but not Forgotten
Fiona Connolly as a girl with her mother Lillie

Left Fiona with her mother Lillie, 1916.
Right Fiona addressing a crowd in Trafalgar Square, London.
Images courtesy of Seamus Connolly.

Fiona Connolly

Born: New Jersey, 22 August 1907.
Died: St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, 9 April 1976.
Buried: Republican Plot, Deansgrange Cemetery, Dublin.

A little girl stares from a picture, wearing a plain but neat dress, with a bow in her hair. A woman sits beside her. This is a photograph of 8 year old Fiona Connolly and her mother Lillie taken the year that Fiona's father, James Connolly, was executed for his part in the 1916 Rising. Sixty years later that little girl was buried in Deansgrange Cemetery.

Although still a child during the Rising and the War of Independence, and only 15 years old at the end of the Civil War, Fiona witnessed history as it happened to her immediate family. Writing years later, she described: 'a young child's memories reviewed from maturity seem to me to be a series of photographs, not necessarily in any chronological order; some clear cut as if it had happened yesterday, others a bit blurred.'

Fiona accompanied her mother to Dublin Castle to see her father James Connolly as he awaited execution. Her final memory of her father was of him laughing. Three months later she was the sole witness on 15 August when her mother was received into the Catholic Church, at Church Street in Dublin.

Fiona was educated with the Loreto Nuns in St Stephen's Green and at 20 she completed her education with that order in Montpellier in France. She taught English and became fluent in French.

She returned to live in Dublin. In the 1930s she carried out research work for Dorothy Macardle's epic The Irish Republic, published in 1937. She also worked on Desmond Greaves's Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution and assisted him with his biography of her father.

Fiona was married on 28 March 1934 to Leonard Frederick Wilson, with whom she shared active membership in the British Labour Movement. Fiona was a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party - a legacy from her father. She had one child, a son, Roderic J.C. Wilson, born in Dublin in September 1936.

During her lifetime Fiona divided her time between Ireland and England. For many years she was an official in the Chemical Workers' Union. She returned to Ireland after her retirement to care for her elder sister Nora Connolly O'Brien, but Fiona predeceased Nora, dying suddenly in April 1976.