Since the publication of our article ‘Jewish community during the Revolutionary period (1916-23)‘, a number of people have left comments, emailed me directly or posted on external sites with new information and leads on the subject.
They are as follows:
1) 1901: Two Jewish workers listed as being active in James Connolly’s Irish Socialist Republican Party (ISRP).
2) 1908: Establishment of the short-lived Judaeo-Irish Home Rule Association.
3) 1919-1921: Philip Sayers (1876 – 1964) Jacob Elyan (1878- 1937) and Dr. Edward ‘Eddie’ Lipman (1887-1965) as Sinn Fein supporters.
4) 1920: Death of Russian-born Jew Sarah Medalie at the hands of the Black and Tans in Cork.
5) 1924: Arrest of Polish Jew Idel Weingarten who later admitted to being a gunrunner for the Republican movement.
6) 1926: Release of the film Irish Destiny which was written and produced by Dr. Isaac ‘Jack’ Eppel, a Jewish pharmacist.
7) Late 1920s/early 1930s: Involvement of Herman Good with the James Connolly Workers’ Clubs and the Irish Labour Defence League.
8) 1939: Arrest and imprisonment of Jewish IRA member Harry Goldberg in Liverpool.
9) late 1960s: Anecdotal evidence that many older working-class Jews in Dublin read the Manchester Guardian and the Moscow Times.
Discovered in the Irish Socialist Republican Party (ISRP) minute book of 23 July 1901 and first publicised by Manus O’Riordan in a 1988 Saothar article – two Jewish workers living in Pleasant Street, Dublin 8 were active with this organisation. They were Abraham Volkes and an individual by the name of Barnet. O’Riordan also informed us that the pair had previously been involved with the Social-Democratic Federation (SDF) in Salford. This was the organisation that James Connolly spoke for during his two public speaking trips (1901 and 1902) to the city.
Unfortunately, I cannot find anyone by the name of Barnet or Volkes living in Pleasant Street in 1901. Though they are a number of Jewish families including Greenfield, Abrahams, Werner and Goldstone. Only one person with the surname Volkes seems to be living in the city at that time and he was an American Catholic. Also, there is only one Barnet but he was a Catholic Dubliner. Perhaps Barnet was his first name? There is one Jewish individual with the first name Barnet but he was only a baby at the time. Volkes is a German name and there is one German Jew with the first name Abraham in Dublin in 1901 but his surname is Cohen. At the time, he was a tailor living on Auburn Street off the Phibsboro Road. The 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901 so there’s a slight possibility that the two arrived into the city after this date and so were not present for the census.
If anyone can shed any light, please get in touch.
The Irish Judaeo Home Rule Association was founded on 10th September 1908 at a meeting in the Mansion House that attracted around sixty Jews and three Irish Parliamentary Party MPs. The group was formed by Jacob Elyan and Joseph Edelstein and was believed to have contained about two dozen core supporters. MPs John Redmond and John Dillon sent their best wishes to the organisation and the names of Daniel O’Connell and Michael Davitt were recalled at the meeting as great friends of the Jewish people. Speakers at the meeting, besides Elyan and Edlestien, included Arthur Newman and the three Irish Parliamentary Party MPs – William Field, Timothy Charles Harrington and Stephen Gywnn.
An Irish Jew with Unionist sympathies was ejected from the meeting after trying to disrupt proceedings and a fight broke out amongst at least a dozen people towards the end. The Irish Times (11 September 1908) reported:
It appears that some of the Jews who were not in sympathy with the object of the meeting proclaimed their views rather loudly, with the result that they were rather roughly treated at the hands of their co-religionists, who were supported by a number of United League Leaguers.
The organisation seemingly only lasted a few months and didn’t receive any media coverage except for their inaugural meeting. Elyan is the only known original member who continued to be active in Home Rule politics, joining the United Irish League and becoming a member of its Dublin executive.
I’ve been made aware of three more Jewish individuals who were supporters of Sinn Fein in the War of Independence period.
The first of these was Philip Sayers, described as a “Lithuanian-born early Sinn Feiner” by the Irish Independent (19 April 1943). When he passed away at the age of 88 in 1964, his short obituary included the line that he “took part in the Sinn Fein movement and was a life-long sympathiser with the national movement”. His Dublin-born son Michael was a well-known and celebrated poet and writer with strong political sympathies who married Mentana Galleani, daughter of the militant Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani. When he passed away three years ago, it was noted that Michael had “vivid childhood memories of [IRA] fugitives being hidden in the house and of police raids”.
Jacob Elyan (1878- 1937), who we mentioned earlier as having been a founding member of the Judaeo-Irish Home Rule Association in 1908, was also a close supporter of Sinn Fein. He had been invited by John Redmond to stand for election but declined due to ill-health. For the same reason, he was unable to take take a seat in the Free State Senate of 1923.
Dr. Edward ‘Eddie’ Lipman (1887-1965) was close friends with Count Markievicz, Arthur Griffith, James Stephens and other figures in the world of politics and the arts. He took up medical practice in London in the early 1920s where he and his Mayo wife Dr. Eva Kavanagh Lipman “ministered generously, both in matters of health and in personal affairs, to Cockney proletarians and working-class Irish migrants and their families” as the Irish Times of 7th January 1965 noted.
During the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiation in London in 1921, Arthur Griffith used to frequently call on Eddie Lipman for a “talk and walk through the streets of the English capital”. He worked in the East End until retirement when he returned home to his native Dublin. He died there after a short illness in June 1965.
In December 1920, a Russian-born Jew Sarah Medalie died of a heart attack after the Black and Tans burst into her bedroom in her home in Cork.
In 1901, the Medali family (spelt without the ‘e’ in the census) were living at 8 Elizabeth Terrace on the southside of the city. Husband David (36), a pedlar, lived with his wife Sarah (32) and their three children Lena (7), Joseph (2) and Harrey (8 months). All were born in Russia except for the youngest two children. After considerable searching, I cannot find the family in the 1911 census.
Manus O’Riordan who has done much research into the case wrote:
By 1915 David Medalie’s economic circumstances and occupation had improved from that of peddler to draper, and the family moved home into rooms above his own city centre shop in Tuckey Street.
During a massive search operation in Cork that left a trail of destruction, the Black and Tans forcibly broke into the Medalie’s home at 23 Tuckey Street. The Cork Examiner reported on 13 December 1920:
Mrs. Medalie, a Jewess, died suddenly in her house in Tuckey Street, Cork … on Friday night as military entered her bedroom. ‘We are Jews’, she said, when she saw the soldiers, ‘and have nothing to do with the political movement’. Then she exclaimed, ‘Oh my heart!’ and … collapsed.
She was 53.
The fact remains that the only three Jewish killed during the revolutionary period (1916-23) were at the hands of the Black and Tans (Sarah Medalie in 1920) and anti-Semitic former Free State officers (Bernard Golderg and Ernest Kahn in 1923).
Some fiction writers, most noticeably Roddy Doyle’s A Star Called Henry, have portrayed the IRA as having anti-Semitic murderous elements. However it is according to Manus O’Riordan an:
uncontestable historical fact … that Ireland’s War of Independence, in which members of the Jewish community themselves participated, never saw a single Jew killed by the IRA, whether deliberately or even accidentally.
A Polish-born Jew, Idel Weingarten, was arrested in Glasgow in August 1924 for “contravention of the Aliens order”. It transpired that he had just come from Ireland via Germany and in his possession were “several photographs of prominent persons” in the Republican movement. The Irish Times (28 Aug 1924) headline read “Wandering Jew: Mystery of visits to Ireland”.
In 1948, he was arrested and sentenced to two years in jail for being the “ringleader of a fake passport ring” which aided foreign citizens to illegaly enter Britain and Canada. The newspapers reported at the time that Weingarten had previously admitted to “trafficking arms to Ireland” for the IRA.
He seemingly spent most of his life in and out of prison.
In November 1955, he was arrested and sentence to another two years in jail in Glasgow for “fraud charges involving good valued at more than £1513”. The Evening News (17 Nov 1955) reported that his lawyer had told the court that Weingarten had did “good work during the war helping to smuggle people out of Europe to Britain and America”.
He was arrested again in 1962 for attempting to defraud a woman from Portadown of over £20,000. He was charged with, amongst other things “falsely pretending that he was married .. was in employment of the Government of Kenya (and that he) had inherited £38,000 upon the death of his father in Nairobi”. Proving that Nigerian prince type scam emails were popular well before the establishment of the World Wide Web!
The ground-breaking silent full-length film Irish Destiny (1926) was financed, written and produced by Isaac Eppel (1892-1942), a Jewish doctor who ran a pharmacy on Mary Street.
Set between mid-1920, at the height of the War of Independence, and the Truce of 1921, the film traces the love affair of IRA volunteer Denis O’Hara (Paddy Dunne Cullinan) and his fiancee, Moira Barry (Frances MacNamara). It was firmly populist and pro-Republican no doubt reflecting Eppel’s own political views.The film interweaved actual newsreel footage of the Black and Tans, the burning of Cork, and the burning of the Customs House in Dublin with dramatised scenes which were filmed in Enniskerry, London and Dublin.
For over five decades it was believed lost until the IFI Irish Film Archive found a print in the U.S. Library of Congress in 1991 and restored it to its original tinted and toned glory.
It was Eppel’s first and only film. The costly production had cost him his marriage and personally bankrupted him. He gave up his medical career and took over the Palace (later the Academy) cinema on Pearse Street. He later emigrated to England and died in obscurity.
7. Herman Good (1906 – 1981), was a Jewish Dublin-born solicitor active with the James Connolly Workers’ Clubs in the late 1920s and the IRA led Irish Labour Defence League in the early 1930s. He described himself as the first Jewish member of the Labour Party, running for them in elections in 1933 and 1944. Qualifying as a solicitor in 1929, he served in the legal profession for over 50 years rising to the post of Justice of the District Court.Well-known for legally representing the unemployed, strikers and individuals injured in the workplace, some of his cases included:- November 1929: Defended an former soldier charged with “riotous assembly” at a demonstration of the unemployed outside Leinster House.
– December 1929: Defended two young men charged with breaking windows in St. Stephen’s Green after a protest march of the unemployed.
– March 1930: Appeared in court on behalf of the Irish Labour Defence League and appealed that the judge free several men including Christopher Ferguson (secretary of the National Unemployed Movement) and John Fox (secretary of the Irish Labour Defence League) after their arrest at a demonstration.
– March 1931: Defended the five leaders of a strike at the Greenmount and Boyne Linen Company mill in Augnier Street who were charged with the assault of a man. Good described the charges as a “frame up” to “defeat the strike”.
– May 1933: Defended former IRA volunteer Sean Murray and Sean Nolan (both members of the and Revolutionary Workers Group) who were inside Connolly House on North Strand Street when it was attacked by a large anti-Communist mob wound up by a local priest.
– June 1933: Represented 96 families of the Municipal Tenants Association in a case against Dublin Corporation who were trying to evict them.
– July 1934: Defended four striking workers from Samuel Oliver and McCabe shirt factory on South Great George’s Street who were charged with “wrongfully and without legal authority watching and besitting” the factory.
In July 1938, he defended an Austrian Koppel Roeffler who escaped from the Nazis and was living in Dublin but who the State wanted to deport. During the Second World War, he became an officer in the Local Defence Force and helped Jews in the six counties who had successfully escaped the Third Reich.
Good was active with the James Connolly Workers’ Club (JCWC) in Dublin in the late 1920s. This group was established in October 1924 as a forum for Marxist politics and workers’ education. Their offices at 47 Parnell Square were raided by the police in August 1928.
He then joined the Labour Party, becoming their first Jewish member, and ran for the party in the June 1933 Municipal Elections in District No. 4 in Dublin. I was unable to find out the results of this election. In the May 1944 General Election, he stood in the Dublin Townships constituency and won 2,104 first preference votes, keeping his deposit. This was a respectable result when you take into account he was up against the mighty giants of Fianna Fail‘s Sean MacEntee and Fine Gael‘s John A. Costello.
Throughout his 50 year legal career, he defended an unending list of young shoplifters, joy riders, smugglers and individuals injured in various bus, car, tram and workplace accidents. He was an outspoken opponent of both corporal and capital punishment and believed that the Swedish model of rehabiliation and rededucation for offenders was the way forward.
Never waiving from his republican views, he told Eileen O’Brien in an Irish Times interview (10 July 1976) that “there will never be peace in Ireland until Ireland is united”. He passed away in 1981.
In 1939, a Dublin IRA member by the name of Harry Goldberg was sentenced to three weeks in Strangeways prison for refusing to divulge the names of fellow Irish Republicans in Liverpool. The Irish Independent (25 Feb 1939) revealed that he worked as a “mattress maker” and lived on Auburn Street in Everton. He had moved over from Dublin in 1937. Good admitted to attending two IRA parades in the city, one being at a house in Edge Lane. In court, he was questioned but “refused to mention names”.
(For the full story of the Liverpool IRA’s 1939 bombing campaign, read Bryce Evans’s excellent ‘Fear and Loathing in Liverpool: The IRA’s1939 Bombing Campaign on Merseyside’)
I think it be assumed beyond doubt that Goldberg was Jewish. As such, I wonder if he was connected to the republican-leaning Goldberg family from Cork.
In 1911, there two Harry Goldberg’s living in Ireland. Both Jewish and Dublin basde.
10-year old Harry lived at 31 Harcourt Street with his father (a Dentist originally from Poland), his mother (also from Poland) and five siblings (all Dublin born). This Harry would have been born in 1901 making him 38 in 1939.
The second Harry Goldberg was 7 years old and living at 5 St. Kevin’s Parade in the heart of Little Jersualem with his coal merchant father (born in Russia), his mother (originally from Leeds) and four siblings (all Dublin born). This Harry would have been born in 1904 making him 35 in 1939.
Again, if anyone has anymore information – please get in touch.
Ken McCue, Inner City activist and founding member of Sports Against Racism in Ireland (SARI), told us that he used to deliver newspapers in the late 1960s to many members of the Jewish community around Capel Street and North King Street in the north inner city. He remembers that Moscow News and the Manchester Guardian were particularly popular and most of his Jewish customers were “quite old and radically left wing.”
Ken took over the paper route from his older Hugh after he started playing football for Home Farm. (Another brother Harry was recently Ireland’s under-21 caretaker manager). They worked for Matt O’Connor and Charlie Kinlan who were the two newsagents on North King Street.
The Manchester Guardian was broadsheet at the time and I delivered it along with the Moscow News (picked up from Mary Bassett on Parnell St.). Mary had it posted from the CPGB in England and it was often impounded at the PO sorting office in Amiens St. The other left-wing paper in circulation at the time was the Morning Star that my Grandfather had in the house by way of his printers union and now and again we would get The United Irishman that was moving to the Left under the influence of Eamonn Smullen and Eoghan Harris.
Barnet and Volkes (Politics.ie poster ’12 bens’ & Manus O’Riordan for original research); Irish Judaeo Home Rule Association (John Gibney); Sarah Mendalie (Séamas Ó Sionnaigh and Manus O’Riordan for original research); Herman Good (Brian Hanley); Harry Goldberg (Brian Hanley and Bryce Evans).