Meet the Legendary Activist James Larkin

James Larkin was born on the 21st of January 1876 in Liverpool England, and both his parents have Irish ancestry. When he attained five years old, Larkin went to stay with his grandparents in Ireland. In 1885, James went back to England to re-unite with his parents. His father worked as a fitter in a local engineering firm where at the age of eleven years, James was taken as an apprentice.


The salary he earned at the firm was so poor that he left the job. He worked as a paperhanger, a butcher’s assistant, a French polisher, and later as a dock laborer. In 1980s, the unemployment rate was very high that he left for South America. After a year, James returned to England and joined the Independent Labor Party and became part and parcel of the many public protest meetings. He helped in forming the party’s branch in south Liverpool at a place called Toxteth.


In 1893, Larkin worked for T.& J. Harrison limited as a foreman dock-porter but later lost the job after he and his fellow employees went on a strike. He remained an active member of the NUD (National Union of Dock Laborers) even after losing his job, and was later elected as the General Organizer of the union. Larkin recruited so many people in a short period after the union sent him to Belfast . This was followed by the sacking of the members of the NUDL leading to a bitter industrial dispute. Larkin was later suspended in 1908 after he had led three consecutive strikes.


At the beginning of World War I, James held protests in Dublin urging Ireland citizens not to participate in the war. His advice for the Ireland citizens was “fight for Ireland and not any other land”. In 1914 he went to the U.S to find money to fight Britain and while there he joined the Socialist party of America. In 1920, he was charged and convicted of communism and criminal anarchy then pardoned and deported to Ireland after three years in custody. In Ireland, he established the Workers’ Union of Ireland and joined Irish Labor Party in 1945. Larkin worked tirelessly for the benefit of workers up to the very end. He died on 30th January 1947.

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