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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


5.6 POLITICAL SCIENCE, Political science

Publication Details

Saothar, The Journal of the Irish Labour History Society


When the issue of a lockout in Dublin comes up for discussion, invariably, the Great Lockout of 1913 springs to mind. This event, in both its scale 4 and scope, has tended to crowd out the examination of all other lockouts that occurred in the city in the early years of the 20th century. Beside the Great Lockout contemporary industrial disputes have tended to pale in comparison. As a result of its magnitude, the 1913 lockout has provided a vast reservoir of research material that has been heavily mined. However, this concentration on 1913 could lead to the erroneous conclusion that there were few other lockouts at the time, and the few which occurred were of little significance, since little has been written about them.

A consequence of this blinkered approach is that many labour disputes at the start of the 20th century in Ireland have faded into history. The one examined here involved a lockout in the building trades that lasted for four months in the spring and early summer of 1905. This dispute is noteworthy as it provides an insight into how a small Irish trade union, of limited means, as opposed to an amalgamated union, conducted itself during a bruising confrontation. We will examine the tactics utilised by the employers to break the union, and the union’s response in order to deflect the employers’ assault. This examination also provides an insight into the lives of trade unionists, their union, and the wider society at the time.