Today saw the unveiling of a plaque and historical mural in honour of East Wall residents who found themselves evicted during the 1913 Lockout a century ago. 62 workers and their families were evicted from company owned houses on Merchants Road in December 1913, with their only crime being their commitment to their union and their class.
Those evicted were replaced by scab labourers and their families, leading to the street becoming known as ‘Scabs Road’ in local lore. Many local people and others from across the city came together today for a moving and important commemorative event. Our thanks to Bas Ó Curraoin for permission to reproduce the images below on Come Here To Me. All images are his.
Joe Mooney of the local historical society spoke of the symbolism and imagery of this powerful mural, highlighting the lyrics which come from New York band Black 47. Joe noted the importance of the symbolism of the red hand, though hijacked by sectarian and reactionary loyalist elements, this symbol was proudly worn a hundred years ago by ITGWU and Irish Citizen Army members.
The plaque gives great detail on the story of the evictions, and indeed the construction of the houses on the street. Workers were forced to move into the homes at the time they were constructed, leading James Connolly and others to label the street “Compulsory Row.” Far from the Iveagh Trust and other such schemes, it is important to stress that while these houses were superior to much of the substandard housing in Dublin at the time, they were still built with profit in mind and were imposed on families.
A nice feature of the event today was the fact it began and ended at the nearby St Joseph’s Co-Ed School. Children from this school had gone on strike in 1911, demanding shorter hours, cheaper books and an end to canings, with the influence of the emerging militant trade union movement obvious in their campaign. The presence of so many relatives of the evicted today really made the event, and reminded us that in the context of history a century really isn’t that long.
Congratulations to the East Wall History Group who organised the events today. You can learn more about them here.