This postcard was produced by the Dublin firm of Lawrence and dates from 1913. The photograph was taken to mark the visit of Cardinal Logue to the ancient pilgrimage site on Station Island, Lough Derg, County Donegal. The barefooted pilgrims contrast with the group of dignitaries and clergymen who all appear to be well-shod. The fashionably dressed woman on the right of the image wears a long skirt and white blouse with leg-o-mutton sleeves (see the National Library of Ireland’s catalogue for a variant of this photograph minus this woman).
The previous year saw the opening of a new women’s hostel on the island. This concrete building, which is on the right of the photograph, was designed by William A. Scott. It cost £8,000 to build and according to Paul Larmour was one of a small number of proto-modern buildings erected in Ireland in the early twentieth century (1). One wonders how the female pilgrims might have felt about the cardinal’s Lenten speech of 1912 in which condemned those “masculine females who wanted not alone to be equal to men in everything but to supplant them if possible.” (2)
The traditional pilgrimage includes three-days of fasting and praying and has captured the imagination of writers and poets from William Carleton to Patrick Kavanagh and Seamus Heaney. It is believed that its significance as a sacred site pre-dates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and centred around a cave which has since been filled-in. The pilgrimage has retained its popularity with over 20,000 people visiting each year.
The year of the cardinal’s visit has a special resonance with those interested in the history of the labour movement in Ireland. The Dublin Lock-out was a major industrial dispute which took place between August 1913 and January 1914. It appears that the cardinal was not sympathetic to the union leader James Larkin. In a letter to Archbishop Walsh on the 6th November 1913, he states that “judging by the speeches, the Larkinites and their abettors do not want a settlement. They are working not in the interests of the men but using the unfortunate men for the purpose of propagating and establishing their socialistic and syndicalist principles.”(3) Unfortunately, the workers were forced to return to work without the better pay and conditions they sought.
James Plunkett’s historical novel Strumpet City is set during this period and provides an excellent picture of the city. It is the title chosen by Dublin City Council for its ‘One City, One Book’ initiative in 2013 and there are many associated events taking place throughout the month of April.
(1) Paul Larmour, Free State Architecture: Modern Movement Architecture in Ireland, 1922-1949, Kinsale, Cork: Gandon Editions, 2009, 8-10.
(2) Quoted in Joseph V. O’Brien, Dear, Dirty Dublin, Berkeley, California: University of California, 1982, 248.
(3) Quoted in Dermot Keogh, The Rise of the Working Class: the Dublin Trade Union Movement and Labour Leadership, 1890-1914, Belfast: Appletree Press, 1982, 264.