James Larkin: The Socialist, The Patriot, and The Leader

James Larkin was a man of conviction and a crusader for the Irish, the poor and the working class. As a laborer, he organized strikes and protests for safe, comfortable working conditions and fair living wages for the mainly Irish working class.

James Larkin was born on January 21, 1876 in Liverpool, England. His family was very poor and lived in the poor area. His parents were Irish, making life in England for James even more challenging.

Irishmen were treated unequally in England. They were discriminated against, beaten, even killed. Needless to say, life would not be easy for him.

James became a trade union organizer in 1905 for the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL)when he was a foreman at the docks in Liverpool. While he was very passionate about the beliefs of the Union, his very strong and aggressive tactics to get the job done were not well-liked by the NUDL in Liverpool.

To avoid further scrutiny or conflict in Liverpool due to his actions, the Union transferred James to Dublin, Ireland in 1907. While he was there, he formed another union called the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU).

A socialist in his philosophy of labor and a nationalist in his Irish blood, his goal was for all Irish workers to be under the same union umbrella, regardless of skills (or lack thereof). Read more: James Larkin | Wikipedia and The Definite Biography of Big Jim Larkin – Irish Examiner

With a union as this, all members embrace the same job protection and labor rights. They fought for legal work hours, pensions for members at age 60 and older, and contingent employment for members that were unemployed.

In 1914, he did an American tour in the United States for raise money to battle the British. While he was in the United States, he joined the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/jim-larkin-released-from-prison

Six years later during his stay in America, James was arrested, tried and convicted criminal anarchy and communism. He was later pardoned for the conviction, and deported back to Ireland, where he continued his fight for equal workers’ rights. He passed away on January 30, 1947.