Locked Out: A Century of Irish Working-Class Life, in Liberty Hall, Dublin on Thursday 19 September September 5, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish History, The Left.
Locked Out: A Century of Irish Working-Class Life, in Liberty Hall, Dublin on Thursday 19 September
In 1913, a titanic battle gripped the city of Dublin that polarised Irish society. The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, led by Jim Larkin, took on the might of one of the biggest Irish capitalists of the day, William Martin Murphy. What began as a strike over union recognition in Murphy’s Dublin United Tramway Company quickly escalated, as Murphy, backed by the state and the Dublin Employers’ Federation, declared all-out war on the trade union movement. Despite tremendous efforts, the workers went down to a bitter defeat. Historians and other commentators have tended to view the 1913 Lockout as a tragic, but unique case in Irish history. However, its uniqueness lies mainly in its scale. The working class continued to exist after 1913. It continued to develop its own organisations, its own cultural and leisure activities, its own forms of self-representation and identity. It also continued to engage in strike action and other forms of protest against the employers and ruling establishment. Yet the study of an independent working class has been neglected in favour of an all-embracing focus on nationalism in politics, culture and wider society. That class, rather than ethnicity, religion, or the idea of national identity could have a role to play in politics and cultural production is an alien one to mainstream Irish debate. The working class has been locked out of history.
Locked Out: A Century of Irish Working-Class Life offers a different perspective. Written by a new generation of scholars, it aims to commemorate the centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout and to advance Irish labour history in new and innovative ways. Locked Out grapples with subjects as varied as working-class literature, music, sport, factory life, gang-culture, poverty, emigration and institutional abuse. In doing so, it illustrates the richness and complexity of Irish working-class identity, history and culture over the past century and its centrality to an understanding of contemporary Irish history and society.