James Larkin, (often known as ‘Jim Larkin’) was an Irish workers rights activist and trade union leader primarily famous for his role in the 1913 Dublin Lockout. His efforts ultimately served as a ferocious spearhead into the era of unionization and workers rights for the Irish people.

Second born son to the elder James Larkin and Mary Ann MacNulty in January, 1876, Larkin spent much of his early life understanding the plight of the underprivileged firsthand. His early years constituted living in a Liverpuddian slum, Larkin began their work at age seven to contribute and support the family. The necessity of income in the tough financial times pushed him in his late teens to become a dock worker.

Through his efforts and years of work he climbed the ladder to the role of dock foreman in 1903. From the age of seventeen, shortly after his dismissal from the firm, he became interested in socialism and became a member of the Independent Labor Party. His dedication to such cause came to a head in 1905, being one of the few foreman to participate in the dock strike and forfeiting his job in the process.

However, that commitment to such an idea attracted the interest of National Union of Dock Laborers where he worked for three years eventually being forced out for arranging an unauthorized strike. Read more: Jim Larkin | Wikipedia and Jim Larkin – Biography

In the events following, he took his own initiative and formed the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union and became more than famous for his role in the Dublin Lockout of 1913, one of the largest industrial disputes in Irish history. Though ultimately the efforts of the strike failed for what was set out to achieve, the labor dispute that became the groundwork for much of the subsequent Irish labor movement.

Following the failure of the ITGWU in the Dublin Lockout, he traveled to America, trying to gain money for the Union in addition to recoup from the stress of the lockout. He returned in 1923.

In the following years, his vicious campaigns and tactics created many an enemy for him, sparked a massive falling out with the other founders of the ITGWU, put him on the losing side of civil litigation and resulted in his leaving and forming the Workers Union of Ireland.

In remainder of his life he experimented with the ideas of communism, continuing to campaign for workers until his death in 1947.

Learn more about Jim Larkin:

http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/jim-larkin-released-from-prison
http://ireland-calling.com/james-larkin/