Rotten Prod: The Unlikely Career of Dongaree Baird (Paperback)
A compelling account of a twentieth-century Irish labor leader.
In the 1920s, James “Dongaree” Baird worked as a boilermaker in Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard, where he was one of the hundreds of Protestants—the so-called “rotten Prods”— and thousands of Catholics who were forced into unemployment by British loyalists. Emmet O’Connor’s Rotten Prod uncovers the story of this quietly influential labor leader who fought for an undivided Ireland. As O’Connor explains, the nationalistic expulsions that left Baird out of work marked the end of what Belfastians knew as the city’s “two red years,” colored by widespread worker strikes that led to a brief period of radicalization. O’Connor offers insights into this pulsating era when Protestant workers who opposed the partition of Ireland clashed with British loyalists who viewed labor leaders as their chief enemy. As a leader of expelled workers after his removal from the Hartland and Wolff shipyards, Baird worked for the National Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union, and the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, where he led the farm workers of Waterford in an epic strike against wage cuts and was nearly elected to the Irish legislature. Rotten Prod offers a compelling account of an unsung labor hero as well as a unique perspective on twentieth-century Irish history.
About the Author
Emmet O’Connor is a senior lecturer in the School of Arts and Humanities at Ulster University.