1913 Lockout Tapestry

My stitched panel of Larkin's arrest is currently on show at Pearse Street Library in Dublin from February 17th until March 28th 2015.

I first heard the plans for the 1913 Lockout Tapestry project at the Hugh Lane Gallery in October 2012.    The artists Robert Ballagh & Cathy Henderson spoke with great enthusiasm regarding this ambitious visual arts project to commemorate the centenary of the 1913 Lockout.  With two months to 2013 it was going to be quite a challenge and I was determined to be involved.  

With the help of fellow Abbey Theatre colleagues from the production, wardrobe and props departments we were assigned the panel dipicting Larkin's arrest.    It took the best part of a year to complete and was unveiled at Liberty Hall (SIPTU) by the President of Ireland Mr Michael Higgins in August 2013.

Eimear Murphy (Head of Abby Theatre Props Dept.) has also written about her experience on this project - click here.  

The tapestry tells the story of the clash of forces between labour and capital in the fight for union recognition and the right to collective bargaining resulting in 100,000 people facing starvation at end of 1913.

One in four Dublin families were affected by the  Lockout and I had a personal connection to this story.  My Great Grandparents worked in Jacobs Biscuit factory during this period.   Agnes Beckley and James Joseph Ross were both Union Workers and married in December 1912.   Jacobs presented them both with a gift of a wedding cake and nine months later their first baby Charles Ross arrived on Sunday 31 August 1913.   He was nicknamed “Charlie” (the honeymoon baby).   Twenty-four hours after his birth the Jacob’s Lockout commenced.   

For the next six months 909 men and 306 women never returned to work at the Jacobs factory.   With one income down and another mouth to feed this would have been harsh times for my Great- Great-Grandparents and a very cold and hungry winter lay ahead of them.   

To date this 30 panel tapestry has been exhibited at The National History & Decorative Arts Museum, Liberty Hall,  National College of Art & Design, The National Abbey Theatre, and several other Community and Art Galleries around the country.  I am delighted to have played a role in this project and hopefully the story of the 1913 Lockout, and all the brave men, women and children involved including my Great Grandparents will reach new audiences for many more years to come.  

Click for video of President Michael D Higgins unveiling the Tapestry at Liberty Hall August 1913





President Higgins said that the 1913 Lockout centenary had a special place in the decade of upcoming anniversaries of seminal events in Irish history.

“In this case, the conflict was not with a dominant colonial power with whom we had shared a troubled history. The perceived enemy was within. The 1913 Lockout has a different emphasis to other upcoming centenaries in that it was primarily a class based struggle between labour and capitalism.”

Does this strike a chord 100 years later?   Anyone??