Larkin in O'Connell Street Dublin, bread and roses

About the CD
now available



bread and roses

b&r2.gif (2376 bytes)

bread and roses


Dr. Helena Sheehan
School of Communications
Dublin City University
Dublin 9 Ireland
Tel: 00-353-1-704-5568
Fax: 00-353-1-704-5447


Jimmy Kelly and crowd singing The Red Flag at Crossakiel

I have decided to create this  SONGS OF IRISH LABOUR  website for the following reasons:

I believe that the world belongs to those who work in it, to those who labour by hand and by brain, and not to those who parasite upon their labour.   I believe that class and class struggle endure, although it has become ever more complex to conceptualise and to confront.  I believe that the labour movement should draw strength from  its past, even while grasping the ever more sophisticated challenges of its future.

I have long been stirred by the songs of the labour movement and believed it important for the old songs to live and for new songs to come to life.  However, I saw no special role for myself in this, being busy speaking and writing and leaving to others the singing.

Events in 1998  have pushed me into thinking about doing something about the songs.  I was exploring multimedia possibilities in my work as a university teacher and writer and  using songs with texts and images to convey the drama of ideas within the flow of socio-historical experience. 

A song I heard at a typical irish sing-song during the weekend of the Irish Labour History Society annual conference in January haunted me for some months afterwards.  It was Martin Whelan's Bread and Roses.

Crossakiel 26 April 1998       Then came Crossakiel.

There were red flags flying against the grey skies and green hills of County Meath.  There was a new generation along with older generations singing The Red Flag, a song I loved but feared was dying.  ( See my 1989 text  Has the red flag fallen ? ) It raised my spirits more than anything had done in a long time.    The 1990s were difficult for me, and for many like me, who felt battered and bruised, but kept walking down the long and winding road, which had opened before us in more hopeful days.

As it had so captured my imagination, I set about constructing a website about it and in doing so got involved with the people in Meath who had made it happen, especially Tommy Grimes nad Claire Keane.  It grew and grew and became over two months a far more elaborate website than I had imagined when I started it.

The Red Flagthe song  the man  the monument

       text / photos / sound files

In the process of doing it, I organised a new recording of the song using the recording studios of DWR-fmat the School of Communications at Dublin City University, where I work.  Jimmy Kelly, who sang it in Crossakiel along with the SIPTU band and the crowd, came into studio with Michael Hand and Mike Mullen and I put it on the internet as an mp2 file. 

Also on the day in Crossakiel I asked Martin Whelan to record Bread and Roses, still trying to figure out how I was going to do it, but determined that I was going to do it.   Once I had produced the recording of The Red Flag, I knew it was viable and so the project grew.

It was only viable with the team I gathered around me during this time. 

Helena Sheehan, Colin PattersonEoin Sweeney, Colin Patterson

Colin Patterson and Eoin Sweeney, sound engineers on the project, provided the technical expertise necessary for recording songs, but much more than that, not least the perspective of another generation.

We recorded Bread and Roses and other songs of Martin Whelan while we were at it.   With Mick Lacey playing the banjo and Martin Whelan singing and playing the guitar, we recorded four songs in one day.  Three of them were Martin's own songs.  The other was Peadar Kearney's Labour's Call.

Martin Whelan and Mick Lacey recording songs in DCU studio

Bread & Roses  and  Talk to me of freedom
written and sung by Martin Whelan
text / photos / sound files

We decided to produce a CD.

cover of Songs of Irish Labour CD


    was launched on 1 December 1998.

What tracks are on it ?  Click here to see.
How can you get it ?  Click here to find out.

Watch for news of future projects of Bread and Roses Productions, a multimedia production project.

Links to other labour songs websites: 

This website is constructed by Helena Sheehan.

Some related  websites by HS:

Has the red flag fallen ?
European socialism: a blind alley or a long and winding road ?
Grand narratives then and now :
150 years after the Communist Manifesto
The fate of marxism
Marxism and the philosophy of science: a critical history
World views