The Powerful Socialist Activist

Socialist activist and Irish trade union leader, James Larkin, birthed Ireland’s modern labor movement and made positive impacts during his stride. James Larkin was born on January 21, 1876 in Liverpool, England. Both of his parents were emigrants of Ireland and he was the second oldest sibling in his family. Read more: Jim Larkin | Biography and James Larkin | Ireland Calling

He grew up in poverty and lived in the harsh slums of Liverpool. Larkin had to work at such a young age just to help out his family, this allowed for little time to attend school to receive a proper education. He was fourteen years old when his father had died, he had to become an apprentice at his father’s job to make ends meet. It was common practice during that time for working-class families to put their young to work. Learn more about Jim Larkin: and

After he was dismissed from his job at his late father’s place of work, he later became employed as a Liverpool docker. During this time, Larkin had started taking interest in socialism and joined the Independent Labour Party.

He was promoted to a foreman at the docks in 1903. When the dockers and sailors at the Liverpool docks went on strike, James Larkin was one of the few foremen that decided to join in.

He was demoted of his foreman status and the National Union of Dock Labourers were simply impressed of his presence at the strike. The NUDL had taken interest in him and assigned him as their temporary organizer.

James Larkin became a full-time NUDL organizer until the union had later felt concern over his militant strike action methods over the years. In 1908, he moved to Dublin and formed the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union.

He longed for all Irish industrial workers to work for one union trade and receive fair wages. During 1912, he and his friend James Connolly founded the Irish Labour Party and organize many strikes against major Irish industrial companies.

The “Dublin Lockout” was the most significant strike, it lasted over seven long and trying months. In 1913, over 100,000 workers went on strike, their employers finally gave them the right to fair wages.

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