NENAGH library now has one of the best labour history sections in the country following the presentation of a series of manuscripts, pamphlets and books by the local Siptu branch to the library.
At the presentation, historian Francis Devine of the Irish Labour History Society, revealed that the collection was now on a par with that in the National Library and Trinity College Dublin.
Mr Devine praised the work carried out by former Siptu organisers, brother Frank and Ger Lewis, saying that as well as representing workers, they had also “kept many local people in work by preventing them from losing their jobs”.
He described Ger Lewis’s book on the local branch, Loosening the Chains, as a “brilliant book” detailing the history of the union at local level.
“While we have books at national level, Loosening the Chains is unique in that it deals with local history.”
He also said that the Nenagh branch was fortunate to have a photograph of each of the local union’s presidents, dating back to when the union was formed.
Mr Devine encouraged people to use the new collection to learn about labour history and said he was prepared to work with Nenagh library to organise a workshop for second level students to learn about labour history in the development of Ireland and Irish politics.
Mayor Lalor McGee said that as a Labour councillor and Siptu member he was delighted that the collection was coming to Nenagh.
Meanwhile librarian Breffni Hannon said the service was honoured to rank with the National Library and TCD as a repository of labour party history.
Former Nenagh Siptu branch president Johnny Whelan explained that the union had decided to leave a legacy to the people of Nenagh and North Tipperary and it was felt that purchasing the collection and donating it to the library was an appropriate way to give something back to the area.
The handing over was also attended by Junior Minister Alan Kelly and Cllr Virginia O’Dowd, and by the president of the Irish Labour History Society, Brendan Byrne.