The history of labour in Limerick in the nineteenth century
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While there is an increasing volume of research and publications relating to labour history in Ireland in the recent period, there is still a dearth of local labour histories since Emmet O’Connor published A Labour History of Waterford more than thirty years ago. This thesis addresses a gap in this field, focusing on the history of labour in Limerick during the nineteenth century. The general narrative of nineteenth century historiography is one of the struggles of Irish nationalism against British rule. As is seen from this thesis, the reality was that class conflict was a major component part of the history of this period, both in an urban and a rural setting. The thesis is the result of extensive research using archival material as well as national and local primary sources, in conjunction with extensive secondary literature. It demonstrates that the history of Limerick city and county in the nineteenth century was a history of regular conflict between rich and poor, employer and worker, tenant farmer and agricultural labourer, often violent. On many occasions Limerick and the wider Mid-West of the country was the epicentre for mass movements that emerged during the nineteenth century. Often the urban and/or rural working class played a pivotal role in such movements. At the same time, the potential and promise of many of these movements remained unfulfilled as the local and national leaderships of Irish nationalism repeatedly told the working class that ‘labour must wait. The findings will demonstrate the necessity to expand the research into the rich and varied history of labour in Ireland.
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