When Alexander Bowman was elected in Belfast Corporation as Labour member in Duncairn in 1897, the very idea that he would still be remembered a century later for his relentless championing of the working class cause appeared unthinkable. Yet Bowman, a near penniless flaxdresser from a humble farming background, richly deserves his place in Irish political and labour history.
Twelve years earlier in 1885, following his key role in the birth of organised trade unionism in Belfast, he had been the first working-class Irishman to seek a seat at Westminister. His subsequent support for Gladstone's Home Rule bill and the Dublin parliament which he believed offered the best hope of bringing together Irish people of all persuasions, attracted much criticism. Forced to leave Belfast in 1888, he found himself immersed in the embryonic socialist movements first in Glasgow and then in London.
Returning with new ideas to the Belfast trade union fold in 1895, he won the Corporation seat two years later and in 1901 was elected President of the Irish Trade Union Congress. This biography, by his journalist great-grandson Terence Bowman, pays long-overdue tribute to a labour pioneer who, at great personal cost, dedicated his life sufficiently to the welfare of the working classes to earn their, and now our, respect as a People's Champion.
The McKeown boy from Derry, Dromara
The Emergence of a Trade Union Leader
Gladstone and the Liberal Cause
The working Men's Candidate
The Resignation from Belfast Trades Council
nationalists, not Separatists
Testimony at Westminster; Defiance in Ulster
The Bind of Passage's Transition from Nationalism to Socialism
Bacj in the Belfast Fold and Elextion Success
old Wounds Re-opened for the Apostle of Socialism
The Irish Trade union congress Years
A New Life on the Falls Road
The Church Connection
Final Days and the Next Generation