James Connell, 1852-1929

james connell


Born at Kilskyre, Crossakiel, County Meath in 1850,

he was a Fenian and a Land Leaguer who had a varied career as a labourer, a sheep farmer, a journalist and a self taught lawyer.

He became secretary of the

Workmen's Legal Friendly Society

after he went to London and joined the Social Democratic Federation.

He wrote "The Red Flag " which became the socialist anthem, which was set to air by a Mr. Headingly, the air being the same as the German song "Tanenbaum".


"Did I think the song would live? ... yes I did - the last line shows I did.

"This song shall be our parting hymn".  I reflected that in writing the song I gave expression  to not only my own best thoughts and feelings  but  also those of every genuine socialist I know... I decided that the line should stand."

(James Connell)

In 1924 the Labour Prime Minister tried to oust it and had a competition to find a suitable anthem, but the judges said that none of the 300 songs entered for the competition could match  " The Red Flag ", thus keeping it as their anthem.

Connell died on 8th February 1929 in London where he had lived for many years.

connell memorial stone



(left) Monument in memory of

James Connell

was erected in 1998

in Crossakiel, at the spot

where James Connell

spoke to a crowd of 600 in 1918.