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Real Life Lockout: Recordings of the Urban Folklore Project
Female extras during the filming of the RTÉ television drama, Strumpet City, 1979 Photo: RTÉ Stills Library

Real Life Lockout: Recordings of the Urban Folklore Project

How was the Lock-out experienced by those who lived through it?

The Urban Folklore Project was conceived and managed by Séamus Ó Catháin, the archivist of the Department of Irish Folklore, University College Dublin, in the years 1979-1980. Unlike many other folklore projects in Ireland that focussed on collecting from mainly the Gaeltacht regions and rural areas, the UFP focussed exclusively on the oral tradition of Dublin City. As is the case in rural Ireland, the UFP demonstrated clearly that the people of Dublin have comparable customs and traditions, and possess a wealth of oral history. The project allowed the ordinary people of Dublin to share their own personal memories of the Great Strike and Lockout of 1913.

The selection of reminiscences presented below, preserved in magnetic tape recordings, offer a different perspective on the Great Strike to those directly involved in the event, and they provide a vivid insight into the life in Dublin. 

Mrs. Julia Mourdant, Ringsend, Dublin 4, recorded by Bróna Nic Amhlaoibh and George McClafferty in November 1979; UFP0029 National Folklore Collection UCD
The daughter of a bottle handler during the 1913 strike, Mrs Mourdant recalls the distribution of food dockets to striking workers along the docks.

Image: A view along the docks at North Wall in the early 1900s. (National Library of Ireland, Lroy11590)


Paddy “Lyrics” Murphy, Bill “Holla” Donaldson, and Michael “Kammer” Kemple, Ringsend, Dublin 4; recorded by Éilis Ní Dhuibhne and John Newman in December 1979, UFP0043 National Folklore Collection UCD

Listen to how Jim Larkin was stabbed by ‘Coogan the butcher’ who didn’t like his politics and how the people of Ringsend bore the brunt of the General Strike.

Image: A view of Ringsend some years after the Lockout (National Library of Ireland, INDH 2934)


Mrs Lil Houlton, Wood Street, Dublin 2, recorded by Móna Nic Lochlainn in January 1980; UFP0069 National Folklore Collection UCD
Lil Houlton was 15 years old when she went on strike during the Lockout. Listen below as she discusses attitudes to, and behaviour towards, ‘scab’ labour; receiving money and vouchers from the union; the contents of the ‘puck’; hearing Jim Larkin speak; relations with the police; her knowledge of the issues at the core of the dispute; the length of the working and week and the return to work following the strike.

Image: Young extras during filming of the RTÉ television series, Strumpet City, 1979 (RTÉ Stills Library)

Paddy Buttner, Kimmage Road Lower, Dublin 6, recorded by Séamus Mac Philib in January 1980; UFP0199 National Folklore Collection UCD
Paddy Buttner talks about Liberty Hall and Jim Larkin’s role in its acquisition. However, he also reflects on the roles of Countess Markievicz, Dr  Kathleen Lynne in coverting the of Liberty Hall into food kitchen. Dublin was ‘full of food but no money to buy it.’ He tells a story of going to Liberty Hall with a large jug to be filled with soup and Countess Markievicz’s kindness toward him. The women were ‘saviours of the people’.

Image: Crowds outside Liberty Hall , November 1913. It was from here that Paddy Buttner received a jug of soup from Countess Markievicz (Illustrated London News [London, England], 8 November 1913)

Paddy Buttner recalls Jim Larkin and his role in starting the trade union and buying Liberty Hall. He talks about the hardship suffered during the Lockout and the foodship which arrived from Manchester. Recalls waiting for the ship  on the ‘crammed’ quays, the arrival and unloading of the food ship and collecting two ‘pucks’ later that night.

Image: A screen shot from RTE News report on the commemoration of the voyage of the SS Hare. Click here to view the full report (

Mr & Mrs McGrath, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, recorded by Éilis Ní Dhuibhne in March 1980; UFP0248 National Folklore Collection UCD
Mr Mc Grath recalls going into town as a child and witnessing a baton charge by police. He also recalls an encounter between a ‘black-legger’, striking workers returning from Croydon Park and a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police

Image: Actor Donal McCann delivers coal in a scene from the TV series, Strumpet City (RTÉ Stills Library)


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.