the song made since then, are now available as sound files  as are the  lyrics 

Photos on this website:
digital photos taken by Helena Sheehan
other  photos taken by Jim O'Brien , Noel Shine, Sam Nolan

E-mail for the Jim Connell Memorial Committee:

This website constructed by   Helena Sheehan