I have recently been reading into the socialist patriot, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington. A very interesting man. An avid feminist and never faltering idealist, he helped to shape the young Irish socialist landscape in the early twentieth century.
What is just as interesting about this man is that he was an acquaintance of his schoolmate, James Joyce. Joyce considered Skeff to be one of the cleverest men at University College
in Dublin (besides himself of course). The two intellectuals actually produced a short pamphlet of writings together after the University College
magazine denied both of them from publishing.
Skeffington is even portrayed in one of Joyce's books, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. He is the ridiculously idealistic character "MacCann."
After leaving University, Skeffington began writing for the socialist news letter The New Age and used this as an outlet to opine on issues of women's rights and Home Rule.
In 1913 he played an integral but ultimately useless role in the famous labour lock out. He was a part of the Peace Committee which tried in vain to reconcile the differences between the workers and the employers. In the end, the violence broke out across Dublin and police brutality raged.
Skeffington protested the recruitment of Irishmen to augument British troops fighting in the trenches of mainland Europe. He was thrown in prison for his campaign and began a short but effective hunger strike. After a week, he was released and the sedition charged against him were dropped. He then traveled to America to canvass for Irish freedom.
Sadly, during the Easter Rising, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, one of Ireland's most modern and free thinkers, was executed by British troops. His death was just the beginning of a terrible year for Irish patriots.