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“No hearts in Europe more rejoiced than Irish hearts that Bohemia was a republic”: Irish reactions to Czech Independence

Today marks the 97th anniversary of the declaration of independence and the establishment of the First Czechoslovak Republic. This declaration, and the formation of this new state took place just weeks before the general election in Britain and Ireland that saw the Irish Parliamentary Party become a spent force, and Sinn Féin securing a mandate winning almost all seats. Not surprisingly then, the developments in the former Habsburg Empire, the creation of this new sovereign state and the acceptance of this by world powers did not go unnoticed in the Irish press. Nor did it go unnoticed by some who were running as candidates.

This last point is best proved by this leaflet from one general election candidate in Waterford in 1918:

Source: Waterford History Group Facebook page.

Source: Waterford History Group Facebook page.

While there is a touch of hysteria about this poster, the wider implication isn’t totally wide of the mark. In her examination of the various permutations of Czechoslovakia, Mary Heimann notes that:

At the beginning of the First World War, the notion that the Czechs and Slovaks might one day live in their own sovereign state, seperated from other countries by international borders, had not been seriously contemplated by anyone. Nevertheless, a new republic, named for the Czech and Slovak peoples… was about to take its place at the centre of a freshly redrawn map of Europe. [1]

In Ireland the press reaction was similar to that of Dr. White and his leaflet. One anonymous letter writer, “Asquinas” – combining Asquith and Aquinas – wondered in the Irish Independent whether or not that since, among many other things:

No religious differences divide Bohemia from Austria, to the Crown of which it voluntarily united itself by intermarriage of the Sovereigns. Far be it from me to suggest that such considerations should retard the national revival of the Czechs. Yet I bring them forward to prove that whether from the standpoint of geography, race, religion, economics or politics, Ireland has a prior claim to independence. [2]

Irish Times, 18 October 1918.

Irish Times, 18 October 1918.

According to the Irish Times in the lead up to Czech independence there was even a suggestion that the Duke of Connaught might become a new king of Bohemia. [3] The Irish Times, a strong unionist paper, only matter of factly reported on the recognition of the Czech council as a ministry, with Benes as Minister for Foreign Affairs and future Czechoslovak President, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk as Finance Minister. The paper, however, when reporting on the launch of a pro-Sinn Féin campaign in Mayo by a Rev. M O’Flanagan recorded how, during his speech to the crowd, O’Flanagan apparently remarked that:

Poland and Finland and the Ukraine were today free from the subjugation of the Russian yolk,and the man who five years ago who would venture to predict that would be told that he was rainbow chasing, like Sinn Féiners. In Austria the Bohemians and the Czechs were also free, and there were no hearts in Europe more rejoiced than Irish hearts that Bohemia was a republic, for they all know the successful movement which she started for the revival and spread of her language. [4]

A sense of shared national struggle is palpable in these words and contrast quite strongly with Dr. White’s sense that no one knows who these people are. The reality is evident that politically clued in Irish people were well aware of the differing positions of the Irish and the Czecho-Slovaks. The last word perhaps should belong to Bulmer Hobson, who noted in his Bureau of Military History witness statement:

[Roger Casement] wanted to get Irish Freedom out of the quarrels of the European powers. Of the Czech leaders Masaryk came to London and Benes to Paris with exactly the same intent for their own country. They wanted to take Czecho Slovakia. out of the Austrian Empire. In London Casement was denounced as a traitor and Masaryk was hailed as a great patriot. Doubtless in Vienna the position was exactly reversed.

Casement got an undertaking from the German Government that if the course of the war enabled them to do so they would help to establish an independent Ireland. Masaryk got the same promise in London. Masaryk appealed to the victors, Casement to the vanquished. That was the precise difference between them. Masaryk became the first president of Czecho Slovakia, Casement was hanged in Pentonville. [5]

_______________________________________________

[1] Heimann, Mary, Czechoslovakia: The State that Failed, New Haven: Yale 2011, p.48.

[2] Irish Independent, 22 October 1918.

[3] Irish Times, 18 October 1918.

[4] Irish Times, 16 November 1918.

[5] Bulmer Hobson, Bureau of Military History Witness Statements, WF Ref # 1365. pp. 6-7.

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Privilege in Academia: An Extended Note

Today, while scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, I spotted a post by Third Level Workplace Watch about a storify on what it means to be from a less well-off background today in academia being done by Caroline Magennis. Reading the storify, I had to add my own small contribution:

https://twitter.com/DrMagennis/status/622716676140867584 Continue reading

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From Civil Rights to the Bailout

From Civil Rights to the Bailout: Social movements, workers agitation, and left-wing activism in Ireland, 1968-2010

Butchers

Conference organised by the Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class this Friday and Saturday 19-20 June, featuring papers on a diverse range of topics from a range of speakers from academic and activist backgrounds. There will be a special session devoted to how to record history through oral history and archives, and we are especially pleased to announce a discussion in the Mechanics’ Institute on Friday evening, 19 June, in which activists from the west of Ireland will talk about campaigns they have been involved with from organising administrative workers in UCG, to Gaeltacht civil rights. The programme can be seen below, and more information is available at the following website:

https://fromcivilrightstothebailout.wordpress.com/programme/

All welcome, please share widely!

Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour and Class

NUI Galway

Moore Institute,

Hardiman Research Building

19-20 June 2015

Overview

Fri 19 June

13.00-13.45 Registration

13.45 Welcome address

14.00-15.30 Panel 1: The context of Northern Ireland

15.30-15.45 Break

15.45-17.15 Panel 2: Varieties of Protest

19.30 Mechanics Institute, Middle Street: ‘Civil Rights and Union Rights: Veteran Voices from the West of Ireland’

Sat 20 June

10.00-11.30 Panel 3: Radical Politics

11.30-11.45 Break

11.45-13.15 Panel 4: Challenging legal and cultural constraints

13.15-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.30 Panel 5: Engaging Beyond Ireland

15.30-15.45 Break

15.45-17.45 Panel 6: Preserving History: Oral History and Archives

CLOSE OF CONFERENCE

Friday 19 June

14.00-15.30

1. The context of Northern Ireland

‘The People’s Democracy and the struggle for Civil Rights’

Matt Collins (University of Ulster)

‘”You can’t be neutral on a moving train”: Trade union responses to violence and sectarianism in Northern Ireland’

Seán Byers (Queen’s University Belfast and Trademark)

‘Responses in the West of Ireland to civil rights protest in Northern Ireland, 1968-72’

Gerard Madden (NUI Galway)

15.30-15.45

Break

15.45-17.15

2. Varieties of Protest

‘Rural Identity and Protest Mobilisation: the case of the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association’

Trish O’Flynn (Open University)

‘Save the Roundstone Bog’: the Environmental Activism of Tim Robinson

Derek Gladwin (University of British Columbia)

‘An interrogation of the character of protest in Ireland since the bailout’

Mary Naughton (University College Dublin)

19.30: Mechanics Institute, Middle Street, Galway

‘Civil Rights and Union Rights: Veteran Voices from the West of Ireland’

Tish Gibbons will talk to Liz Walsh, Mary Cooke and Brid Carr about their efforts in unionizing their fellow administrative workers at UCG in the mid-1970s in the teeth of opposition from University management.

Cllr Declan Bree (Connolly Youth Movement / Sligo-Leitrim Independent Socialist Organisation) and Cllr Seosamh Ó Cuaig(Gluaiseacht Cearta Sibhialta na Gaeltachta, independent socialist republican) will discuss their careers as activists with John Cunningham. Audience questions welcome.

Saturday 20 June

10.00-11.30

3. Radical Politics

‘When Irish anarchists faced the hangman’s noose – the case of Marie and Noel Murray’

Alan MacSimoin (Independent scholar and activist)

‘Youth in Revolt, Youth in Retreat: Labour Youth and the expulsion of Militant 1978-1989’

Cathal Malone (Independent scholar)

‘Saor Éire Action Group, 1967-1975: The vanguard of Trotskyist revolution in Ireland?’

Séan Ó Duibhir (NUI Galway)

11.30-11.45

Break

11.45-13.15

4. Challenging legal and cultural constraints

‘The Political Economy of Workers’ Liberty in 1980s Ireland: On the right to strike, union solidarity and the Talbot car workers’ factory occupation.’

Thomas Murray (University College Dublin)

‘Deconstructing the Irish Propensity to Constitutionalise Abortion: A Leftist, Feminist Critique’

Charles O’Sullivan (NUI Maynooth)

‘Why inequality Persists- Racial Stratification in the Labour Market’

Ebun Joseph (University College Dublin)

13.15-14.00

Lunch (provided)

14.00-15.30

5. Engaging beyond Ireland

‘Challenging Empires – EU Critical Activism & Emerging Identities’

Peter Lacey (NUI Maynooth and activist)

‘Performing Activism: Theatre as a Political Space’

Tracy Ryan O’Flaherty (University of Sussex)

‘Solidarity Forever: Irish Workers and the Miners’ Strike in Britain, 1984-5’

Daryl Leeworthy (Cardiff University)

15.45-17.45

6. Preserving History: Oral History and Archives

‘The Irish Left Archive: creating the informal Archive’

Ciarán Swan (Irish Left Archive)

‘I knew nothing about the thing that I constantly declared myself to be – a socialist.’ Oral History and Left-Wing Activism

Mary Muldowney (Alternative Visions Oral History Group)

This final panel will take the form of a workshop with the two speakers introducing the session on how best to conduct oral history and preserve documentation, both providing case studies of projects they are involved with. Audience participation and discussion is strongly encouraged once the speakers have concluded.

***********

Registration: €5

This will help cover the costs which include coffee, tea and biscuits to be provided at all breaks, and a lunch of sandwiches to be provided on the Saturday.

In order to provide for catering, we need an estimate of the number of attendees. If you would like to attend, please contact David Convery at david.convery@nuigalway.ie and please also make us aware of any special dietary requirements. If you would like to attend but feel you cannot afford the registration fee, please let us know.

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The Tramping Worker: questions on transience and organisation in America, 1880-1920

I have done a good deal of running around in America seeking the best place, but all my sorrow I have lost by it. The American country is gone.

– Letter from Patrick Kearney to John Kearney, 21 December 1890[1]

Migration is often perceived as a two-stage journey: departure and arrival. The letter quoted above from Patrick Kearney to his brother reveals that often a migrant’s journey did not end at the first port of call. His pitiable disappointment at having little to show for all his years of “running around” challenges the myth of the American dream. As one historian notes “the emigration movement…is heroic to look back on… but for the individual emigrant it was often a personal tragedy.”[2] Historians have challenged the assumption of destined success, but many continue to focus on either the negative or positive experiences of migration, neglecting the breadth of possible outcomes and opinions for a more limited binary either/or explanation. Different feelings on this movement can be found within the same ethnic group and social class. Irish-born Seamus Ó Muircheartaigh and Kate Flanagan both moved to several countries and states across America in search of work but their views display a certain dissonance. In “Mo chiach mar a thána” (“Alas that I ever came”) Ó Muircheartaigh wrote  “Sin mar a chaitheas-sa tamall dem shaol,/Ó bhaile go baile gan toinnte ar mo thaobh” (That’s how I spent part of my life,/Going from place to place, with no company at my side).[3] Some held a much more positive opinion, like Kate Flanagan who wrote to Mike, her brother-in-law in Ireland, telling him that “I can’t help but think it would be better for all the family in Ireland to come to this country,” humorously adding “if it was only to get away to a more agreeable climate.”[4]  Remembering that we can move beyond a dichotomy of good or bad, or immigration as from origin to destination, would allow for more novel attempts to explore the varied experiences among different ethnic groups, and more importantly, to highlight and explain the importance of transience among immigrants in the Unites States in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. How frequently did people move from one place to another? What were the impediments or facilitators of this movement? Was transience purely an economic decision? How were communities affected by the changes over time and place? What were the networks that sustained them and how were these networks in turn sustained?

Of course you can question, why should we focus on immigrants and mobility when looking at American workers? The first response to that question is that the late nineteenth and early twentieth century witnessed a huge movement of people to the American continent enabling the industrialisation of the United States. We should keep in mind a notable recent work documenting this process, A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America by Aristide R. Zolberg, which reveals that the popular image of uncontrollable waves of people entering the US is a false one and that the American government was capable, when willing, to limit this movement.[5] Another answer to this question lies in the large numbers of people. While only 13 percent of the population of the United States are classed as foreign-born in 1880, 42 percent of those engaged in manufacturing or extraction industries were immigrants.[6] This number grows into an overwhelming majority if we include the children of foreign-born and African Americans. The importance of immigrants in the development of American industry is hard to overstate.

Simultaneously there are problems with categories, as people are often grouped into broad headings based on religion, nationality or ethnic group that might not be particularly useful. If we scratch the surface of these broad communities and we find further important differences; northern and southern Italians, Corkonians and Fardowners, Cornish and English to name a few. Nationally based fraternities (e.g. the Ancient Order of Hibernians in the case of the Irish) tried to foster ethnic cooperation and promote a hyphenated identity reconciling their Old World origins with their lives in the New World, a somewhat paradoxical effort, and again we should try to bear in mind to local complexities when detailing particular groups. Likewise leaders in trade unions also engaged in contradictory efforts to remain loyal to both their own ethnic group while promoting unity with workers from other backgrounds. Immigrants also exhibited similar diversity in their patterns of movement. ‘New immigrants’ from eastern and southern Europe bucked earlier immigration trends, with larger numbers returning ‘home’. Historians estimate that fifty percent of Italians returned home between 1908 and 1923, compared to single-digit repatriation rates for Russian Jews and the Irish.[7] Contemporaries noted this difference at the time with usage of the label ‘sojourners’ rather than ‘immigrants’, but few historians have addressed the question of how this affected their views of movement and migration.[8] A continuing reexamination of immigrants bearing these problems in mind might reveal that immigrants had a more nuanced sense of self and association than historians have previously ascribed to them.

Sixty-three years ago the historian Eric Hobsbawm opened his article “The Tramping Artisan” with the statement “the story of nineteenth-century labor is one of movement and migration.”[9] While his article represents an attempt to explain the personal and social impact of frequent dislocation on skilled journeymen in Britain, the premise applies equally to immigrant workers in America. The development of transnational history has seen a reevaluation of borders as the defining parameters of historical phenomena and the scholarship related to them. Some of the exciting new work on Irish America includes Beyond the American Pale: The Irish in the American West 1860-1910, Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race and The Dynamiters: Irish Nationalism and Political Violence in the Wider World, 1867-1900, and they each forcefully challenge traditional historical assumptions on the Irish in the West, Irish identity and organizations.[10]  Transnationalism in turn has led to the reexamination of people’s movement, formerly through the prism of migration, through the more broad term of mobility.[11]

Many questions are waiting to be answered by future projects. Some questions that can be raised about American studies follow, but many other similar questions could be asked of other sub-fields of nineteenth and twentieth century history. What effect did the staggered migration have on working-class ethnic communities? Did it impede or encourage ethnic, fraternal or union organization? How did the immigrant experience in eastern cities differ from the American West? Were there significant similarities or differences in both the experience and perception of mobility between ethnicities, occupations or classes? Some of these questions have been partly answered in relation to specific groups, for example Liping Zhu and Sue Fawn Chung’s pioneering work on the Chinese communities in the American West.[12]

Simultaneous with the advent of these new approaches has been the comparable decline of the study of labor and trade union history and in response historians should try to reengage with the history of workers, offering fresh perspective and utilizing the new historiographical approaches that have emerged in the intervening decades. Craig Calhoun recently presented an important challenge to labor history in The Roots of Radicalism: Tradition, the Public Sphere, and Early Nineteenth-Century Social Movements, arguing that not all social movements were inherently progressive and that these groups expressed a much broader spectrum of goals and beliefs, often more conservative, than historians have credited to them. It can be hoped that further research will uncover more stories of people’s lives, with their accompanying perceptions and convictions and help us determine whether these are valid assertions. For my part I fully intend to keep digging for answers.

 

 

[1] Séamus De Búrca (ed.), The Soldier’s Song: The Story of Peadar Ó Cearnaigh (Dublin: P.J. Bourke, 1957), p. 251.

[2] Terry Coleman, Passage to America: A history of emigrants from Great Britain and Ireland to America in the mid-nineteenth century (1972: London: Hutchinson & County), p. 248.

[3] Seán Ó Dubhda, Duanaire duibhneach : i bailiú d’amhránaibh agus de phíosaibh eile filidheachta a ceapadh le tuairim céad bliain i gCorca Dhuibhne, agus atá fór i gcuimhne agus i mbéaloideas na ndaoine ann (Baile Átha Cliath: Oifig Díolta Foillseacháin Rialtais, 1976),132-133. English translation by Dr Bruce D. Boling, Brown University, from Kerby A. Miller, Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. xiii.

[4] Kate Flanagan to Mike in Ireland was more positive Napa, California to her brother-in-love, Mike 31 March, 1899. Flanagan Family Letters. Private collection generously shared with me by Professor Kerby A. Miller, University of Missouri, Columbia.

[5] Aristide R. Zolberg, A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006).

[6] U.S. Tenth Census, 1880, Report on the Manufactures of the United States (Washington, D.C, 1882), pp. 17, 36.

[7] Mark Wyman, Round-trip America: The Immigrants Return to Europe, 1880-1930 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), pp. 9-12.

[8] Two important exceptions are the collection of essays in Dirk Hoerder (ed.) Labor Migration in the Atlantic Economies. The European and North American Working Classes During the Period of Industrialization (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1985) and Donna R Gabaccia, Italy’s many diasporas (Seattle : University of Washington Press, 2000).

[9] E. J. Hobsbawn, “The Tramping Artisan,” The Economic History Review, New Series 3 (1951): pp. 299-320.

[10] David M. Emmons, Beyond the American Pale: The Irish in the West 1845-1910 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010), Bruce Nelson, Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012) and Niall Whelehan, The Dynamiters: Irish Nationalism and Political Violence in the Wider World, 1867-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

[11] Transnationalism does not ignore nationalism or the nation-state rather it prompts historians to simultaneous consider “differing geographic scales – the local, the national, and the transnational.” Ian Tyrell, “American Exceptionalism in an Age of International History,” American Historical Review 96 (1991):  p. 1033.

[12]  Liping Zhu, A Chinaman’s Chance: The Chinese on the Rocky Mountain Mining Frontier (Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1997); Sue Fawn Chung, In Pursuit of Gold: Chinese American Miners and Merchant in the American West (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011).

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Conference Alert: Maritime History at University College Cork

Microsoft Word - UCC Maritime History Conference 28-29 Nov.docx

As many classic histories have shown over the years – from Braudel’s Mediterranean World to Rediker and Linebaugh’s Many Headed Hydra – utilising the maritime to explore broader social, cultural, economic and political strands in the histories of nations whose borders are fluid thanks to their proximity to the ocean can have astounding results and offer previously unforeseen perspectives on stories already told many times. The School of History at University College Cork – Cork’s motto after all is statio benefida carinis ( a safe harbour for ships) – will host a free conference on maritime history connecting Cork and Ireland with broader European narratives on the 28th and 29th November. Not to be missed!

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A Deathly Business: Thompson’s Funeral Home, 1874-1929

Last week, you may recall, I took a look at the consumption of alcohol at funerals based on the recent digitisation of records from Thompson’s funeral directors in Waterford. This week, I’ve returned to the same sources, to consider a few more things which emerge from the records, which offer all kinds of insights into the business of undertaking from the late nineteenth century and on into the twentieth.

As well as the many more straightforward entries into the books of the business over the course of almost sixty years, many other entries that form part of the digitised collection stand out.

In that period, before the motor car was common, hearses were typically pulled by horses and the records reveal something to us about these. For instance, entries in the books that run from 1874 to the early 1900s, we see that Thompson’s bought a good number of horses. In April 1892, for instance, the business bought a bay horse from a Mrs. Murphy for £20 even, while in 1893, they bought a brown horse from a Mr. Knox of Bakehouse Lane for the considerably more pricey sum of £30. [1] Horses were a vital part of the business, and had to be kept healthy. Thus in one set of records we find recipes for various ailments afflicting horses, like this one “for soars [sic] or galds on horses also Greece in heels” from 1905:

1 pennyworth of ground Alum

1 pennyworth of Sulphur

1/2 Pint of Vinegar

add a small quantity of warm water and then put in a bottle

Or this one, from the same time on worms in horses:

get some Guilea from the country

and grind it up in the oats

it will kill all the worms

There’s also a rather more involved recipe for treating mange:

6d worth tincture of iodine

3d soft soap

4d Black Sulphur

I dram Arnicker (spirits)

This is just once facet of the day to day running of the business which emerges from the books. Among the most fascinating elements of these records is that it shows that more than simply catering to the needs of individuals who were bereaved and had dead to bury, who went to Thompson’s in  a personal capacity,  Thompson’s were also involved in collecting and burying the dead from a variety of institutions including the District Lunatic Asylum (“A Silum” as it appears in some of the very earliest records), The Little Sisters of the Poor, The Poor Law Union, and Waterford’s Prison. [2]

Going through the records and seeing the many nameless in the books who belonged to institutions like the Little Sisters of the Poor makes for difficult reading, but shows something of the way in which the destitute were treated in Irish society, given over to charity, the only ones who would in death, see they were buried in something approaching respectable circumstances. Over two remarkable pages, at the beginning of the books that cover the period 1910-1918, almost seventy entries of paid funerals come from the Little Sisters of the Poor. [3]

Part of the books which show the number of burials performed on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Part of the books which show the number of burials performed on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Click to enlarge.

Equally distressing when you delve into the books is the number of “small coffins” or “very small coffins” which are required by various families to bury children who did not live long. In no instance was I able to find a case where the child themselves was named, but usually the entries followed the form of “for Mrs. x’s child”. Unlike the burials of adults, there was no extensive list of hearses, broughams, sidecars, or drink. These were quiet, sad, heart-rending affairs which to judge by their frequency in these books, were indeed very common. Indeed, one set of figures looking at mortality rates in Ireland across the twentieth century indicates that around 1 in 13 or 14 children born died soon afterwards in the 1920s and 1930s, when these digitised records end. [4]

Thompson’s business though wasn’t solely undertaking to bury the dead, as in the case of their individual customers, or organisations like the Poor Law Union or the Little Sisters. Their business for instance with the prison service in Waterford was mainly to do with the transport of prisoners. In one of the books now available online, there are terms of an agreement with the prison set out, including the price of fares for different jobs which reads as follows:

Contract for Horsing Vans And Supplying Cars to H.M. Prison Waterford from April 1st 1909 to 31st March 1910.

No. 1) Horsing Van when requires from Prison to Courthouse and Vice Versa at per day 15/-
No. 2 ) Horsing Van when required between Prison Railway Station at per double journey viz. from Prison to Station in the morning & from Station to Prison in the evening 6/-

3) Horsing Van for any one run viz. between Prison & Station or between Station & Prison 4/– 3/-

4)Inside or Outside Cars when required from Prison to Rly. Station or Steamers or vice versa at per journey from and to Prison 1/3

5) Inside or Outside cars when required from Prison to COurthouse, Workhouse or Asylum at per double journey viz. come to the Prison when ordered go to any of the above places and return to Prison 1/9

6) Rate per single journey between Prison & the above mentioned places not returning again to the Prison 1/3

Date this 19th day of March ’09

An image of the above mentioned price list for the use of Thompson's cars for the Prison Service.

An image of the above mentioned price list for the use of Thompson’s cars for the Prison Service. Click to englarge.

Thompson’s contract with the Waterford Poor Law Union about the price of coffins is also present in the records. For the Union, Thompson’s provided three sizes of coffin, as follows in 1907:

Adult coffins 4/3

middle size 2/6

small size 1/6

This small tidbit about their coffin prices for the Poor Law Union are made all the more interesting by the recording of their competitor’s prices, which are given as follows:

Whittle’s prices

4/3

1/9

1/5

Whittle’s offered cheaper on the middle and small coffins, but both businesses offered the same for adults to the Union. Incidentally, both firms appear to have helped each other frequently, charging each other for the use of spare horses, broughams and the like, presumably when one or the other was short of these things but had more than one funeral a day. This is one small glance at the more business oriented side of undertaking, and is invaluable in showing us how such things as the Poor Law, charities, and the prison system operated locally and on a day-to-day scale in either transporting or burying those in their care.

We’ve already seen the highly pragmatic inclusion in these records of a variety of recipes for looking after the horses which were so central to the running of the business, but the books contain recipes relating to human ailment too.  Take for example this entry on “Mugworth” [sic] :

Boil a handful in two qrts of beer

then leave Mistletoe simmer for one

hour strain bottle & Cork.

Dose:- Half a cupfull every

morning. if full dose proves too

difficult to take reduce it to a quarter

cup Morning and Night.

Or this one on Mistletoe:

1/2 lb of Mistletoe boiled in two

quarts of Water. leave simmer

until the liquid is reduced to about

a quart. Mix 1.2 pt. of common black

Treacle with it. liquid to be strained

before Treacle is added.

Dose:- Wineglass full every

morning fasting

“Mugworth is useful in

female irregularities.”

Equal quantities of Pennyroyal

and Southernwood added to it increases

its value.

Mistletoe – Useful in Hysteria, Epilepsy, St Vitus dance

and other nervous complaints, also used

as a tonic especially for the heart:-

These are but a few of the many recipes from the books, more of which I’ll be sure to post in time. For now though, this brief examination of these wonderful records, which are available for anyone to view truly do provide a unique insight into what was and remains one of the most intriguing aspects of social history.


 

[1] See Thompson’s Funeral Books, 1874-1892

[2] These are scattered throughout all four sets of the funeral books which have been digitised.

[3] See Thompson’s Funeral Books, 1910-1918 under “L”

[4] These figures are based on the following working paper: http://www.ucd.ie/geary/static/publications/workingpapers/gearywp200943.pdf

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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.

Contents

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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