Re-living the activism of James Larkin

James Larkin is a renowned activist who was born in 1874 in Liverpool. He died in 1947 in Dublin. James was a strong activist despite having gotten a very minimal formal education due to where he came from.

His determination led to the formation of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, ITGWU. In 1914 when the lockout at Dublin took place, this Union fell apart and Larkin left for the United States of America.

James Larkin was a leader who worked several jobs before he was hired at the Liverpool docks as a foreman. He was a strong believer in fair treatment and opportunity for workers, whether skilled or unskilled.

He, later on, became a member of the National Union of Dock Labourers where he acquired various skills that made him the Organizer of the Union. He used some strike methods that were considered militant and this forced him to be given a transfer to the Dublin offices.

When at Dublin, James saw a need to continue with his activism and he, therefore, founded the ITGWU. Here he brought together skilled, unskilled and industrial workers together to fight for the same course.

The Irish Labour Party was his next agenda. The Party was responsible for many and vigorous strikes including the one that over one hundred thousand workers struck.

This was in 1913 during the Dublin Lockout. The strike went on for over eight months and the workers emerged the winners by succeeding in their fight for employment that was fair for all. Read more: James Larkin | Biography

When he moved to the States, it was because he was looking for money to be able to support a fight against the British. Unfortunately, before he achieved his target, he was arrested and convicted of communism and criminal anarchy.

He was deported to Ireland after his pardon three years later in 1923. When he stepped foot in Ireland, he could not resist his passion for activism, he brought together the workers through the Workers’ Union and this move earned him the Communist International recognition one year later. James was married to Elizabeth and they had been blessed with 4 children.

James will forever be remembered for his organization and fight for workers. His legacy still leaves on, in the unions that exist to fight for the rights of workers to date.

He continued organizing the fight for workers’ rights up until he died in 1947. The last job he had was supervising the WUI’s Thomas Ashe Hall repairs.