Tom Maidhc O'Flaherty

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Tom Maidhc O'Flaherty was an Irish Communist politician in the early 20th century and a supporter of the Trotskyist James P. Cannon. He was also a writer, like his famous younger brother Liam O'Flaherty. His father, Maidhc Ó Flaithearta, was a well-known Irish nationalist.

He was born on Inishmore, an island off the west coast of Ireland, in a household where both Irish and English were spoken. His education was subsidised by Roger Casement, the British diplomat who exposed slavery in the rubber collection zones of the Belgian Congo and the Putomayo an area in between Peru and Colombia and was later executed in 1916 for his part in the 1916 Rising. O’Flatherty was a founder member of the Irish Volunteers, a militia formed to further Ireland’s independence, and later migrated to the United States, where he became a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

He was among those who first joined the American Communist Party, where he was an associate of John Reed, James P. Cannon and William F. Dunne. He was a columnist for the Daily Worker and was the first editor of the Labour Defender. He was active in the defence of imprisoned Irish labour leader James Larkin and was editor of the left-wing Irish-American paper The Irish People.

He left the Communist Party and returned to Ireland in 1934 because of ill-health. There he became editor of the Irish-language left-wing paper An tÉireannach.

Like his brother Liam, Tom retained a deep interest in the Irish language. Unlike Liam, however, he wrote fiction only in English. His works include two books of short stories: Aranmen All and Cliffmen of the West.

His health problems may have been exacerbated by heavy drinking. He died of heart failure on the Aran islands in 1936.


  • Ó hEithir, Breandán (1991). 'Liam Ó Flaithearta agus a Dhúchas' in An Chaint sa tSráidbhaile. Comhar Teoranta.
  • O'Flatherty, Tom (1991 - reprint). Aranmen All. Brandon Book Publishers.
  • Tim Robinson (cartographer) (1995). Stones of Aran: Labyrinth. Lilliput Press.

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