17 April 1886|
Effrinagh, County Leitrim, Ireland
29 December 1945 (aged 59)|
Bellevue Hospital, New York City, United States
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.
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.
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, and later in 1932 to look after his mother, where he led the Revolutionary Workers' Group in Leitrim, a predecessor of the Communist Party of Ireland. He ran a dance hall in Effrinagh 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. This led to public protests organised by the Irish Republican Army.
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.
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. 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
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 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.
The main blood line left of James is the Faughnan family in Drumsna Co.Leitrim and Gralton Family Luton U.K.
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- Deported - The Gralton Story, a film by Michael Carolan ('See it etc. via YouTube)
- on YouTube