Jim [James] Connell
1852-1929; b. Rathniska, Kilsyre [Kells], Co. Meath; moved with family to Co. Offaly; socialist labour
from hedge-school background; self-educated lawyer, sec. to Workmens
Legal Friendly Soc., and former Fenian and Land-Leaguer; moved to London and worked as Fleet-street journalist in London; engaged in poaching with socialist friends as a politically-motivated hobby; ed. Socialist Journal with Keir Hardie; wrote political songs incl.
The Red Flag, anthem of the socialist movement and of the British Labour Party; orig. set to The White
Cockade, but reset by German publishers to the tune Maryland from Die Tannenbaum, reputedly causing Connell to exclaim youve spiled me pome!; also issued Confessions of a Poacher (1901), selling 80,000 copies, and sundry pamphlets incl. The Truth about the Game Laws and Socialism
and the Survival of the Fittest; awarded the Order of the Soviet Star by Lenin for his song. DIB DIW
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Confessions of a Poacher (London: Pearson 1901; rep. edn. Lilliput Press 2004), 174pp. [for Jim Connell Memorial Commemoration.]
Henry Boylan, Dictionary of Irish Biography (Dublin: Gill
& Macmillan 1988) notes that singer John McCormack was member of the panel which voted
to retain the song, in spite of objections from Ramsey MacDonald; composed
The Red Flag during the Dock Strike of 1889.
Spoiled: accounts of Connell's famous response to the re-matching of The Red Flag to Maryland from Die Tannenbaum vary. In one version, youve spiled me pome!, in another youve spiled me tune! Bernard Shaw compared the new setting to a funeral dirge for eels'.