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A Railway Thief

Author: James Connolly

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Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh

Electronic edition compiled by Benjamin Hazard

proof corrections by Aisling Byrne

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

2. Second draft.

Extent of text: 1884 words


CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College Cork
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Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: E900002-048

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  1. 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 Michael 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).
James Connolly A Railway Thief in , Ed. Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh James Connolly: The Lost Writings. Pluto, London, (1997) page 166–167


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Created: by James Connolly (1915)

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Language: [EN] The text is in English.

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Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: E900002-048

A Railway Thief: Author: James Connolly


A Railway Thief

26 June 1915

There is a strike of shopmen and other workers on in the Midland and Great Western and Dublin and South Eastern Railways in Dublin. The employees are out on strike because no answer has been given to their repeated requests for an increase of wages to meet the abnormal increase of prices resulting from the great war. That is the central fact of the situation. But arising out of that fact there comes that inevitable touch of humour, such as never fails in Ireland to light up the most serious situation. The General Manager at the Broadstone depot is a man named Keogh. That gentleman writes to the Press and with the most owlish gravity informs all and sundry that there is no dispute between the railway company and their employees, that he does not recognise the Transport Union, and that he never heard of any complaint on the part of the men now on strike. Then he adds, as if it were an unimportant matter, that he had received two communications from the Union, one of them three months ago, and another a week before the strike, but this notwithstanding the men left work without giving notice. After tying himself up in a black knot in this fashion Mr Keogh sent out the Chief Engineer to tell the strike pickets that if they would send in a deputation on the following day he would arrange for them to meet a body of the directors. The men reported this to their Union, and at a mass meeting of all the men on our advice a deputation was appointed to hear what the directors had to say and to lay the facts before them. When the deputation attended on the following day they were ushered into the Board Room where they met – Mr Keogh and the Chief Engineer. Not a director was present. Seeing they had thus been inveigled in by a lying promise the men stood on their dignity and retired. In chagrin at this the Management stopped the Week's Pay due to the men, in the hope that the unexpected loss would lead to demoralisation. To put it more plainly,

Mr Keogh Stole the Wages of the Men just as truly as does the less respectable but more honest thief who picks a pocket in the street.


The Transport Union immediately paid the men a week's strike pay, and ordered the stoppage of all coal destined for the Midland. Three boats were held up on Sunday night.

Is it not a humorous situation to hear an incompetent jack-in-office, on a railway notorious for its muddling inefficiency and rotten service, say that he will not recognise the right of the men to negotiate through a Union of their own choosing? At the present moment the Government of Great Britain has recognised the right of its working class citizens to speak through their unions, and at every crisis the responsible minister calls together the heads of Unions to consult with them and profit by their advice. In every European country it has been recognised that national organisation on an effective scale is only possible through the co-operation of organised Labour, but this poor derelict manager of an almost derelict railway, a railway made more derelict by his poor managership, with his head full of eighteenth century ideas refuses to recognise the rights of his fellow countrymen to organise in an Irish Union.

Imagining he is another William Martin Murphy he swells his chest to repeat the war cries of the employers during the great lock-out; swells himself like the ox in the fable – and will either burst himself, or cause others to die laughing.

He need not imagine that the world to-day, in 1915, is interested in his attempt to restart a conflict like that of 1913-14, or in his attempt to become another disrupter of the public peace. The men must get their increase. That is the vital point, and all squirmings and dodgings about recognition do not affect the issue. Through their Union they have put in a request that their wages be so advanced that they may maintain the same standard of life as heretofore. That modest request must be acceded to, and all the rest of the palaver from Mr Keogh may be dispensed with.

As serious men we cannot afford to turn back in our march to consider the babblings of another age even from the lips of a General Manager.