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  • Writer's pictureIWW Ireland

History of Ireland & the Wobblies Talk

Remembering the history of Irish Wobblies and the heroes of the Dunnes Stores strike

Sarah Lundberg Summer School is an annual event held by East Wall History Group in

Dublin in memory of their member, Sarah Lundberg, who passed away in 2014. This year’s edition focused on the history of syndicalism and labour organising in Ireland.

The highlight of the event was a talk by Karen Gearson, a shop steward from the Dunnes

Stores outlet on Henry Street, where in 1984 workers went on strike. They were supporting

an IDATU union directive to stop handling sales of South African products because of the country’s apartheid system. Gearson captivated the audience with her stories about the struggle at the picket lines, being held at gunpoint in a South African airport, and speaking to the UN. Above all, however, she delivered a hopeful message about the power of worker solidarity and how it can change the world.

Her talk was accompanied by a dramatic reenactment of the Dunnes Stores strike, written and performed by Ciara Geraghty and

Bernie Furlong.

Other talks at the Summer School included Mary Muldowney, a historian at the Dublin City

Council, speaking about the early years of Industrial Workers of the World in Ireland and

Emmet O’Connor, a history lecturer at the University of Ulster in Belfast, covering the

broader history of syndicalism in our country.

Meanwhile, a local historian Hugo McGuinness took us back to the 1880s and the glass bottle makers strike with its story of solidarity between Irish and Danish workers.

The final lecture of the day was devoted to the Irish Women Workers Union and delivered by James Curry from Dublin City Council.

The afternoon at Sean O'Casey Theatre was capped with the reveal of Tara Kearns’s

painting of Grainne Keeley, a beloved member of the local community who recently passed


Thank you to the East Wall History Group for organising the Sarah Lundberg Summer

School and for keeping the history and memory of labour struggle in Ireland alive.

Eastwall History Group have a useful Youtube channel that's worth checking out for past events.



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