By Jeffrey Leddin

On 5 April 1914, the first battalion of the Irish Citizen Army paraded under its flag, the Starry Plough, for the first time. The previous day, it published a new manifesto which began with a quote from Wolfe Tone: ‘to the people of Ireland, our freedom must be had at all times’. The ICA was formed out of the need to protect striking workers in November 1913, but by the following April it was directly referencing its connection to the Irish republican tradition. Jeffrey Leddin’s extraordinary new work, The Labour Hercules, the most extensive survey of the ICA to date, examines this rapid evolution, and paints a vivid picture of the army’s position within the wider militant trade unionist and nationalist movements of the time. (Published 1 April, PB, RRP €24.95/£21.99)

About the book: The Irish Citizen Army was born from the Dublin Lockout of 1913, which sparked one of the most dramatic industrial disputes in Irish history. Faced with threats of police brutality in response, James Connolly, James Larkin and Jack White established the ICA in the winter of 1913.

By the end of March 1914, the ICA espoused republican ideology and went on to fight alongside Irish Volunteers during the Easter Rising. Despite Connolly’s execution and the internment of many of its members, the ICA reorganised in 1917 and subsequently provided operative support for the IRA during the War of Independence in Dublin.

The Labour Hercules explores the ICA’s evolution into a republican army and its enduring legacy to the present day. It explains the impetus for the movement’s use of force, and, through deep analysis of the Military Service Pension files, provides vital new information on the military and ideological developments of the army. By examining the force’s participation in the College of Surgeons, Dublin Castle, and the GPO during Easter Week, the true significance of its influence on twentieth-century Ireland’s first rebellion is revealed.

Leddin uncovers the ICA’s crucial involvement in intelligence and arms gathering during the War of Independence and explores the developing alliance between the ICA and IRB during the year that preceded that war. The Labour Hercules also dissects the ICA’s alignment with anti-treaty republicans and their contribution to the Irish Civil War.

A century on from the 1916 Rising, The Labour Hercules illuminates how a force forged from the aftermath of the 1913 Lockout became a vital cog in Dublin’s revolutionary movement.

About the Author:
Jeffrey Leddin was awarded a PhD by the University of Limerick in 2017, where he is currently a Graduate Teaching Assistant. He was editor of volume 15 of History Studies, Ireland’s oldest post-graduate history journal. (merrion press)