Songs and Poems of 1913 Lockout Transcript

Printer-friendly version

Listen to Songs and Poems of the 1913 Lockout

Welcome to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. In this episode Francis Devine and Fergus Russell perform ballads and songs of the 1913 Lockout. Devine's accompanying historical commentary gives the background of the Lockout and the songs featured. Recorded by Dublin Community Television on 2 April 2013 as part of the City Hall Springtime Lecture series.

Thank you very much everybody for coming. I think what this displays is not eager anticipation of the lecture but appropriate homage and the folk memory of the events of 1913. What you see on the screen are four badges issued in 1913, top right, 1915, 1917, 1918, which were the badges of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, which until 1913 had not had a badge on an annual basis, it had other badges we needn't talk about those today but it decided to have a standard badge for the whole membership. As part of its demonstration of its Irishness it decided in rotation to adopt the four provincial emblems. For some reason P. Quinn and Company of Church Street in Belfast who made the badges struck the 1913 badge as a disembodied red hand of O'Neill and for some peculiar reason, this absolutely fired the public imagination, well before the Lockout began. There were songs, poems, squibs, skipping rhymes and the Irish Women Workers’ Union who had a Cooperative in Liberty Hall made a working shirt with a red hand badge on it. It was also as you know, in 1914, sorry 1913 and then in the Reformation 1914 adopted as the emblem of the Irish Citizen Army and today those of you that are familiar with SIPTU on its two constituent unions, the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, the Workers’ Union of Ireland, you’ll see the same red hand badge echoing through the history of union to the present day. And later on today one of the songs we’re going to sing is about the red hand badge. I’m not going to say too much today for two reasons. One is I suspect looking around the audience that your knowledge of 1913 is probably pretty good. What is interesting about that knowledge is I don't know that there is another significant national event in Irish history which is informed more by literature and indeed the sorts of material we’re going to perform today than from the historical, historical writings themselves notwithstanding Padraig Yeates’s wonderful book (Lockout Dublin 1913) and even that didn't appear for ninety odd years, near enough.

So that raises the first question, which is why he has mainstream history in a sense neglected 1913? Perhaps that’s because many of the issues of 1913 are as relevant today as they were in many respects in 1913.  What is also extraordinary about 1913 is that it was a battle ultimately between the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union and the Dublin Employers’ Federation led by William Martin Murphy. Now in organisational terms the Dublin Employers’ Federation was founded in 1911, in July or June of 1911 and the ITGWU as you can see here was formed in Townsend Street in late December 1908 by dockworkers from the ports you can see described. So when 1913 occurred it's a battle between a four-and-a-half-year-old and a two-year-old in organisational terms which of itself is extraordinary. If you can imagine those of us gathered here today decided to form the Irish Workers’ Union and that in four years time this capital would be held in industrial stasis for nearly six months by something we have done. It seems almost unbelievable, but that's what we’re talking about.

Now the men that formed the Union were ordinary, poorly educated in the formal sense of the term, but they had this immediate sense that what they were doing was historic. There had been many other Dockers’ unions that had attempted to organise in Ireland and particularly in Dublin. And by 1911, when The Irish Worker, which we are going to be talking about in detail, was first published the Union was already using expressions like “never in our Union’s history”. So even though the Union is only two years old they appreciated that what they were doing was historic. Now why was that?  And the reason was that the Union was inspired and informed by four new perspectives which were not new in the sense that they had not arisen before, but they had never been applied as consistently and as coherently as a mass before in any labour organisation. When you look at the rulebook of the Union, the preamble which is very lengthy talks in very socialist terms about the creation of the Workers’ Republic, the Cooperative Commonwealth. So the four principles were an Irish Union for Irish workers, not out of some absolutely narrow nationalist cause, but a realisation that conditions in Ireland and particularly in Dublin were very different to the conditions familiar to the head offices of most unions, which operated in Ireland and those head offices of course were in Manchester or Liverpool or London. So it was at a specific organisation for our own specific needs. It was also an industrial union, a militant industrial union “each for all and all for each”, the language that used to appear on the WI premises on Parnell Square. Why? If you are a craft worker, you were a carpenter or an engineer or an electrician and you went on strike the employer couldn't just replace you with scab labour unless that scab labour was equally skilled or equally crafted. Whereas if you were a docker, or a carter, or a riverside worker and you went on strike there was a reserve army of labour in Dublin and there was the hinterland of the rural communities of Kildare, Wicklow, Wexford, and so on. So you could replace the labour very quickly so the way around that was to have mass-picketing, to bring everybody out, to use the power of combination. And of course the other thing about the industrial unionism was that there was a theory which was international at the time and many people see 1913 in international terms, called syndicalism, whereby workers would organize in industrial unions, and then through the use of the general strike, take power peacefully through that strike and that was the one big union, that later appeared on the ITGW badge.

The saltist perspective we have mentioned. Finally, internationalism, Irish was doing this with the rumble of Home Rule in the background, but also because the Irish working-class wanted to take its place amongst the classes of the world. The first and my favourite slide is this wonderful piece of headed paper, bearing in mind that there was no Aer Lingus in those days, there was no Dublin Airport, and if an airplane flew over City Hall as we were talking this would stop and we’d all pour to the windows to go and see what the craic was. So when this airplane lands on the desk of an employer it was an indication that this union was of the future. It was about inheriting the future. It wasn't something of the past or archaic. When SIPTU celebrated its centenary in 2009 I was suggesting they should put the human genome or something equally futuristic on the headed paper, but unfortunately it didn't get anywhere. But that sort of indicates if you like what the union sort of signalled.  The other thing is that of course they had Larkin and in Donagh McDonagh’s song which we may hear later on:

In Dublin City in nineteen thirteen
The boss was rich and the poor were slaves
The women worked and children hungry
Then on came Larkin like a mighty wave

There is no doubt that Larkin’s oratory and his ability to rouse and galvanize people, what W.P. Partridge said, what he added to the social tinder of revolt which had been laying there for years, building up, and building up was hope, the belief that this union was not just a trade union, but the was something that could liberate the class that it represented. That was why the employers opposed it. Not because it was a trade union pure and simple but because it threatened their hegemony. They drove the union from Cork in 1909. There was a famous Wexford Lockout in 1911-12 and Fergus is about to sing ‘Freedom’s Pioneers’ from that. There were also major general strikes in Sligo in 1913 before the Dublin Lockout and in North Dublin and if you are familiar with places Feltrim and Baldoyle where there were armed police stations and people shot in the fields. What happened in North County Dublin was pretty, pretty staggering. We’ll just go back to Wexford though because when Wexford lockout ended and it was as big a dispute proportionally in Wexford as the Lockout was to be in Dublin. And again it lasted from 1911-12. Such was the popularity or sympathy with the strike that the entire proceeds of the Leinster hurling final were donated to the strike fund. They marched around the town. They finished up at the fight were Michael Hartnett now has a beautiful new sculpture and Connolly had written the song that Fergus is now going to sing to the air ‘We are the boys of Wexford’ called ‘We are Freedom’s Pioneers’. We know this became the equivalent of a hit record in Dublin at the time. This is the first of our songs written by James Connolly:

'Freedom’s Pioneers' by James Connolly

Our feet upon the upward path
Are set where none may tread
Save those who to the rich man's wrath
Dare turn rebellious head
And heart as brave no cringing slave
In all our ranks appears
Our proudest boast, in Labour's host
We’re Freedom's Pioneers.

CHO: O, slaves may beg and cowards whine.
We scorn their foolish fears.
Be this our plan, to lead the van,
With Freedom's Pioneers.

Too long upon our toil were built
The palaces of power
When at our touch those forts of guilt
Would crumble in an hour,
Now each day brings on swiftest wings
To their unwilling ears,
The shouts that greet our marching feet
'Tis Freedom's Pioneers!

The rich man's hate, the rich man's pride
Has held us long in awe
Our right to life is still denied,
And wealth still rules the law
But man shall bow no longer now,
But welcome with his cheers
The ringing stroke, to break our yoke
Of Freedom's Pioneers.

(Applause)

Poem published in The Irish Worker (27th September 1911)

I came to a mill by the riverside,
A half a mile long and nearly as wide,
With a forest of stacks and an army of men,
Toiling at furnace and shovel and pan.
“What a magnificent plant” I cried
And a man with a smudge on his face replied, “It’s Murphy's”.

I dwelt in a nation filled with pride;
Her people were many, her lands were wide;
Her record in war and science and art
Proved greatness of muscle and mind and heart.
“What a grand old country it is” I cried
And a man with his chest in the air replied, “It’s Murphy's”.

I went to heaven. The jasper walls
Towered high and wide the golden halls,
Shone bright beyond cut a strange new mark
Was over the gate viz. a private park.
“What is the meaning of this?” I cried
And a saint with a livery on replied, “It's Murphy's”

I went to the only place left. I'll take
A chance in the boat on a brimstone lake,
Or perhaps I may be allowed to sit
On the griddled floor of the bottomless pit.
But a jeering tout with horns on his face
Cried as he forked me out of place,
“It’s Murphy’s”

That was published on 27th of September in 1911 and was one of the things that The Irish Worker successfully did in terms of breaking if you like the pomp, the blown-up egos of the ruling classes to bring them down to life and it was one of the reasons why this document was issued on the 2nd September 1913, the famous Lockout document. Now very quickly, the Lockout begun as a strike on the Tramway Company, it was followed by Bloody Sunday, which you are going to hear about later on. The TUC met in Manchester the following day and the Church Street collapse happened. So we had a whole series of events which sort of took this thing from a localised strike on a tramway company that might well have not resulted in very much other than perhaps the defeat of the workers, to this international dispute. The Worker’s response to Murphy, who owned the Independent Newspapers, not that any other newspapers had a particularly different position, he also owned as you know the Tramways, the Imperial Hotel and much else beside. But the press, the pulpits, the law courts, physical repression, starvation, were all the weapons of the ruling class and in their face came the Irish worker. In today's parlance it is very hard to get your head around The Irish Worker in terms of we have nothing like it today. And one of the failures of the labour movement particularly in the current context of the recession, etc. is the ability to get to people's hearts and minds. Well twenty to thirty thousand was the circulation at mass. On the top it said when you’ve read this pass it. It’s been described wonderfully as Larkinism congealed in print. For the sake of time and to let you hear more of what was in, in the thing, everything that we are going to do today, almost without exception comes from The Irish Worker. And the next song is called ‘A Song for the Times’, and one Fergus’s gifts…this was written by the somebody called Argos, we don't know who that was other than it was very likely to be just an ordinary member of the union, and it was published in The Irish Worker at the height of the Lockout, on 4th October, and part of Fergus’s skill here is to put a tune to this, because most of these things didn't have tunes till we got our hands on them. So, ‘A Song for the Times’:

'A Song for the Times' by Argos (The Irish Worker, 4th October 1913)

We slave and starve together beneath the rich man’s thrall
In warm and wintery weather while the boss’s rabble sall
And as we’re being exploited, the priests call us to pray
For all those in high station who fleece us everyday

A-toiling, a-moiling, oh what a life of bliss
They preach reward in the next life while they plunder us in this

The boss is courting the clergy and the forces of the crown
They all combine together to crush us workers down
And if we seek more wages or against their greed rebel
We’re the enemies of religion and there’s every word in hell

A-toiling, a-moiling, oh what a life of bliss
They’ll promise you heaven in the next life while they are robbing you in this

Despise all worldly comfort as through this vale of tears you trod
To be poor and cold and hungry is the holy will of God
Heed not the vile sedition that you hear from the labour crew
If you do there’s but perdition after death awaiting you

A-toiling, a-moiling, oh what a life of bliss
You may live in hope for the next life while you die of want in this

The limbs of law and order whom the foes of labour bless
Defenceless workers murdered, our meetings to suppress
Before us mugs you’re holdered on the bench with brazen jaw
And the [ ] police perjurers they will teach you love the law

A-toiling, a-moiling, oh what a life of bliss
Trials may be just in the next life but they’re seldom just in this

The politicians fool us for what lies their mouths are full
The thugs in blue to baton us won’t fail to smash our skulls
And when the boss’s luck is out your ledger to employ
He’ll treat you to the pleasures and the comforts of Mountjoy

A-toiling, a-moiling, oh what a life of bliss
They love their foes in the next life but they cripple us in this

We’re counselled to be patient by those who live at ease
While we exist in hovels ‘mid squalor and disease
It’s time all pious humbug and cant came to an end
We’ve learnt to know the worker alone is labour’s friend

A-toiling, a-moiling, oh what a life of bliss
You are welcome rebel in the next life but be patient here in this

Oh workers held in bondage by a cruel and crafty foe
If patience purchase freedom ‘twas purchased long ago
Let us arise from off our knees and be no longer fooled
By those who wade the system whereby we’re robbed and ruled

A-toiling, a-moiling, oh what a life of bliss
To hell with them in the next life we must help ourselves in this

Well done

(Applause)

That’s in a sense a more eloquent statement of class politics than any lengthy article and the thing about The Irish Worker it was absolutely replete with cartoons, poetry, songs from great writers, not just ordinary working people.  Next question is most of you probably if you are honest about it, have a perception of the 1913 Lockout as an adult male event and one of the things we need to put right it wasn't an adult male event. First of all there were over a thousand women directly on strike, mostly in Jacobs, so they were there as strikers. Women also were involved in the strike in lots of other ways led by a number of women who deserve great credit, Delia Larkin, who was one of the leaders of the strike and the Lockout; Countess Markievicz, Helena Moloney, Jennie Shanahan, Rosie Hackett etc. So women were there as equals, as of right, and without question. And again I’ve asked most historians I can put my hands on to ask them, was there an event previous in Irish national history where women had those leadership roles in such an unquestioned way. And I think the answer is probably no. Ladies’ Land League has been suggested but quite frankly, that was to some extent patted on the head by the by the rest of the Land League. This was women as of right in leadership positions.  Also during the Lockout and Naoise’s predecessor Lorcan Sherlock and particularly Lorcan Sherlock’s wife were involved in a lot of charitable work some of which existed well before the Lockout which the book of essays really points out. And children became a very conspicuous feature of the Lockout both as beggars, but also as participants and also as people that were arrested and so on on the picket line.

So the next song we are going to sing is one again by Fergus called ‘Advice to the Lawless’ which was published, sorry written by a guy called Oscar, and again we don't know who that was. I think it's actually a guy called Faughan, but we’re not too sure. This appeared on 25th October and the newspaper explained that last week, a young girl was fined twenty shillings plus twenty shillings costs by Mr E.G. Swifte. Now you can see the name E.G. Swifte on the famous proclamation that banned the meeting that should have taken place in O'Connell Street, Sackville Street on the 31st August which didn't take place. The Union went off to Clontarf; the Women Workers’ Union went off to the Scalp. But Larkin turned up in the Imperial Hotel disguised as a clergymen and went to the window, addressed the crowd and what took place then was Bloody Sunday. But the Divisional Magistrate was E.G. Swifte. Now he was also surprise, surprise, a major shareholder in the Tramway Company. And he was known in The Irish Worker as ‘Justice Swifte and Sure’ or ‘Justice Forty Bob’. This song is a parody over the fining of a young woman…there were hundreds and hundreds of transport union members or Lockout victims fined during the strike. They were usually fined a pound, with a pound cost, twenty shillings costs, bearing in mind that the working wage was about a pound. This girl was alleged to have damaged a tramway sign. When Fergus is singing the song, again to a tune he has put to it himself, you’ll see some of the images of the children and people during the lockout. So ‘Advice to the Lawless’:

'Advice to the Lawless' by Oscar (The Irish Worker 25th October 1913)

This is most suspicious age and dangerous to boot
And those who feel inclined to talk had better far be mute.
Oh don’t speak above a whisper. Don’t let your passions throb
For to wink your eye as like as not might cost you forty bob.
Oh for to wink your eye as like as not might cost you forty bob.

Don’t gawk at Sergeant Eastwood when he’s plodding down the street
You might as well stand by and shout about his two flat feet
Oh for heaven’s sake don’t look as though you envy him the job
I’ve known a chap for less than that to forfeit forty bob.
Oh I’ve known a chap for less than that to forfeit forty bob.

Don’t pause upon the footpath if your pipe you mean to light
No wait until the boys in blue are safely out of sight
For with swords and batons hanging round it is no easy job
And your broken skull in half a tick might cost you forty bob.
Oh and your broken skull in half a tick might cost you forty bob.

Perchance you take an evening stroll away from strife and care
And wander at a gentle pace to take the country air
Don’t linger by the tempting hedge, the blackberries to rob
For if the local narc’ is nigh, well bang goes forty bob.
Oh for if the local narc’ is nigh, well bang goes forty bob.

Perhaps while wandering about when you is stony broke,
You see a G man strolling by exuding clouds of smoke,
Don’t stop to sniff that fragrant weed that billows from his cob,
For down you’ll go for loitering and cough up forty bob.
Oh for down you’ll go for loitering and cough up forty bob

Now last of all take heed of this let my words not be scorned,
Don’t stare too hard at Murphy’s trams remember now you’re warned.
Oh just pass upon your peaceful way sweet-tempered or begob
You’ll find yourself before the beak and minus forty bob.
Oh you’ll find yourself before the beak and minus forty bob.

(Applause)

Nice tribute there to Divisional Magistrate E.G. Swifte, aka “forty bob”. These are just some signs of Dublin after the Lockout. In Liberty Hall we have that the following plaque, if you are ever passing the Hall you are free to go in and have a look. Two of those names Alice Brady, James Byrne, James Nolan and Eugene Salmon were by today’s standards children. Now we have to be careful about the use of the word children, Alice was sixteen, I think Eugene was either fifteen or sixteen but of course a sixteen or a fifteen-year-old in 1913 had probably been out to work for three or four years and was considered to have entered the adult world. Alice Brady was shot by a scab, Traynor. She got tetanus in the wound and died. He was acquitted. Nolan and Byrne were the two guys beaten to death or suffering from their injuries after Bloody Sunday. Eugene Salmon, who was on strike in Jacobs entered the Church Street collapse to try and rescue his siblings and on the second or the third occasion that he did that the building collapsed on him and he was killed. There were a couple of other Lockout martyrs as well, one of which is the subject of a great new song which I don’t think we’re going to have time for today but those people as I say deserve to be remembered.

Now we're running rapidly out of time and we’ve gone about half way through what we were going to do for you so we’ll finish off with the sort of title theme and this is ‘The Red Hand Badge’ written by A.P. Wilson. But before we do that this was the TUC emblem for 1913 and whereas the TUC refrained from giving industrial solidarity they did send the food ships which you saw a glimpse of passing by. They also sent food aid, sorry financial aid from which incidentally Liberty Hall was subsequently purchased. And that solidarity no doubt kept the strike going. Murphy was very vexed because he thought that starvation would win the battle much earlier than it did, and it probably did mean that the Lockout stayed into 1914. We repaid some of it in 1984 – 1985 when we returned the compliment and over two million was raised here in Ireland in the Republic and about eight thousand kids were taken over here for holidays and indeed there are people in the room here today who were part of that solidarity. Here’s our famous red hand badge again and this time we’ve got a picture of the author Andrew Patrick Wilson, who wrote in The Irish Worker either as Mac or Euchan. Euchan is the name of a river in Galloway near Dumfries, which was where he was reared. He was a Scot. He arrived in Dublin in 1911 as a jobbing actor in the Abbey and when he didn't get another part he became involved in The Irish Worker and was undoubtedly responsible for a considerable amount of the literary material, including plays. We republished just before Christmas, The Irish Worker 1912 Christmas Number, a wonderful, wonderful forty-four page literary supplement with the full text of two of his plays, one of which, Victims was the first time that a tenement appeared on a Dublin stage. Wilson took the male lead and Delia Larkin took the female lead. It got terrific reviews from people like Francis Sheehy Skeffington. So this particular song appeared on the 11th October 1913 and this is the author and as I sing the song you’ll see other reflections of the red hand badge coming through the history. This is probably where we’ll finish and maybe squeeze in the odd question or two.

'The Red Hand Badge' by Andrew Patrick Wilson

Who fears to wear the red hand badge upon his manly breast
What scab obeys the vile command of Murphy and the rest
He’s all a slave and half a knave who slights his union thus
But true men, like you men will show the badge with us

They dared to fling a manly brick, they wrecked a black leg tram
They dared to give Harvey Duff a kick, they couldn’t give a damn
They lie in jail and can’t get bail who fought their corner thus
But you men, with sticks men will make the peelers cuss

We rise in sad and weary days to fight the workers’ cause
We found in Jim a heart to blaze, to break down unjust laws
But ‘tis a sin to follow him, says Murphy and his crew
But true men, like you men will stick to him like glue

Good luck be with him, he is here to win for us the fight
To suffer for us without fear, to rectify the right
To stick to Jim, let nothing dim our ardour in the fray
And true Jim, our own Jim will win the fight today

Who fears to wear the red hand badge upon his manly breast
What scab obeys the vile command of Murphy and the rest
He’s all a slave and half a knave who slights his union thus
But true men, like you men will show the badge with us

(Applause)

Now of course the significance of the red hand badge isn’t just that it was the iconic emblem of 1913, the whole dispute was about union recognition and the way you displayed your membership of the union was to wear the badge. The document we saw earlier issued by four hundred and four employers cast anybody that refused to repudiate the union from work. So, the central principle was union recognition. We still don't have a right to join a union in the sense that whereas the Constitution provides that right it remains and I quote the Constitution Review Group in other words senior constitutional lawyers, “it remains for thousands of workers an illusion”. And the Constitution Review Group said that we can't change the illusion for fear of putting off multinational capital, etc. So the central issue remains much the same today that thousands of workers have the same struggle for union recognition and perhaps that brings us back to the beginning of the talk when we said that many of the issues were still alive.

Another interpretation of the Lockout which Padraig Yeates offers us in his book is to say that really the central issue was about power. And that’s really what it was about. It was about the power of the previously unchallenged Dublin, Irish employing class, this was not a British foreign employing class, to rule as they wish, to push down wages, to push the vast majority of people in Dublin, into literally penury and their right to have that unchallenged and I’ll leave you to make the connections with similar circumstances that you may feel are occurring today. So the red hand badge has as much relevance to some extent then as it did now. As I say we’ve only touched, literally scratched the surface of the joys that are in The Irish Worker. If you want to give yourselves a treat go down to Pearse Street Library someday, get out the microfilm reader and just go through The Irish Worker yourself either from 1913 or any other year and you are in for an absolute treat.  Can I just ask you to give appreciation to Fergus Russell who has been absolutely brilliant today; thanks very much.

(Applause)

Chair: Well done. Thanks very much Fergus that was excellent. Now we’re going to throw it open to the floor. Maybe take two or three contributions and then bring the lads in. Okay, down the very back; go ahead.

Question 1: Hello. Could you tell us a bit more about Bloody Sunday because for most Irish people Bloody Sunday is the event that happened in Croke Park probably about four years after the Bloody Sunday to which you refer.

Francis Devine: We’ll do them all at the end.

Question 1: Thanks. I’m chairman of the naming committee looking at the new name for the bridge over the Liffey and we have received I think about two and a half thousand signatures to date to call it Rosie Hackett. I’ve never, ever, ever heard of Rosie Hackett before and in lecture today Francis is the first time I’ve heard her mentioned aside from those emails. How important was she?

Francis: Okay; great question

Question 3: Your comment about the lack of a right to join a trade union: I’m involved in the National Transport Museum and we have a tram that we bring out and we used to advertise Olhausen Sausages on it; they were very supportive of it. They recently went into liquidation. They’ve now been taken over by a firm I believe based in County Monaghan and when we mentioned that the tram was going to feature for this year’s 1913 Lockout they informed us they wanted absolutely nothing to do with it and nothing to do with trade unionism.

Francis: We’ll take Olhausen sausages first because I’m delighted the say that Olhausen Sausages advertised monthly, sorry weekly in The Irish Worker. Olhausen Sausages were delighted to advertise in The Irish Worker so that’s something historically that perhaps they should be told.

Rosie Hackett an absolutely wonderful and tiny wee woman, a wee sparrow, an Edith Piaf type of figure.  Born as far as I'm aware in Glasgow; arrived in Ireland I'm not sure how, but was working in Jacobs and was sacked from Jacobs. She was a member of the Irish Women Workers’ Union and when they wouldn't take her back, she went into Liberty Hall worked in the Women Workers’ Cooperative. She was in Liberty Hall, and this is in her witness statement which I can provide to you Dermot, she was in Liberty Hall when the British Army arrived in not long before the Rising to search for supposedly illicit publications. The shop, sorry she was working in the shop in Liberty Hall, a little tobacconist shop, sold all sorts of subversive newspapers apart from The Irish Worker. Connolly appeared with a revolver and basically said if you want papers fine but you have to get past me.  The troops retreated, an order went out and Citizen’s Army men appeared from everywhere and when they came back there was a bit of a stand-off, so she writes about that. She also fought in the Rising. I think here in City Hall and if not in the College of Surgeons, so she was a direct participant as a member of The Citizen’s Army. After the Rising she went back into Liberty Hall and she worked in the tobacconist shop until it closed which I think was in the 1930s, but was a very conspicuous and well-loved figure. In her witness statement, which was recorded from memory in the late forties at the very latest, the very early fifties, she makes the point and I quote her that Liberty Hall was the most important building in the city. The reason for that she argued, quite correctly, in some respects, was that by the time of the Rising all of the weaponry, near enough, was stored in Liberty Hall and of course they went out from Liberty Hall and the officer commanding was Connolly. She was a great admirer of Connolly. So we can make all that available to you it’s published up in a pamphlet called James Connolly 1916 and Liberty Hall. And she would be a very worthy recipient, and as she spent most of her life on the Quay because she worked in the shop on Eden Quay it would be extremely appropriate.

So now the question about a Bloody Sunday; this is the proclamation. Larkin was in hiding, a warrant out for his arrest and the union decided that rather than have confrontation to in fact transfer the proposed march to their social premises in Croydon Park which I understand is sort of Marino now, so that they went off that way. The Women Workers’ Union went for a picnic at the Scalp. So the people that did turn up in O'Connell Street in Bloody Sunday, this is that the scene before the riot were by and large interested spectators, people that turned up to see would Larkin turn up because he burnt the proclamation and said that he would and just people doing what a lot of people did on a Sunday, which is to stroll up O'Connell Street. The neighbouring streets were full of police. Murphy had gone into Dublin Castle before the Lockout began and obviously got collaboration from the authorities. When Larkin arrived dressed as a clergyman with the Countess Markievicz. He went to the smoke room, which is the balcony of what is now Clery’s Stores, walked out, and announced himself as Larkin, the police poured out and those are the scenes that followed. They are very iconic scenes. I almost get fed up of this photograph because it’s the only one anybody ever shows, but it undoubtedly had amazing impact on public opinion, not just here but in the UK. When the Trade Union Congress met in Manchester by circumstance the following day, we now knew that two people were dead, hundreds of people were injured. It was front page headlines and whereas a scene like that is not that shocking to us, it was very shocking to British public opinion that were not used to their military and police battering after all, “our own citizens”.  The Daily Mirror headline, front page, four days later on the Thursday, incidentally that shows you something about the pace of technology and communications it was the Thursday before this appeared. Had “In memory of our murdered brothers”; the black drape outside Liberty Hall, pictures of the homes, the tenement homes that police went into and smashed to pieces even though there was very little to smash and some of the young children bandaged. And that undoubtedly catapulted Dublin from this localised Tramway dispute into this international dispute and when the Lockout then comes itself on the Tuesday suddenly we’ve got the defence of principle the right to organize. So those events coming together with Church Street undoubtedly were very fortunate, or unfortunate, if you like depending on your perspective and transferred what would have been, I think a dispute that Murphy if he’d had any wit would have probably won on the trams into this iconic dispute that has brought us all here today.

Chair: Thank-you. I’ll take one more question because we’re kind of out of time. One more question if there is one? No. Great

Fergus: If not, can I give you one…couple of verses of one other song. I sense that you’re here for more the singing and the song. This is a song which...we don't know when it was written. It was handed into the Labour History Society in Athy, County Kildare and is about a strike in 1913. It’s a very lengthy ballad and I’m not going to give you the whole of the ballad, about a strike on the canals, and it's about bargemen that came up from County Kildare, from Robertstown and that sort of direction and the strike was in the Guinness Basin. But I think it's very evocative. What's happened this year through the oral history project the 1913 committee have done and if nobody is familiar with that, www.1913committee.ie, you’ll find chronology of the dispute, any event is up there, please feel free to go in to have a look. Again, we don't have a tune so I put a tune to it.

O James Street it echoed to Larkin’s bugle call
And for the rights of Irishmen we rallied one and all
Those tyrants Duke and Allen we left in sad array
When they closed the gates behind us as we struck for higher pay

The mounted and the foot police did all of us surround
Outside the gates of James Street we boldly stood our ground
We shouted back defiance to that cursed tyrant crew
And closed all around us, the police force net was drew

Our gallant leader Larkin sure he stood by our stand
And when we all got out he gazed at us with pride
For to give us all a lecture he stood upon a dray
And we all gathered around him to hear what he might say

Across that silent harbour his voice rang loud and clear
Caused tyrants for to tremble and traitors shake with fear
He said “My gallant heroes, today we’ll let them know
If they fight the Dockers’ Union they’ll fight a worthy foe”

Now here’s a health to Larkin, may his memory never die
May the god of battles guard him who rules the earth and sky
May he trample on all tyrants and his glory bright be seen
Holding high the standard of the harp way up above the green

(Applause)

 

Thank-you for listening to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. To hear more, please subscribe on iTunes or SoundCloud. You can also visit our website - dublincitypubliclibraries.ie and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Add new comment

Feedback