A DESCENDENT of one of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising martyrs claims she was abused because of her British accent at the recent centenary commemorations in Dublin.
Sarah Connolly, 29, is the great-great-granddaughter of Scottish-born Irishman James Connolly, who was executed for the part he played in the 1916 Easter Rising.
She was attending a reception at Dublin Castle on Easter Sunday for 1916 relatives to mark the 100th anniversary of the rebellion that kick-started Irish independence – with around 3,000 people in attendance.
Ms Connolly told TheJournal.ie that she was approached by a man during the ceremony and verbally abused.
The man, she claims, called her disrespectful for speaking during a rebel song and said she did not belong at the ceremony with “an accent like mine.”
Ms Connolly was born in Dublin and emigrated to Britain as a child with her parents, before returning to Ireland at the age of 12.
She has retained her English accent – and after finishing university once again moved to Britain.
“I was told I was being disrespectful towards 1916 for talking through a song, that the event wasn’t about me, that I didn’t belong there with an accent like mine and that I should go home,” Ms Connolly told TheJournal.ie.
“He repeated that I should go home multiple times.”
James Connolly was born in Edinburgh to parents who had emigrated from Monaghan and settled in the Irish stronghold of Cowgate.
At the age of 14, he joined the British Army and was stationed in Ireland for nearly seven years – during which he developed a deep hatred for the army he was serving.
He became involved in the Republican movement in Ireland, lending his signature to the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, and was executed on May 12, 1916 for the part he played in the uprising.
Ms Connolly said: “I was, and still am, devastated and so hurt. I’ve spent my life defending myself and battling for others to accept me as Irish and on such a historic and positive occasion I wasn’t expecting a racist bigot to make his feelings known in such an unnecessary manner.”
She added that one of the deepest insults was that the man verbally attacked her without knowing her history or story.
“Everyone I have told this to has been so embarrassed and angry and they have apologised on his behalf,” she said.
“They don’t need to apologise and I don’t want an apology from him either but what I do want is for people to know that racists like him still exist in Ireland.
“If an Irish man with an Irish accent is more superior than anyone else in this country, then those who feel that way need to reassess what they were commemorating as they can’t lay claim to two of the 1916 leaders as well as the countless other Irish who were born or lived outside of the country and fought in 1916.”