RTÉ Radio 1 Documentary: Full Series
A six part documentary on RTÉ Radio 1 series narrating the events that led to the landmark labour versus capital conflict in Dublin in 1913, exploring the leaders on both sides and questioning the legacy of Lockout 1913 for Ireland today.
Citizens: Lockout 1913-2013 brings to life a city where 100,000 people lived in one bedroom tenements and a conflict dominated by big personalities like union leader Jim Larkin and industrialist William Martin Murphy. But while Larkin's statute dominates O'Connell Street today the lockout was a crushing defeat for the city's workers and in 1914 it was Murphy not Larkin who was honoured.
Episode One: Foreshadows. 1900-1912 (Listen Here)
In episode one Citizens: Lockout 1913-2013 historians and writers including Padraig Yeates, Diarmaid Ferriter, Emmet O'Connor, Francis Devine and Mary Daly trace the roots of the Lockout, depicting Dublin in 1900-1912 and the arrival of Larkinism in Ireland through the Belfast strike of 1907. Authors James Curry, Mark O’Brien and Felix Larkin give an insight into Murphy as a newspaper czar while Ciaran Wallace explores the significance of the empire in Irish identity. ‘There was no burning desire by the majority to break free,’ says Wallace ‘certainly the nationalist favoured Home Rule, but it wasn’t the British Empire, for many it was our empire’.
We get to meet the key characters of the period Connolly, Larkin, Markievicz and Murphy and understand more of their motivation. Academic Lauren Arrington shares insights from a forthcoming biography of Markievicz on Constance Gore Booth’s journey from the big house to the picket line and ultimately 1916. Terry Fagan of the North Inner City Folklore Project through his archive collections describes the life of the poor. Producer and presenter Helen Shaw, whose grandmother Elizabeth Connolly, grew up in the Dublin city tenements, and was one of the children at Maud Gonne's 1900 protest party, explores the events, people and personalities that define the period and shape modern Irish society.
Episode Two: Bread & Roses 1913 (Listen Here)
By 1913 the elements and characters that dominate the six month Lockout are coming in place with the growing strength of Larkin's new Irish union the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. The Cork-born businessman Martin Murphy dominates Irish enterprise as President of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and leader of the Dublin Employers Federation but his energy is also focused on blocking the proposed Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery which results in a cultural war between him and poet W.B Yeats as author Ciaran Wallace details.
Actor Barry McGovern depicts Murphy through his lengthy letters to his own newspaper the Irish Independent where he attacks both Lane and the proposed gallery while we hear WB Yeats' response in his poem September 1913. Murphy's biographer Thomas Morrissey brings us into the mind of the man who refused a knighthood in 1907 and leads, not just the employers in 1913, but the newly launched Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society.
Ruth Dudley Edwards shares her critical take on the leadership of Larkin, James Connolly, Larkin's second in command, and Constance Markievicz, “Larkin was a terrible leader. He was utterly ruled by emotion. He didn’t know where he was taking people. Connolly wasn’t much better.”
Labour historian Francis Devine brings to life the songs and stories of the labour movement from 1911-1913 including ballads written by Connolly himself and the song which became the anthem of the workers 'Who Fears to Wear the Red Hand Badge'
Episode 3: Conflict (Listen here)
‘Larkin’s agenda was that he wanted to organise employees, to grow his union. But Murphy wanted to destroy Larkin. It became about Murphy and Larkin’, historian Emmet O’ Connor says about the motivation of the two sides in Lockout 1913. But while the events triggered by August 26th, and the six month worker Lockout, are symbolized by the two men it represents a class war with some 200,000 workers on one side and 300 employers on the other. In this episode we unravel the events that spark the Lockout, the forces driving both sides, and re-enact the one meeting and exchange between Larkin and Murphy in the Askwith Inquiry. Actor Barry McGovern takes the voice of Murphy while playwright Peter Sheridan gives life to Larkin.
Episode 4: Defeat. January 1914 (Listen here)
“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 .Dublin is isolated.” James Connolly
By the end of January 1914 the Lockout ended with a decisive and crushing victory for the employers. Many leave Dublin to seek work in English cities and the striking girls and women from Jacobs are worst off. Most do not get work again and those that do are not allowed back until April. “And for women to walk down the quays in cold, miserable weather, without adequate clothes, to collect the parcel of food, was degrading... They lost their belongings, and they pawned everything they had. Many ended up losing their homes because they were evicted.”
Episode 5: Consequences. 1914-1916 (Listen here)
“There is not I think, it’s fair to say, a direct link between the Lockout of 1913 and the Rising of 1916, that would be a misreading of history.” says historian Diarmaid Ferriter.
By mid 1914 Larkin is in the United States and with the outbreak of war Home Rule is parked. The bitter poverty of Dublin deepens and thousand of unemployed Irishmen enlist in the British Army, much to the horror of the Irish Citizen Army leader James Connolly.
Many see 1913 as a precursor to 1916 but for Ferriter that is a rear mirror view of events. “Sometimes I think that we look back at the Lockout and its legacy and we read history backwards. We think of it as this iconic event and something that was not successful for the workers at the time, but ultimately can be considered a success because of the extent to which it developed a conscience and a consciousness of the status of Labour” Diarmaid Ferriter
In Episode 5 we explore the impact of defeat on not just the trade union movement but also on our key characters. Is it the defeat of Lockout or the outbreak of World War One which defines 1916? We hear the voices of Connolly and Larkin read by Ronnie McCann and Stephen Murray as well as the views of historians and commentators including Padraig Yeates, Diarmaid Ferriter and Ruth Dudley Edwards.
Episode 6: Legacy 1913-2013 (Listen here)
What is the legacy of the Lockout today and how has it shaped Irish society?
We hear from contemporary leaders including Labour party Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, Senator Ivana Bacik, Former Fine Gael cabinet Minister Gemma Hussey andMartin Murphy’spresent today in the person of Irish Business Employers Confederation (IBEC) Chief Executive Danny McCoy and General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg and SIPTU Vice-President Patricia King.
We also hear from Managing Director of the Irish Times Liam Kavanagh who is currently president of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, one hundred years after William Martin Murphy was president independent equality consultant Niall Crowley and newspaper columnist Kevin Myers give their views on how the anniversary of the Lockout should be commemorated. “And on every occasion, I would rather have a world run by William Martin Murphy than James Larkin.” Kevin Myers.
Citizens: Lockout 1913-2013 is an Athena Media production for RTÉ Radio 1 made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
Producer/presenter: Helen Shaw
Audio editor: Amy Millar
Original music: Michael Gallen