Century of Endeavour: A Biographical and Autobiographical Father-Son View of the 20th Century in Ireland


Johnston, Roy H W

This work is the study of a family’s century long involvement with Irish self rule and political freedom. Joe Johnston (1890-1972), from a Tyrone Presbyterian small-farm background, had 3 elder brothers who made their careers in the Indian Civil Service. The family were 'Home Rule within the Empire' supporters in the Ulster liberal tradition. After studying classics and ancient history in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and then in Oxford, JJ became a Fellow of Trinity in 1913. He then published his anti-Carson book Civil War in Ulster, attacking the process which culminated in the 1914 Larne gun-running. He contributed significantly to the emergent national movement. He wrote critically about 1930s economic policies, and went on the serve in the Irish Senate/Sennad from 1939 to 1954.

His son RJ (b.1929) was a pioneer of the student left in TCD in the 1940s, and was associated with the post-war attempt to bring European Marxist thinking into the Irish labour movement, with the foundation of the Irish Workers League in 1948. After a period in London in the early 1960s, he returned to Dublin, this time as a research scientist, and helped Cathal Goulding in his attempt to get the 1960s generation of republicans to go political, in a democratic left-wing mode, decoupling from the Stalinist incubus. He helped set the stage for the emergence of the Civil Rights approach to reform in Northern politics, as a means of opening up an all-Ireland perspective. His opponents in the Republican movement,the Provisionals, opted for violence . In the ensuing decades he participated in various politicising processes which may, in the end, show the counter-productive nature of the role of the gun in politics, in Ireland and elsewhere. Roy Johnston lives in Dublin and continues to be politically active.

“An important addition to any library of 20th century Irish Studies”
Professor J.Skelly

Irish Studies; History of Ireland,20th c.; Irish politics; Ulster
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6 x 9

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