James Gralton

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James Gralton
Nickname(s) Jim, Jimmy
Born (1886-04-17)17 April 1886
Effrinagh, County Leitrim, Ireland
Died 29 December 1945(1945-12-29) (aged 59)
Bellevue Hospital, New York City, United States
Allegiance  Ireland
Service/branch British Army
U. S. Navy
Unit Royal Irish Regiment

James Gralton (17 April 1886 – 29 December 1945) was an Irish socialist leader, who became a United States citizen after emigrating in 1909, and later, the only Irishman ever deported from independent Ireland.[1][2][3][4][5]

Early years[edit]

James Gralton was born on 17 April 1886 in the townland of Effrinagh, Parish of Kiltoghert, about six miles from Carrick-on-Shannon in County Leitrim. His parents were Micheal Gralton and Alice Campbell. There were four girls and three boys in the family: Winnie, Mary Ann, Alice and Maggie Kate were the girls, and the boys were Jimmy, Charles and a little boy who died young.[6]

Gralton was reared on a small farm of about twenty-five acres of bad land, which was surrounded by some good land. The people were too poor to buy fertiliser for the crops so they had to burn some of the topsoil, and this left the land poor and shallow.

Gralton emigrated to the United States in 1909, but returned to Ireland to fight in the Irish War of Independence,[7] and later in 1932 to look after his mother, where he led the Revolutionary Workers' Group in Leitrim,[8] a predecessor of the Communist Party of Ireland. He ran a dance hall in Effrinagh[7] where he organised free events and expounded his political views. There were violent protests against these dances, led by Catholic priests, which culminated in a shooting incident. Following this, on 9 February 1933, he was arrested, and later deported to the United States of America, on the basis that he was an alien.[9] This led to public protests organised by the Irish Republican Army.[10]

Shortly before his death from stomach cancer, in New York on 29 December 1945, he married Bessie Cronogue (d. 1975), a woman from Drumsna, County Leitrim, only a few miles from where he had been brought up.

Jimmy's Hall[edit]

It was announced in April 2014 that Jimmy's Hall, a film by British filmmaker Ken Loach based on the life of Gralton, had been selected for competition at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[11] It was released on 30 May 2014. This film was partially filmed in the village of Drumsna, a few miles from Gralton's birthplace in Effrinagh.

Campaign for Apology[edit]

In 2015, a campaign was launched to exonerate Gralton by officially rescinding the deportation order and offering an apology to his family. A motion to support this campaign was passed by Leitrim and Sligo County Councils[12][13] and the campaign is now being extended throughout Ireland. An online petition was launched on 23 December 2015 by the then-Mayor of Sligo, Councillor Thomas Healy.

On 3rd September 2016 President of Ireland Michael D Higgins said the only deportation of an Irishman from Ireland was "wrong and indefensible". President Higgins unveiled a memorial to Gralton at Effrinagh outside Carrick-on-Shannon, on the site where the hall once stood. The stone edifice, which tells the story of Gralton’s life as a labour campaigner, was partially funded by the trade union movement.[14]

The main blood line left of James is the Faughnan family in Drumsna Co.Leitrim and Gralton Family Luton U.K.


  1. ^ "Director Ken Loach returning to Ireland". RTÉ 10. 29 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Ken Loach tells story of Jimmy Gralton, communist Ireland kicked out".
  3. ^ O’Flynn, Micheal; Clarke, Odette; Hayes, Paul (12 July 2011). "Marxist Perspectives on Irish Society". Cambridge Scholars Publishing – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "Jimmy Gralton, Leitrim's feared radical". republican-news.org.
  5. ^ "Communist Party of Ireland". www.communistpartyofireland.ie.
  6. ^ "Jimmy Gralton: a deported Irishman's return".
  7. ^ a b MacEoin, Uinseann (1980). Survivors. Argenta Publications. p. 15. ASIN B0000EEIB7.
  8. ^ Walsh, Pat (1994). Irish republicanism and socialism: the politics of the republican movement, 1905 to 1994. Athol Books. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-85034-071-6.
  9. ^ Daiken, Leslie H. (1936). Good-bye, twilight: songs of the struggle in Ireland. Lawrence & Wishart. p. 102. OCLC 7327561.
  10. ^ Coogan, Tim Pat (2002). The IRA. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-0-312-29416-8.
  11. ^ Smith, Neil (17 April 2014). "Mike Leigh and Ken Loach films selected for Cannes". BBC News. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  12. ^ "Call for State to make Jimmy Gralton apology".
  13. ^ Henderson, Luke (3 December 2015). "Move to have Jimmy Gralton deportation order rescinded- Sligo News - Sligo Sport".
  14. ^ "President Michael D. Higgins apologizes for deportation of Irishman from Ireland". 6 September 2016.

Further resources[edit]

  • O'Farrell, Padraic (1996). Tales for the telling: true life stories of Irish 'scandals'. Collins Press. pp. 41–56. ISBN 978-1-898256-16-8.
  • Deported - The Gralton Story, a film by Michael Carolan ('See it etc. via YouTube)

External links[edit]