James Larkin was born January 21,1876 in Liverpool, England. Being a true Irishman at heart, James dedicated his life to one purpose: fighting for equality in labor for the Irish. His career as an activist began in 1905, when he joined the National Union of the Dock Laborers; which led him to becoming a full-time trade union organizer.
Now a full-time organizer, “Big Jim”, would go on to establish the Irish Transport and General Worker’s Union in 1908. James had three main goals in mind when the union was formed: improve working conditions, restore self respect, and encourage social equality for all men, including the Irish.
Later on in 1911, Larkin created a weekly newspaper, the ‘Irish Worker and the People’s Advocate’, which became very successful, reaching over 20,000 Irishmen. In 1913, Larkin led over 100,000 workers to what became the, “Dublin Lockout”; which still remains the largest industrial conflict in Irish history.
The Dublin Lockout destroyed the ITGWU that James invested so much energy into; and shortly thereafter, James attempted to find success in the U.S. as a means to somehow raise money for his union’s recovery efforts. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and James Larkin | Wikipedia
Unfortunately, his time in the U.S. was plagued by failure and controversy, which eventually led to Larkin being arrested in 1919 for his role in the “Red Scare”. In 1923, James was deported back to Ireland, where despite his persistence, he was eventually band from the union he created.
James Larkin dedicated his life to the Irish. Although in his latter years it seems he went astray, no person can ever downplay the importance of James Larkin not only in the Irish history books, but also how unionizing is done today. Despite his flaws, he truly had love for the Irish.