Tom Maidhc O'Flaherty

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Tom Maidhc O'Flaherty
Died1936 (aged 4647)

Tom Maidhc O'Flaherty (Irish: Tomás Ó Flaithearta, 1889-1936) was an Irish Communist politician in the early 20th century, a supporter of the Trotskyist James P. Cannon, and writer in English and Irish. In 1919, he, along with John Reed, Jim Larkin and others, helped to create the Communist Labor Party, a precursor to the Communist Party USA. [1]



East beach of Inishmore, O'Flaherty's birthplace Inishmore1.jpg
East beach of Inishmore, O'Flaherty's birthplace

Tom Maidhc O'Flaherty was born at Gort na gCapall in 1889, Inishmore, an island off the west coast of Ireland. His parents were Maidhc Ó Flaithearta, a well-known Irish nationalist, and Maggie Ganley. His brother was Liam O'Flaherty. His family, descendants of the Ó Flaithbertaigh family of Connemara, were not well off. The Irish language was widely spoken in the area, and the O'Flahertys spoke both English and Irish from the Gaeltacht. [2] His sister was Bríd Ní Fhlatharta. [3]


Charter for local unit of the Communist Party of the USA (October 24, 1919) 191024-cpa-charter-sm.jpg
Charter for local unit of the Communist Party of the USA (October 24, 1919)

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. [4]

He was a columnist for the Daily Worker and was the first editor of the Labour Defender. O'Flaherty 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.

Personal life

O'Flaherty's brother, Liam (1896–1984), was an Irish novelist and short-story writer who played an important role in the Irish literary renaissance as well as helping to found the Communist Party of Ireland. His nephew (by his sister, Bríd's Ní Fhlatharta) was Gaelic Athletic Association commentator and writer, Breandán Ó hEithir. [3]


Tom Maidhc O'Flaherty died of heart failure on the Aran Islands in December 1936, aged 47.[ citation needed ]


Like his brother Liam, O'Flaherty retained a deep interest in the Irish language. Like Liam, he wrote fiction in English and in Irish. His works include two books of short stories: Aranmen All and Cliffmen of the West, and a collection of his short stories in Irish under the title An Bhrachlainn Mhór, published posthumously. [5]


O’Flaherty figures in the memoir of Whittaker Chambers, who worked with him at the Daily Worker in New York City. [6]

See also

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  1. Ó Flaithearta, Tomás (2019). An Bhrachlainn Mhór. An Spidéal, Conamara: Cló Iar-Chonnacht. p. 10. ISBN   978-1-78444-194-4 . Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  2. Ó hEithir, Breandán (1991). An Chaint sa tSráidbhaile. Comhar Teoranta. p. 16.
  3. 1 2 "Breandan O hEithir, Irish Writer, Dies at 60". New York Times. 25 October 1990. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  4. "Jim Monaghan info re Tomas O'Flaherta".
  5. Ó Flaithearta, Tomás (2019). An Bhrachlainn Mhór. An Spidéal, Conamara: Cló Iar-Chonnacht. ISBN   978-1-78444-194-4 . Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  6. Chambers, Whittaker (May 1952). Witness . New York: Random House. pp.  222–223).

External sources