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Edinburgh Central

Point C - James Connolly Birthplace

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Location: Cowgate, underneath George IV Bridge

James Connolly (1868 – 1916) was the son of an Irish immigrant family. He has been viewed by some as a revolutionary, liberator or political visionary. He was born in 1868 at 107 Cowgate (since torn down) and later fought for Irish Independence during the Great War. He commanded rebel troops in Dublin during the 1916 Easter Rising, which began the period of violent repudiation of British rule but led to his death by firing squad.

The plaque commemorating James Connolly

The political links between Scotland and Ireland are immense. The two countries are connected by a shared Celtic culture and language which has been preserved with shared music, and a distinct shared autonomy from England, shaping the nations’ identity. Connolly sprang from the Irish community in Edinburgh, incubated over centuries.

The Irish community in Scotland has about 50,000 Irish immigrants. Scots of Irish descent number hundreds of thousands.

Connolly promoted socialist ideas. The European model of social democracy is one that has taken root in Scotland.

Turn round and walk back down the Cowgate for 200 metres, then turn right into Guthrie Street. Walk about 150 metres up Guthrie Street (the road zigzags) until you reach Chambers Street. Turn left on Chambers Street and walk for about 50 metres to the South Bridge traffic light intersection. Turn right on the South Bridge and the Old Quad is on your right after about 50 metres.

Picture Credits: Stuart Baillie Strong/Edinburgh4Europe 2021