Sarah Connolly at the wreath-laying ceremony in the Garden of Remembrance on Saturday.

James Connolly's great-great-granddaughter told to 'go home' from 1916 event because of English accent

Sarah Connolly, a relative of 1916 leader James Connolly, said she was confronted at a state reception to commemorate the Easter Rising.

A GREAT-GREAT-granddaughter of James Connolly has said she was racially abused by a member of the public at a state reception in Dublin on Sunday.

Around 2,000 relatives of 1916 veterans and 1,000 guests were invited to the Dublin Castle ceremony as part of the Easter Rising commemoration programme.

Sarah Connolly (29) told that she was approached at the event by a man who accused her of being disrespectful by speaking during a music performance. She said the man told her “go home” as she did not belong there “with an accent like mine”.

Sarah was born in Dublin to Irish parents, who emigrated to the UK when she was just a few months old. The family returned to Ireland after 12 years but Sarah kept her English accent, despite completing her secondary and third-level education here.

She and her sister moved to London after finishing university, while their parents and brother remained in Ireland. The Connollys were invited to attend the weekend’s centenary events because of their family connection to the Rising.

However, at the state reception on Sunday, Sarah said she was verbally attacked by a man who confronted her as she spoke to her cousins.

“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.

He repeated [that] I should go home multiple times.


Sarah said other attendees were chatting in the room but that the man, who she estimated to be in his 40s, singled her out as she made her way to a seating area with relatives.

She said she burst into tears and exchanged heated words with him before leaving the room. “I was, and still am, devastated and so hurt,” she said.

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.

Sarah said she did not know the man but was angered that he “went in with the lowest blow possible” without knowing her history or background.

“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.”

1916 Liveblog – Day 3: This is the worst day of the fighting so far

Read: Here’s how the world’s media saw our 1916 Rising celebrations

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