Limerick City and County Council Decade of Centenaries

2012 - 2023
  • British Army checkpoint Thomond Bridge 1919

The Decade of Centenaries programme commenced in 2012. It complements the ongoing programme of annual State commemorations with special centenary commemorative events on the anniversaries of key historical events. The Decade of Centenaries programme is broad and inclusive, highlighting the economic and social conditions of the period, the shifts in cultural norms and the experience of the Irish abroad.

The programme encompasses the different traditions on the island of Ireland and aims to enhance understanding of and respect for events of importance among the population as a whole. The programme also provides opportunities to focus on the everyday experience of ordinary people living in extraordinary times, as well as on the leaders and key actors in these eventsand aims to offer fresh insights and constructive dialogue, and to foster deeper mutual understanding among people from the different traditions.

The programme further provides an opportunity to focus on the development of access to historical records and primary sources from the time period, and for working with local and national cultural bodies to bring forward a series of exhibitions and public discussions.

For the Decade of Centenaries Programme 2020 click here.

Limerick Decade of Centenaries Programme 2021

Local Authorities oversee the Community Strand of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media’s Commemorative Programme. The Community Strand encourages a collaborative approach between the State, local authority network and community organisations.

Limerick City and County Council is committed to delivering a significant Decade of Centenaries programme in 2020/2021, including a number of events in remembrance of the major incidents that took place throughout the city and county.

The Covid-19 national emergency has unfortunately resulted in an alternative approach to the Decade of Centenaries programme for Limerick, with most events now taking place online. The focus remains to promote a deeper understanding of the historical events of the period with particular emphasis on the events and experiences in Limerick.

Studying Revolution: Accounts of Mary Immaculate College 1918–1923

Mary Immaculate College Students c. 1918
Mary Immaculate College Students c. 1918

Against the backdrop of ambushes such as Dromkeen and atrocities like the Curfew Murders, everyday life in Limerick city and county proceeded with a surprising degree of normality during the Irish War of Independence and Civil War. This was the case in Mary Immaculate College (MIC), where the rhythms and routines of college life carried on alongside, or in spite of, the turmoil outside of its walls. Produced in collaboration with the History Department at MIC, Studying Revolution comprises edited transcripts of a selection of documents accompanied by insightful, introductory essays by MIC staff. Together, they provide a fascinating window on life in MIC during the Irish revolutionary years.

Click here to view this publication.

Women in Limerick in 1921

Women in Limerick in 1921 exhibition

This exhibition examines the role of women in the Limerick of 1921, paying particular attention to four Limerick women whose experiences demonstrated different aspects of the revolutionary period. On 14 May, 23 year old Winnie Barringon, daughter of the popular local landowner Sir Charles Barrington of Glenstal Castle, was accidently shot dead during an IRA ambush, highlighting the fate of innocent civilians in the fighting. On 21 May, Alderman Maire O’Donovan became acting Mayor of Limerick in the absence of the Mayor in the USA, thus becoming the first female head of a Limerick local authority. On 24 May, her sister Kate O’Callaghan, widow of the murdered Mayor O’Callaghan, was elected the first ever female TD representing a Limerick constituency, while on the same day, Kathleen Clarke was returned as TD for the Dublin Mid constituency.

Click here to download the exhibition slides.

Dromkeen Ambush Exhibition

Dromkeen Ambush exhibition

Limerick played a central role in the War of Independence, with 130 fatalities, the fifth highest death toll of any Irish county, after Cork, Dublin, Tipperary and Kerry. The Dromkeen Ambush of 3 February 1921 was one of the biggest events in Limerick during this period. It was the largest ambush in the entire War of Independence after Kilmichael and was carried out by the flying columns of the East and Mid Limerick Brigades IRA, some 45 riflemen, under the command of Donnocha O’Hannigan, commander of East Limerick Brigade Flying Column. Illustrated with numerous images and maps, this exhibition examines the Dromkeen Ambush in detail, telling the story of how a small east Limerick village witnessed a significant defeat for the might of the Crown forces.

Click here to download the exhibition slides.

 

Soviets and Strikes Labour in Limerick 1917-1922

Soviets and Strikes Labour in Limerick 1917-22 exhibition

Between 1917 and 1922, Limerick was one of the epicentres of Labour activity in Ireland. The large unionist-owned Cleeves business empire was the scene for a series of ‘soviets’ and strikes of which the Knocklong and Bruree Soviets in 1921 was among the most prominent. Many of these soviets used the slogan ‘we make bread not profits.’ However, there were numerous other labour disputes in Limerick city and county during this period which attracted widespread publicity. Eventually, the prevailing social conservatism, the absence of a large industrial workforce and the outbreak of the Civil War resulted in the ultimate defeat of this wave of labour agitation.

Click here to download the exhibition slides.

A Socio-Economic Profile of County Limerick in 1921

A Socio Economic Profile of Limerick in 1921.

In 1921 Limerick was a microcosm of Ireland, both urban and rural. The city was the fourth largest urban area in the country, with numerous industries and a prosperous port, while the county was overwhelmingly rural with a few market towns and was one of the leading agricultural regions in Ireland. In both area and population, Limerick was the tenth largest county on the island of Ireland. It had an area of 1,064 square miles (2,756 square kilometres) and in 1911, its population was 143,069. The population of Limerick City was 38,518 (27 per cent of the total) and of the county was 104,551 (73 per cent of the total). This exhibition examines Limerick in 1921 under several headings, including local government, politics, the War of Independence, industry, religion and education.

Click here to view the exhibition slides.

Wall Family Archive Project

Sean Wall Archive (Pic True Media)
The body of Sean Wall after his killing on 6 May 1921. (Pic: True Media)

Sean Wall was the chairman of Limerick City and County Council, and was also the Commanding Officer of the East Limerick Brigade. He was shot dead by the Royal Irish Constabulary in May 1921. Sean Wall’s first resolution as Limerick County Council Chairman was that; “This Council pledges its allegiance to Dáll Éireann.” The resolution was passed unanimously and Limerick County Council, on this proposition of its chairman, became the first public body to pledge allegiance to Dáil Éireann.

Fr. Thomas Wall was as instrumental in Limerick’s history as his brother Sean. Fr. Tom became heavily influenced by the Gaelic Revival movement and was elected as president of the Limerick branch of Conradh na Gaeilge. After the executions of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, General Sir John Maxwell wrote to Bishop Edward T O’Dwyer asking for him to discipline both Fr. Tom and Fr. Michael Hayes who had been supporting and organising Irish Volunteer forces. The Bishop famously replied, condemning Maxwell’s repressive measures, "Your regime has been one of the blackest chapters in the history of the misgovernment of this country."

The Wall family papers were donated to Limerick Archives in 2021. An exhibition was held in the People's Museum focusing on Sean Wall, his brother Fr Tom Wall and the Wall family.

The archive and exhibition can be accessed here.

The Limerick Curfew Murders 1921

The Limerick Curfew Murders 1921

Digital Exhibition/ Photo Essay - March 2021

Drawing on a wide range of archival sources, and illustrated with contemporary photographs, documents, and press reports, this tells the story of the Limerick Curfew Murders and the campaign led by Michael O’Callaghan’s wife, Kate, to call the Crown Forces to account. Our thanks to the Commemorations Unit of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts Gaeltacht, Sports and Media for its collaboration on the project through assistance on sourcing additional visual material and the curation of special audio material on the testimonies of Kate O'Callaghan and George Clancy’s wife, Mary. Mary Clancy's testimony, part of her Bureau of Military History statement at the Military Archives, is read by Emma O Kelly who grew up in the same part of Limerick City. Kate O'Callaghan's, taken from her contemporary account of the events, The Limerick Curfew Murders, is read by Dawn Bradfield who, like O’Callaghan, is from rural Bandon in Cork.

Click here to download the exhibition slides.
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Panel Discussion – March 2021

Dr Seán Gannon discusses the Curfew Murders and some of the broader issues arising with a panel of four historians with particular expertise in Limerick’s revolutionary period:

  • Thomas Toomey, author of The War of Independence in Limerick, 1912-1921
  • Dr John O’Callaghan, lecturer in history at St. Angela’s College, Sligo (NUI Galway)
  • Dr Sinéad McCoole, Historian, Commemorations Unit, Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts Gaeltacht, Sports and Media
  • Dr Brian Hughes, lecturer in history at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

Limerick Curfew Murders Panel Discussion

Click here for Limerick City and Country Library’s Local Studies files on the Limerick Curfew Murders.

  

Limerick GAA 100 Years - 1921/2021

100 years - 1921-2021

All Ireland Senior Hurling Champions 100 Years - Sunday 7th March 2021 at 8pm

Limerick were the All Ireland Senior Hurling Champions and were the first team to lift the Liam McCarthy Cup, with 1921 being the first year the trophy was played for. 100 years on and Limerick have possession of the same Liam McCarthy Cup as Bob McConkey and Declan Hannon form a unique and historic centenary connection.

7th March 1921 was also the date of a shocking and profound night in Limerick history when the sitting and previous Mayors of the City, George Clancy and Michael O'Callaghan, along with Joseph O'Donoghue were brutally murdered. As a gesture of remembrance to those who died Limerick GAA in partnership with Limerick City and County Council are holding an online Evening of History recalling and remembering those terrible events exactly 100 years to the date those murders occurred. The event will broadcast live and free of charge on Limerick GAA Facebook on Sunday 7th March 2021 at 8pm.

Limerick Decade of Centenaries Programme 2020

  

Local Elections in Limerick 1920

Local Elections Rathkeale Bylaws

Digital Exhibition - October 2020

The 1920 local elections were among the most important in Irish history as they were the first to use proportional representation (PR); they were the last to be held throughout the entire island of Ireland and they resulted in Sinn Féin and their Labour allies taking control of the local authority system outside the future Northern Ireland. Limerick Museum has prepared an exhibition on the Local Elections in Limerick in 1920.

Click here to view the exhibition slides.

Digitising the Weekly Observer Newspaper 1915-1923

Digitising the Weekly Observer

Online Digitised Newspaper - November 2020

The Weekly Observer is a West Limerick newspaper recording life in Limerick over many years. The Local Studies Department of Limerick City and County Library Service are digitising the Weekly Observer newspaper for the years 1915-1923, with a view to making it available online and also producing bound hard copy editions for Library Reference.

Click here to view available online copies.

Limerick 1920 Symposium

Limerick Symposium - Sean Wall monument

Podcast - November 2020

For the last number of years an annual Symposium has been held at St. Mary’s Cathedral to look back at events in Limerick 100 years ago. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this event will now take place as a podcast and will features contributions and discussion from a number of noted historians.

Click here to view part one of the symposium.

Policing in Limerick 1919-1922

Policing in Limerick - RIC and military leaving Limerick

Digital Exhibition - October 2020

Library Staff at Watch House Cross Library have prepared an exhibition on Police in Revolutionary Limerick 1919-1922. It will provide a largely narrative account of the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries in Limerick city and county during the War of Independence. It will cover topics such as  RIC in crisis, recruitment, Black & Tans and Auxiliaries, IRA Operations, reprisals, Curfew Murders, truce, Treaty, departure, legacies, assessment.

Click here to view the exhibition slides.

The Spanish Flu 1918

Spanish Flu

Digital Exhibition - November 2020

The exhibition explores the impact of the ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic in Limerick city and county in 1918/1919. It examines the arrival of the virus in Ireland via returning First World War soldiers, its spread throughout the country in three waves, outbreak in British Army barracks in the city and spread through the civilian population with over 700 deaths, public health measures and unorthodox cures, end of the epidemic in April/May 1919 and legacies. The exhibition was prepared by Library staff at Watch House Cross Library.

Click here to view the exhibition slides.

Knocklong History Seminar

Hogan's Flying Column

Online streaming event - September 2020

Decade of Commemoration events by the Local Community is a very important part of the Commemoration and the annual Knocklong History Seminar took place on 26th September 2020 and may be viewed below. The Knocklong History Seminar commemorates the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Flying Columns. Renowned historians Pádraig O’Ruairc, Tim Horgan, Seán Hogan, and Tom Toomey gave talks on Remembering The Flying Columns in Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, and Kerry. There are also plans to complete work on the Battalion Boards and publish a book.  

  

The Limerick City and County Council Decade of Centenaries Programme 2020 is funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 initiative. For further details, see decadeofcentenaries.com.

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