The History Show

The History Show

Sunday, 6pm

The History Show Sunday 24 November 2013

The History Show

The History Show

Bringing the past to life! Discover how our world was shaped as Myles Dungan and guests explore events ranging from medieval times to the recent past

1913 Lockout Oral History

100 Years Later – the Legacy of the Lockout” is the culmination of an oral history project run by Mary Muldowney and Ida Milne in which they, along with trained volunteers from the 1913 Alternative Visions Oral History Group talked to descendants of people who were involved in the Lockout.   The book contains their stories as told to them by their fathers, mothers and close relations. Mary Muldowney spoke about the project and the people’s stories on the programme.

100 Years Later – The Legacy of the Lockout

By Mary Muldowney

It is now widely recognised that the everyday memories of so-called “ordinary” people, not just the rich and famous, have historical importance. If we do not collect and preserve those memories, those stories, then one day they will disappear forever. Stories passed from generation to generation can also offer great insight into the way people lived and the small and large events that shaped their lives. Correlating such stories across several generations, however, presents significant challenges as the information is transformed by time and memory.

In September 2012, twenty people gathered in the training rooms of the Technical Electrical and Engineering Union (TEEU) in Dublin to meet Ida Milne and myself, Mary Muldowney. They were all trade union members and they wanted to learn how to collect oral histories related to the 1913 Dublin Lockout, and Ida and I were ready to train them. Those present were the first participants in the 1913 Alternative Visions Oral History Group and several of them are contributors to this book. Other members of the group have given assistance in different ways, all voluntarily, in the best traditions of trade union activists.

The oral history training programme was generously sponsored by the TEEU. It was designed to develop a capacity among trade union members to set up and deliver oral history interviews that follow best ethical, legal and technical practice to enable the course participants in the future to apply their skills to the collection of their unions’ histories. Some of the chapters in this book show that this work is already underway.

It was not just the members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union and the members of the unions that supported them in 1913/14 who felt the impact of the events of that fateful six months in Dublin’s history. Many families have proudly passed down the stories they were told about the involvement of their grand-parents or great grand-parents to younger generations. Other families have been silent, perhaps because of the trauma that they suffered during the Lockout. In one hundred years it is also possible that stories have simply been forgotten.

Post-memory describes the relationship of second and later generations to powerful, sometimes even traumatic experiences that preceded their births but that were nevertheless transmitted to them so deeply as to generate memories in their own right. It can often be difficult to distinguish between what the interviewee remembers for him or herself and the memory that has been passed on by someone else but overall the transmission of those memories, particularly within a family or other tightly knit community, such as a trade union branch, contributes to the understanding of the events that are being described. The post-memories elicited in the oral history interviews featured in this book are used to explore the influence of the Lockout “legend” on families and communities who had connections with the original actors in the Lockout story.

The Lockout occupies an important place in the collective memory of many trade unionists as well as in the wider consciousness of past events that shaped Ireland’s history. The centenary has been commemorated locally and nationally in art, film, history and music and this book is intended to contribute to the increasing recognition that the Lockout was an important event in itself and was not a mere “opening act” for the 1916 rising or any of the later milestone events in Irish history. It represented a significant event in Irish history and it is encouraging to see that this centenary year has prompted the analysis and reflection on the nature of that significance that such an iconic episode deserves.

In oral history, trust is the key to good interviews, especially when you are dealing with emotionally or politically sensitive issues. It can take time and patience on the part of the interviewer to build a working relationship that allows the interviewee to open up. One of the advantages possessed by many of the interviewers who collected the oral histories in this book is that they had the trust of their interviewees, either through prior acquaintance or even closer relationship or because of their mutual membership of an altruistic organisation like a community group or a trade union.

The book opens with Alex Klemm’s exploration of the Witness Statements in the Bureau of Military History. Alex has used the online access to this extensive database of statements by veterans of the national struggle for independence to search for evidence of connections between the activities of the Witnesses in the revolutionary period up to 1921 and any earlier politicisation because of their involvement in the Lockout. The interviewers who collected the Witness Statements between 1947 and 1957 were not instructed to ask about the Lockout. Their brief, according to the Director’s Report from 1957 that is quoted on the website was “to assemble and co-ordinate material to form the basis for the compilation of the history of the movement for Independence from the formation of the Irish Volunteers on 25 November 1913, to the 11 July 1921”.

In Wexford in 1911/12 the 700 locked out workers from the town’s three foundry companies achieved a victory that was to elude the Dublin strikers, at least in the immediate aftermath of the Lockout. The centenary commemoration of the events was chaired by the then Mayor of Wexford, Councillor David Hynes, himself a life-long trade unionist from a family who were also committed to the labour movement. John Gibbons’s chapter explores the impact of the Lockout on the Hynes family but also on the town. John pays particular attention to the memory of the role played by Richard Corish, who came to the fore as a labour activist in 1911 and was to go on to spend the rest of his life in national politics as a Labour Party T.D. for Wexford. In terms of post-memory, David Hynes was greatly influenced by Michael Enright, who wrote a history in 1987 of the Wexford Lockout.

Alan MacSimóin’s chapter is based on an interview with Moira Crawford, great grand-niece of James Nolan, who was killed during the Dublin Lockout. The trauma associated with the event was perpetuated in the next generation, as James Nolan’s children were to suffer greatly after the loss of their father. The particular difficulties that afflicted the children resulted in a reluctance among some of the later generations to talk about what happened, while others are proud to claim their ancestor’s association with a struggle for the dignity and respect of working people.

Activism in a trade union accompanied by broader political activity in the labour movement is not uncommon in Ireland. Jim Quinn, the subject of Mick Halpenny’s chapter, was a seaman whose parents were friends of Larkin and “Big Jim” was a familiar visitor in the Quinn household. Jim Quinn was well connected in other ways, particularly to Barney Conway, often cited as the model for the heroic character of “Mulhall” in James Plunkett’s Strumpet City. Political allegiances were strong in the Quinn family and in typically Irish fashion, often quite contradictory.

Des Dalton’s interview with Úna Ó Callanáin, granddaughter of Michael Mallin, underlines the extent to which recall is shaped by the relative importance placed on the key events or people that prompt the recollection of memories. Séamus Mallin, eldest son of Michael met his father in Kilmainham Jail the night before he was killed and the memory of that trauma naturally affected him all his life. This is the key memory that has been passed through the family and they are less familiar with Michael Mallin’s activities during the Lockout although Úna believes that her father inherited his own father’s passion for social justice, which prompted his involvement in the 1916 rising and his early death.

The cataclysm of the Dublin Lockout is often described as if it were a clash between two men, rather than the pitching of more than 20,000 families against both the Dublin Employers’ Federation and the forces of the State in the shape of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary. In Ida Milne’s chapter on the experience of living with the stories of a legendary ancestor, she discusses the reflections of William Martin Murphy’s great grandson, Gerry and James Larkin’s granddaughter, Stella. The former is anxious that Murphy should also be remembered for creating jobs in Ireland, not merely as the grabbing capitalist vulture of Ernest Kavanagh's caricature. Similarly, Stella remembers her grandfather with great fondness, as an amiable man, although others in this work have described a more mercurial personality. Even titans have families, and these two are recalled in the context of their families.

Family stories of Larkin’s influence on one of his followers shapes the next chapter, written by me, which examines how John Fitzpatrick’s involvement in the 1913 Lockout affected not just his own life but was also an important element in the long engagement of both his sons in the trade union movement. Seamus and Martin Fitzpatrick have spent years as activists in IMPACT and the National Union of Journalists respectively. They remember their father’s lifelong admiration for Larkin, even though he was more involved in republican activity than the labour movement after the Lockout ended. It is clear from their stories that their father’s personal code of honesty and loyalty was as strong an influence on the two men as was their family’s history of political commitment in the struggle for independence.

Sarah Lundberg and Joe Mooney collaborated in their chapters, which are written as two parts of an analysis of the impact of the Lockout on the East Wall docklands community in Dublin. The first part is based mainly on interviews with residents of the area. Some of the interviewees worked on the docks and act now as the conservators of the history of the community and the workplaces and work practices that were specific to the locality. Sarah and Joe are particularly engaged by the role played by strike-breakers and the second part of their contribution concentrates on a survey of “scabs” in Ireland and Britain, as background to some of the stories they have been told in their ongoing collection of the oral histories of East Wall.

In the following chapter, I explore the impact of the Lockout on women in terms of their struggle to feed themselves and their families; coping with living in often very severely sub-standard accommodation and in the context of their trade union activism. The analysis is informed by interviews with several women who are talking about women who lived through 1913 and others who were influenced by the stories they heard about it.


One interview is with Phil Crowley, Rosie Hackett’s second cousin, who remembers meeting her famous relative when a child. Rosie’s family did not talk about her activities in 1913, any more than Michael Mallin’s family did, and it was not until many years later that Phil came to know more about her. Another interview is with Aileen Morrissey who has been active in trade unions all her working life, to some extent because of the influence of her family’s attitude to workplace organisation.

Oral transmission of labour memories, politics and traditions has long been facilitated by song as much as by story. Nora Shovelin’s interview with trade unionist Fergus Whelan explores his family’s connections with Larkin and the Lockout as well as the role played by labour songs in Fergus’s own development. His father Paddy was a major influence on Fergus’s life as was his early politicisation through membership of the Workers’ Party and the role he played in the Tax Marches organised by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions in the late 1970s. Fergus’s mother Kathleen Sommerville was just as much an inspiration to him as was his father. She imbued her children with the appreciation of labour activism that she had learned about through song.

Like Fergus Whelan, Des Bonass and Mick O’Reilly were influenced by their parents and their encounters with major figures in the labour movement to take up their roles in both political and trade union activism. Both men spent years working for the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union which is now UNITE but they were also politically active and were involved in many campaigns for social justice. In retirement they are still active in the Dublin Council of Trade Unions. This chapter includes consideration of their views on commemoration of the Lockout over the century since it happened and the links between ideological and political changes in the labour movement and the approach to such commemoration.

Finally, Eimear Ging’s chapter reflects her considerable achievement in persuading seven members of her IMPACT branch committee to participate in interviews at the same time as the Croke Park 2 and Haddington Road negotiations required their involvement in the balloting process. Some of the interviewees in this chapter echo the comments of contributors elsewhere in the book that present-day union members need more of the spirit of 1913 to help them to fight back at a time when they are under pressure as a result of economic and political conditions.

There are photographs throughout this book, many of them taken by John Moran, one of the members of the 1913 Alternative Visions Oral History Group. John and his camera have been present at most of the commemorative events and he has captured the efforts to re-create the spirit of 1913 and to remind people of what that means. The photograph on page 17 of members of the North Inner City Folklore Project, Dublin Council of Trade Unions and many volunteers re-enacting the baton charge on “Bloody Sunday”, 31 August 1913 includes several of the people who took part in interviews for the oral history project. Some of John’s other photographs feature protests about the ongoing austerity programme that has so unfairly targeted those with the least capacity to take the pain.

The struggle in 1913 was essentially about the right of all workers to belong to the trade union of their choice and for employers to be obliged to recognise and negotiate with that union. It is not a battle that had been won when the strikers were forced to return to work in the spring of 1914 but neither was it a war that was lost. The employers, even with the full force of the State at their beck and call, abjectly failed to destroy the trade union movement, although we still need to secure full recognition rights. The many achievements in employment rights that were a feature of the twentieth century are a constant reminder of the bravery and the sacrifices of members of the labour movement in the 100 years since the Lockout that have consistently inspired and encouraged those who came after them. In 2013 we owe it to ourselves and our children to recognise the legacy and to keep that spirit of 1913 in our hearts as we tackle the considerable challenges that face us.

Mary Muldowney

October 2013 

Myles Walter Keogh

Myles Walter Keogh was just 36 when he died but his military career spanned over 16 years, two continents and would see him fight in the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars.  Continuing her series Irish Fighters, American War, Orla Rapple found out more about the Leighlinbridge native.

The story of Myles Walter Keogh was part of Orla Rapple’s series Irish Fighter’s, American War which was funded by the Broadcast Authority of Ireland with the Television License Fee. 

A memorial to Myles can be found in the town of his birth, Leighlinbridge in Co. Carlow. 

Patrick Pearse Playwright

As the centenary of the Easter Rising approaches, there will be much discussion about the legacy of Patrick Pearse.

But in the years before he became an icon of the rebellion, Pearse was obsessed with theatre – as we heard from Eugene McNulty of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.

Bilingual symposium, “Pearse and the Theatre

     St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra - 29 + 30 November

On the 29th and 30th of November an international symposium which takes place in St. Patrick’s College in Drumcondra will welcome all those interested in Pearse the playwright and in his plays. Speakers from England, Poland and France will join together with Irish based scholars and theatre practitioners for a lively discussion of Pearse’s life in theatre. There will be a workshop for actors and directors and Dr Sile Denvir will curate a performance of the music and songs of Pearse’s plays.

The keynote speakers at ‘Pearse and the Theatre’ are Brian Crowley, The Pearse Museum/OPW, author of the recently published Patrick Pearse: A Life In Pictures; Dr Elaine Sisson, Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology and author of Pearse's Patriots, St Enda's and the Cult of Boyhood; and Dr James Moran, University of Nottingham, author of Four Irish Rebel Plays.

The cost of attending the symposium is 25 euro, and there are modest charges for attending individual events.

All are welcome. Information and booking is at or 01 8842304.


 Pearse and the Theatre

By Eugene McNulty

There is something innately theatrical about the images of Patrick Pearse inscribed in the Irish collective psyche. Ask most people what most comes to mind when they think of Patrick Pearse and, more likely than not, they’ll conjure an image of him standing on the steps of the GPO proclaiming the Irish Republic on that Easter Monday of 1916. It is a moment that can now never escape its own future: this is the act that launches not just another rebellion but Ireland’s journey towards independent statehood. But there is something slightly awry in this classic tableau of one man speaking against the might of an empire – there are no steps at the front of the GPO. The slip between event and remembrance is telling. The collective mis-remembrance suggests a desire to raise Pearse up a little, removed from the crowd around him, to invest in him an extra quantum of authority and perspective – a desire, in other words, to re-create the event as if on a stage, to imbue it with the quality of theatre. One can only think that Pearse would have been pleased with this transformative act of memory; as his sister Mary Brigid would later remember, her brother’s ‘love for, and interest in, everything relating to “Stageland”’ was ‘evident from a very early age’. It seems that young Patrick began to write plays at the age of ‘nine or thereabouts’.[i] Early efforts were melodramas with titles like The Rival Lovers, and even a verse play called The Pride of Finisterre. Other plays were for performance with cardboard figures and scenery constructed by Patrick and his brother Willie. One of these plays, written for Willie, told a story set around the Battle of Clontarf, while another was a dramatic version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin for Patrick’s sister Mary Brigid to perform with the cardboard theatre.

As a young man Pearse would make the connection between performance and identity and the political possibilities inherent in the creative act. A curiosity about poverty, for example, led him to embark on undercover expeditions with his nephew Alf McGloughlin. As Mary Brigid recalled: ‘just before he founded St. Enda’s … he used to masquerade as a poor man. His object was to find out by experience, how to beg. (…) He and Alfred went out more than once around the roads in Donnybrook, where we were living at the time and asked for alms’.[ii] Such adventures reveal an interest in the theatrical as investigative, as interventionist, carrying with it the possibility of making new.

In recent years, then, there has been a renewed interest in Pearse the playwright. Between 1909 and 1916 Pearse wrote and produced ten plays and pageants – work that ranged from two miracle plays - Íosagán and An Rí/The King – to the quasi-autobiographical The Singer which was completed shortly before the 1916 Rising and which provides a fascinating insight into Pearse’s thoughts on the morality of rebellion. There were also ambitious adaptations from Early Irish Literature. Pearse’s dramatic versions of stories from the Fenian and Ulster Cycles were produced by his brother Willie with help from Willie’s friends in the theatre and art worlds. The pupils and ex-pupils of St Enda’s school brought the heroes of Gaelic literature to life in prestigious new domains like the Abbey Theatre and in imaginative productions in the open air. At the time of their first performance Pearse’s plays were major events in Dublin’s cultural life, viewed by a who’s who of the Dublin literati and reviewed widely and positively in the press. The Pearse brothers were part of a network of young cosmopolitan theatre practitioners and their productions attracted a diverse following. Their supporters included Yeats, Bulmer Hobson and leading lights like the Morrows and Rutherford Mayne from the Ulster Literary Theatre. And the network of those involved in the production and promotion of the plays included many of those who later played an active part in the Easter Rebellion, including Thomas MacDonagh and the Walker family. In early summer of 1913, a few short months before the Lockout, Jim Larkin printed twenty thousand handbills to help advertise the pageants Pearse produced at Jones Road, now Croke Park. Most of the actors whom Pearse had cast in the guise of rebels in The Singer in the spring of 1916, played real life rebels a few weeks after rehearsals ended. There seems little doubt, therefore, that Pearse envisaged the Easter Rebellion in terms of the dramatic. For Pearse, politics was theatre: after all, this was the man who had electrified Dublin with the rhetoric of his oration at the graveside of O’Donovan Rossa, who had taken the title for the first of his political pamphlets, Ghosts, from a play by Henrik Ibsen, and who spent his final weeks not only planning a revolution but writing a play on that very topic. To return to that slip in memory, then, as he stood before the GPO, it seems more than likely that Patrick Pearse did indeed envisage himself on a stage performing the Republic into existence.

1916 Oral History

Over the past few years, Maurice O’Keeffe conducted interviews with descendants of the 1916 Rising. In so doing he has ensured the preservation of information which otherwise would have gone to the grave.   Maurice spoke about the project on the programme.

Those recorded for the project include children, grandchildren and other close relatives of the revolutionaries of 1916, and also included are some recordings compiled with descendants of the British forces serving in Dublin at that time.  

Details of each of the 111 recordings in the oral history collection, and a brief synopsis of the content of each, can be seen on

Some of those recorded include:

Fr. Joseph Mallin, son of Michael Mallin. Fr. Mallin is the last  surviving child of an executed leader of 1916, and he was recorded at his home in Hong Kong.

Dorothea Findlater, daughter of Captain Henry de Courcy-Wheeler who took the surrender of Michael Mallin and Countess Markievicz.

Fr. Éanna Henderson, son of Frank Henderson.

Sr. Íde Woulfe, niece of Con Colbert.

Mary Dawson, daughter of Brigid Davis.

Gearoid Lynch, son of Fionan Lynch.

Eileen Quinn, niece of Tomas Ashe.

Attracta Maher and Sr. Joanna Brennan-Whitmore, daughters of William J. Brennan-Whitmore.

Edward Brennan, nephew of Francis Brennan who was shot dead serving with the British Army in Dublin.

Camilla Mitchell, daughter of Bulmer Hobson.

Maureen Haughey, daughter of Seán Lemass.

Proinsias Ó Rathaille, grandson of The O’Rahilly.

The recordings in the 1916 Rising Oral History Collection may be purchased by download or on disk, and the accompanying book/catalogue which gives details of all 111 recordings, and a brief synopsis of the content of each, may also be purchased through the Irish Life and Lore website

Irish Volunteers Centenary

The Centenary of the formation of the Irish Volunteers 1913-2013 

Exhibition 25 – 29 November 2013

The 25th of November 2013 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Irish Volunteers, which took place in the complex of buildings at the Rotunda. To celebrate this centenary, an exhibition by the Military Archives on the Irish Volunteers will be open to the public from Mon – Wed 1000- 1600 hrs, Thur 1000 – 1930 hrs and Fri 1000 – 1400 hrs. The exhibition will take place in the Pillar Rooms from 25-29 November 2013. Access is via the Blue Gate, Parnell Square East, Dublin 1.

Schools Project

The Military Archives will be conducting a schools project on the foundation of the Irish Volunteers at 1100 hrs and 1430 hrs daily Mon – Thurs and 1100 hrs on Fri. Second level schools are invited to contact the Military Archives to attend the exhibition and also to take part in the schools project on the Irish Volunteers.

Booking essential through or 018046457.

Lecture Series

The Military Archives will host a daily lunch time guest speaker at 1300 hrs.

Day: Monday Date: 25th  November

Title Battle of Mount Street Bridge 1916

Speaker: Paul O Brien

Paul O' Brien is the author of several successful books to date on key Military events of the Easter Rising, 1916, including "Blood on the Streets", "Uncommon Valour", "Shootout", "Fields of Fire" and "Crossfire".

Paul currently lives in Dublin and holds an M.A. in History. Paul is also a regular contributor to the Official Magazine of the Defence Forces, An Cosantóir.

Day: Tues Date: 26th November

Title Sources at the Military Archives for local and family historians

Speaker Comdt Padraic Kennedy

Comdt Padraic Kennedy is the Officer in Charge of the Military Archives. He previously held the position of the Defence Forces Information Officer and is a graduate of UCD with a Masters in Archives and Records Management.

Day: Wednesday Date: 27th November

Title The British Army in Ireland 1913

Speaker Tony Kinsella

Mr Tony Kinsella is a council member of the Military History Society of Ireland and regular researcher at the Military Archives.

Day: Thursday Date: 28th November

Title Who were the Irish Volunteers – A case study.

Speaker Lar Joye

Lar Joye, is curator of Irish Military History at the National Museum of Ireland and curator of the award winning Soldiers & Chiefs Exhibition at Collins Barracks and the recent History of Ireland in 100 objects and 1913 Lockout Exhibitions. He is a graduate of UCD with a MA in 20th Century Irish History, the University of Leicester where he obtained a MA in Museum Studies and the Museum Leadership Course at the Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University, California. Captain Lar Joye is also a commissioned Officer in the Reserve and is assigned to the Military Archives.

South Africa in the Great War

Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for War Studies Annual ‘War in History’ Lecture will take place this coming Thursday, 28 November.

“Dominion with a Difference? South Africa in the Great War” will be given by Prof. Bill Nasson from Stellenbosch University  

7.30pm - Emmet Theatre, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin.

Coming up on next week's programme......

A discussion about the German epic, Generation War – the 3 part series about the fate of 5 friends during World War II (RTE 2 Sundays at 9pm).  

Interspersed with historical footage and personal insights, Generation War is produced by the makers of Downfall.  It sparked a national debate when it was shown in Germany.

Also - this years marks the 50th Anniversary of the 12th  International Trade Competition for Apprentices which took place in the then College of Technology Bolton Street during  July 1963. 

The competition that took place in Bolton Street College in 1963  was the first international trade competition for apprentices to be held outside main-land Europe - and we'll be hearing about the impact it made on technical education in this country.

Were you there?   Email 

About The Show

Bringing the past to life! Discover how our world was shaped as Myles Dungan and guests explore events ranging from medieval times to the recent past.

We want to help explain ourselves to ourselves. We will search out fresh angles on familiar topics, seek out the unfamiliar and will not shy away from bizarre or controversial issues. Our ultimate goal is to make The History Show the primary port of call for those with an intense or even a modest interest in the subject. We want to entice the casual and the curious to join us in celebrating the past.

Our aim is to create informative, reflective, stimulating and above all, entertaining radio.

Join us on Sundays from 6.05pm for The History Show with Myles Dungan on RTÉ Radio 1.

A Pegasus production for RTÉ. 



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Presenter: Myles Dungan

Producer: Lorcan Clancy


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