Eyewitnesses Describe the Events of Bloody Sunday 1913

Tomorrow is the centenary of Bloody Sunday, the day the police baton-charged the crowd who had gathered to hear union leader Big Jim Larkin speak on O'Connell St, Dublin. It was five days into the Lockout of the Dublin workers, and the meeting had been banned by police proclamation. To commemorate the occasion, O'Connell St will be shut off for the day while President Michael D. Higgins leads the proceedings, which will include a re-enactment of Bloody Sunday by the North Inner City Heritage Group with the Dublin Council of Trade Unions.

Helena Moloney of the Irish Citizen Army and eyewitness Barney Conway describe the events of the day on 'The Great Lockout' on RTÉ Radio 1. Helena tells how she and other members of the Irish Citizen Army set about helping Jim Larkin get to the forbidden meeting on O'Connell St. She used her theatrical skills from her work in the Abbey Theatre to disguise Jim Larkin as an elderly clergyman. It was then decided that "dark horse" Nell Gifford would pose as his daughter. Nell was the sister of Grace Gifford, who married 1916 leader Joseph Plunkett the night before he was executed, and the sister of Muriel Gifford, wife of 1916 leader Thomas MacDonagh.

Successfully disguised, Nell and Jim "walked boldly" into the Imperial Hotel on O'Connell St, where Jim addressed the waiting crowd from a balcony upstairs. Helena says that the police "were very angry at being circumvented like that and they advanced on the crowd and batoned right and left". Eyewitness Barney Conway reckons the baton charge went on "for an hour or so".

'The Great Lockout' was first broadcast on 8 September 1963 and was presented by Proinsias Mac Aonghusa.

The accompanying image shows the 'Strumpet City' portrayal of Bloody Sunday, filmed outside the GPO on O'Connell St in 1979 for RTÉ Television. © RTÉ Archives 2002/039

RTÉ Radio 1 has been remembering the Lockout all week with a selection of short pieces giving a flavour of the time, the tenements, the characters involved in the dispute and how it affected the workers and their families. The Lockout series of audio pieces will be broadcast throughout the day.

Also on radio the series Citizens: Lockout 1913-2013 continues.

You can catch up with Nationwide's special on the 1913 Lockout on the RTÉ Player.

Century Ireland has plenty more about the events of the Dublin Lockout 100 years ago.

Visit our exhibition Strikes, Pickets and Protests to see some of the major workers' disputes from the last 100 years.

The image below is from the RTÉ Archives Cashman Collection and shows the police baton charge taking place. © RTÉ Archives 0510/033
Police Baton Charge, Cashman Collection

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