‘Forgotten Revolution’ The Limerick Soviet 1919 (Centenary Edition)


It is the Spring of 1919. The first shots have already been fired in the Irish War of Independence and the separatist Dáil Éireann holds its first public session. Three years after the events of 1916, the atmosphere in Limerick city is charged. The British military impose a series of draconian restrictions on movement within the city, following the IRB shooting of a policeman and wounding of another while rescuing a Republican hunger striker from hospital. He, too, is wounded and dies.The British authorities see it as a serious threat to their rule in Ireland. The workers protest against a severe military law that requires them to get special passes and be checked going to and from work - primarily when crossing the city's two main bridges.  The workers and their trade union representatives take over running the city and their action is declared a ‘Soviet’, with the workers in control of every aspect of life – production and distribution of food, opening and closing of shops, prices, and transport. They publish their own newspaper and uniquely issue their own currency. Their initial success is built on a local alliance of Socialist, Republican and trade union forces, with the tacit support of Catholic clergy. However, when the workers seek a general strike, the national leaderships of these disparate groups are opposed and abandon them. The eventual outcome is an honourable draw but the militant spirit of Limerick’s women and men inspires more than a hundred other soviets across Ireland in the revolutionary years 1919 to 1923.

Liam Cahill has examined the diverse forces acting on and reacting to the events in the city, and has placed them in their wider national context. The story of organised labour and Socialist history in the city and beyond is no longer a forgotten one.

A number of original and never before published photographs are included, as well as maps, full index and source materials. 187 pages, published by OrlaKelly Publishing, Cork, 2019. 

The author, Waterford native Liam Cahill, is a former senior RTE journalist, with a long interest in Trade Union and labour history.  

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