James Larkin was born in 1876 to Irish emigrants, James Larkin and Mary Ann McNulty. His family being in the working class, James grew up in the Liverpool slums.
When he was seven, he had to do work and also attend school, all with the aim of providing for the needs of his low-income family. He got used to this, but things became a lot tougher when his father passed on in 1890.
James Larkin was appointed to take over James Larkin Junior’s position at the firm he worked for. However, his services were turned down in 1892, when he was dismissed. He remained unemployed for some time.
After about two years of enduring this state, he became a sailor. He was also a docker for a while before he was made a foreman for the docks in 1903. He married Elizabeth Brown the same year. James and Elizabeth had four sons.
Being a committed socialist and trade unionist with a harsh background, James understood what workers went through, both skilled and unskilled. James joined the National Union of Dock Laborers, NUDL, temporarily in 1905 after participating in a strike at the docks. Later the same year, he became a permanent member of the union.
Because of unacceptable militant methods, James Larkin was shifted by UNDL to Dublin. But because he was a man with a drive, he did not let this waver his focus on what was more important: fighting for workers’ rights, no matter the cost. Jim, therefore, formed the Irish Transport and Workers’ Union.
Soon after that in 1912, he formed the Irish Labor Party with the help and support of James Connolly. James was responsible for the Dublin strikes, including the Dublin Lockout. 100,000 workers went on a strike for eight months and finally achieved fair employment rights.
James Larkin’s methods as he fought for these rights, were all peaceful. He did not want to jeopardize the firms that his members worked for. Therefore, he resolved to peaceful methods like boycotts.
James went to the United States of America in 1914 to attend a lecture tour. He also wanted to provide his support against the British, in the form of funds. However, he got arrested in 1920.
The charges that led to Larkin’s conviction were socialism and criminal anarchy. He got deported in 1923 after being pardoned of the charges and conviction. Back in Ireland, he formed the Workers’ Union of Ireland. In 1924, he formed the Workers’ Union of Ireland. He continued with his acts until he passed on, on January 30, 1947.