Connellan, Joseph (1889–1967), journalist and politician, was born in Newry, the son of working-class parents, and was educated locally at the Newry CBS. His mother, who had a great knowledge of Irish history, instilled in him a love of Irish culture and nationalist political beliefs from an early age. He was also inspired by the life and writings of the Young Irelander John Mitchel (qv), who had lived locally. These beliefs found expression in the Frontier Sentinel newspaper, to which he had been apprenticed as a young man, and in 1913 he was sued by prominent local unionists for an article headed ‘Signing Carson's blasphemous covenant in Newry’. As one of the earliest supporters of Sinn Féin in Newry, the paper came under increasing attack from the authorities. Connellan was appointed editor of the Sentinel in the early 1920s, a role he maintained until his death; he also became the paper's proprietor.
A Sinn Féin member of the Newry board of guardians (1920–22), he was forced to resign because of his failure to recognise the Government of Ireland Act (1920). Driven by a strong sense of community, Connellan stayed in politics and, in 1929, was elected to the Northern Ireland parliament for Armagh South. He took his seat, but was not fully committed to Joseph Devlin's (qv) strategy of parliamentary attendance. He did not stand for election in 1933, but remained in local politics and through the Sentinel campaigned vigorously for catholic rights. In 1946 he formed the Irish Citizens Association in an effort to stop the government's efforts at anglicisation. It was a great success, virtually running Newry's local government; it merged with the Nationalist Party in 1958. He was a town councillor (1946–55) and Stormont MP for Down South (1949–67). Anxious to unite nationalist politicians, in 1964 he was chairman of the short-lived National Popular Front, but his commitment to unity was not shared by many members of his own party. He believed that nationalists should take their place on public boards and that they generally should become more involved in cultural, social, and philanthropic activities to improve their public relations. He himself worked hard in Stormont to ensure that his locality received its fair share of any new industries, and he strongly supported the efforts of the Northern Ireland government to improve education. Education lay at the core of his political philosophy, and from 1965 he served as shadow minister of education at Stormont.
He had a long association with the GAA and for a number of years served on the Down County Board, the Ulster Council, of which he was president, and the central council. For thirteen years he was also president of the Ulster Council of the National Athletic and Cycling Association. An active local historian, he had a particular interest in the United Irishmen and the Young Irelanders, and was a member of the Gaelic League. He was married to Nellie, they had no children. He died 11 April 1967 in Newry. A small collection of his papers on political, historical, and local matters is held at PRONI.