Way back in 2012 I wrote about the story that Lenin spoke English with a Dublin accent. At the time I was mildly incredulous, but in a comment Dara O’Rourke suggested that I follow up the story of Roddy Connolly, son of the Irish revolutionary James Connolly, who actually met with Lenin in Petrograd in 1920 and is the source of the ‘Dublin accent’ story.
which is to say the least interesting, as when one thinks about revolutionary socialism, Ireland is not the first country that comes to mind, but that is of course to forget the impact that the October 1917 revolution made on the organised trade union movements around the world, and seemed to offer a better world among the chaos and collapse that accompanied the end of the first world war in Europe.
One story that my mother, who was born in 1918, used to tell was of being held up at their apartment window by her father when she was very small to see a parade of men in work clothes with red flags, and being told ‘that is the future’.
Her father, my grandfather – who I never knew – was a manager with the Co-operative society, so it’s fair guess that he too was enamoured of the changes that socialism might have brought.
I’ve also now found some partial corroboration of the Dublin accent story – while Arthur Ransome may not have recorded how Lenin spoke English, H.G. Wells did, and said that he spoke with an Irish accent …