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Strumpet City by James Plunkett
First published in 1969, Strumpet City has repeatedly been described as one of the greatest Irish novels of all time. Centring on the mass lockout of 20,000 workers by employers in Dublin in 1913, the novel paints a compelling portrait of the city at this pivotal time in Irish social history.
The story is told through the people of Dublin, particularly in the struggle between the 'articulate city' and the 'submerged city' as Plunkett himself put it. It introduces a memorable cast of characters: the main protagonist, Fitz, a model of the hard-working, loyal and abused trade unionist; the isolated, well-meaning and ineffectual Fr O’Connor; the wretched and destitute Rashers Tierney and the cultivated bourgeois Bradshaws. In the background hovers the enormous shadow of Jim Larkin.
The book embraces a wide range of social milieux from
the miseries of the inner city tenements to the bourgeois domiciles of
Kingstown and is informed by a sense of moral outrage at the treatment
of the locked-out trade unionists, the indifference and evasion of the
city’s clergy and middle class and the squalor of the tenement slums.
‘If there is one novel that bares the soul of Dublin as much as the 'life-in-one-day' of Ulysses, it is James Plunkett's Strumpet City.’ Donal O'Donoghue RTE
James Plunkett was born in 1920 in Dublin's inner city. Plunkett drew on his city centre working-class background, and his commitment to the labour movement, as the background for his fiction.
Strumpet City was chosen as Dublin City Libraries’ One City, One Book book for 2013. The novel was adapted for RTÉ Television by Hugh Leonard. Shown as seven episodes in 1980, the cast featured Peter O'Toole as Jim Larkin and David Kelly as Rashers.
By the same author:
For a factual account of the 1913 Lockout see Lockout:
Dublin 1913 by Padraig Yeates.