James Larkin Biography

Activist, Folk Hero (1874–1947)
James Larkin was an Irish labor organizer and activist who founded the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union.


Born on January 21, 1876, in Liverpool, England, James Larkin established the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, which became the region's biggest union. The ITGWU fell apart after the Dublin Lockout, and Larkin traveled to the United States in 1914, though he would get deported. He was a fervent Marxist who continued his labor organizing into the 1940s. He died on January 30, 1947, in Dublin, Ireland.


Irish labor leader. Born January 28, 1874 in Liverpool, England. Growing up in the slums of Liverpool, James Larkin had little formal education. To supplement the family income, he worked a variety of jobs in his youth, eventually becoming a foreman at the Liverpool docks. A committed socialist who believed workers were treated unfairly, James Larkin joined the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL) and become a full-time trade union organizer in 1905.

James Larkin??s militant strike methods alarmed the NUDL, and he was transferred to Dublin in 1907 where he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. The goal of the union was to combine all Irish industrial workers, skilled and unskilled, into one organization. Larkin later formed the Irish Labour Party and was responsible for leading a series of strikes. Most significant of these was the 1913 Dublin Lockout where more than 100,000 workers went on strike for nearly eight months, eventually winning the right to fair employment.

At the outbreak of World War I, James Larkin staged large anti-war demonstrations in Dublin. He also traveled to the United States to raise funds to fight the British. In 1920, he was convicted of criminal anarchy and communism, then pardoned three years later and deported to Ireland. There, he organized the Workers' Union of Ireland and secured recognition from Communist International in 1924.

James Larkin married Elizabeth Brown in 1903; the couple had four sons.

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