Cathal O'Shannon (1889 - 1969):
Trade unionist and revolutionary
Cathal O'Shannon was born in Randalstown, County Antrim, and was educated at St Columb's College, Derry. He worked as a clerk in the Belfast office of the Heysham Steamship Company. He was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and of the Gaelic League. At James Connolly's request, he joined the staff of the Irish Transport and General Worker's Union in Belfast. He wrote for the Gaelic League's newspaper and other periodicals. In Coalisland, County Tyrone, on Easter Saturday 1916 he mobilised a hundred Volunteers, but without orders they dispersed. He was imprisoned in Wales and England, and after the general amnesty in 1917 he returned to Ireland and edited the Voice of Labour. He addressed meetings all over London in 1920, advocating Irish independence, and was arrested and imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail. He campaigned both as a trade union official and as a Volunteer, and in 1922 was elected to the Dail for Louth - Meath. In 1941 he became Secretary of the Irish Trade Union Congress, and afterwards of the Congress of Irish Unions. He served for twenty-three years as one of the workers' representatives when the Labour Court was established in 1946. He died in Dublin.