Labour history
of Ireland

An index of articles on the labor history of Ireland. Covers the role of the working class in Irish history and the struggles of trade unions and other radical working class movements. This page was getting 2000 visits a month in April 2002.


Loyalist myths: King Billy revisited

The Orange Parades on and around the twelfth of July have long been a bone of serious contention and indeed a source of sectarian conflict in the Six Counties. Members of the Orange Order demand their unalienable right to march the Queen's highway, in commemoration of the victory of King William of Orange at the battle of the Boyne - a victory (as the Orangemen see it) for religious and civil liberty.


The 1798 Rebellion

In June of 1795 several Irish Protestants gathered on top of Cave Hill, overlooking Belfast. They swore " never to desist in our efforts until we had subverted the authority of England over our country and asserted our independence". Three years later 100,000 rose against Britain in the first Irish republican insurrection. Andrew Flood examines what they were fighting for and how they influenced modern Irish nationalism. [In Spanish]

You can also download, print out and distribute a PDF file of this article.

1798 rebellion leaflet

The 1798 rebellion in Ireland

A more detailed history of the rebellion that also explores the ideology and organisation behind it. The focus is on the class conflicts within the rebellion and the later attempt to hide these conflicts and replace them with catholic nationalist or even sectarian motives

1798: the United Irishmen and the early Trade Unions

The leaders of the United Irishmen were, as has often been pointed out, mainly from middle-class, prosperous backgrounds and many of them were actively opposed to combinations, the late 18th century trade unions.


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Robert Emmet and the rising of 1803

A review of the book by Ruan O' Donnell on the 1803 rising

The Robert Emmet website

The Great Hunger (Irish Famine of 1840's)

The Irish Famine was not just a result of British Government incompetence or the greed of a few landlords. But of what happens when you have a system that puts profits for the few above all else.

The Catholic church in Southern Ireland

The Catholic church in Ireland has always been massively supported by the State and allowed a huge say in the running of the country. This article will attempt to cover the facts of church power in Ireland and the long history of State support beginning hundreds of years before the establishment of the 26 county state

The Orange Order: An enemy of all workers

The reality of the Orange Order is that it is a counter-revolutionary institution set up and maintained to target not just Catholics but also 'disloyal' Protestants.

Oscar Wilde's socialism

Oscar Wilde was also inspired by politics. He was not blind to the obvious early failings of modern day society. The poverty he wrote about over a century ago, in 'The Soul of Man Under Socialism', exists on the streets of Dublin today.

The history of Anarchism in Ireland

Irish anarchism has no historical tradition. But that is not to say that there is no history at all. MacSimoin has uncovered some forgotten events and individuals.

The Emergence Of Modern Irish Socialism (1885-87)

Fintan Lane is a historian and left-wing activist. He is the author of The Origins of Modern Irish Socialism, 1881-1896 which will be published by Cork University Press on 1 May.

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The ideas of James Connolly
James Connolly is probably the single most important figure in the history of the Irish left. He was an organiser in the IWW in the USA but in Ireland is best known for his role in building the syndicalist phase of Irish union movement and for involving the armed defence body of that union, the Irish Citizens' Army in the 1916 nationalist insurrection. This left a legacy claimed at one time or another not only by all the Irish left parties but also by the nationalists of Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein.

Rosie Hackett and the union women of Jacobs Biscuits

On 22 August 1911 three thousand women at Jacob's factory withdrew their labour in pursuit of a pay claim. Jim Larkin said the conditions for the biscuit makers were 'sending them from this earth twenty years before their time'. A contemporary description of the strikers, although not exactly sympathetic to their position, shows clearly how ready workers were to support each other in times of strife.

The early Irish left and the nationalist movement

The relationship between republicanism and socialism before the war of independence

The 1913 Dublin Lockout

The formation of the syndicalist ITGWU and the lock out of 1913 that followed it.

A history of the Irish Citizen Army

The Irish Citizen Army in the 1913 Lockout

1916 - 1922 (Rising to Civil War and partition)

The 1916 rising?
We hear a lot of talk about the "spirit of 1916", what does it mean today?

The Only Hope of Ireland
Article by US anarchist Alexander Berkman written in May 1916 about the Easter rising and Irish American reaction to it

 When the Red Flag flew in Munster [In Spanish]
FARM LABOURERS STRIKES, occupations of creameries, red flags flying and 'soviets' being declared. Not usually the sort of thing associated with the years 1919-1923, the years of the War of Independence and the Civil War. This article covers the events of these years they 'forgot' to tell you about in school.

Did the Black and Tans Run from the Rifles of the IRA? *
Reviews The IRA at War 1916-1923, by Peter Hart and Tom Barry: IRA Freedom Fighter, by Meda Ryan

The Limerick soviet of 1919 [In Spanish]
The first problem facing the strikers was how to feed Limericks 38,000 inhabitants. The committee sat in secession all of Monday organising food distribution. The committee was divided into two sections, one to relieve food and one to deliver it. Hundreds of special permits were issued allowing shops to open

Syndicalism in Meath & Kildare: The 1919 General local strike
During the 'land campaign' of 1919 agricultural workers, organised through the ITGWU, conducted general action across Ireland in pursuit of improvements in wages

Why Ireland is partitioned
The economic basis for the partition of Ireland explained



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1922 - 1968 (Partition to Civil Rights)

Ireland:When the bishop's blessed the blueshirts

The Fascist origins of one of Ireland's main political parties and establishment support for Franco during the Spanish Civil War.

When the Falls and the Shankill fought together

In 1933 riots shook Belfast as Catholic and Protestant unemployed united in fighting for more

Interview: When the Falls & the Shankill fought together

This year is the 60th anniversary of the Outdoor Relief strike in Belfast, which saw unemployed Catholics and Protestants fighting alongside each other.

Republican Congress

In 1934 500 Protestants from Belfast joined the republican commomeration of Wolfe Tone at Bodenstown in Dublin. This is an introduction to their story

Captain Jack White

Captain Jack White fought in the British army during the Boer war, organised the first workers militia in Ireland during the 1913 lockout and went on to become an anarchist and fight alongside the CNT in Spain

Peadar O'Donnell and the Spanish Revolution

Donal Ó Drisceoil, historian and author of a biography of Peadar O'Donnell, looks at Salud! An Irishman in Spain, a little known account by O'Donnell of his encounter with the revolution in Spain in 1936.

When the unemployed elected their own TD

A survey of three labour exchanges showed that 90% of respondents would vote for an unemployed party if there was one running. Is this a way forward in the fight for decent jobs for all who want them? It is worth taking a look at what happened in 1957 when an unemployed candidate made it into the Dáil.

Lessons of the Civil Rights Movement

In 1968 the Civil Rights Movement was formed to demand equal rights for Northern Catholics.

1968 - present

When British army chiefs refused to obey orders

The Ulster Workers Council (UWC) strike of May 1974 was just one of the incidents that showed, far from being "impartial", the RUC and the British army did their best to prop up loyalism.

Travellers fighting back

Patricia McCarthy examines the history of Irish Travellers' struggle for civil rights and ethnic recognition. Their struggles have much in common with those of Indigenous people worldwide and with the struggles of Native Americans and Australian Aboriginals and also with the struggles of Gypsies, Travellers and nomads against racism and oppression.

The National Federation of Shop Stewards & 'New Liberty'

There is nothing new in the idea that ordinary trade unionists need to come together to look after our own interests, and the interests of the unemployed and the poor. It was done back in the 1970s to oppose the no-strike National Wage Agreements (forerunners of Partnership 2000). After the NWA was voted in the activists did not shut up shop and go home.

The hidden history of squatting in Ireland

Twenty years ago a squatting campaign forced the council to house hundreds. Here is how it happened.

The 1979 anti-tax demonstrations

On 11 March, 50,000 people marched through Dublin, most of them calling for a general strike. An estimated 150,000 or more people marched through Dublin on 20 March and other protests took place in thirty towns throughout the country, including a march by 40,000 workers in Cork.

Trouble at t'Mill: the Clondalkin Sit-Ins 1982-87

The closure of Clondalkin Paper Mills outside Dublin in January 1982, discarding 450 jobs, led to a year-long sit-in by the workers. The sit-in became the centre of a nationwide campaign of industrial, community and political solidarity

The IRA cease-fire and republican politics

The 'Irish peace process' is now well into its second year. It has brought respectability for Sinn Féin but little of consequence for the Irish working class - North or South. Gregor Kerr a member of the National Committee of the Irish Anti Extradition Committee in the late 1980s, looks at events leading up to the cease-fire and Sinn Féin's pan-nationalist strategy.

The fight for abortion rights up 1992

A review of the fight for abortion rights from 1983 to 1992 focusing on events around the X case in 1992

The November 1992 Abortion referenda

Where previously the church was an almost unquestioned authority on moral issues in Ireland, now the positions many Irish people hold on social issues are in direct conflict with the church. The most recent example of this were the abortion referenda held on November 26th, 1992.

Lessons of Trade Union Fightback

Following the vote on the Programme for Competitiveness and Work at the end of March 1994, the Trade Union Fightback (TUF) campaign was wound up. Here Gregor Kerr, an INTO member who was secretary of TUF, looks at the history and lessons of the campaign.

 Winning the Water War

In 1996 the domestic water charge was abolished. In 'Winning the Water War', Dermot Sreenan, an activist in the Federation of Dublin Anti-Water Charges Campaigns examines the campaign and the demonstration of people power that brought about the downfall of this charge.

Hobson's choice : The "Good Friday Agreement" & the Irish Left

The "Good Friday Agreement" was passed by an overwhelming majority of voters North and South. The agreement presented something of a Hobson's Choice for the Irish working-class - which route to an entrenchment of sectarianism do you want to take? Here Gregor Kerr looks at the reactions to the agreement of the Irish left.


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Mayo History and Museums
information on the history and the museums of County Mayo in the west of Ireland

A history of Ireland in Song
Excellant sight that puts traditional songs into their historical context


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