Jim Larkin: An Irish Hero

The era surrounding World War I was filled with political and social turmoil. Even before the war, people around the world were busy making huge moves in the social sphere of influence in their countries. One such figure was the famous Jim Larkin, a figure that is responsible for many of the worker’s rights that Irish people enjoy today.


Jim Larkin was born in Liverpool, England on a damp night on January 21, 1876. Jim’s youth wasn’t easy. He worked multiple jobs just to help his family secure the finances necessary for his continued existence. This early life filled with cruel grueling work directly influenced Jim Larkins attitude on workers rights down the line in his life. Jim Larkin worked hard during his early-life. By the time he was a little older, he secured the position of foreman at the Liverpool Docks.


While working as a foreman, he joined the National Union Dock Labourers (NUDL). At the time, it was a great fit; Larkin became a full-time trade organizer in 1905. Time started to change Larkin, however, and as he saw more and more workers being oppressed he started to harden his Marxist views. NUDL eventually shipped him out to Dublin after his protests became too militant for their likings.


In Dublin, Larkin formed the Irish Transport and General Workers Union or ITGWU. He wanted to combine the skills of all Irish industrial workers; a move which eventually would change the course of Ireland forever. He also formed the Irish Labour Party around this time.


Situations started to worsen in Ireland for workers, and Jim Larking decided to do something never before done. In 1913, in Dublin, Larkin organized the biggest strike in Irish history. The strike, which was later called the Dublin Lockout, lasted for 8 straight months and included over 100,000 workers. The strike ended with Irish industrial laborers earning the rights to fair employment.


Later in life, Jim moved to the United States. He did so in an effort to raise funds to fight the British and create anti-war protests. The United States government arrested him for communism and anarchism and deported him back to Dublin where he spent the last of his days.


Larkin was a hero of the Irish people. His views forever changed the landscape of Irish labor. The Dublin Lockout was one of the most important labor-related events of the turn of the century.