William O'Brien

(1881—1968) labour leader in Ireland

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(1881–1968), labour leader. Born in Co. Cork, a policeman's son, O'Brien became a tailor in Dublin. Although his early trade union experience was in his own craft union, he strongly supported the organization of unskilled and casual workers, assisting Larkin in the creation of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union and sponsoring Connolly's return to Ireland in 1910. He was also a leading figure in the launching of the Labour Party, and secretary of the workers' committee in the Dublin lockout of 1913. Though not a participant in the rising of 1916, he had agreed to serve on the provisional government to be set up in the event of success, and was interned. On his release he assisted in reconstructing the ITGWU, becoming acting general secretary in 1918.


From The Oxford Companion to Irish History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: European History.

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