2013: Centenary of 1913 Dublin Lock-Out

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Historical Background

Image of Chancery Street - courtesy of Dublin City LibrariesThe Dublin 1913 Lockout began on 26th August 1913 when all the trams on O’Connell Street stopped with workers seeking pay rises ranging from 1s to 2s a week. William Martin Murphy, the owner of the Dublin Tramway Company locked out members of the IT&GWU who refused to sign the pledge and leave the union and James Larkin, leader of the union called a general strike. In the disputes that followed more than 20,000 workers were either locked out of their jobs by their employers or went on strike. Unrest had begun earlier in the year with the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company dispute in January and the Dublin Silk Weavers strike in March.

Image of Bloody Sunday, Sackville Street - Courtesy of Dublin City Public LibrariesAt the end of August, the city was in a state of unrest. On 30th August there were riots in Ringsend, Beresford Place and Eden Quay, during which the police baton-charged the crowds. Many protestors were injured and one man died from his injuries. On 31st August, James Larkin appeared in the window of the Imperial Hotel, Sackville Street (now Clerys, O’Connell Street) to address the huge crowd. He was immediately arrested and a riot followed.  The police baton charge caused over 300 injuries and the day is known as “Bloody Sunday”.

Image of Magennis Court - courtesy of Dublin City LibrariesThe Lockout continued for 6 months with families enduring widespread hardship, poverty and hunger and by early 1914 many of the workers were driven back to work.  Housing conditions in Dublin at the time were very bad with the slums considered some of the worst in the UK. The 1911 census shows that 26,000 families in Dublin city lived in tenements, 20,000 of them in single rooms. The mortality rates per 1,000 were 22.3 in Dublin compared to 15.6 in London. On 2nd September, 7 people – including two children died when two tenements, numbers 66 and 67 Church Street collapsed.

Events commemorating the 1913 Lockout

SS Hare Food Ship Re-enactment

The 1913-2013 Centenary Committee in partnership with Dublin Port commemorated the arrival in 1913 of the SS Hare, a food ship sent from Liverpool by the TUC to relieve the starvation being suffered by citizens of Dublin during the Lockout. 

A re-enactment of the arrival of the SS Hare was held on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay on Saturday 5th October and included a street re-enactment involving children from National Schools from North and South of the River Liffey, as well as secondary school students from the Larkin Community College. 

Dublin Divided Art Exhibition, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Parnell Square (26th September 2013 - 2nd February 2014)

Maurice MacGonigal, Dockers, c. 1933-1934, Collection Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, © The Estate of Maurice MacGonigal

The Hugh Lane Gallery's collection contains many portraits of the key individuals who were active in the Lockout as well as works by artists who became involved in the dispute, including William Orpen and George Russell (AE).  This exhibition depicted life in Dublin in the late nineteenth century and first decades of the twentieth century and featured paintings, sculpture and drawings by artists including John Lavery, Sarah Purser, John and Jack B. Yeats, Casimir Markievicz, Auguste Rodin, Sarah Cecilia Harrison, Maurice MacGonigal and Louis le Brocquy. 

Photographic Exhibition: Dublin 1913 – A Tale of Two Cities

Photo of Grand Parade of Coaches at the Dublin Horse ShowThe Exhibition "A Tale of Two Cities" gives a picture of Dublin in 1913 - from the disease-ridden tenements to the balls of Dublin Castle. It was on display in Dublin City Public Libraries during 2013. The exhibition focused on the 1913 Lockout and contrasted extreme poverty in the city with high society. The images were drawn from the collections of Dublin City Public Libraries including photographs from the Housing Engineer’s Report from Church Street in 1914 and the ISPCC photographs of the Dublin slums. Quotes, reports and photographs from the Illustrated London News relating to high society highlight the sharp contrast in the city at the time. You can view the exhibition online: A Tale of Two Cities Image Gallery.

Digitisation of Dublin City Electoral Rolls 1898-1916

The Dublin City Electoral Rolls 1898-1916 consist of eighteen printed volumes listing all those who were eligible to vote, including lodgers; rated occupiers; inhabitant householders, and Freeholders and Leaseholders. The digitisation will result in 620,000 records of Dubliners and the data will complement and book-end the online Census Records for 1901 and 1911.

The 1908-12 and 1915 Electoral Roll have been digitised and can be viewed online at databases.dublincity.ie.

State commemoration of 1913 Lockout

The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins led the State commemoration of the 1913 Lockout on Saturday, 31st August – 100 years to the day of Bloody Sunday 1913. The President laid a wreath at the statue of the ITGWU leader James Larkin on Dublin’s O’Connell Street followed by a minute’s silence at 1.20pm.

The commemorative event began at 12.30pm with a welcoming address by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Oisín Quinn, which was followed by musical performances by Ciara Sidine, Jimmy Kelly and the St. Agnes Youth Orchestra and others; a reading from Strumpet City by actors Bryan Murray and Angela Harding, the central actors in RTÉ’s original dramatisation of the book and dramatic excerpts from ANU Productions’ Living the Lockout and the Risen People.

Dublin Tenement Experience: Living the Lockout

Living the Lockout , was a unique temporary event which ran for 9 weeks over July and August 2013. It was a performance based event that recreated the atmosphere of a tenement home during six eventful months in 1913 and was an opportunity to see inside an undisturbed tenement property at No.14 Henrietta Street, Dublin 1. This property was originally built around 1748 as part of the Gardiner estate and would have been a splendid showpiece for an aristocratic family and a symbol of importance and power. By 1913, it had become a run-down tenement home to 17 working class families consisting of 100 people. Currently, the house is owned by Dublin City Council who carrying out a programme of restoration works.


A podcast of the seminar 'How the Poor Lived' which took place at the Royal College of Physicians on Thursday 18 April is now available on the RCPI Player.
The seminar was part of the One City, One Book festival and the speakers were Dr. Lydia Carroll (on Sir Charles Cameron) and Dr. David Durnin (on Medicine and the City in 1913) The webcasts can be accessed at http://www.rcpi.ie/player

The Lockout 1913 inspired many poems, ballads, songs and rhymes. As part of the City Hall Springtime Lectures 2013 Francis Devine and Fergus Russell performed ballads and songs of the 1913 Lockout, including 'Freedom's Pioneers' by James Connolly and 'The Red Hand Badge' by AP Wilson. Listen back to the podcast: 'Who Feared to Wear the Red Hand Badge? Songs and poems of the 1913 Lockout.

Dublin 1913: centenary essays

The book A Capital in Conflict: Dublin City and the 1913 Lockout produced by Dublin City Public Libraries was launched on Saturday 13th April by the Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí. This book of 16 essays, written by emerging historians focuses on various aspects of Dublin in 1913.The book is distributed by Four Courts Press, and is available in all bookshops and directly from Four Courts.

The book can also be borrowed through the Dublin City branch library system, check availability in the library catalogue.

RTÉ Radio One’s History Show on 14th April devoted the whole programme to the book. Listen back to a podcast of the programme.

James Plunkett Short Story Award

The 2013 James Plunkett Short Story Award for new and emerging writers had a special focus on 1913 Lockout.  Anne O’Brien won third prize for her story “I Could Have Been Anything”; Fiona O’Connor took second prize with “The Mystery of the Missing Finger and the Dead Cat” and Eileen Keane was the overall winner with "The Peace of the Evening."

The award was sponsored by the 1913 Lockout Commemoration, Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin City Council, Dublin City Libraries and ICTU and organised by the Irish Writers' Union in partnership with the Irish Writers' Centre. 

Century Ireland

Century Ireland is a website produced as an online historical newspaper published every two weeks and developed by RTÉ and Boston College which covers the Decade of Commemorations 1912 – 1923. Dublin City Libraries and Archives & Dublin City Gallery the Hugh lane Gallery have contributed material to this website. 

Bookcover: Strumpet City by James PlunkettOne City, One Book: Strumpet City

One City One Book 2013 took place in April and featured James Plunkett’s novel Strumpet City, one of the great Dublin novels. Focusing on the 1913 Lock-Out, its panoramic scope extends from the docks and slums of inner-city Dublin to the bourgeois domiciles of Kingstown. The varied programme included readings, exhibitions and interactive online events which took place throughout the city. A special edition of the book was published by Gill & Macmillan and during April and May the book was top of the Irish bestseller list and the most borrowed of the Dublin City Public Libraries system. During the One City, One Book programme, plaques commemorating James Plunkett were unveiled in Synge Street and the Lantern Centre, ensuring his legacy will live on. View an image gallery reflecting the Dublin of Strumpet City