Ireland and the Wobbly World: conference recordings

 

The Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class held a very successful conference over Friday and Saturday 11-12 November 2016 titled ‘Ireland and the Wobbly World’.

The proceedings were recorded and are available to listen to below.

We would like to thank everyone who presented and attended over the weekend, you made it a superb event!

 

FRIDAY, 11 NOVEMBER, Hardiman Building, GO10

Panel 1, 2.00 pm: Chair: Sarah-Anne Buckley, ICHLC
Jim Larkin, Jack Carney and the American Irish Worker (1917), James Curry
Patrick J. Read’s ‘Irishness’ & the Creation of the Wobbly Mythos, Matthew White
Joe Hill and Ireland, Francis Devine

 

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From left to right James Curry, Matthew White, Francis Devine and Sarah-Anne Buckley 

Panel 2: 3.45: Chair: Prof. Terrence McDonough, ICHLC

The Rebel Irish & the IWW: The Roots of American Syndicalism, Kristin Lawler
Sacco and Vanzetti and the Radical Irish World, Niall Whelehan
From Socialist to Syndicalist, to Communist: The political development of William Z. Foster, 1904-1922, Liam Ó Discín

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From left to right: Niall Whelehan, Liam Ó Discín, Kristin Lawler

‘Rebel Voices: Galway Wobbly Connections’

8 pm Function Room, John Keogh’s, Upper Dominick Street

Chair: David Convery, ICHLC

Peter Yorke: A Galway priest & the San Francisco labor movement, Tadhg Foley
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: A Galway Rebel Girl, Meredith Meagher
The Syndicalist Trajectories of Tom Glynn & Mary Fitzgerald, John Cunningham

Unfortunately due to a technical issue, Tadhg Foley’s presentation was not recorded and so does not appear on this track. Catherine Connolly TD was due to chair this session but was unable to do so. It was instead chaired at short notice by David Convery of the ICHLC. Hence the remark concerning deputy Convery at the beginning of the audio.

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Tadhg Foley on right speaking to a packed audience on Fr Peter Yorke at John Keogh’s

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Meredith Meagher and John Cunningham at John Keogh’s

 

SATURDAY, 12 NOVEMBER, Hardiman Building, GO10

Panel 3, 10.15 am. Chair: Jamie Canavan, NUI Galway
Connolly the Marxist Socialist, but what sort? Bolshevik, Menshevik or Industrial Democrat? The ideological impact of the IWW, Manus O’Riordan
Industrial Unionism and Social Democracy: Connolly as vector of organising principles, Gavin Mendel-Gleason
‘We Irish are a working race’: Connolly & Flynn in the United States, Stephen Thornton

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From left to right: Jamie Canavan, Stephen Thornton, Gavin Mendel-Gleason, Manus O’Riordan

Panel 4, 12.00, Chair: Mary Gibbons, Galway Council of Trade Unions
Captain Jack White: Syndicalist? Leo Keohane
Syndicalism as a dirty word: Press coverage of radical trade unionism in early twentieth century Ireland, Donal Fallon
Patrick Quinlan: nationalist or militant IWW member? Gerry Watts

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From left to right: Mary Gibbons, Leo Keohane, Donal Fallon, Gerry Watts

Keynote address, 2.15 pm: Chair: Tish Gibbons, SIPTU
‘Romances and Erasures’, David Howell

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From left to right: David Howell and Tish Gibbons

Panel 5, 3.30 pm Chair: Jackie Uí Chionna, NUI Galway

American Reactions to the 1916 Rising, Luke Gibbons
Rebel Women and the IWW, Teresa Moriarty
The Irish & the Mooney case: a miscarriage of Justice in California, John Borgonovo

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From left to right: Jackie Uí Chionna, Luke Gibbons, John Borgonovo, Teresa Moriarty

 

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‘Ireland and the Wobbly World’: Conference in Galway 11-12 November

The ICHLC is delighted to announce the programme for a significant conference to be held in NUI Galway / Galway city centre, on Friday and Saturday 11-12 November 2016.

The conference will commence on Friday at 1.45 pm, with a welcoming address from Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley.

There will be a registration charge of €5 (a contribution to cost of tea, coffee, etc).

wobblyleaflet-3

The ‘One Big Union’ was a motto of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), founded in Chicago in 1905. Reflecting disappointment with the achievements of political Labour, the IWW was ‘syndicalist’ in advocating that working people rely on militant trade unionism (and not politics) to create a fair society. Prominently associated with the IWW’s revolutionary ‘Wobbly’ wing were Cork-born Mother Jones, Tom Glynn of Gurteen, Co. Galway, and James Connolly, an IWW organiser in New York. ‘Big Jim’ Larkin gave a graveside oration for Joe Hill, best-known of the Wobbly martyrs.

This conference will examine the contribution of Irish people to the IWW in America, Australia and South Africa, and consider the influence of the IWW’s syndicalism on
bodies like the Irish Transport & General Workers’ Union and the Irish Citizen Army.

Download the programme as a PDF here.

Full programme:

FRIDAY, 11 NOVEMBER, Hardiman Building, GO10

Panel 1, 2.00 pm: Chair: Sarah-Anne Buckley, ICHLC
Jim Larkin, Jack Carney and the American Irish Worker (1917), James Curry
Patrick J. Read’s ‘Irishness’ & the Creation of the Wobbly Mythos, Matthew White
Joe Hill and Ireland, Francis Devine


Panel 2: 3.45: Chair: Prof. Terrence McDonough, ICHLC
The Rebel Irish & the IWW: The Roots of American Syndicalism, Kristin Lawler
Sacco and Vanzetti and the Radical Irish World, Niall Whelehan
From Socialist to Syndicalist, to Communist: The political development of William Z. Foster, 1904-1922, Liam Ó Discín


8 pm Function Room, John Keogh’s, Upper Dominick Street
‘Rebel Voices: Galway Wobbly Connections’. Chair: Catherine Connolly TD
Peter Yorke: A Galway priest & the San Francisco labor movement, Tadhg Foley
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: A Galway Rebel Girl, Meredith Meagher
The Syndicalist Trajectories of Tom Glynn & Mary Fitzgerald, John Cunningham

 

SATURDAY, 12 NOVEMBER, Hardiman Building, GO10

Panel 3, 10.15 am. Chair: Jamie Canavan, NUI Galway
Connolly the Marxist Socialist, but what sort? Bolshevik, Menshevik or Industrial Democrat? The ideological impact of the IWW, Manus O’Riordan
Industrial Unionism and Social Democracy: Connolly as vector of organising principles, Gavin Mendel-Gleason
‘We Irish are a working race’: Connolly & Flynn in the United States, Stephen Thornton
Panel 4, 12.00, Chair: Mary Gibbons, Galway Council of Trade Unions
Captain Jack White: Syndicalist? Leo Keohane
Syndicalism as a dirty word: Press coverage of radical trade unionism in early twentieth century Ireland, Donal Fallon
Patrick Quinlan: nationalist or militant IWW member? Gerry Watts
Keynote address, 2.15 pm: Chair: Tish Gibbons, Siptu
‘Romances and Erasures’, David Howell
Panel 5, 3.30 pm Chair: Jackie Uí Chionna, NUI Galway
American Reactions to the 1916 Rising, Luke Gibbons
Rebel Women and the IWW, Teresa Moriarty
The Irish & the Mooney case: a miscarriage of Justice in California, John Borgonovo

 

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A Class of News: an all-Ireland managerial class in Irish newspapers

A Class of News: an all-Ireland managerial class in Irish newspapers

PA/Reuters Headquarters London

85 Fleet Street, London, headquarters of the PA and Reuters news agencies and venue for the PA’s AGMs’. (Donald Read, The Power of News: The History of Reuters, 2nd edn. (Oxford: OUP, 1999), Plate 45.)

a post by James T. O’Donnell.

Historically mainstream Irish newspapers are often viewed in terms of their perceived political and confessional identities. These perceptions are not inaccurate and are justified by their published content. The commercial and structural organisations behind the headlines are less often considered. Through an examination of records from the Press Association’s (PA) Annual General Meetings (AGM) this short piece will reveal how the senior executives and owners of Irish newspapers had much in common with each other and, indeed, with their British counterparts. This, it will be argued, indicates the existence of a class identity that largely ignored national and political identities.

At the PA’s 1916 AGM, held shortly after the Easter Rising, the chair’s statement noted ‘considerable regret in the absence of our members from Dublin – from the Capital City of our Sister-Isle – more especially as we know the reason why they are not with us’.[1] The PA was a news agency established along cooperative lines in 1869 by the non-London-based newspapers of Britain and Ireland to gather and disseminate national and international news. Irish newspapers, along with their British counterparts, had been actively engaged in its formation and were regularly represented at general meetings. In 1916 George Crosbie of the nationalist Cork Examiner was a member of the board. The chair’s statement continued by noting that when ‘the history of Easter Week is recorded we shall realise more fully than we do to-day the circumstances with which they have had to contend, and the dangers through which they have passed’.[2] The Dublin newspapers were indeed disrupted by the events of Easter Week. No title managed to publish continuously throughout the week; the Irish Times’ storage depot was destroyed, the offices of the Irish Independent and those of the Dublin Daily Mail and Dublin Evening Express were seized by members of the Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army respectively, and the Freeman’s Journal’s premises were destroyed with the loss of its printing equipment and records.[3] In the aftermath of the Rising and following lobbying from the Irish newspapers’ managements the PA paid compensation to the Dublin newspapers of sixty percent for seventeen days of disruption to services. In addition it paid the same compensation for fourteen days for Cork and six days for Belfast and Derry, indicating a level of disruption to titles outside Dublin that has yet to be fully examined.[4]

At the PA’s AGM the following year Crosbie stepped down from the board. Having first been appointed in 1907 this was in line with the PA’s rules and not a product of any dissatisfaction with the news agency’s coverage of events in Ireland. At the same meeting Charles Henderson of the unionist Belfast Newsletter was appointed to the board. His nomination was proposed by W.T. Brewster of the nationalist Irish Independent. In a lengthy speech recommending Henderson’s candidacy Brewster described his activities in the Irish newspaper industry including his role in the formation of a representative commercial body in 1906, the Irish Newspaper Society, ‘which includes every daily and evening paper in Ireland, and most of the important weeklies’. He continued:

There is just one other thing I should like to mention. Mr. Henderson succeeds, in a kind of way Mr. George Crosbie […]. Mr. George Crosbie is one of the Proprietors of the Cork Examiner, a paper of strong Nationalist views, associated with the Parliamentary Party in almost perhaps an official character. Mr Henderson is the representative of a Belfast newspaper of at least as strong Unionist views, and it is only proper that I should acknowledge that it is the turn of the Unionist Press to represent us in this way. (Hear, hear). I accentuate that by pointing out that I, who propose his election, am the representative of a paper that might fairly be described as an uncompromising advocate of the claims for Home Rule, with full fiscal control, and for an undivided Ireland. For these I am quite sure Mr. Henderson has not the slightest sympathy. (Laughter.) But I have every confidence in Mr. Henderson as a thorough business man and a real good fellow, and I am quite sure he will give us splendid service. (Cheers.)[5]

Upon his nomination to the board being endorsed by the AGM Henderson stated in his acceptance speech that: ‘I am a member for both the Nationalist and Unionist Party in Ireland. I have had meetings in Dublin at which Nationalists and Unionist were present, and I think they were always very successful meetings’.[6]

The comparison here to James Larkin’s comment in relation to the 1913 Lockout in his presidential address to the Irish Trade Union Congress in 1914 is striking: ‘there was neither Unionist nor Nationalist among the employing class; and but two camps – employers and workers. We found no Redmondites, Carsonites or O’Brienites then. The enemy were all employers’.[7] William Martin Murphy, proprietor of the Irish Independent among other business interests, had played a key role in the Employers Federation when the decision was taken to lockout members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union in 1913.[8]

The political and ideological differences between Irish newspapers are not just dismissed in the exchanges at the 1917 PA AGM; they are specifically referred to in order to highlight their irrelevance to the common commercial aims and concerns of the senior executives who are speaking. Further, it is clear that Brewster held Henderson in high personal regard not just for his commercial acumen but as ‘a real good fellow’, a sentiment that was reciprocated. (It is of course not unheard for people of opposing political views to enjoy cordial personal relationships.)

An interesting addendum to these events occurred 1935. At the AGM that year James Henderson of the Belfast Newsletter was elected to the PA’s board. His proposal was seconded by George Crosbie of the Cork Examiner. Though not as striking as the proposal by Brewster of Charles Henderson in 1917 the speech in support of Henderson’s nephew by Crosbie, whose father had served on the PA board 1907-17, did contain a taste of the 1917 vintage. Whilst recommending Henderson for his celerity and hard work Crosbie commented that: ‘Perhaps it may seem funny to you that I, as a Cork man should be supporting the election of a Belfast man, but that sort of thing does happen sometimes (laughter)’.[9] The high regard and cooperative business attitude of the previous generation of Irish newspapers owners seems to have survived the turmoil of the intervening years well enough to stretch across the border and generations of the two youthful polities.

What has briefly been highlighted here is the existence of attitudes within the managerial and executive ranks of Irish newspapers that paid little attention to the published political affiliation of their titles. Where these political differences were mentioned it was to minimise their significance and to highlight their shared commercial interests and personal relationships. This can be seen to confirm Larkin’s statement in 1914 to a significant extent. The actions and opinions that they demonstrated could be suggested to represent evidence of commercial class identity: ‘Historical capitalism […] is not a mode of production at all. It is a social formation’.[10] If the basis of class is a shared value system then the basic principles of a class identity among this group can be seen here, and one that operated outside the traditional analysis of national, political and confessional boundaries in Irish newspapers.

 

James O’Donnell teaches in History at NUI Galway and is secretary to the ICHLC. jamesthomasodonnell@gmail.com

 

[1] ‘Minutes of PA AGM, 1916’, Guildhall Library Manuscripts Collection, London (GL), MS 35365/9.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Mark O’Brien, The Irish Times: A History (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2008), p. 48; Hugh Oram, The Newspaper Book: A History of Newspapers in Ireland, 1649-1983 (Dublin: MO Books, 1983), pp. 127-9.

[4] ‘PA Committee of Management / Board of Directors Minute Book, November 1917’, GL MS 35358/19.

[5] ‘Report of PA AGM, 1917’, GL MS 35365/9.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Jim Larkin, ‘Each for All and All for Each’ in Donal Nevin (ed.) James Larkin: Lion of the Fold (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 2006), p. 268.

[8] Alvin Jackson, Ireland 1798-1998: War, Peace and Beyond, 2nd edn. (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 190-1.

[9] ‘Report of PA AGM, 1935’, GL MS 35365/13.

[10] Henk Overbeek, ‘Transnational class formation and concepts of control: towards a genealogy of the Amsterdam Project in international political economy’, Journal of International Relations and Development, Vol. 7 (2004), p.121.

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‘Aspects of anti-communism in twentieth-century Ireland’ – seminar this Thursday 14 April

Aspects of anticommunism

The ICHLC Seminar Series continues this Thursday with a Seminar entitled ‘Aspects of anti-communism in twentieth century Ireland’.

Time and date: 16:00, Thursday, 14 April.
Venue: Room GO10, Hardiman Research Building, NUIG

Dr. Dianne Kirby (Univ. of Ulster): ‘The Roman Catholic Church and the Religious Cold War.’

Dr. John Mulqueen (TCD): ‘”The Legions of Hell”‘: Irish communists and the state during the Cold War.’

Gerard Madden (NUIG): ‘Catholic anti-communism and the Irish in post-war Britain.’

ALL WELCOME

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Note: seminar on 24 March rescheduled to 21 April 2016

Please note that Gerard Watts’ ICHLC seminar on ‘James Larkin Letters: 31 December – 2 June 1922’ originally organised for this Thursday 24 March has been rescheduled.

The new time and venue are 16:00 on 21 April, room GO10 Hardiman Research Building, NUIG. The other upcoming seminars remain the same.

Apologies for any inconvenience.

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‘Journalism, the last refuge of the middle-class boy’. ICHLC seminar Thurs 3 March

foley-poster jpeg

ALL WELCOME

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One Big Union: Ireland and the Wobbly World

CALL FOR PAPERS

IWW

ONE BIG UNION

Ireland and the Wobbly World

A conference organised by the

Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class

NUI Galway

11-12 November 2016

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), also known as the ‘Wobblies’, was founded in Chicago in 1905 as a union dedicated to organising all workers, regardless of skill, craft, ethnicity or gender, into ‘One Big Union’, to improve immediate conditions and struggle for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. It became known for its success in organising unskilled workers in industries such as mining, agriculture, textiles and the docks, and was notorious for its rank-and-file militancy and subsequent repression by the state. Moving from its origins in the United States, it also organised in Canada, South Africa and Australia, and has been immortalised for its agitational artwork and folk songs such as ‘Joe Hill’. From the beginning, it attracted workers and radicals amongst the Irish diaspora such as James Connolly, James Larkin, Mother Jones (Mary Harris) and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Two Irish members of the IWW, Peter Larkin and Tom Glynn, were amongst the infamous ‘Sydney Twelve’ arrested and charged with treason in Australia in 1916. Its ideas and organisational model also impacted upon the labour movement in Ireland, particularly in the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union.

This conference has been organised to explore some of these connections, and to look at the legacy of the IWW in Ireland and amongst the Irish diaspora.

We welcome papers on any topic within the broad remit of the subject. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Biographical studies of the Irish in the IWW – in the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, etc.
  • Regional or industry-specific studies of the Irish in the IWW
  • The discourse of the IWW regarding Ireland
  • The discourse of the IWW regarding Irish immigration
  • The musical legacy of the IWW in Ireland
  • The influence of the IWW on the Irish labour movement
  • Songs, art, and literature created by or with reference to the Irish in the IWW
  • The afterlives of Irish activists in the IWW – communists, anarchists, republicans, etc.
  • The collective memory of the IWW in Ireland
  • The collective memory in the US, Canada, etc. of Irish activists in the IWW

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words plus a short biographical note to

ichlcsecretary@gmail.com

by 22 April 2016 at the latest.

A pdf of this call for papers is available here.

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