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Working Lives exhibition opens in Dublin

The National Library of Ireland has opened a new photograph exhibition to the public documenting the everyday working life of Irish labourers at the turn of the 20th Century. The collection of works will feature 148 photographs of workers in Ireland from 1893- 1913 which was a time of massive change for workers in Ireland. The new exhibition is entitled “Working Lives 1893-1913” and uses a host of images that have been taken from two collections. The first is called The Poole collection of photographic glass negatives which dates from as far back as from 1884, and the Mason collection of 2000 glass lantern slides, which dates from 1890.

 The images depict the working conditions and the tools and technologies used by the men, women and children who were working in the public and private sectors of the time up until the point of the 1913 Dublin lockout. The pictures range from young boys tending to turf in Irish bogs to images of shaven headed boys fixing fishing nets and young girls working on spinning wheels in factories.

 Another of the images entitled “Saving the tobacco crop” depicts a photograph of men, women and children who are holding sticks which contain tobacco leaves. It is a striking image which shows that the tobacco crop was in high demand and was grown and harvested in Ireland at the time. Some of the images hold fascinating facts and figures about the rate of employment in the country at the time also. For example in the census for Dublin in 1851, 45% of men had jobs and 56% of women in the county also had employment at the time.

 The exhibition gives a wonderful insight into how the Irish worked at the turn of the 20th century and how technology and the fallout of the 1913 strike and lockout effected the average labour workers of this country. The exhibition will run in the National Library from October until May at the Temple Bar venue and admission to the public is free.


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