Small press publications have traditionally been the vehicle for radical political argument and providing an alternative record from the dominant narrative that makes up the general fare of public and academic publishing. Throughout the 1970s, the Cork Workers’ Club were industrious in publishing a series of historical reprints of classic texts of Irish socialist republicanism, including James Connolly. There was eventually twenty pamphlets in the series that reflected an orthodox Marxist analysis of Ireland’s radical tradition. These long out of print pamphlets had an international distribution.
The Cork Workers Club emerged from the Cork Communist Organisation. The latter had itself been formed in 1972 in reaction to the Irish Communist Organisation’s shift from a Republican standpoint to a ’two nations’ and functionally pro-Unionist one. Through a number of organisational developments the Cork Workers’ Club, operated out of the same premises in St Nicholas Church Lane in south Cork that the republican Saor Éire had used since 1968 as its headquarters. The premises acted as a meeting place, bookshop and printing house.
Memories of CWC posted by Fintan Lane on the Irish blogsite The Cedar Lounge Revolution in 2007 recalls:
The ‘Cork Communist Organisation’ was made up largely, I believe, of the Saor Eire people (publishers of ‘People’s Voice’ etc.), who had earlier merged with the ICO. Their politics was a mixture of Marxist-Leninism (Maoism in this instance) and republicanism. My father – Jim Lane – was involved….
The CCO later morphed into the Cork Workers Club, which survived into the late 1970s as a real group and, afterwards, as a sort of publishing house. The bookshop in Nicholas Church Place remained open until the early 1980s, when it was actually an IRSP bookshop/office. It was a centre for the anti-H-Block campaign during the hunger strikes and was later used by the Release Nicky Kelly Campaign. In its early years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, public meetings were held upstairs at times. I remember once seeing a poster advertising an appearance there by Eamon McCann.
I ‘staffed’ the bookshop for a while in the early 1980s, when it was open only on Saturday and some week nights. There were some regular customers, but, as time moved on, few people slinked in besides the affiliated. Its heyday really was at the end of the 1960s and early 1970s when it was the place to go in Cork to get left-wing and republican literature. It was a genuine backstreet bookshop and when other places opened, such as the bookshop in the Quay Co-op in the early 1980s, it effectively no longer had much of a purpose. It was too far off the beaten track. A strange place, in some ways. Internet shopping would have wiped it out, had it survived that long, because it primarily dealt in political material that mainstream shops wouldn’t sell.
Source: Fintan Lane – October 30, 2007
— February 2018
THE CORK WORKERS’ CLUB ~ HISTORICAL REPRINTS
Reprints of pamphlets, booklets and newspaper articles of historical value to the study of the Socialist Movement in Ireland
No.1 James Connolly and Irish freedom. A Marxist analysis G.Schuller
No.2 British Imperialism in Ireland by Eleanor Burns
No.4 The Irish Republican Congress by George Gilmore
No.5 The James Connolly Songbook (1972)
No. 6 Workshop Talks by James Connolly
No.7 The Irish Question (1894) by John Leslie
No.8 The Historical Basis of Socialism in Ireland by Thomas Brady
No.9 The Connolly-Walker Controversy on Socialist Unity in Ireland
No.10 The Story of Irish Labour by J.M.MacDonnell
Read Here cwc 10
No.11 Ireland Upon The Dissecting Table – James Connolly on Ulster & Partition.
No.12 Convict No. 50945: Jim Larkin, Irish Labour Leader
No.13 Irish Labour and its International Relations in the era of the 2nd International and the Bolshevik Revolution.
No.14 Freedom’s Road for Irish Workers (1917)
No.15 The Connolly-DeLeon Controversy:On Wages, Marriage and the Church (1904)http://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1904/condel/index.htm
No.16 The Irish Crisis, 1921 – The C.P.G.B. stand by William Paul
Read Here cwc 16
No.18 The Irish Free State and British Imperialism by “Gerhard”
Read Here cwc 18
No.19 Sinn Fein and Socialism: James Connolly, “Charles Russell”, Selma Sigerson
No.20 The Irish Case for Communism: Sean Murray, Jim Larkin Jun., Seamus MacKee & the C.P.I.