First May Day lecture to look at past workers

Dr Emmet O'Connor
Dr Emmet O'Connor

Derry Trades Union Council will be hosting the city’s First May Day Lecture on May Day this year.

Representatives from thew DTUC said they hoped the May Day Lecture will become an annual fixture.

This years lecture will be delivered by leading Irish labour historian, author and Derry man Dr. Emmet O’Connor.

He will speak on the subject of ‘Derry Labour in the Age of Agitation, 1889-1923’.

The event will take place in the Unison Building, Clarendon Street, Derry on the evening of May Day itself, Tuesday May 1 at 7.30pm.

Admission is free and everyone welcome.

Dr. O’Connor, in one of his books published in 2016, said: “Derry was ‘a prosperous town’ in 1905, according to the Board of Trade. Since 1851, its population had almost doubled, and it had acquired a university college, an opera house, a new city hall, a fire-brigade, a public park, and a tramway. The transport infrastructure was good, with four railway systems and regular cross-channel steamships. Cluttering its streets were grain and flour mills, bacon cellars, distilleries, a shipyard, iron foundries, coach works, and 27 shirt-factories which made Derry the UK’s leading centre of shirt-making.

“But industrial growth started to falter after 1904. Wages stagnated, prices rose relentlessly, and thousands of workers in the shirt-factories and on the docks grew restless.

“Between 1889 and 1923, Irish Labour was revolutionized by three waves of agitation. The new unionism of 1889-91 brought strikes, May Day parades, a procession of visiting socialist orators, and Labour politics. It was also a time when the usual employers’ response to wage demands was dismissal and strike-breaking.”