Jim Larkin – Considered by Some to Be an Activist and Folk Hero

As an Irish labor organizer, James Larkin was an activist who made an impact in his own right. Larkin was born on January 21, 1876, in Liverpool, England in the slums. He grew up poor and struggled to provide for his family.

He also grew up at a time when businesses overlooked the rights of individuals. Many businesses treated laborers unfairly. He worked a variety of jobs, and would have witnessed, first-hand, the harsh treatments of laborers in his day.

Larkin established the first Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union in 1907. After the Dublin Lockout, the union fell apart.

He made his way to the United States in 1914, only to be deported several years later. During his life, he would become a steadfast Marxist, and continued to organize until his death in 1947.

In between the time he migrated to the United States, he was very active organizing labor. The goal of the ITGWU was to organize and combine skilled and unskilled Irish workers into one group that could wield influence.

Sometime later Larkin started the Irish Labor Party, which also sponsored and led a number of influential strikes that had a major impact. Read more: James Larkin | Ireland Calling

It was during the outbreak of WWI that Larkin led demonstrations against the war in Dublin. He also ventured to America to raise money to raise funds to fight the British at one time.

America convicted Larkin of anarchy and communism, and later pardoned him three years after his conviction. To some, Larkin was both an activist and folk hero.