Date Released: 02 April 2014
On Sunday, 6th April, the Limerick Council of Trade Unions is running a bus tour of the locations associated with the events which became known as “The Limerick Soviet, 1919”.
This date coincides with the day 95 years ago when comrades of Robert (Bobby) Byrne converged at the Limerick Workhouse Hospital in an attempt to rescue him from his prison guards.
It was here, at 3.00 p.m., 6th April 1919, that a 19 strong party of men arrived at the hospital, some taking on the role as visitors to other patients at the number 1 men’s ward, (now the Thomond Ward) in an attempt to rescue Bobby.
The operation was a failure and a Constable O’Brien was shot dead, a second guard was wounded, and Robert Byrne himself was wounded and he was taken by pony and trap to the home of a John Ryan at Knocknalisheen a few miles away, in County Clare, where he succumbed to his injuries and died there at 8.00 p.m. that evening.
As a result of the sensational rescue attempt the British military authorities acted swiftly and on April 9th, Limerick City was proclaimed a special military area. Workers were ordered to obtain permits to enable them to proceed to their places of employment. Despite the intimidating presence of army tanks, armoured cars, large forces of military and police, the representatives of 35 trades unions met on 13th April to consider the position. After two long sessions it was decided that there would be a general strike as from the following morning 14th April 1919.
We will re-visit some of the locations associated with these historic events and a number of speakers will give an insight into the events as they unfolded over the two week period which brought international attention to the workers of Limerick, “When the workers took on an Empire”.
The bus will leave from Pery Square at 1.30 p.m. and will take in a stop at Mt St Lawrence Graveyard on its return to Pery Square, where a wreath will be laid at the grave of our fallen colleague Robert Byrne.
To register a place on the bus contact Pat Condon (SIPTU) on 087 677 6815
Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come basis.