Dublin 1984

The economy is failing, unemployment is rife, and a small group of young people are about to change the world. 

19 JULY 1984
Mary Manning, a twenty-one year old shop worker, refuses to sell South African fruit to a Dunnes store customer and is suspended. Ten colleagues follow her out on strike, thinking it will only last two weeks. It goes on for nearly three years. 

Written by Tracy Ryan, Strike! is a fictionalised account of the striker’s story—from the daily picket line on Dublin’s Henry Street to a platform before the United Nations. Along the way they gather national and international support including an invitation to visit South Africa from Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“I would like to make a plea to the owners. Here are young people of whom you ought to be proud, because these are people of such integrity. You should be glad that you have people of such calibre working for you. I would like to call on you to hear what they are trying to say.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1984

Drawing on archival material including personal interviews with the strikers and union organiser Brendan Archbold, Strike! brings to life the powerful and moving story of the Dunnes Store Anti-Apartheid strike in which a small group of young people took a stand and changed the world.

Originally produced in Dublin by Helen Ryan in 2010, Strike! premiered at the Samuel Beckett Theatre and was remounted at the Axis in Ballymun. In autumn 2016, Ardent Theatre Company offers the play’s London premiere with a revised script in a brand new production.


Original photographs of the strike used by kind permission of:

Rose Comiskey Photography