The Dublin Lockout was a dispute between 20,000 employees and 300 employers.

It took place in Dublin on the 26 August 1913 to 18 January 1914. Many people were very poor as they were paid very low wages and a lot of these people live in slums. TB spread through the houses very quickly and many died. People were starving and a ship arrived from Liverpool with lots of food supplies for the people of Dublin. The ship was called ‘The Hare’.

People had to compete with each other for work and it wetn to whoever would work for the lowest wage.

A man named Big Jim Larkin came to Dublin city to protest against low paid workers. He created the ITGWU and this was the first trade union to support both skilled and unskilled workers. The ITGWU stands for Irish Transport and General Workers Union. It became very popular and lots of strikes began but not all the people in Dublin agreed with Larkin’s policy. Employers became alarmed at the rise in popularity of trade unions.

Employers in Dublin even locked out their workers and employed people from England and elsewhere in Ireland. The unions helped the people who did not work. Guinness was largest employer and refused to lock out its workforce which was a good thing in those hard times. 400 of its staff were ITGWU members.

Another man who did not want unions in Ireland was William Murphy. He was from Cork and owned Clerys Department store. He owned lots of businesses in Dublin and was a Member of Parliament in England. Times were hard and as people were very poor they were forced to work long hours such as 15-20 hours a day. He did not want unions and he did not like Larkin so he sacked forty workers that were in the ITGWU and three hundred more just because they joined the union.

There was a lot of trouble in the Dublin streets and there were loads of pickets. The police had to use batons and it was very rough for a while. A big attack on a union rally on Sackville Street, now known as O’Connell Street, in August caused the death of two workers. 300 people were injured. James Larkin decided to speak out for the workers and it became known as Bloody Sunday. Larkin and his deputy James Connolly formed a workers army named the Irish Citizen Army to protect workers when marching. For seven months the lockout affected thousands of Dublin’s workers and their families.

End of the Lockout

The lockout finished in 1914. Many workers whose families were starving went back to work and signed not to join a union. The ITGWU was defeated in the Lockout and then Larking went to the United States and that was another blow. Connolly was executed for taking part in the Easter Rising in 1916.

The ITGWU did not get better pay and conditions for the workers but they made history in trying to do so.

report written by Harry Day

Sixth Class are currently learning about the 1913 Lockout, and more work will be posted here soon, so keep checking the website regularly to learn more about this fascinating period in our history