ILHS Lectures

New page under the events section. These are recordings of our online lectures in Autumn 2020 and Spring 2021.

Material Studies

7 women of the labour movement
A new feature we have introduced to our website is 'Material Studies' under the Collections section. These are essays on paper-based collections which have been donated to the ILHS. The first essay is on the IPCS Land Commission Inspectors Branch Minute books

Labour Lives from Saothar

7 women of the labour movement
New page under the biographies section. These are bios which were published in past issues of Saothar.

7 women of the labour movement

7 women of the labour movement

New article added to the Biographies page.

Click here for full text.
Larkin join ILHS


Saothar: Journal of Irish Labour History is a refereed journal, dedicated to the study of Irish working-class history in its broadest sense, including Irish workers abroad and comparative history. It contains articles, essays, essays in review, reviews, notices, reports, source studies, thesis abstracts, bibliographies, document studies, reminiscences, correspondence and an annual overview of ILHS activities. Saothar has been published since 1975 and has developed a reputation for combining high standards of scholarship with accessibility. It is circulated to all members of the Society.

Ordering Saothars

Contributing to Saothar

Indices of Saothar

Ordering Saothars

You can order the current or back issues of Saothar by posting your order and cheque/postal order (payable to 'Irish Labour History Society') to The Irish Labour History Society. Beggars Bush, Haddington Road, Dublin D04 DP27. Prices for current and available back issues can be found below. We now have a paypal button setup for our more recent issues, Saothar 41 to 46, to allow purchase of these online. This can be done by clicking on the 'buy now' button on the Saothar 46 , Saothar 45 , Saothar 44 , Saothar 43 , Saothar 42 or Saothar 41 pages (using your credit/debit card or paypal account to make payment).

Saothar 46

No. 46


Mary Muldowney Irish women telephonists and the struggle for gender equality in the 1970s';
Patrick Murphy Class, Conflict and Conciliation: The All for Ireland League in Cork 1910-1918; .....more
Saothar 45

No. 45


Conor McCabe A Situation of Great Novelty and difficulty: The 1920 Irish Railway Munitions Strike;
Pádraig Yeates The men 'going into the Convention.., did not own their own souls': the Labour Movement and the Irish Convention; .....more
Saothar 44

No. 44


Fergus A. D'Arcy The strange fate of a Dublin Orphanage: St Peter's, York Street, 1817-1879; Danny Cusack Thomas Harten; A Strike Breaker in the Dublin Lockout; .....more

Saothar 43

No. 43


Mary Jones The 1841 Children's Employment Commission Ireland: the employment of children in mines and manufactories; Leah Dowdall 'A tantrum in a teacup': Women in the Irish working-class movement, 1890-1916; .....more
Saothar 42

No. 42


Peter Murray John McAteer and Marshall Plan technical assistance; Fionnuala Walsh 'We work with shells all day and night': Irish female munitions workers during the First World War; .....more
Saothar 41

No. 41


Michael D. Higgins A Celebration of James Connolly & the Irish Citizens Army; Róisín Higgins The 'Incorruptible Inheritors of 1916': The Battle for Ownership of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Easter Rising; .....more

Saothar 40

No. 40


Padraic Kenna and Alan Sheerins - Development of Irish Housing 1900 - 1970s; Donal Ó Drisceoil - Sex and socialism: the class politics of immorality in pre-First-World-War Ireland; .....more
Saothar 39

No. 39


Francis Devine - 'Hearing the Children Weeping': Samuel Monro, 1846-1925, President, Belfast Trades Council & British TUC; Gerard Madden - Bishop Michael Browne of Galway and Anti-Communism, 1937-1976; .....more
Saothar 38

No. 38


Margaret Brehony - Free labour and 'whitening' the nation: Irish migrants in colonial Cuba; Ciaran Mulholland and Michael Walker - 'Our cause is a just one': trade union organization in Irish asylums, 1896-1917; .....more

Saothar 37

No. 37


Niall Whelehan - Labour and agrarian violence in the Irish midlands, 1850-1870; John O'Donovan - Class, conflict and the United Irish League in Cork, 1900-1903; .....more
Saothar 36

No. 36


Mary Muldowney - Breaking the mould? The employment of women in Irish railway companies during the First World War; James Curry - Delia Larkin: More harm to the Big Fellow than any of the employers?; .....more
Saothar 35

No. 35


Conor McCabe - The Irish Labour Party and the 1920 Local Elections; John Hogan - Payback: the Dublin bricklayers' strike, 1920-1921; .....more

Saothar 34

No. 34


Michael O'Connell 'What a pity at the very source of wealth': strikes and emigration, Berehaven mining district, 1861-c1900; John Borgonovo 'A Soviet in embryo': Cork's food crisis and the People's Food Committee, 1917-1918; .....more
Saothar 33

No. 33


Martin Maguire Civil service trade unionism in Ireland (part 1); John Hogan Locked out: the 1905 dispute between the Bricklayers' Union (AGIBSTU) and the Master Builders' Association; .....more
Saothar 32

No. 32


Emmet O'Connor 1907: a titanic year for Belfast Labour; Bryce Evans The Construction Corps, 1940-1948; .....more

Saothar 31

No. 31


Dominic Haugh The ITGWU in Limerick, 1917-1922; Aileen O'Carroll Work organisation, technology, community and change: the story of the Dublin docker; .....more
Saothar 30

No. 30


Colm Breatnach Working class resistance in pre-Famine County Dublin: the Dalkey quarry strikes of the 1820s; Conor McCabe The context and course of the Irish railway disputes of 1911; .....more
Saothar 29

No. 29


Melanie Nolan Kith, kin and the working class: a transfer of Ulster-Scots culture to New Zealand;
Margaret Ó hÓgartaigh Female teachers and professional trade unions in early twentieth century Ireland; .....more

Also available: Saothar No.3, Nos 5 to 26, and No 28. Phone or email for prices.

Contributing to Saothar

We welcome articles; essays; document, film and visual art studies; oral histories; archival and conference reports; as well as letters on the content of the journal or labour history generally. Articles should be of relevance to the history of the Irish working class, or Irish workers abroad, and should not deal primarily with events less than thirty years old. By the 'history of the Irish working class' we mean waged and unwaged workers, their lives, work, economic conditions, social and cultural relationships, leaders. organisations, movements, values and ideas. Studies of anti-labour organisations or anti-socialist groups are also of relevance. We are particularly interested in studies that focus on the 'everyday life' of workers and their families. Features other than articles, such as essays, may be more contemporary in scope. Further details on format can be found in Guidelines for Contributors

Co-Editors of Saothar: Dr. Mary McAuliffe & Dr. Peter Rigney

Correspondence should be sent to Saothar, c/o Mary McAuliffe,

Advertising and distribution queries should be directed to the business manager, c/o ILHS, Labour History Museum and Archives.

Indices of Saothar

Please click on the links below to view the complete index of Saothar.

Index 1973 - 2000

Index 2001 - 2017

It is only when you see a complete set of Saothar, which first appeared on May Day 1975, sitting on a library shelf that you appreciate what an achievement for the Irish Labour History Society (ILHS) the journal is. This is remarkable given the almost total absence of any academic base for the subject in 1975. It is even more remarkable when the continuing narrowness - perhaps even the narrowing - of that base is considered. These days, following the 'collapse of socialism' and 'end of history', labour history studies are fast disappearing from third level institutions. The strength of the ILHS, and therefore its journal, has never been reliant on academia however. There has been strong support, no strings attached, from the labour movement. This is reflected in the unique image of the journal with its 'fraternal' advertisements from trade unions.

An interesting question, when gazing at the thousands of pages of text, is: how much of this work would have been published were it not for Saothar ? The suspicion is that very little of it would have appeared elsewhere. This is not to denigrate the standard of the contributions over the years - for Saothar has been acclaimed for reaching and maintaining high standards of scholarship - but to observe that labour history and working class experience have never been popular subjects in Irish economic and social history studies

A second, very important, observation is that many of those who contribute to each issue of Saothar are first-time historians - young research students, labour movement activists, civil and public servants, teachers and those from other disciplines pursuing a particular interest. Reading through the 'List of Contributors' each year is to realise the breadth of encouragement offered by the Society and its journal. It is a policy in which the journal takes great pride and one that has seen a number of contributors - having broken their publication 'ducks' in Saothar - go on to establish significant roles for themselves in Irish historiography.

Almost no book on Irish labour or social history now appears without some reference to Saothar material; this shows the journal is being used. This is encouraging as after issue five it was consciously decided to attempt to create a 'working tool' for labour historians. The 'Sources' and 'Bibliography' sections, in particular, have been acknowledged and utilized as an essential starter reference before the research plunge is taken.