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Literature / Strumpet City

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Strumpet City is a 1969 Irish novel by James Plunkett. It was adapted into an acclaimed RTÉ miniseries in 1980, still one of the most highly-regarded serials ever produced by Ireland's national broadcaster. Set between 1903 and '14, it details the struggles of Dublin workers against employers, particularly during the 1913 Strike and Lockout.

The great Irish short-story writer Frank O'Connor said it wasn't possible to write a true "social novel" in Ireland, but Plunkett proved him wrong with a novel of grand scale, featuring a wide range of characters of varying social station and political affiliation.


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  • The Alcoholic: Fr. Giffley, who is a classic whiskey priest - with a weakness for alcohol but simultaneously a strong moral sense.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Lily Maxwell's syphilis.
  • The Edwardian Era
  • Embarrassing First Name: Rashers Tierney.
    • Actually Truth in Television: ‘rasher’ is Hiberno-English for a slice of bacon, and "Rashers" was a nickname applied to any male who either loved bacon or was red-haired (because red hair is the colour of bacon.) It has nothing to do with having a rash.
  • Historical Domain Character: Jim Larkin, and a brief appearance by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
  • Homeless Pigeon Person: Rashers and his dog.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Lily Maxwell.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: As befitting a "society novel" of its scope, ranging from (at the bottom) Rashers and his beloved dog Rusty, to the privileged Bradshaws.
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  • Old Retainer: Miss Gilchrist. Not that she gets rewarded for it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title is this to a line from The Old Lady Says No, a 1930s play about Dublin by dramatist Denis Johnston: "Strumpet city in the sunset..."
    • Rashers is loosely based on a beloved street figure of Plunkett's day named Hoyer (or Howyer, both after his typical Dublin greeting) who would wander the streets quoting Shakespeare with his dog Rusty. Both died in a housefire shortly before Plunkett started writing.

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