Dublin Lock-Out

26th August 1913
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The Dublin Lock-Out was a large scale Industrial dispute which saw the workers of Dublin city locked out of their places of work for several months. The Lock-Out was a response to the demands of Trade Unions which sought better conditions for their members.

The Dublin Lock-Out took place from August 26th 1913 to January 18th 1914. 

The dispute was fuelled by the appalling livng conditions and intense working conditions which the working class of Dublin endured at the time. Many parts of the city were little better than slums with infant mortality rates at a terrifying height. The spark that set off the dispute was ignited by Union leader James Larkin and Socialist James Connelly. 

Though the Lock-Out began as a peaceful downing of tools, the situation intensified when staff were locked out of their places of work, unable to return to earning a wage. This was instigated by businessman William Martin Murphy, the owner of the Dubln tramways. Fearful of what strike action would mean for his business, Murphy convinced the employers of Dublin to join him in locking out the workers. The Lock lasted for 5 long months. Schemes to aid the starving children by sending them to England were stopped by a number of forces, including the Catholic church who feared that the children would be placed under the influence of Protestant missionaries. It wasn't long before the tensions boiled over into outright violence. Baton charges and outbreaks of violence between strikers and strike breakers saw the hundreds of people injured and even some deaths. In an attempt to protect the stikers from violence, Larkin and Connelly militarized the movement by establishing the Irish Citizen Army. 

Proclamation issued by E.G. Swifte, Chief Divisional Magistrate of the Dublin Metropolitan Police District

Above image: Friday, 29 August 1913. Proclamation issued by E.G. Swifte, Chief Divisional Magistrate of the Dublin Metropolitan Police District . This was an attempt to stop the huge public meeting that Jim Larkin had called for, planned to take place on Sackville Street on Sunday 31st August. Larkin publicly burned this proclamation on the day it was issued.

After a particularly cold, hungry Christmas, the workers of Dublin slowly drifted back, desperate for any means of earning a wage. The Lock-Out officially came to an end on January 18th 1914.

Tens of thousands of families in Dublin were affected by the lock-outs as employment came to a halt and the streets became an unsafe place to be. Even after the dispute came to an end in January 1914, many of the men who had been involved in the strike were now balcklisted by the employers of Dublin and were forced to join the British army and fight in World War I as they had no other means of feeding their families. The lock-out also served to benkrupt many of the Dublin city businesses, which forced closures and in turn caused a drop in employment. 

RTÉ archival information regarding the Dublin Lock-Out can be found here. 

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