James Larkin was born into poverty in Liverpool in 1876. He would go from the slums of Liverpool to become one of the most complex heroes of the Irish labor movement.
After beginning his career as a dockworker in Liverpool, he joined the National Union of Dock Labourers in 1905. He would go on to become a full-time union organizer, although his striking methods would be controversial with NUDL leadership. He was transferred to Dublin in 1907.
In Ireland, he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU). The goal of the ITGWU was to create one union for all workers in Ireland. The ITGWU would prove to be enormously popular and lead to the forming of the Irish Labour Party. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm and http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/books/the-definitive-biography-of-big-jim-larkin-372254.html
He became one of the central figures in the Dublin Lockout of 1913, a major strike action involving over 100,000 workers striking for over 8 months. However, the Lockout would eventually end in defeat for the labor movement. At the outbreak of World War I, Larkin organized anti-war demonstration.
In 1914, fresh off the defeat of the Lockout, he left for America. There he toured the lecture circuit and raised funds for the Irish fight against the British. He was arrested in 1919 during a period of anti-communist sentiment in the US and was convicted of criminal anarchy and communism.
Three years later, he was pardoned and deported back to Ireland. There he continued to work in the labor movement, founding Workers’ Union of Ireland and working with that organization until his death in 1947.