Dublin 1913 Lock-out Centenary

Padraig Yeates

Padraig Yeates

Padraig Yeates is an acknowledged authority on the history of the 1913 Dublin Lockout, a major industrial dispute which pitted Dublin’s employers led by William Martin Murphy against more than 20,000 workers, led by Big Jim Larkin, who were sacked for their membership of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITG&WU).

1913 can be seen as the beginning of the struggle for Irish independence in the twentieth century, or the swansong of the British labour movement in what became the Irish Free State. It reflected the militant syndicalist movement in Britain and across the industrialised world, exposing the growing divisions within nationalist Ireland in the process. 

It was a naked class conflict, pitting Irish workers against Irish capitalists with both sides receiving support from their counterparts in Britain. But above all it was a dispute about the nature of Irish society. The victory of the employers in alliance with the established churches, and especially the Catholic Church, provided a foretaste of the conservative consensus that would prevail after independence.

Padraig Yeates

police baton workers

Police baton-charge on striking workers in Sackville (O’Connell) Street, Dublin, August 1913

Padraig will be delivering a keynote lecture on the Lockout at the Spirit of Mother Jones at the Firkin Crane theatre, Shandon, Cork at 7.00pm on Wednesday, 31st July 2013.  All are welcome and there is no admittance charge.

William Martin "Murder" Murphy, notorious employer's leader

William Martin “Murder” Murphy, notorious employer’s leader

Big Jim Larkin, ITGWU leader and nemesis of the employers of Dublin

Big Jim Larkin, ITGWU leader and nemesis of the employers of Dublin

Women and children with food parcels sent by British trade unionists

Women and children with food parcels sent by British trade unionists

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The Cork Lockout of 1909

The Cork Strike and Lockout.

Cork Historian Luke Dineen will give an account of a little remembered dispute in Cork in 1909, which had an influence on the later Dublin Lockout of 1913. Luke will speak at the Firkin Crane on Wednesday 31st July at 2pm.

On Thursday June 10th 1909 some coal porters affiliated to the ITGWU at Messrs Sutton walked off their jobs as a result of having to work alongside others from the British based union the Workers Union of Great Britain and Ireland. What started as inter union hostility led to a prolonged and vicious labour war across Cork City. According to the Cork Constitution some 500 policemen occupied Cork by 18th June to prevent the growing violence.

By 22nd June thousands of workers were locked out by employers across the City. Workers marched through Cork on successive days from June 23-26. By 1st July 1909, some 6000 men were either on Strike or locked out and sacked from their jobs. The Cork Employers’ Federation began to employ blacklegs or Workers Union men, which led to serious animosity.

Newspaper photo of strike-breaking truck escorted by police and followed by strikers, St. Patrick's Quay, Cork

Newspaper photo of strike-breaking truck escorted by police and followed by strikers, St. Patrick’s Quay, Cork

With strike pay to the unionised labour minimal and many workers receiving no income at all, and with workers protests being met with violence from the RIC, the strike, lockout fell apart in the early days of July 1909. “By the end of the lockout, Cork’s labour movement was in a shambolic state” according to Luke Dineen.

These events in Cork influenced the formation in 1911 of the Dublin Employers Federation to come together, remain united and well organized under William Martin Murphy It demonstrated that “organised ruthlessness” against the ITGWU was the road to victory. In addition it realised that the skillful use of the media against the workers was essential.

The ITGWU also learned that it needed major financial resources to support its members on a prolonged strike or lockout. During the Cork strike, James Fearon of the ITGWU organized a type of protective workers militia among the Cork workers to protect themselves from the attacks of the RIC and imported blacklegs. Luke Dineen states that “this was the first time that the Irish urban poor came together for the purpose of mutual self defence”. The emergence of the Irish Citizen Army later in Dublin may have owed its gestation to the earlier organised efforts to protect workers from the baton charges in Cork.

Ship being unloaded at St. Patrick's Quay, Cork around 1900

Ship being unloaded at St. Patrick’s Quay, Cork around 1900

Luke Dineen is a graduate of University College Cork. He recently completed a Master’s Degree in the Irish Revolution 1912-1923.

The “Spirit of Mother Jones” Festival 2013

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is delighted to announce the holding of the 2013 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Shandon from Tuesday 30th July to Thursday 1st August 2013.

This international “Shandon Summer School” event will see speakers from Ireland joined by participants from both the United Kingdom and the United States, who will attend to discuss issues associated with social justice, labour history and trade union struggles. These were issues close to the heart of Cork born Mary Harris known throughout the world as Mother Jones, after whom the event is named in honour.

In 2012 Shandon was the location for the inaugural Mother Jones Festival which celebrated the 175 Anniversary of the birth of Mary Harris nearby. The festival was hugely successful, receiving coverage throughout Ireland and America and placing the historic Shandon area in international focus.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee felt Shandon should continue to honour Mother Jones by highlighting and providing a platform for discussing labour history, trade union actions for fair working conditions and social issues in the setting of the birthplace of Mother Jones.

“What better way to remember the great Mother Jones that by listening to, learning of and discussing the struggles of ordinary workers and people in an annual Summer School format in this area?”

“It would be a fitting tribute to an extraordinary Cork woman”

Jim Nolan of the Mother Jones Committee.

The Shandon festival/summer school will have a mixture of speakers, lectures discussions, films and music and songs associated with these struggles over three days.

On Tuesday evening, 30th July the Chairperson of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, Margaret Aspinall will speak on the traumatic events which took place at the Hillsborough Stadium on the 15th April 1989, when 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives. Margaret’s son James was among those who never came home from that game. Margaret will give an account of the families long 23 year campaign to highlight the injustice and untruths which surrounded the real causes of this appalling disaster.

Wednesday afternoon 31st July will see Ken Fleming of SIPTU and an Inspector with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) give a lecture on the exploitation of seafarers on vessels operating under Flags of Convenience. Over the past 4 years Ken has recouped over a million euro in unpaid wages for foreign seafarers in Irish ports, six vessels were detained and over 100 seafarers repatriated.

Later that evening Padraig Yeates, journalist, writer and author of the book “Lockout”, an account of the bitter workers strike in 1913, will give the Centenary lecture on the Dublin Lockout. The Lockout was a watershed in Irish political and labour history and began a chain of events which led eventually to the 1916 rebellion. Padraig Yeates is a renowned expert on this period in Irish history. His Centenary lecture will take place at 7pm on Wednesday 31st August at the Firkin Crane.

On Thursday 1st August, Mother Jones Day, we are honoured to present Professor Simon Cordery of Western Illinois University who will deliver the annual Mother Jones lecture. Simon has written extensively on the activities of Mother Jones and recently completed a history and analysis of Mother Jones entitled Mother Jones “Raising Cain and Consciousness”.

“All the speakers will present in their different ways a common thread through history of ordinary people and families fighting for basic rights whether in their work places or in their daily lives as epitomised by the spirit of Mother Jones who spent most of her life defending the rights of workers and their families in the United States of America.”

Jim Nolan

The festival will see Andy Irvine return to Cork to perform a special concert in honour of Mother Jones at the Firkin on Thursday 1st August. There is limited capacity and tickets will need to be pre purchased.

Richard T Cooke is organizing a Mother Jones tribute concert also at the Firkin Crane on Wednesday 31st July.

Noted actor Jer O’Leary will perform a Jim Larkin monologue while the famous Cork Singers Club will perform a series of labour and trade union songs at the Maldron Hotel.

All are welcome to attend this unique event which forms part of the Gathering events in Cork City in 2013.

For further information contact:

Jim Nolan 0861651356
Michael Lally 0868540896
Gerard O’Mahony 0863196063.