Personal Account #3886

As part of the Irish Left Archive project, we are gathering personal accounts and recollections from activists on the Left of their involvement in political activity, parties, organisation and campaigns.

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Eoghan #3886

Probably still in the “first political experiences” stage at the moment but thought I’d post mine as more recent perspective nonetheless.

My mother would’ve come from a rural traditionally Fine Gael background, with even a former-TD cousin, but there was never really any talk of politics growing up. Anyone who did or who attempted to talk about anything deemed too “serious” around the dinner table she’d threaten to throw water at them. As a result I don’t really have much of an idea how most of my family votes, only knowing that my Mam somehow accidentally voted for the Republican Sinn Féin candidate in the locals last year and was disgusted with herself afterwards. Growing up on the outskirts of Galway I was also pretty isolated/sheltered from any political activity, but was always a bit of a history buff. I had a vague affinity with the Green Party due to environmental concerns, and remember being impressed by John Gormley after he visited our school. My first serious intentional engagement with politics was after encountering some Anarchist ideas via as a teen, eventually secretly dubbing myself an anarcho-syndicalist without fully understanding what that meant.

I remember coming to college in Dublin, witnessing two English friends debating politics, and coming to the realisation that I really had no idea what I was talking about calling myself an anarchist. I effectively abandoned my short-lived stint with capital P Politics again, but began reading feminist texts, inspired by the Repeal movement and some fantastic women who introduced feminism to me. I was struck by the “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy” description bell hooks used to describe US politics and knew that there were at least two words in there that I didn’t understand. Around the same time I had started getting into podcasts in a big way and discovered a US podcast called “Revolutionary Left Radio” which had started recently (and has since grown to be quite popular), and from there I basically dove head-first into Marxist history, theory, and philosophy, reading pretty much nothing else. Eventually I reached the “the point, however, is to change it” part of my study and copped that being an armchair/twitter Marxist is little more than useless. The IPCC climate report had just come out also which really made it feel like the “socialism or barbarism” adage would become a reality within my lifetime. And so I started researching left-wing orgs in Ireland.

(Curiously enough considering regulars on this site, the Workers Party was one that I was drawn to initially, but I got the impression that it was a party past it’s heyday so I never reached out to them)

I ended up settling with PBP, and the recently-renamed SWN, even though I was aware that they wouldn’t be an exact ideological fit for me as I didn’t/don’t consider myself a Trotskyist. There were a couple of reasons for this but the main ones were because they seemed to be the organisation with the most momentum behind them, I had met a few members canvassing for Repeal, and I wasn’t interested in joining any smaller sects for the sake of ideological purity. I’m still here now 2 years later so no regrets so far at least.