Tag Archives: James Larkin

1913 lockout commemorations, columns

I posted an earlier blog about the 1913 Dublin lockout centennial, but here are some new links heading into the commemoration weekend. (Also Labor Day weekend here in the U.S.)

  • President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, will lead the State commemoration of the 1913 Lockout on Saturday, 31st August – 100 years to the day of Bloody Sunday 1913. Higgins will lay a wreath at the statue of the ITGWU leader James Larkin on O’Connell Street.
  • The Civil Public & Services Union is also supporting numerous events.
  • Here are two stories about the status of Irish unions 100 years after the lockout, one in the Financial Times; the other in The Irish Times. The later publication says,

Unions have been declining in modern Ireland to a significant degree because they have struggled to gain recognition from employers who are increasingly reluctant to work with them. The ways unions have sought to represent members and the ways employers’ have resisted recognition are, of course, dramatically different from 100 years ago. In place of turbulent and sometimes violent opposition, they now face a more silent process of marginalisation.

  • Here is a piece from The Irish Story that considers the lockout as “the first of a series of momentous events to be commemorated in Ireland’s forthcoming decade of centenaries,” but one that “is in many ways an awkward guest at the table of commemoration.” John Dorney writes,

The Lockout was tangential to the developing storm over whether Home Rule for Ireland would be passed in the face of unionist opposition in Ulster. It occurred at the same time but the two had little to do with each other. … However, there is an argument to be made that the Lockout played a role in radicalising some republican activists.

  • Finally, those who haven’t read James Plunkett’s novel Strumpet Citywhich is set during the lockout period, are urged to pick up a copy, put on the kettle and settle in for a great story.
Civil Public & Services Union poster for the lockout centennial.

Civil Public & Services Union poster for the lockout centennial.

Dublin transit workers on strike, 1913 and 2013

As the centennial of the 1913 Dublin strike and lockout nears at the end of August, the capital city is coping with a contemporary work stoppage by Dublin Bus employees.

Irish News Review quickly noted that history repeats itself:

In the summer of 1913, James Larkin [photo below] called a general strike of the employees of the Dublin Tramway Company. It escalated to this point after William Martin Murphy owner of The Irish Independent, The Evening Herald, and of course the trams, banned workers from joining or being a member of Larkin’s union, the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. History would remember Larkin’s decision to go on strike as an impressive and tactical bit of timing on his part, as it coincided with the opening day of the Dublin Horse Show; one of the busiest days for Dublin’s public transport. This led to an agreement between the majority of large business owners in Dublin locking out their workforce, causing riots, civil unrest, and very poor conditions, and lasted nearly six months.

One hundred years later, three days before the Dublin Horse Show opens, the management of Dublin Bus introduce new cost cutting measures, which – after long debates with representatives from the unions representing the drivers, the inspectors, the cleaners, hospitality staff, the mechanics, and the clerical staff – were not agreed upon by the majority of their workforce.

Here’s a detailed chronology and background of Dublin’s 1913’s labor unrest, including the city’s deplorable tenement conditions, from University College Cork.


Contemporary Dublin Bus workers are to vote over the coming week on proposals to settle their dispute, The Irish Times reports.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my grandfather, his brother-in-law and several cousins and friends — all from Kerry — worked as streetcar motormen and conductors in Pittsburgh. They would have participated in numerous strikes against Pittsburgh Railways Co. in the 1910s and 1920s.