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Labour History on Irish Waterways - Snippets 9 PDF Print E-mail
11 April 2013

Ninteen twenty two was a year of change in Ireland both politically and in the area of industrial relations. A month long close down of the Grand Canal Companies’ operation saw the strikers issue permits to bye traders and collect tolls from them to subsidise their strike pay. There was obviously considerable disruption to commerce and the following letter to the “Minister of Economics” , Provisional Government, City Hall, Dublin, is typical

Dear Sir,

In accordance with my interview with you today re three hundred barrels of black oats of mine at Grand Canal Harbour, James’ Street, I beg to put before you the full particulars in compliance with your suggestion.

On January 31st, those three hundred barrels of oats arrived at James’ street. The same day the men went on strike. The sender of those oats was Mr. John Murphy, Graigue-na-managh who paid all the freight on those oats to the Grand Canal Co.

The oats are lying in the Canal Boat since the 31st January, and are being damaged by water leaking into the boat, and lying there all this time grain is bound to be damaged. I have those oats sold for home consumption to Mr. Canavan, Forage Merchant, Hill Street, Dublin.

My chief point is as follows :- I have several times applied to the Irish Transport Workers’ Union in Thomas street for permission to draw these oats away on my plea that they arrived and berthed in the boat on the morning the men went on strike. They still lie in the boat, and the Irish Transport Union agreed through their Mr. Bowen and me to discharge the boat at ten shillings per man per day with six men, a matter of three hours work. I agreed last week to this, and since that the Union demanded from me a sum of sixteen pounds fourteen shillings for what they call tollage payable to their Union. I am not liable to the Union for any tollage, as this boat of grain was actually berthed when the strike commenced, and any question of this so called tollage payable to the Union, to my mind, would only apply to boats travelling on the waterways during the course of the strike.

I would thank you to please enquire into this matter and let me know can I draw this grain immediately, and oblige.

Yours faithfully,

Edward Fitzgerald,

Corn and Grain Merchant,

Commercial buildings,


On 24th February the Union’s General President replied to the Ministry that there was no need to answer the points raised by the merchant as the dispute had been settled.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. From the Irish Transport and General Workers Union files (canal section) lodged at The Irish Labour History Museum and Archive, Beggars Bush, Dublin 4.

Joe Treacy 2013.

Last Updated ( 11 April 2013 )
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