James Larkin: The Irish Activist

James Larkin was an activist and an Irish labor organizer. He was born in Liverpool, England on January 21, 1876. He grew up in one of the slums in Liverpool. As a result of the poor conditions under which he was brought up in, Larkin had little formal education.

Jim Larkin was also forced to do some jobs in his youth to earn some extra income for his family. Eventually, he got a job with Liverpool docks as a foreman. Larkin was a committed socialist, and this led him to join the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL). In 1903, he married Elizabeth Brown, and they had four sons. Later in 1905, being the organizer of the trade union became his full-time job.

Larkin’s strike methods proved to be a threat to NUDL. That led to him being transferred to Dublin in 1907. Larkin left a legacy by being the person behind the establishment General Workers’ Union and the Irish Transport. With time General Workers’ Union developed to be the biggest union in the region.

Unfortunately, during the Dublin Lockout, the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union crumbled. He later established the Irish Labour Party. He was responsible for leading some strikes.

In 1913, Larkin led a memorable strike known as the Dublin Lockout. That was a massive strike as nearly 100,000 workers were on strike for approximately eight months. The effect of this strike was that the workers won a right to fair employment. During World War 1 (1914-1918) Larkin put up demonstrations in Dublin, which were anti-war demonstrations.

Larkin was so determined that to raise the money he went all the way to the United States in 1914 to raise money so that he could fight the British. His trip was inclusive of a lecture tour. During his trip, he became a member of the Socialist Party of America and Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

Unfortunately, James Connolly, who was a friend to Larkin died during this period. That led Larkin to establish the James Connolly Socialist Club in New York.

Regrettably, in 1920, Larkin was accused of communism and criminal anarchy which led to him being pardoned for three years, and he was deported to Ireland.

In 1924 Larkin would be the founder of the Workers’ Union of Ireland. He later joined the Irish Labour Party in 1945. Larkin continued to fight for the rights of the workers of Ireland until the time of his death on 30 Jan. 1947.