Social Idealist

Throughout his life from a very early age Ashe witnessed at close quarters the widespread social injustices which existed, features of which included the evictions in his native parish and the exploitation of the lowly paid workers in Dublin. He abhorred a regime which made the weak the prey of the strong, with the strong having the backing of the law. It was through this concern for the basic rights of our people that he became friends  with the playwright Sean O’Casey and the trade unionist James Connolly who shared the same concern for the slum-dwelling workers of Dublin.

While teaching in Corduff he gave freely of his time and energies to the community and was always to the forefront when a job was to be done. His house in Corduff was often the forum for discussion on the inequality of the system in both urban and rural Ireland whereby the people who did most of the work got least reward . Among visitors to his house from time to time were Eamonn De Valera and Maude Gonne McBride. It was after a discussion like this that one of these present jumped on a chair and wrote “Liberty Hall” on the fanlight over the front door. Needless to say, during the Great Strike of 1913, Ashe sided with Jim Larkin and the trade union movement. His view was always that the people who did the work should get just reward for their labours.

Ashe threw his support behind the workers, writing to his brother Gregory in America:

‘I suppose you know by this that Jim Larkin was sent to jail. He’s out for the last two or three days again.  The government got afraid of a general strike in England which the Englishmen were organising in his favour.  So they let him out.  He and Jim Connolly are now asking men to drill like Carson’s.  If we had them all drilled I know what they’d direct their rifles on very soon.  I hope they’ll continue drilling.  We are all here on Larkin’s side.  He’ll beat hell out of the snobbish, mean, seoinín employers yet, and more power to him.’