The INTO emerged in 1868 as teachers across Ireland united to fight for their rights. Man or woman, Catholic or Protestant - all were subject to poor pay, dire conditions and no job security, banned from speaking publicly about their grievances and ignored by the Board of National Education.
Against these obstacles, the INTO steadily grew in strength and influence to take on the Dublin-based education authorities that oversaw them, the London government that paid them and the priests who employed them
Simultaneously, the organisation, which was non-political (neither nationalist nor unionist) and non-sectarian, negotiated the inevitable challenges that emerged in a country that was often split along national and religious lines.
After decades of fighting campaigns against the British administration for recognition and decent conditions of employment, it had to do it all over again with governments in Dublin and Belfast.
The INTO today is recognised as an influential and articulate voice for its members, advocating for teachers and high standards of education.
In this finely researched and accessible account of multiple struggles over 150 years, themes of politics, class, gender and power are deftly interwoven to tell the fascinating story of the Irish National Teacher’s Organisation.
Niamh Puirséil is a historian and writer. She has published widely on Irish political, trade union and education history, and her work includes the highly regarded Irish Labour Party 1922-73. She lives in Dublin.