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Documentary To Tell The Story Of James Connolly's Years In Troy - Irish Socialist Who Advocated For Workers' Rights Gave Lectures In ‘The Collar City’ In Early 1900s

Published Wednesday, January 18, 2017
by Kenneth Crowe II/Albany Times Union

(TROY, NEW YORK) - A documentary film that is now in production about Irish revolutionary and Labor Leader James Connolly will shed new light on his years in The Collar City, The Albany Times Union reported Monday (January 16th).

"I want people to learn about the Labor Leader,” Screenwriter and Director Denis Foley said.  “I want them to learn what a very driven man he was who lived in poverty that lasted his whole life."

Connolly, a socialist who worked to advance Workers' Rights, was in Troy at different times between 1903 to 1910 - lecturing, living with relatives and selling life insurance to support his family.  He was executed for his role as a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland.

Foley is putting together Connolly's story with the goal of completing the 30-minute film - The Exiles' Journey: James Connolly in America, by the end of the year in time for the 150th anniversary of Connolly's birthday in 2018.

Foley is producing a 30-minute companion film: Exiles' Journey: Big Jim Larkin and Nora Connolly in America.

Larkin was a Labor Leader who worked with Connolly in the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and Nora Connolly was his daughter and biographer.

Foley has a $10,000 grant from the Irish Government, through the Office of Minister for Diaspora Affairs, for the film project and a traveling display that will be in English and Irish.

"So few people realize he was here.  They don't have a grasp on who he was," said Michael Barrett, who serves as the Executive Director for the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway and Burden Iron Works Museum.

Connolly's Troy was a city that had a large Irish population and was wealthy.  He had cousins, Margaret and Thomas Humes, in Troy, who assisted him when he lived in the city.

Foley, who is a writer and archaeologist, said he hopes to locate letters exchanged between Connolly and Margaret Humes and to find a copy of Connolly's play: The Agitator's Wife, which is believed lost.

Tracking down these documents is part of putting together Connolly's Troy story, Foley said. That's included locating where he and his family lived in the city, including 96 Ingalls Avenue, and discovering that Connolly worked for two insurance companies, Metropolitan Life Insurance and Pacific Mutual Life Insurance.

Albany Times Union Editor’s Note: Foley is seeking information about the Humes Family.  He can be reached by e-mail at  He also is raising money for production costs on-line at under The Exiles' Journey.  To Directly Access This Labor News Story, Go to:



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