James Larkin, born in 1876, was the most prominent Irish trade union leader of the last century. He was born in Liverpool, England to Irish immigrants. He was the son of James Larkin, a fitter, and Annn McNulty. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/easterrising/profiles/po08.shtml and http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/
Larkin was born in England, however, he spent a few years of his childhood in Ireland with his grandparents. He returned to Liverpool around the age of seven.
Larkin, as a child, experienced a lot of deprivation. He lived with his parents in the slums of England and was forced into casual labor. Larkin’s situation got worst when his father passed away. Larkin, 14, had to leave school.
Over the years, Jim Larkin worked in different jobs. He worked as a paperhanger, butcher’s assistant and as a French polisher. But overall, Larkin worked more as a docker. Over the years, he became a well-known foreman.
Larkin, at the time of his father’s death, was studying the works of Karl Marx. Larkin was always a voracious reader. His deprivation, which preventing him from finishing school, also made him hungry for knowledge. Larkin was known for his idealism. At times, he was really impractical.
Larkin was suspended from the National Union of Dock Labourers due to “embezzlement.” However, he used money from the union in order to fund protesters from Cork. Larkin was sentenced to a year in prison, sentence which outraged many Irishmen. Fortunately, John Hamilton-Gordon interfered, and Larkin served less than four months in prison.
Jim Larkin also cared about unskilled workers. This is a reason why he fought against Guiness and the Dublin United Tramway during the lock-out of 1913. Larkin battled these companies so that they could treat all employees fairly. According to Larkin, every worker deserved fair pay and treatment. He was also ahead of his time, for he was in favor of things like pensions and universal suffrage.
Larkin was also against violence. He spread his ideas, for example, through protests, speeches and debates. He founded the Irish Worker and Peoples’ Advocate. Here, he also criticized unfair employers. Many intellectuals also contributed to Larkin’s newspaper.