James Larkin, Irish laborer union activist


James Larkin, better known as Jim to his friends, was an Irish activist who pledged a lot of his life to Irish labor unions. Born to Irish parents in the slums of Liverpool in 1876, James Larkin grew up poor, had very little in the way of formal education, and began working odd jobs to help his family make ends meet when he was little more than a child. Read more: James Larkin | Ireland Calling and James Larkin | Biography

While still a child James took an interest in socialism, and even joined the Independent Labour Party.

It wasn’t long after going from working a variety of jobs to becoming a full-fldged employee that James began to realize the extent of unfairness and injustice associated with laborers – particularly, Irish labor workers. Learn more about Jeremy Goldstein: http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/ and http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm

He plunged headfirst into the world of worker union demonstrations, protests, and strikes. In 1905 he became a full-time trade union organizer, and despite moving around the country and even coming to the United States, James continued to help with employmee organization, demonstrations, and even labor strikes.

James’ best-known demonstration is the 1913 Dublin Lockout. During this time, Larkin earned the respect of fellow demonstrators and commentators alike, with a labor union colleague saying of him, “we have amongst us a man of genius, of splendid vitality, great in his conceptions, magnificent in his courage”.

In the United States James managed to rack up criminal charges for anarchy and communism. He was eventually pardoned of these crimes, but did end up being deported back to Ireland in the wave of them. Still, he finally settled down with a wife and four children.