Thursday, October 3, 2013

Matt Talbot and the 1913 Dublin Lockout

The source of the following article by Fr. Tom Ryan is from
Information about the 21st Annual Matt Talbot Novena is also available with a list of the speakers at

“For the Tuesdays of October and November 2013, we invite you to join us for our 21st annual Matt Talbot Novena, praying for all suffering or sharing in the life of addiction.

Addiction is defined as a craving or obsession not only for substances such as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs but also a psychological dependency on things such as gambling, food, pornography, video games, internet, work, exercise, self harming etc. Addictions lead to all sorts of problems at home, work, school and in the community which can in turn cause guilt, shame, anxiety and rejection.

Matt Talbot’s addiction was alcohol. Matt’s programme of recovery was built around devotion to the Eucharist, love of Mary Mother of God and prayer, but he never forgot his struggle with his addiction. The life and example of Matt Talbot is an inspiration and help to people to overcome and accept their problems and difficulties.

This year marks the centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout. In the early autumn of that year, the heartless lords of industry locked out some 20,000 poorly paid Dublin workers, most of them with large hungry families. The reason for all of this was the spirited refusal of the workers to sever their connection with Jim Larkin’s founded Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. The average weekly wage was five shillings (less that 90 cent in today’s Euro), working in excess of 80 hours per week.

Matt Talbot, as a poorly paid worker himself, admired and respected Jim Larkin and he became a member of the ITGWU, a link only severed by his death. Matt spent most of his time during the Lockout praying in Gardiner Street Church.

The final days of 1913 witnessed a rapid decline in the workers’ fortunes. Food supplies had dwindled disastrously and funds for fresh supplies were non-existent. During January and early February 1914, the men gradually returned to their work. As broken as they were with little or no improvement in their wages, they had yet gained a political victory. The employers, despite their best efforts, had failed to break Jim Larkin’s Union. In the ensuing years, the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union went from strength to strength. Matt was a fully paid up member of the ITGWU for the rest of his life. In 1923, Matt became very ill and was unable to work. He received sick pay, fifteen shillings from the Union.

He died in Granby Lane, Dublin on 7th June 1925 on his way to Church. It was the feast of The Holy Trinity. Matt’s life and story is not time bound. Matt was not a colourful character; he had a very simple personality. He was a man who had great faith rooted in prayer and the Eucharist; he possessed a great sense of justice, especially for workers. Matt was a man who overcame addiction by using primarily the spiritual resources that are available to all who suffer addiction. His conquering of addiction was with free will and the help of God. These two ingredients, free will and God’s help, are still readily available to all of us on our own journey through life, in our battles with our own addictions.”

Also note these references: