Limerick Soviet Sites Bus Tour April 2014
Our thanks to Munster
Images for the photos
On Sunday, April 6th, 2014, the Limerick Council of Trade Unions organised
a bus tour of the locations associated with the Limerick Soviet of 1919.
The coach was packed and the event was very informative and enjoyable.
Frank Prendergast outlines the story of the Soviet
Mike McNamara, President of the Council of Trade Unions acting as MC
Telling the story at St Camillus Hospital (originally the Limerick
At St Camillus Hospital grounds Pat
O'Connor reads from Liam Cahill's
'The Forgotten Revolution'
Mike Finn reads a historical document from the Limerick Soviet outside
Visit to some graves of those involved in the Limerick Soviet.
Frank McDonnell of the Limerick Council of Trade Unions
lays a wreath at the grave of Bobby Byrnes
Shane O'Ceallaigh of Sinn Fein, a candidate
in the May Local Elections,
addresses the crowd at the grave of Bobby Byrne
Mike McNamara, Shane O'Ceallaigh and
Cllr Maurice Quinlivan
Mike at the grave of James Casey,
treasurer to the Limerick Soviet,
subsequently a Labour councillor who
served as Deputy Mayor in 1921
Mike McNamara points out the grave of Ben Dineen,
editor of the original Bottom Dog workers paper
Grave of Robert Byrne
Mike McNamara, President of the Limerick
Council of Trade Unions at the grave of Robert Byrnes, the man
whose death sparked the Limerick Soviet in 1919. In the sketch below
of Mount St Laurence Graveyard the location of the grave is shown.
Byrne Park is officially opened May 29, 2009
Robert Byrne Park, Limerick, Ireland
Limerick City Manger, Mr Mackey, Mayor
John Gilligan and Mike McNamara, President of the Limerick Council of
Trade Unions at the unveiling of the plaque commemorating the Limerick
Soviet. The plaque stands on the new Riverside Park which was
officially opened as Robert Byrne Park by the Mayor. It was
the death of Robert Byrne in April 1919 that sparked the events known as
the Limerick Soviet. The opening was attended by relatives of Robert
Byrne, Trade Union leaders and local and national politicians (some of
whom looked rather uncomfortable but there were elections on!!!)
Mayor John Gilligan is to be
congratulated on ensuring that the memory of the Limerick Soviet is
preserved in the shape of this lovely park which will be used by the
people of Limerick for many years to come.
Flags flying high over Robert Byrne Park at
the official opening
Mayor Gilligan addresses the crowd in the
On the left Mayor John Gilligan points out that this event was the
highlight of his term in office while on the right former Labour TD and
historian, Frank Prendergast gives an excellent keynote speech recounting
the nature of the times in which the Limerick Soviet took place.
Mary O'Donnell, SIPTU union official and Mary Guilfoyle who worked in
different ways to highlight the 90th anniversary of the Limerick Soviet
Mike McNamara and Seoirse Clancy
Helen Clancy and her son George while on the
right Labour Party TD Jan O'Sullivan
Permanent display of Limerick Soviet material
Report on the Limerick Soviet 90th. Anniversary
Commemorations (2009) by Pat O'Connor.
The Limerick Soviet Commemoration Committee organised a series of
activities with prominent speakers over the weekend April 17 - April 19.
The activities commenced with the launch by Mike Mc Namara, President of
the Limerick Trades Council of the fourth edition of D.R. O'Connor,
Lysaght's Story of the Limerick Soviet. O'Connor Lysaght, a Dublin
historian, compared the two weeks of the self government and resistance
to British militarism as similar to the early days of the 1871 Paris
In his foreword to the 4th. edition, Mayor Gilligan announced his
intention to open the Robert Byrne Curragower Park in Clancy Strand in
May. Robert Byrne's attempted rescue from the City Home and fatal shooting
led to the imposition of martial law in Limerick in April 1919.
On Saturday April 18th. the Hunt Museum played host to a seminar on the
theme , The Limerick Soviet 90 years on. Liam Cahill, broadcaster and
author of Forgotten Revolution, reminded the audience that on April 18th.
1919, Good Friday, the Limerick Soviet was at its peak. The workers of
Limerick governed the city through its democratic organisations. Nothing
could move in or out without the permission of the Limerick Council of
Trade Unions, flagrantly resisting the attempts by the British Military to
impose their Local Pass on the citizens.
Jack O'Connor, General President of SIPTU used the forum to call for a
Social Dividend from the Government and Employers in the talks that were
due to resume on Wednesday 22nd. April. He also cited the case of an
employee of SR Technics, who after 45 years service with the company was
told that his pension was worthless. He went on to call on the Government
to offer a multi billion Euro plan to protect private worker pensions, if
the talks were not to collapse.
Mary O'Donnell of the Limerick Soviet
Commemoration Committee introduces Jack O'Connor, President of SIPTU and
Liam Cahill, author of the Forgotten Revolution at the Seminar
the Hunt Museum
Liam Cahill and Jack O'Connor
Austin Harney, a fulltime public sector union official travelled from
London especially to present fraternal greetings to the Limerick Soviet
Committee. Jan O'Sullivan, Labour TD and Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Féin
local election candidate and Alan Kelly, Munster candidate for
Labour in the European elections also attended the meeting.
The weekend festivities concluded on Sunday April 19th. with a Workers Walk through the city scenes of the Soviet. Local historian, Dominic Haugh
who has chosen the subject for his PhD, conducted the highly informative
tour. His detailed account of the rescue of Robert Byrne from what is now St.
Camillus Hospital was a revelation, even to long time students of the Soviet.
Present on the walk was Jack Hennessy, grandson of James Casey who acted
as treasurer to the Limerick Soviet. James Casey, a Labour councillor,
served as Deputy Mayor in 1921 after the murder of Mayor Clancy. He was to
serve as Mayor of Limerick from 1934 to 1936.
At its conclusion, the City Museum was opened especially for the
participants, who then adjourned to nearby Katy Daly's for Ceol agus Craic!
Mike Finn reading the proclamation on the
May Day Reception at City Hall marks
On Friday May 1st., Mayor Gilligan hosted a reception for the Limerick
Council of Trade Unions to mark the 90th. anniversary of the Limerick
Trades Council members, old and new, attended the evening reception. The
President of the Trades Council, Mike Mc Namara of BATU, addressed the
gathering. He complimented the mayor on his role in celebrating the Soviet
as well as the Soviet Commemoration Committee on its series of activities.
The mayor also addressed the attendance on the importance of May Day.
Pádraig Malone as director of the Resource Centre spoke of its role in the
present economic climate as well as remembering the work of the late Mary Kehilly in both the Trades Council and the Unemployed Centre.
Former mayor and TD Frank Prendergast was also in attendance and spoke of
the importance of commemorating historical events in the Labour Movement.
Jack Hennessy, grandson of former mayor and Limerick Soviet treasurer
brought along old newspaper articles on his grandfather's succession to
the murdered Mayor Clancy.
It was a memorable evening of celebration, which fittingly commemorated
Mayday in City Hall. As the celebrations drew to a conclusion the melodic
strains of ballads remembering past struggles and icons such as Joe Hill,
James Connolly and James Larkin rang out through the halls of the Mayoral
Our thanks to all who supported our efforts to ensure that the 90th
anniversary of the Limerick Soviet was commemorated with an appropriate
programme of events. Among our benefactors were ...
The Mandate Trade Union
Jan O'Sullivan TD
1999 Limerick Soviet Commemoration
1999, in Joe Harrington’s mayoralty, the 70th anniversary
was commemorated on a plaque on Thomond Bridge.
Soviet plaque taken down!
As part of the inner city
renewal, Thomond Bridge was recently adorned with a series of new street
lighting. It represents a marked improvement on the 'old' ESB poles which
proved to be really useful for an assortment of posters in the recent
However, one of the
casualties of this welcome exercise was the plaque denoting the site of
Thomond Bridge as a major British Army barricade during the Limerick
Soviet. Indeed the iconic picture of the barricade is a symbol of the
1919 struggle against British Militarism! The plaque was unveiled by the
then Socialist Mayor Joe Harrington as part of the Limerick Soviet
Commemoration Committee's 'eighty years' celebration in April 1999.
No doubt, the Limerick Civic
Project has securely stored the plaque in a warehouse somewhere in the
city. The LSCC is confident that the plaque will be again displayed in
the environs of Thomond Bridge where it has acted as a landmark for
tourists and citizens alike for the past decade?
Possible alternative sites for the plaque. Beside the Treaty Stone
above or in
Robert Byrne Park below
Launch of the fourth edition of
The following is Mayor John Gilligan
foreword to "The Story of the Limerick Soviet" by D.R. O'Connor Lysaght.
Left: Mayor John Gilligan and right Mike
McNamara LCTU with D.R. O'Connor Lysaght
It is a great
honour for me, as the 812th. Mayor of Limerick to be in the mayoralty on
this the 90th. Anniversary of what became known as the Limerick Soviet.
"The Story of the Limerick Soviet" by D.R. O'Connor Lysaght, since its
first publication in 1979 has been an ideal reference book for students
and activists. The author, a frequent visitor to Limerick, has
painstakingly recounted the day-by-day activities of this tumultuous
The attempted rescue of IRA prisoner and Post Office worker Robert Byrne
in early April 1919 and his subsequent fatal shooting sparked off a series
of events that could conceivably have changed the whole face of European
Indeed the presence in Limerick of the world press to cover the weather
hit trans Atlantic crossing brought these historic events to a global
audience. For two weeks the workers organisations in Limerick ran the city
as the British found that its writ did not run in this corner of what was
then the United Kingdom!
These stirring events occurred while Europe was coming out of the Great
War and the Soviet Union was barely in its infancy.
In my generation's education we were told very little of the role
that workers played. I am very pleased to note that the inspiring past of
the workers stuggles in our city has been faithfully recounted over the
last three decades in the pages of this excellent booklet, the fourth
edition of which I am proud to be associated.
I look forward to commemorating the Limerick Soviet in various events
throughout the year. I am indeed proud that my mayoralty will mark the
occasion with the unveiling of the Robert Byrne Curragower Park on Clancy
Fifth edition now available
Limerick Soviet 95th Anniversary Commemoration Committee
Some of the members of the Committee are
Aileen Dillane, Jim McNamara, Ciaran
McNamee, Mary O'Donnell
and Pat O'Connor
Brian Higgins and Gerry Kirby
Mike Finn, Padraig Malone and Joe Harrington