Athy: May Day Festival 2010


This is the first May Day festival in living memory in the welcoming and historic town of Athy, Co. Kildare. It is taking place at a time of great uncertainty within our country and where a biased media whips up anti-trade union sentiment almost on a daily basis.

Our inaugural May Day festival in Athy is a celebration of labour. It links the origins of Irish Trade unionism to its historic forerunners of land based agitators such as the ‘Ribbon Men’ and the ‘Knights of the Plough’. The festival is a multi-cultural event and will feature a colourful display of Trade Union Banners and Posters over the last century. There will be a series of papers presented tracing the development of agrarian labour organisations and discussions on two major rural labour disputes in south Kildare in 1922/23 and 1947.

The day will culminate in a music and multi-media performance by Will Kaufman, the famous Woody Guthrie biographer.

The event is being sponsored by the Athy and Kildare/Leixlip Branches of SIPTU. All events during the day are free; there is a small fee for the evening performance by Will Kaufman. Tickets are available from

SIPTU for €5. Contact No. 045 432318 (office Hours Monday to Friday) or Adrian Kane on 0876784736.

Saturday MAY DAY 2010.

Display of Trade Union Banners Posters from…..11am-6pm

Papers and Discussion….. 2.00pm-5.30pm

The Woody Guthrie Story, Tales and Ballads from the Dustbowl….8.30pm

2.00- 2.10pm….Opening of Festivities by the Mayor of Athy.

2.10-2.20pm…. An Introduction to May Day by SIPTU’s Kildare Organiser Adrian Kane.

2.20-3.00pm….. ‘The Whitefeet’, a story of a radical movement of miners and farm labourers in the 1820s and 1830s in the midlands by Terry Dunne a graduate of NUI Galway and native of Athy.

3.00-3.40pm….. The ‘Knights of the Plough’, early farm labourers’ organisations in South Kildare by local historian Frank Taaffe.

3.40-4.00pm …… Tea/Coffee Break

4.00-4.40pm ….. ‘Not Organisable; The Autonomous Worker and The Farm Labourers’ Strike of 1922/23’ by Doctor Noel Kavanagh, Philosophy Lecturer Carlow.

4.40-5.10pm …..The Kilkea lock out of 1947, the struggle for the shorter working week by John McKenna, local novelist and playwright.

8.30pm…. Will Kaufman, The Woody Guthrie Story, ‘Tales and Ballads from the Dust Bowl’, an evening of song and celebration of Woody Guthrie’s life.

Please note that all events will take place in the Methodist Hall, Woodstock Street, Athy Co. Kildare on Saturday the 1st of May 2010.

Tickets available from SIPTU contact 045 432318 office hours Monday to Friday or Adrian Kane 0876784736.