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Dublin - Event Notice
Thursday January 01 1970

William murder Martin Murphy

category dublin | anti-capitalism | event notice author Tuesday November 20, 2007 00:00author by Sean - noneauthor address noneauthor phone none Report this post to the editors

Another Hideous History

In just over five years time the people of Dublin will commemorate the centenary of the 1913 Lockout. Its almost one hundred years since the workers of Dublin downed tools and joined the great strike which was led by Jim Larkin. His adversary was William Martin Murphy.

In just over five years time the people of Dublin will commemorate the centenary of the 1913 Lockout. Its almost one hundred years since the workers of Dublin downed tools and joined the great strike which was led by Jim Larkin. His adversary was William Martin Murphy.

A recent Hidden History programme on RTE about so called ’ ethnic cleansing’ in the midlands during the Black and Tan war, caused a lot of controversy. It was suggested that the producers of the programme had a hidden agenda. It appears that the real intent of the programme was to smear and tarnish republican history.

They where at it again on Tuesday November 13th when Hidden History returned with another one of their historical concoctions.
This one was entitled ’ figures of hate’. On this occasion they where spot on with their title. Make no mistake about it, William Martin Murphy is without doubt a figure of hate. After watching the programme it was obvious that the nature of this documentary was to try and convince Dubliners that maybe it was time to bury the hatchet.
They say that when it comes to a dispute, the ‘Dubs are renowned for burying the hatchet, but they always leave the handle sticking up’. There are certain figures in Irish history who will never be forgiven, despite the best efforts by some historical revisionist in recent times. A few years ago a book came out on Oliver Cromwell. The author believed Cromwell had been unfairly treated by historians. He tried to convince the reader that Oliver was not really the murdering butcher as described in history. Just the very mention of Cromwell’s name creates a feeling of fear and anger.
Just saying his name causes irritation. Anyone who understands the true history of Dublin and especially the period of the Lockout will have those same negative feeling when the name William Martin Murphy is mentioned.

Are the producers of Hidden History suggesting that the people of Dublin should after all these years maybe forgive the tyrant William Martin Murphy ?

The narrator tells us that ‘history has not been kind to the memory of William Martin Murphy. To this day his remarkable business achievements survives as a mere foot note in the 1913 lockout’.

The program implies that he is remembered in a negative light for all the wrong reasons.
Ok, there was that business with Jim Larkin and the twenty thousand people who he starved back to the workplace after an bitter eight month strike, but apart from that he was a wonderful bloke.
I can’t help thinking that the producers of the programme want to rearrange Murphy’s place in history.
In their programme the Lockout is dealt with as a mere footnote. As a reversal to how history has actually portrayed William Martin Murphy, Hidden History has chosen instead to do the opposite and concentrate on his so called ‘remarkable business achievements’.

The opening scenes of the documentary showed quick footage of today’s entrepreneurs.
People such as Michael O’Leary, Sir Tony O’Reilly, Michael Smurfit etc.
The narrator joins in over the footage and explains to us that,

’In an age where entrepreneurship is lorded and aspired to, Irelands business magnets are often regarded as national heroes. Their ruthless single mindedness is condoned. We value our industrial tigers. We heed their words’.

At this point we see a quick clip from the Late Late show. The footage is of Michael O’Leary who appears to be in righteous form. With his finger pointing, he belts out three words ‘They are wrong’
The next clip we see are the nodding dogs/clapping seals in the Late Late audience ‘heeding’ his words. They clap enthusiastically for Mr O’Leary and nod their heads in agreement to one another. I assume they are meant to represent the Irish people.
I’ve always been amazed at audiences in the Late late show. They have shown a habitual pattern of clapping for anyone at any time. I wonder if it compulsory to clap when on this show.

The first few minutes of Hidden History portrays Ireland as a country who just adores their entrepreneurial son’s.
Excuse my ignorance, but am I missing something here ? Are people like Michael O’Leary really national hero’s ?
The narrator moves on. He informs us that ’ Entrepreneurs may be the national treasures of modern Ireland, but it was not always that way’.
At this stage I was trying desperately to visualise in my own mind an image of Michael O’Leary as a national treasure, it did not materialise. I would not really regard Michael O’Leary as a national treasure. I was thinking more on the line’s of Tara Valley as a National treasure.
(That’s the sacred Valley that is being bulldozed at present by todays ‘valued industrial tigers‘).

The narrator says
’ Entrepreneurs may be the national treasures of modern Ireland, but it was not always that way’
At this point we are brought back in time to the bad old days. We are shown an artist impression from around the end of the nineteenth century/turn of the twentieth century.
It shows a well fed business man looking sad and victimised as a mob of ragged peasants shout abuse and wave their fists in his face.
The narrator tells us that ’ In the not too distant past, money makers and power brokers where seen as suspect, some how less than Irish ’.

Various other guest speakers join in as the programme moves on.

‘I don’t think there was a place of respect accorded to entrepreneurs in late nineteenth, early twentieth century Ireland’

‘There was a certain amount of begrudging towards successful businessmen’

The narrator tells us that ‘ Murphy was a pioneer who believed in Irelands potential to become an economic power. He built a business empire stretching from Europe to South America.
He was responsible for building railways on the Gold Coast of South Africa’

In 1904 Murphy was commissioned by the British colonial office to build a railway on the African Gold Coast. We see footage of local labour, slave like in appearance doing all the work, while one of those George type chaps wearing a safari hat sets the fast pace of work as he watches over them. I wonder who benefited from that ‘remarkable business achievement‘. hardly the natives.
We are told that Murphy was ‘ahead of his time‘.
His achievements where remarkable only to those who where born on the wealthy side if the class wall.
If you happen to be on the other side of the class divide you might not hold him in such high regard. The employees who worked for Murphy where terrified of him. He ruled with an iron fist.
The poverty in Dublin at the turn of the century was absolutely appalling, it has been compared to Calcutta in India at its worst.
One third of all deaths registered in Dublin from 1902/1911 where a direct result of poor living conditions.
Large families lived in the old crumbling tenement buildings that where plentiful in the back streets of Dublin. In some cases one or more families would occupy a single room in one of these buildings. On occasions these overcrowded buildings would collapse killing and maiming those inside.
Hidden History did not delve into the scale of poverty in Dublin before and during the lockout. The hardship was there before the strike, during the strike, and after the strike. The narrator tells us that the ‘strike brought hardship‘, no doubt it brought extra hardship, but the programme implies that the strikers brought this hardship down on themselves by getting involved in the union. Through the eyes of Hidden History, Dublin looked like a great place to live in those days, so long as you did not get involved in the unions.
The narrator tells us that Murphy paid better wages than anyone else in Dublin at that time. Maybe he did but it was not just about money. The lockout was a story about gross exploitation of the ordinary people. It was also about the savage consequences and punishment that was dished out to anyone who dared raise their head to question the system . Thousands of people lived in fear. Their lives where completely controlled by Murphy.
It was a story about self respect and human dignity. It was an age when people like William Martin Murphy believed that the working class should know their place.
People in general where expected to keep the head down and take it on the chin because that’s was just the order of things.
When James Larkin came along he gave people hope. He organised the workers through the ITGWU and gave them back some dignity. Was it too much to ask to be treated fairly ? Murphy did not believe in fair play. He demanded that his workers sign a pledge stating that they would not join the union. That’s when he started sacking workers by the hundred. And the Lockout followed.
Murphy was not the type to sit back and hope that it would all just blow away.
He dropped in to see his friends in Dublin Castle. They where only too willing to help.
He now had the full support and back up from the DMP (Dublin Metropolitan Police) and the RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary )
The DMP where famous because of their height. They where mostly huge men who where referred to as ‘ the giants ‘ by Dublin people.
Maybe Larkin and the workers underestimated how ruthless Murphy really was.
Throughout the strike Murphy’s hounds from hell (The DMP and the RIC)
terrorised the streets of Dublin. When ever crowds assembled for public meetings they where pursued by police and savagely beaten about the head with batons resulting in death and many hundreds wounded and hospitalised.
The police banned Larkin from addressing the public. Larkin promised that he would speak on that infamous Sunday, August 31st. The people knew that he would keep his promise despite the terror tactics being employed by the police.
Larkin wore a disguise to get himself into a position where he could address the crowd in O‘Connell St. He appeared on a balcony above the throng of people and began to speak.
Larkin was arrested and taken away. Then the police got stuck into the masses of people who had gathered.
Witnesses describe the sound of terror as batons crashed down on heads up and down the length of and breath of O’Connell St. One newspaper described how
‘there were scores of people scattered all over the street lying on the ground, their hands to their heads, bleeding from the wounds inflicted".

The Evening Telegraph reported
‘immediately after the scene had ended, a broken baton was picked up in the street. It had been split along its whole length’
The police riot carried on through the evening and into the early hours. They attacked people in their homes after smashing down doors and ransacking the place. Women and children where not spared in the orgy of police violence. Over 500 people where treated in hospital.
The strike lasted for eight months. The workers where starving as food relief began to dry up. In the end they went back to work. The cruelty of this man is hard to measure, but he was way up there with the worst of them.
I might compare his dogged stubbornness in the face of everything decent, to that of the other spineless tyrant Margaret Thatcher during the 1981 hunger strike.
Hidden History finishes off the documentary with more words of wisdom from the narrator. Of William Martin Murphy, he say‘s ‘the stubborn ruthlessness that dammed him in the twentieth century, could have made him a business legend in the twenty first century ’

Why is Hidden History digging up that old bag of bones. Are they getting the boot in early as the centenary of the Lockout approaches.
Leading up to the 90th anniversary of the 1916 rising, they where busy then attacking the ideals of and actions of the men and women who fought in the GPO.
What ever about Murphy’s ‘remarkable business achievements’ etc, that all goes out the window when one reads about how he dealt with the people of Dublin in 1913. Should we promote Hitler and the Nazis because they built great motorways ? I think not.
If William Martin Murphy is in the dustbin of history leave him there, it’s the proper place for him.
As for Jim Larkin, we could probably do with one today despite all the so called successes of the Celtic Tiger. In this golden age, all is not rosy in the garden as some might suggest.
On Friday 9th of November the Dublin Simon Community released the figures for the amount of homeless people who had died in the previous 18 months.
At least 51 homeless people died in Dublin and Belfast alone. The overall number is probably higher because these figures only relate to homeless individuals who use the services. At a pre Christmas memorial service held in Dublin on the 9th November the statistics showed that 45 of the people who died in the past 18 months, where based in the Dublin area.

When it comes to history, we should be promoting courageous people like Jim Larkin and James Connolly, not the ultimate gombeen man that was William Martin Murphy.

It is important that we remember the right people. Unselfish people who gave everything, people who stuck their necks out for the welfare of others. Let their valuable memories live on, it’s the least they deserve.

See the words of the song ‘James Larkin’ below.

James Larkin

In Dublin City in nineteen thirteen,
The boss was rich and the poor were slaves,
The women working and children starving,
Then on came Larkin like a mighty wave.
The workers cringed when the boss man thundered,
Seventy hours was his weekly chore,
He asked for little and less was granted,
Lest given little then he'd ask for more.

In the month of August the boss man told us,
No union man for him could work,
We stood by Larkin and told the boss man,
We'd fight or die, but we wouldn't shirk.
Eight months we fought and eight months we starved,
We stood by Larkin through thick and thin,
But foodless homes and the crying of children,
It broke our hearts, we just couldn't win.

Then Larkin left us, we seemed defeated,
The night was black for the working man,
But on came Connolly with new hope and counsel,
His motto was that we'd rise again.
In nineteen sixteen in Dublin City,
The English soldiers they burnt our town,
The shelled our buildings and shot our leaders,
The Harp was buried 'neath the bloody crown.

They shot McDermott and Pearse and Plunkett,
They shot McDonagh and Clarke the brave,
From bleak Kilmainham they took Ceannt's body,
To Arbour Hill and a quicklime grave.
But last of all of the seven heroes,
I sing the praise of James Connolly,
The voice of justice, the voice of freedom,
He gave his life, that man might be free.

To hear the air of this song and see photos, go to ...you tube- 'Jame's Larkin by the Dubliners

Related Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JcLSFdSSHM
author by Sean - nonepublication date Tue Nov 20, 2007 00:22author address noneauthor phone noneReport this post to the editors

Sorry about the above you tube video not appearing, Maybe it a teething problem. Just press related link at bottom of story, to get you to you tube,
Near the top of the you tube page, enter 'James Larkin' by the Dubliner's in the search box.
Maybe somone else could try and have it posted below in their comment box. Thanks

author by Bikerpublication date Tue Nov 20, 2007 07:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For some reason on this Hidden History they kept using archive film taken in Cork to show Dublin trams - most of it from the recently discovered Mitchell & Kenyon archive. A cinematographer from M&K visited Cork in 1902 to film scenes from the Great Industrial Exhibition and it was these that were shown, not the Dublin exhibition of five years later. This included shots of the water chute in Fitzgerald Park, Cork, not to mention shots of trams in Patrick Street on at least four occasions.

As has been pointed out elsewhere Murphy was from Castletownbere, not Bantry (nearly 30 miles away) and the best thing he ever did was leave the place.

The "documentary" was, just like the previous "Hidden Histories", riddled with inaccuracies. The references to Michael O'Leary, Tony O'Reilly and Denis O'Brien were laughable, if anything most ordinary people regard them with the same disdain as Murphy was regarded in his day, but you will always have people willing to doff the cap and lick the boots.

It can only be a matter of time before Hidden HIstories revisits the Spanish Civil War in more details, they've already touched on Eoin O'Duffy's role elsewhere, no doubt the native fascist band will be lauded, along with those who financed them and sent them off, as "the bishops blessed the Blueshirts in Dunleary"

Very thinly veiled agenda rather than Hidden History.

author by Concerned Viewerpublication date Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This documentary was, as Sean says, a whitewash of Murphy, presenting him as not so bad after all. Some of the contributors rightly pointed out his brutality in 1913 and 1916, but editorially this was all presented as a tragedy for Murphy's reputation, more so than a tragedy for his victims.
And the documentary was written and made by Donncha O'Briain. I take it this is the same man who was involved in making the excellent documentary on the coup against Chavez. The same man who was involved in the Irish Social Forum, and in a good few other campaigns. Has he now concluded that his career in TV is best served by joining in the pro-business chorus? Say it ain't so!!

(BTW, this thread should obviously be in opinion + analysis not event notices.)

author by Northern Lightpublication date Sun Nov 25, 2007 22:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

At secondary school my Irish & history teacher used to tell us that there were some homes in the state that still did not allow the Indo to cross the doorstep as it had been owned by WMM. Unfortunately I have never come across such homes or people holding such views.

The documentary is not wrong to compare him to O' Brien, O' Leary etc. If slavery were legal they would be using it. If it were the done thing to get the garda out to break a picket they would do it. I have no doubt O'Leary would have had no problem with that happening to his baggage handlers in Dublin Airport (yet I still take his flights - am I infrastructurally trapped by the system?).

No, the problems as I see it are two:

- first there is obviously people in this country in the establishment who would not stand for a documentary which highlighted the horrors as listed above. They may be family or they may just be business people that take the view that Murphy did what was right for his time. They have influence though. After all why didn't the documantary focus on the horrors. Definately an agenda. Ridiculas in fact. Adding insult to injury!

- secondly and more importantly the bastard won. People need victories to sustain themselves. In my limited knowledge of the subject I would say that working class actions have been more successful and have led to a stronger working class movement and sence of self in other countries. Unfortunately the legacy of the bastard winning was even more subsevience to the establishment and a dearth of ideas of rights or social movements for working class Dublin or even a folk memory of 1913.

But then Fianna Fail came along to save the day...

author by notthenorm - notthenormpublication date Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Its always wonderful to see bias publishing is still in existance.

William Martin Murphy took the side of the Catholic Church in the lockout, keep that in mind :-)

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