Thursday, 7 February 2019

Edward McHugh headstone unveiling is to be on 29 June


Irishman Edward McHugh (1853-1915) was a radical trade unionist, labour movement activist,  social reformer and land rights organiser. 

Sadly, McHugh, co-founder of the National Union of Dock Labourers, lies in an unmarked grave in Flaybrick Memorial Gardens, Birkenhead. 

————————————————————————————————————————Rural poverty forced McHugh’s family to emigrate from Co Tyrone to Glasgow where he witnessed urban destitution, particularly amongst the Irish who had fled the Great Famine of the 1840s and Scottish Highlanders who had moved south because of the Clearances.  

McHugh became a firm supporter of Henry George who contended that the unequal distribution of land lay behind all social ills. As secretary of the Glasgow branch of the Irish Land League, McHugh’s talents as a speaker and organiser saw him chosen to lead a Land League mission to the Scottish Highlands where he helped direct the nascent crofters’ agitation along radical lines. He later toured Scotland with Henry George himself.

McHugh’s talents were then harnessed by the Trades Union movement. He and Richard McGhee established the National Union of Dock Labourers, leading bitter strikes in 1889 in Glasgow and in Liverpool in 1890 and following which he settled in Birkenhead.

He spent the mid 1890s in New York City where he organised the American Longshoreman’s Union and preached George’s ‘Single Tax Gospel.’

In his death, McHugh was buried at Flaybrick Memorial Gardens. His headstone was destroyed by the German bombing of Merseyside in WWII. It is now time to make sure that McHugh’s final resting place is marked by a suitable headstone for a very great man. In November 2018 a well attended meeting in Liverpool established a committee to do just that and it is planned to unveil the headstone at 10.00am on Saturday 29 June. A list of labour movement speakers is being drawn up. 

In addition a booklet on Edward McHugh will be published in March. If enough funds are raised then it is proposed to make a short documentary on McHugh. 

More details? Speakers are also available. 

Please contact Mark Metcalf on 07392 852561 and at and/or Luke Agnew (Unite rep at the Memorial gardens) on 07792 110973 and at 

You can donate to the fundraising appeal, which has raised around £600 by early February. Make cheques out to Bolton Trades Union Council and on back state ‘Edward McHugh’ and send to Bolton TUC, ℅ Bolton Socialist Club, 16 Wood Street BL1 1DY 

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