C. Desmond Greaves

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Charles Desmond Greaves (27 September 1913 – 23 August 1988) was an English Marxist activist and historian. He wrote a number of books on Irish history as a Marxist historian. A member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, through the Connolly Association he was one of the key figures, along with Roy Johnston, responsible for inserting Marxist perspectives into the 1960s Irish republicanism, in relation to the Northern Ireland civil rights movement.


Greaves was born at 7A Rockville Street, Birkenhead, England. His father, Charles Edward Greaves, a post office official, and his mother, Amy Elisabeth Taylor, were Methodists. He studied at Liverpool University where he graduated in chemistry and botany, he worked as a research chemist at Powell Duffryn. In 1934 he joined Communist Party of Great Britain. In 1941 he joined the Connolly Club which became the Connolly Association, and became editor of its magazine, The Irish Democrat.[1]

Greaves became associated with Roy Johnston, a Dublin-born member of the Irish Workers' Party who had migrated to England. They and their theories came to have an influence over 1960s Irish republicanism through Cathal Goulding and Tomás Mac Giolla, who also adhered to a Marxist perspective. During the split within the Irish republican movement in 1969, Greaves' Connolly Association supported Official Sinn Féin (later known as the Workers' Party) and the Official Irish Republican Army, rather than the Provisionals. This was done under the rationale of anti-sectarianism, claiming that the Provisionals were representative of just the Catholic nationalist community.

His library of Irish books is held at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, deposited by his executor Anthony Coughlan. The Desmond Greaves summer school is held each year as a forum for discussing topics which exercised him, such as Irish left wing, and republican politics.[2]


  • The Life and Times of James Connolly (1961)
  • The Easter Rising as History (London 1966)
  • The Irish Crisis
  • Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution (1971)


  1. ^ C. Desmond Greaves profile, irishdemocrat.co.uk; accessed 25 February 2015.
  2. ^ Éanna Ó Caollaí, "Something for the weekend: What's on", Irish Times, 15 September 2012; retrieved 12 January 2013.

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