Rotten Prod: The Unlikely Career of Dongaree Baird (Paperback)
  • Rotten Prod: The Unlikely Career of Dongaree Baird (Paperback)
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Rotten Prod: The Unlikely Career of Dongaree Baird (Paperback)

(author)
£25.00
Paperback 145 Pages
Published: 30/09/2022
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James 'Dongaree' Baird, a boilermaker in Harland and Wolff's shipyard, was one of hundreds of 'rotten Prods', and thousands of Catholics, driven from their place of work by loyalists in 1920. The expulsions marked the end of Belfast's 'two red years', distinguished by the massive engineering strike in 1919 and the municipal elections in 1920, in which Baird was elected to Belfast Corporation.

Baird's case offers a rare insight into the city's brief radicalisation, the mentality of Protestant workers who opposed the partition of Ireland, and the reasons why loyalists targeted Labour as their most insidious enemy. As a leader of the expelled workers, Baird spoke to the Irish and British TUCs, but Irish Labour had no practical policy on the North and British trade unions feared that confronting loyalists would lose them members. Subsequently, Baird worked for the National Sailors' and Firemen's Union and the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, when he led the farm labourers of Waterford in an epic strike against wage cuts and was nearly elected to Dail Eireann. In 1927 he and his family emigrated to Brisbane, Queensland, where his daughters Nora and Helene were decorated by the Australian government for services to music in schools.

A compelling account of a rotten Prod and a Labour hero.

Publisher: University College Dublin Press
ISBN: 9781910820858
Number of pages: 145
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'Baird was an outstanding figure amongst the 'rotten Prods' but he represented an element of the Protestant working class who were radicalised by the political ferment of the post-war years and whose history O'Connor's book brings out of the shadows.' - Peter Connell, Sound Post, Winter 2023.; 'Emmet O'Connor has successfully retrieved a remarkable leader and his times from history's dustbin. Baird deserves to be remembered; this book should be read.' - History Ireland, March 2023.; 'His is a rare story, not just of a man too radical for Belfast but of one of the subalterns of the failed and forgotten social revolution of 1917-23.' - Belfast Telegraph, December 2022.; 'An eloquent memorial to the man Jim Larkin described as "a sober, intelligent and strangely honest and courageous spokesman for his class".' - Henry Patterson, Dublin Review of Books, December 2022.; 'Recounts the history of an exceptional man who was also typical of many Ulster Protestant trade unionists in becoming radicalised & in concluding that partition was not in the interest of the working class.' - Martin Doyle, The Irish Times, December 2022.; 'O'Connor's study offers a detailed account of the turbulent years surrounding the emergence of a partitioned Ireland, and an insight into a marginalised group of labour activists who paid a heavy price for their commitment.' - Dr Mike Mecham, Society for the Study of Labour History, January 2023.; 'Emmet O'Connor has successfully retrieved a remarkable leader and his times from history's dustbin. Baird deserves to be remembered; this book should be read.' - Niall Meehan, History Ireland, March 2023.; ‘“Rotten Prod” immerses the reader in a rollercoaster of political tension, tumult and turbulence, introducing us to a very determined, awkward, single minded and probably difficult customer who operated during the political upheaval at the birth of both the Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State.’ - Brian Campfield, Saothar ILHS, 2024.; ‘One sentence sums up much of what the book is about: “Like the militancy and radicalism of 1917–23 Baird was consigned to the dustbin of history.”’ - Peter Collins, Familia. Ulster Genealogical Review No. 39, 2023.

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