This is the first ever collection of scholarly essays on the history of the Irish working class. It provides a comprehensive introduction to the involvement of Irish workers in political life during a period of significant turmoil and profound historical change. Fourteen historians and political scientists examine the engagement of Irish workers in key political movements and moments that have helped shape modern Ireland. Survey essays on labour and politics, women workers, rural labourers and James Connolly are complemented by case studies that range from the co-operative movement of 1830s Belfast to the grassroots socialism of 1940s Dublin. A recurrent theme is the failure of class-based, socialist politics to become a feature of Irish political life.By concentrating specifically on the intersection of politics and the working class, this book not only broadens the focus of Irish labour history, but redresses an imbalance in Irish political history and adds to the international historiography of the working class.