The Working-class Movement and the Irish Revolution, 1896–1923

  • Adrian Pimley
Part of the Problems in Focus Series book series (PFS)


Early Irish Trade Unions consisted for the most part of associations of skilled workers. Tradesmen such as carpenters, joiners, bakers and tailors were organised on a local basis with little influence nationally. These associations had two main functions: firstly, they regulated the wages in the trades by restricting the supply of skilled labour through the apprenticeship system and secondly, they provided an elementary form of insurance for their members against unemployment and sickness. They projected an image of respectability characterised by the adornment of the bowler hat as part of their dress.1 By the 1890s their organisations had persisted for almost a century. It was these organisations which Parnell referred to as a ‘landlordism of labour’.2 Despite their near 100 years existence the membership of such Irish trade unions as made returns amounted to no more than 17,476, and these were organised in 93 different associations.


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Notes and References

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© Adrian Pimley 1988

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  • Adrian Pimley

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