Locked Out: A Century of Irish Working-Class Life

Locked Out: A Century of Irish Working-Class Life

Locked Out: A Century of Irish Working-Class Life

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.

Locked Out will be available shortly from all good book stores and online retailers such as amazon.


Introduction – David Convery

  1. ‘Your only God is profit’: Irish class relations and the 1913 Lockout – Conor McCabe
  2. Uniting the Working Class: History, Memory and 1913 – David Convery
  3. Andrew Patrick Wilson and the Irish Worker, 1912-13 – James Curry
  4. ‘Real Irish Patriots would scorn to recognise the likes of you’: Larkin and Irish-America – Alan J.M. Noonan
  5. Workers show their strength – the 1918 Conscription Crisis – Fiona Devoy McAuliffe
  6. Newsboys and the ‘Animal Gang’ in 1930s Dublin – Donal Fallon
  7. ‘The problem is one not of criminal tendencies, but of poverty’: the NSPCC, John Byrne and the Industrial School System in Ireland – Sarah-Anne Buckley
  8. Pro-Hitler or anti-management? War on the industrial front, Belfast, October 1942 – Christopher J.V. Loughlin
  9. ‘The Brightest Couple of Hours’: The Factory, Inter-House, Inter-Firm and Pubs Leagues of Ireland, 1922-73 – David Toms
  10. ‘I never would return again to plough the rocks of Bawn’:  Irishmen in Post-War Britain – Sara Goek
  11. ‘As if you were something under their shoe’: Class, Gender and Status among Cork Textile Workers, 1930-1970 – Liam Cullinane
  12. From Yeatsian nightmares to Tallafornian dreams: Reflections on classism and culture in ‘classless’ Ireland – Michael Pierse


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9 responses to “Locked Out: A Century of Irish Working-Class Life

  1. Clodagh Corcoran

    Look forward to reading this but disappointed (again) to see just three chapters written by women. It’s just not good though to keep doing this.

    • Thanks Clodagh. It is certainly something I am very much aware of and also disappointed with in academia in general, and it’s not something I aimed to do. This book is written by early career scholars, and so aims to showcase the work of a new generation with new approaches, including gender equality. I aimed for gender balance, but it was an unfortunate occurrence that a number of other young female scholars I approached to write for the book were unable to do so, and I could only find three who were working on relevant topics who could contribute in the end.

    • Sara Goek

      As David said, that is an issue in academia generally. However, in this instance I think your comment that only 3 out of 12 contributors are female is far too simplistic. My chapter is about men, Liam Cullinane’s chapter is about women – is that relevant? While I would be delighted to see more women in the historical profession, the selection of contributors was obviously not an issue of intentional bias. Regardless, books or articles should be judged by their contribution to historiography and our understanding of the past, not solely by the gender (or any other characteristic) of their authors.

  2. John o' Kane

    I love the book and fully endorse the editor’s desire to restore class to a central place in history. Just wondering why professor Ferriter is launching it? I can think of several historians who have done more to raise discussion of class than him- being a guest DJ on newstalk seems to be his speciality.

  3. John O'Kane

    Not posting up my question then? Learning the ways of academia very quick

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the book John and the overall aim behind it. I hope it can inspire others to investigate the neglected area of working-class history. As to the choice of Diarmaid Ferriter to launch the book, I don’t think it appropriate to discuss the selection of one individual over another in a public forum, suffice it to say that I respect his work, as I do others in the field of Irish labour history. I have the greatest of respect for those who have and continue to investigate Irish history with a curious mind and rigorous method.

      Regarding your other remark, I do not appreciate such comments. I have been working the entire day and have not had the chance to approve the comment. I am happy to discuss anything related to the subject of the book, but will not engage beyond this comment with attacks on my personal integrity.

  4. John O'Kane

    I apologize for my remarks and the tone. I do not want to insult you or the other authors in any way. I lost my temper needlessly as I was getting angry about matters that did not concern this book.
    I think there is a wider problem in Irish historical circles, identified by John M. Regan, of seeking public roles and ignoring difficult areas. I personally feel that many leading historians, including Prof. Ferriter do this. That, however, is not your problem. Again, apologies.

  5. Pingback: Podcast - Locked Out: A Century of Irish Working - Class Life.

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