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‘The Task of Remembering the Lockout of 1913’ Address to The Universities Ireland Conference

Liberty Hall, 15th June 2013

I wish to thank you for the invitation to open this annual Universities Ireland Conference and I thank Andy Pollak, Director of Universities Ireland in particular for his invitation to join you today.

This series of annual conferences ‘Reflecting on a decade of War and Revolution in Ireland 1912 – 1923’ is an important, and enabling, contribution to contemporary public discussion and the necessary reflection we might, with benefit, make on the dramatic and painful events that defined the period before, and during, the emergence of our independent State, a State handed on to us not only for the living but also for reflection and renovation, using history as our prism, and seeking to benefit from the new technology in our task of understanding.

What we are discussing this weekend is the most significant event in Irish Trade Union history, indeed in Irish social history of the early 20th Century – the Great Lockout in Dublin.  The Lockout, of course, takes place in a decade of great change and turmoil that also includes the shadow of the Home Rule Acts, the founding of the Ulster Volunteers, the Irish Volunteers in 1912, the Dublin Lockout in 1913, the Citizen Army, the 1914 World War, the Rising of 1916, the executions which followed, and a decade that would be succeeded by a bitter Civil War that went on to influence Irish politics and society for decades afterwards.

Irish history has benefitted from a recent scholarship that has a powerful democratic resonance in the manner in which it has allowed the experience of citizens in general to make its way into the received narratives of our founding events.  I think, for example, of Kevin C. Kearns’  Dublin Lost – Heroines or his earlier Dublin Tenement Life:  An Oral History.

The writing around the Great Lockout in recent times has benefitted too as others have, from the application of new technology that helps fill the gaps left by the shelling during the Civil War of the locations where our archives were deposited.

Such a centenary event as this is, is enormously assisted by new developments.    The application of the new technology that has given us the digitization of the 1911 census forms and before that the 1901 census.  The 1908 Electoral Roll for the city of Dublin has been digitized and is on-line.  The Electoral Rolls for 1913 and 1914 are on the way to being digitized.   The Century Ireland on-line project too, a joint venture between the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Boston College, the National Cultural Institutions and RTÉ which hosts the site, was launched just a month ago.

All of this application of the new technology to the task of public history is most welcome as it makes such a positive contribution to an engaged citizenship.  The fact that access is free is all the more admirable, and, one hopes that the widest use possible will be made of these new tools in teaching and that it will lead to an enthusiastic acceptance of the importance, not only of history, but of quality teaching of history.

We are all indebted to the valuable work of the historians who have written about the Lockout and who by doing so kept alive the public interest in it as the important event that it was, and that it remains.

I have expressed elsewhere the debt those such as myself owe, when speaking on the Lockout, to such historians as Pádraig Yeates, whose seminal work Lockout Dublin 1913 I have often referred to, Donal Nevin whose work on Connolly and the correspondence between Larkin and  Connolly I have often consulted, Dermot Keogh, Paul O’Brien, Nelson O’Ceallaigh Ritschel and Diarmaid Ferriter who have been of great assistance not just to such as myself, but also to the cultural institutions and to my own attempts; and there were many many more who have researched, written, and shared their insights.

The very first book I read, and that drew my attention to, not only the Lockout, but to the lives of those Dubliners in the tenements was David Krause’s work on the life and work of Sean O’Casey.  For me, it is O’Casey’s voice that lingers with me and that illustrates for me the conflict between all of the forces that were seeking hegemony for their role in the new State.

What were these forces?  They included those who sought separatism within an empire; a lesser number who sought a full republic, a lesser number still who sought a republic built on ideas of egalitarianism.    There were those too, and in large numbers, who sought a form of autonomy which did not include recognition of either the value, or the rights, of those who laboured.  There existed, as an authoritarian force across all groups, a strong and powerful clericalism that influenced both nationalism and a fragile, if militant, trade unionism informed by new ideas, ideas mediated through the tough experience of dock labour or factory conditions.  A version of organised labour was seeking to struggle into existence by those who believed in transformative power of labour organized internally to change society.  The numbers who favoured a nationalism that not only saw no room for, but was opposed to socialism were many, and they were encouraged by both the voices of a propertied nationalist ideology, held by such as Arthur Griffith, and a timid craft trade unionism influenced inter alia by a pietistic version of spirituality driven home with the fierce authoritarianism of a post famine Church, led by Bishops who rushed to condemn that which would place workers’ rights as a challenge to their authority.

Into this atmosphere Larkin introduced an organisational energy that turned Dublin into a city in turmoil with regular disputes, some won, some lost, but on its way to organised trade union activity.  The fact that the trade union movement in Ireland was, not only linked, but integrated into British Trade Unionism created its own problems – problems in relation to accommodating, what some have called, Larkin’s version of Syndicalism but which William Martin Murphy was happy to call Larkinism.  The difficulties that would be encountered in the building of a solidarity that could go beyond the most generous compassion and be turned into a united campaign of strike action were clear very early in the relationship between Jim Larkin and those who administered the British TUC.

Even Syndicalists saw Larkinism as an undisciplined and fiery variation to their historical project; then too those trade unionists who wished to keep their loyalty to the Church as a principle of their conservative trade unionism, would later take sides and become available as allies to Larkin’s opponents.   For political Labour too, differences between Connolly who favoured a political voice and Larkin who wished to work through trade union militancy, created its own problems, for example, in the deals, for which Connolly blamed Larkin in implementing the Clonmel decision to build a Labour Party taken in 1912.

As to Nationalists there were those who favoured militarism, and who invoking a previous set of insurrectionary efforts prepared for a strike at empire.  The majority of nationalists of the parliamentary kind were those who sought self-determination within empire, and they in turn might be divided between those who continued to place their trust in the concessions that might be offered by a British Parliament and those who felt unhappy that Irish identity was the price to be paid, but perhaps it was inevitable, and those who simply were losing hope, convinced that their efforts within parliamentarianism had been, and would be, betrayed.

It was when I read Krause’s book all those years ago that I could see that
those on whom O’Casey bestowed his greatest admiration were those such as Sheehy Skeffington, pacifist, humanitarian and internationalist who believed that non-violent change could be achieved.  This was a view that Sean O’Casey would continue to hold long after the Lockout was over.

Sean O’Casey in his The Story of the Irish Citizen Army, published in 1919, and which Paul O’Brien has called the earliest revision, has not forgiven James Connolly for leaving what O’Casey called the narrow but fruitful path of socialism for what he called the crowded broad highway of Nationalism as he writes:

“In Sheehy-Skeffington, and not in Connolly, fell the first martyr to Irish Socialism, for he linked Ireland not only with the little nations struggling for self-expression, but with the world’s Humanity struggling for a higher life.

He indeed was the ripest ear of corn that fell in Easter Week, and as it is true that when an ear of corn falls into the ground and dies it brigeth, forth much fruit, so will the sown body of Sheehy-Skeffington bring forth, ultimately, in the hearts of his beloved people, the rich crop of goodly thoughts which shall strengthen us all in our onward march towards the fuller development of our National and Social Life.”

This utopian vision of a younger Seán Ó Cathasaigh as to what was possible in an independent Ireland would give way under the onslaught of the deep conservative forces with which he was opposed.  His plays would be condemned by an authoritarian clericalism that sought to instill obedience and favoured a pietistic acceptance of life as it was including the heroic acceptance of poverty.   In the following years Sean O’Casey would come to the realisation that repression, insularity, censorship, would be the characteristics of those who would hold power in the new State, and that would be the ethos they would reflect and seek to establish.

Kevin C. Kearns’ work has been dealing with those who lived in the tenements, particularly those whom he calls Dublin’s Lost Heroines – the women.  Now we can access their living experience through the 1901 and 1911 Census forms.

The Census was taken in once great Georgian houses that might have been bought for £8,000 in 1791 but had been sold 50 years later for £500.  In 1990 6,000 tenement houses housed one third of the population of Dublin; and in the year Douglas de hÍde moves into Áras an Uachtaráin – 1938 – 111,950 persons lived in 6,307 tenements.

As new opportunities arise to examine the census forms the actual experience of Dubliners who lived in the tenements at the time of the Lockout is now possible.   There are opportunities, which I welcome, for historians to draw on both qualitative as well as quantitive material.

Within the forces competing for influence in any possible new State there were contradictory versions of freedom.  For example, while claiming a radical rhetoric of a Nationalist kind property owners could mount a powerful opposition to what they perceived to be an unstoppable force, if not blocked, organised labour – what they called Larkinsim.   On such an opposition some leading nationalists and the more fundamentalist Clericalists could collude.

In the Lenten pastorals of 1912, as Krause wrote the Irish Bishops continued to ignore the inferno of the slums and issued stern warnings about the dangers of Socialism ‘the evil is spreading’, every year is adding new recruits to this professionally anti-Christian Body.  The false flag of “a heaven here below” is being waved before our Irish people by the paid agents of Socialism.  ‘The Irish Independent carried editorials warning of ‘Satanic Socialism’.

As to Jim Larkin, David Krause had the benefit of many conversations with Sean O’Casey, conversations which informed not only the work to which I have made reference, but also later work they completed together.  Krause concluded that, for Sean O’Casey, indeed as for so many others, Jim Larkin with his rallying cry “An injury to one is a concern of all” was the major source of influence on the events of the Lockout.

“Larkin, then was the crucial figure and personal hero of O’Casey’s early manhood.  Both men had lived through years of great hardship and they were inspired by a common cause.  Larkin was born in 1876 in Liverpool of a Northern Irish family, and at the age of nine he was working forty hours a week in a dairy and a butcher shop, earning 2s.6d. plus a penny currant bun, and a glass of milk on Saturday night.  As a young man he became a sailor, then a docker at Liverpool, where he became active in the dockers’ union.  Before he came to Dublin in 1907, his attempts to organise workers in Belfast and Cork had led to strikes, and the news of his rousing oratory and militant union principles preceded him.  Rumours were spread about the city that he was the anti-Christ, and that he wore his familiar wide-brimmed black hat in order to cover the third eye he had in the centre of his forehead.  But Larkin who, as he said, ‘feared God but no man’, soon convinced the wretched slum-dwellers that they had no choice but to organize and fight.  Addressing them in Liberty Hall, the union headquarters, or at street meetings in Beresford Place, he defined their cause and shipped up their courage; he sang songs, quoted passages from the Bible, Shakespeare, and Shelley.”

Before the events that constitute the Lockout there had been a number of strikes.  Some had been successful in winning increases in wages and better conditions.  There had been a lockout in Wexford in 1912 which, without the support for the employers, indeed support for those locked out by the provision of credit, solidarity and conviction – it was a lockout that failed from the employers’ perspective.

There had been a number of strikes in Dublin and elsewhere which had been successful to a significant degree, and some attempts at introducing the Lockout tactic itself by employers such as Sir W.G. Goulding.  There had, of course, been the significant 1907 dockers’ and carters’ strikes in Belfast, the 1908 Cork dockers’ strike and indeed a number of other confrontations between capital and labour in a number of forms, particularly between dockers and their employers.

Pádraig Yeates’ seminal Lockout Dublin 1913 gives a very fine account of these circumstances and also of the tensions that existed in the Trade Union Movement in the lead up to the Lockout.  He gives us a very clear account too of how the principals William Martin Murphy and Jim Larkin prepared for what would be their great test, a test which would decide no less than the future of organised labour in Ireland.

William Martin Murphy in the journey from his Cork origins to becoming the leading employer across a wide breath of the economy with interests in newspapers, Dublin Tramways, hotels, and retail and drapery, had acquired status and reputation.

Arnold Wright in his Disturbed Dublin, a commissioned account of the Lockout from an employer’s, and particularly William Martin Murphy’s perspective, writes glowingly of the career of Mr. Murphy through railway projects in England, Scotland, Ireland and West Africa, as to his character:

“Few Dublin employers have a higher reputation for kindliness and perfect consideration for those not so well endowed with this worldly goods as he is himself.
But Mr. Murphy, as is often the case with men of his temperament will not be bullied.  He acts moreover, up to the spirit of Polonius, familiar advice to …..

…Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in bear’t that the opposed be beware of those opposed to him certainly had reason, before he had done with them, to beware of him.”

Crucially, in the course of his rise he had achieved control not only of the Irish Independent, the Evening Herald he had also, in addition, the Irish Catholic in his ownership through which he could install a deep antipathy to everything associated with organised labour.  He was more than thirty years older than Larkin and, while he carried the reputation of being physically frail, he had an experience of political intrigue that was second to none, and he had an ally in Timothy Healy whom Pádraig Yeates describes as “Murphy’s closest political confidante”.   Pádraig Yeates quotes rural radical William O’Brien’s description of the relationship between Murphy and Healy   “Mr. Murphy bought the knives and Mr. Healy did the stabbing”.

Pádraig Yeates’ description of the preparations is detailed and extremely valuable:

“Both sides prepared carefully for the coming battle.  Despite his dislike to public speaking, Murphy arranged a meeting to address DUTC workers on Saturday, 19 July.  It was held at midnight so as not to interfere with tram schedules.

Six known ITGWU activists had been sacked earlier in the day to help set the mood; but for the rest of the workers there was Bovril and sandwiches to guard against the chill night air as they arrived at the Ancient Concert Rooms in Great Brunswick Street (Pearse Street).  Each employee who turned up also received a half-day’s extra pay.  Murphy, who was accompanied by the other DUTC directors, told the seven hundred assembled workers that he was well aware of Larkin’s efforts to recruit them.  He assured them that he had ‘not the slightest objection to the men forming a legitimate union,’ provided they did not ally themselves with ‘disreputable organisations’ or become tools of

“The labour dictator of Dublin … A strike in the tramway would, no doubt, produce turmoil and disorder created by the roughs and looters, but what chance would the men, without funds, have in a context with the Company, who could and would spend £100,000 or more.”

Making a point he returned to constantly when discussing industrial relations, whether with employees or his fellow-employers, Murphy told the tramway men that the company’s shareholders ‘will have three meals a day,’ whether the strike succeeded or not.  ‘I don’t know if the men who go out can count on this.”

Murphy indicated that it was Larkinism not membership of a trade union that be opposed.  This assertion is, of course, contradicted by the fact that he had opposed the formation of a union in more than one previous dispute.

Pádraig Yeates tells us of how Larkin could reply in kind when it came to polemic or abuse.  In his paper The Irish Worker he referred to Murphy as ‘the most foul and vicious blackguard that ever polluted a country’ and “a creature who was living on the sweated victims who were compelled to slave for this modern capitalistic vampire”.

William Martin Murphy’s preparations included his decision to use the vehicle of the Dublin Employers’ Federation which he saw as more capable of advancing his agenda of smashing Larkin and the ITGWU.  It was that body who would go on to issue the statement on behalf of 404 firms requiring workers to sign the following pledge:

“To immediately resign my membership of the ITGWU.”

and if they were not members already employees were asked to give an undertaking that they would:

“Not join, or in any way, support this union”

which would initiate what would come to be known as ‘The Great Lockout’.  Thirty-seven Dublin Unions acted in solidarity and in response, William Martin Murphy and the Federation had been preparing during July and August for the confrontation and thus Murphy had arranged with the British Authorities that in such a confrontation as might affect the tramway workers he would be “assured of the most ample protection for his men by the forces of the Crown”.

Arnold Wright wrote that “Mr. Murphy was a Nationalist of a type once more common than is today.  With O’Connell and Issac Butt and others of a bygone generation, he sees an incompatibility between Ireland’s right to mould her own destinies and a complete loyalty to the King”.

On August 12 1913 a notice was posted in all tramway depots stating that there would be no recognition for “Mr. Larkin or his union”.  Meanwhile as the notes for the ITGWU 75th anniversary in 1988 of the Lockout tell us, Larkin was more cautious at this point as he was attempting to build on the gains already made, and he sought to secure a long term gain.  Larkin had proposed a scheme for a conciliation board which had been carried by the Committee of the Employers’ Federation by 18 votes to 3.  In doing this he thought he could establish the principle of trade union rights to organisation among the employers.  It was clear however, that William Martin Murphy had adverted to such a tactic and had decided that the conciliation board proposal had to be smashed.

In the ITGWU document of 1988 Alan MacSiomoin tells us of the opening of the struggle:

“On August 21st nearly 200 men and boys in the parcels office of the Tramway Company received the following notice:- “As the directors understand that you are a member of the Irish Transport Union, whose methods are disorganising the trade and business of the city, they do not further require your services.  The parcels traffic will be temporarily suspended.  If you are not a member of the union when traffic is resumed your application for
re-employment will be favourable considered”.

On the morning of August 26th, the first day of Horse Show week, Murphy got a shock.  At ten o’clock the tram drivers took out their union badges and pinned them in the buttonholes.  They then walked off their trams, leaving them stranded in the middle of the road.  The strike was on.  The demands were reinstatement of the parcels staff, and equality of hours and wages with the tramway workers of Belfast.”

The Lockout, and the response to it in terms of solidarity strikes was now underway.   It would last from 26th August 1913 to the 18th January 1914.

Jim Larkin saw it as a struggle for a workers co-operative commonwealth.  William Martin Murphy would later say that it was not profit that really motivated him but the challenge of the game of business.

The media battle would be crucial.  Not only in his daily papers but regularly using the Irish Catholic where William Martin Murphy published suitable statements from Bishops and, of course, Lenten pastorals warned of the imminent threat of what they called Satanic Socialism.  Murphy had frequent recourse to the themes of hunger and poverty.  Again the 1988 ITGWU document on the 75th Anniversary gives a typical quote from the paper of September 6th:

“They are poor and have naught, but if they were rich tomorrow debauchery would soon have them in poverty again … by folly or by malice of their so-called leader, they have been placed in deplorable straits … all of this to gratify the vengeful whims of an adventurer who has been battening on their credibility.”

By September 27th there were 24,000 locked out and within another two weeks the number has risen to 30,000.   Thirty-two unions were involved in support of the ITGWU and pamphlets were describing the struggle as a struggle to the end for trade union principles.

The support that had been indicated in advance for the Employers’ Federation by the State was delivered dramatically on August 31st  1913. Jim Larkin was billed to address, as main speaker, a meeting on that day.  With the assistance of some actors and others he, despite his being on bail, which required him to be disguised, appeared on the balcony of the Imperial Hotel, a hotel owned by William Martin Murphy.  He was quickly arrested but the main impact of the meeting was to be borne by the crowd who had been gathered in support.

The Dublin Metropolitan Police with the support of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the British Army batton-charged the crowd who were demonstrating, killing one and injuring hundreds more.  Others would die in the following days including John Byrne and Alice Brady who was shot in the wrist while carrying home a food parcel and who contracted tetanus.  There was no doubt now as to which side the State would favour.  As Nelson O’Ceallaigh Ritschel has written “the carnage on the 31st August gave Ireland its first Bloody Sunday and made it clear that the Government’s forces were on the employers’ side”.

Artists were loud in condemnation.  Yeats spoke out against the Irish media’s essays against the locked out workers but the most reported meeting was perhaps the meeting in the Albert Hall which was addressed by James Connolly, George Bernard Shaw and (Col.) George Russell.  That meeting on November 1st was widely reported and it is at that meeting Shaw suggested the arming of the workers in defence of themselves was made, and while Jim Larkin had earlier spoken of workers defending themselves, Shaw’s remarks were significant, leading perhaps to the founding of the Citizen Army under Captain Jack while in Dublin just a couple of weeks later.

I am sure that in the papers and discussion that will follow you will have an opportunity to interrogate the tactics on each side and evaluate their impact.  It is important too, to take account of what has been written in the new scholarship and their fresh perspective, on the personalities and the formative influences on them.

There is after all quite an amount of scholarship and new evaluations that are now available.  In addition to Arnold Wright’s Disturbed Dublin  – The Story of The Great Strike which presented a more favourable account of what motivated William Martin Murphy, described by a contemporary G.K. Chesterton as “full of cold anger, not without a perverted piety” we have not only the much later work of Thomas J. Morrissey, William Martin Murphy published in 1997 but a number of theses and articles.  In the years that followed publication there have been further monographs addressing such issues as ‘what was gained and what was lost?’  What was the legacy for those in the tenements?
What were the consequences for those who returned to work and those who were not allowed to return?  Time does not allow me to suggest answers but I am sure the Conference will address them.

Further questions might deal with the atmosphere that was created by the arrival of food aid from the British TUC.  The food that was sent would have a value in today’s terms of more than €10 million in contemporary terms.  However the opposition to Larkinism within the British TUC would eventually prevail.

As Paul O’Brien tells us in his ‘The Great Lockout – a Survey’ published in 1913:

“In 1913 a special trade union congress was called in England to deal with the demand that the British workers come to the support of their brothers and sisters in Dublin by supporting strikes and a blockade of Dublin.
The officials of the British trade unions turned this congress into an effort to defeat Jim Larkin and without the support of British workers Dublin went down to defeat”.

The vote at the Conference where delegates were largely chosen or selected was 2,280,000 votes to 203,000.

In February 1914, as the strike went down to defeat, in the Scottish socialist paper ‘Forward’, Connolly lashed the British trade union bureaucrats who had sacrificed the workers of Dublin ‘in the interests of sectional officialism’.  In this article there is no talk of a ‘drawn battle’.  He spells out the terrible defeat they suffered:

“And so, we Irish workers must go down into hell, bow our backs to the lash of the slave driver, let our hearts be seared by the iron of his hatred, and instead of the sacramental wafer of brotherhood and common sacrifice, eat the dust of defeat and betrayal.”

Yet the Union, with the heroic efforts of its members and organizers, recovered sufficiently to defeat a lockout at the Dublin Steam Packet Company in 1915 as other employers refused to join with William Martin Murphy and by 1921 the ITGWU had 120,000 members all over the country.

I believe that the statement I have quoted by James Connolly is of immense significance in understanding his decision to involve The Citizen Army a few years later in the disciplined component of the insurrection in the 1916 Rising.

It is interesting how the events of the Lockout changed some within the Nationalist perspective from both their clericalism and their rather narrow nationalism.  Among those who changed their position in relation to the theatrical representation of events, as O’Ceallaigh Ritschel outlines was Padraig Pearse, who having earlier participated in the outrage against John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World would support the Lockout  and describe the atmosphere of the confrontation as generating scenes such as would make ‘a Synge-like play’.

Again reflecting the fact that  so many of the movements were full of contradictions, Pearse was warned by no less a person, than one of my predecessors, as Uachtarán na hEireann, Douglas de hÍde, that Pearse’s public support for the Lockout and the workers was not consistent with his membership of the Gaelic League or the revival movement.  That organisation, of course, had already lost one of its most serious supporters Sean O’Cathasaigh who felt that neither its conservatism nor its class composition was conducive to what he had in mind for the emancipation of working people using their own language.

We are left with an invitation, have been given an opportunity, to seek to know more from the materials now becoming available.   If, in the short term, William Martin Murphy had won in the sense that workers were forced to return to work he had not succeeded in his long term aim of smashing the ITGWU.  Again, after the Lockout no-one could ever again deny the reality of tenement living.  After the Church Street disaster, where fifteen people were trapped in the rubble: six died, and at least seven were seriously injured no-one could any longer deny the conditions in which people were living in housing owned by slum landlords and speculators.  The collapse of the houses, of no. 66 and 67 Church Street simply brought the housing issue to the fore.  The Committee of Enquiry, which followed, set up by the Government to study housing in the city reported that of the 400,000 people living in Dublin 87,305 lived in tenements in the centre of the city.  Four out of five of these families occupied but one room each.

Life was a struggle for survival and to have any income was simply a means to stay alive or feed hungry children.  It was from these houses that the workers in the Lockout came.  It was from these houses too that the men who enlisted in the British army came.  By the end of the war Diarmaid Ferriter writes “25,644 Dubliners had served.  This is unsurprising given that a labourer could expect to earn between 16 and 18 shillings for a 48 hour week.  While the weekly separation allowance for a British army recruit was 12s. 6d.                    The serving husband received 1 shilling a day, along with free board and lodging.  If the couple had children the family was much better off, with separation rates rising to £1.00 for a wife and children.   “All of the aspirations for independence, for the right to organise, to be free from hunger, to have your children live, or even to be buried, come to the fore in the Lockout”.

The Lockout shone a light on a Dublin that could never again be denied, one that would come to light in James Plunkett’s Strumpet City, and while we may be informed in our insights from such literary work that is faithful to the lives of those who lived at the time so much more historical research is now possible, and I wish all of the historians well in their pursuit of it.

For me, it is the exposing of all the violence that stems from the assumptions of workers without rights, from the collusion of State power with unrestrained capital that is so clear.  It is clear too that there were many who had simply nothing left to lose and while there was the humiliation of a return to work, or the grinding down into poverty of those not allowed to do so there was the knowledge that the bigger aim of the right to be organised had not been defeated for those children who would come after them.   The Lockout too saw for a moment utopias come into being, some or all of which would be snuffed out, but never fully, as O’Casey’s words remind us.

The Lockout showed too the sharp distinction between matters of the spirit and matters of enforced piety.  It revealed the abuse that was possible from the colonisation of the spirit and the ruthlessness of clerical collusion with property with its corrosive suggestion that not rights but pity, and philanthropy at best was all that a starving population of one of the most populous cities of the empire could expect.  Finally, in a powerful connection with the Famine of a previous century, the use of the instruments of hunger and starvation to force a citizenry into submission would mean that the Great Dublin Lockout would never be forgotten, nor should it be, and the struggle should continue not only for bread, but roses too and the right to dream of societies with universal rights based on human dignity as one looks at the plough and the stars in a sky we share and that bears no mark yet of property or the private.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.