World War I broke out on 28 July 1914, pitting an alliance spearheaded by Germany and Austria-Hungary against the forces of the United Kingdom (UK), France, Russia, and their allies. Due to paradigm shifts in military technology, the war quickly turned continental Europe into a charnel house. Nations soon found themselves requiring more manpower than ever before to maintain their war efforts.
The Dublin strike of 1913 occurred against a backdrop of deplorable living conditions for workers in the city, as well as widespread economic stagnation. The death rate was high at 27.6 per 1000, and there was a high infant mortality rate as well. Unemployment was at an all-time low, and unskilled, casual workers had a particularly hard time finding jobs and supporting their families. Poor union organization gave unskilled workers very few outlets for improving their situation. An added layer of division to that between rich and poor was the sectarian divide.