From Guild to Union: The Evolution of the Dublin Bricklayers’ Society, 1670-1888

Gary Murphy, School of Law and Government, DCU
John W. Hogan, Dublin Institute of Technology

Document Type Article

Murphy, G, and Hogan J. 2001. ‘From Guild to Union: The Evolution of the Dublin Bricklayers’ Society, 1670-1888,’ Saothar, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 17-24.


The emergence of the combination that ultimately became the Ancient Guild of Incorporated Brick and Stonelayers’ Trade Union (AGIBSTU) in 1888 is surrounded with controversy, a controversy that goes to the very heart of the origins of craft trade unionism in Ireland. There are disputes as to whether there actually was a direct line of succession between this union and the Guild of Saint Bartholomew, known also as the Guild of Bricklayers and Plasterers. Some have argued that they were in fact two separate and distinct entities. D’Arcy remarks that the Webbs ‘rightly dismissed the alleged structural connection between guild and trade union in Dublin as a myth.’ This article, focusing specifically on the Guild of Saint Bartholomew’s interaction with the combination, argues the opposite. The AGIBSTU’s claims to continuity with the Guild of Saint Bartholomew were founded on firmer ground than the mere appropriation of the past. In essence, this combination was an evolution from, and not a revolution against, the guild.