James Larkin was born on 21 January 1876 to Irish emigrants; James Larkin and Mary Ann McNulty. The family was not well off and therefore lived in the Liverpool slums. He was schooled, and when he was seven years old, he had to couple up school and work. In the afternoons after breaking, he would work so that he could provide for his family. This went on until his father’s death, seven years later.
He took over James Larkin junior’s position at the firm he worked for and got dismissed two years later. He then worked at the docks as a sailor and a docker and in 1903, became a foreman in the Liverpool Docks. He married Elizabeth Brown, and they had four sons.
At an early age, he got the urge to be a socialist. This led to him joining the Independent Labor Party. A strike took place at the Liverpool Docks in 1905, and James among other foremen took place in it. He lost his position as a foreman as a result but was later made an organizer for the National Union of Dock Laborers on a temporary basis. Later the same year, he gained a permanent position at the union.
In 1907, James Larkin organized dock workers for a strike. He also organized several other strikes in Ireland, some succeeding and others not achieving much.
James Sexton and Larkin then disputed over the leadership of NUDL. As the disagreement rose and a rift came existed between the two, Larkin decided to move to Dublin where he kept organizing workers, even in Cork and Waterford. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia
James went against NUDL’s instructions while in Dublin, and the dispute led to his expulsion from the union. He started ITGWU (Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union) in 1908. He moved to Dublin in 1909, and this became the headquarters of ITGWU and where he later focused all his union activities.
In 1912, James Larkin formed the Irish Labor Party after partnering with James Connolly. The Irish Labor Party led strikes in Ireland, and the 1913 Dublin Lockout is the most memorable; as over 10,000 workers went on strike for eight months.
James held protests in Dublin against the World War I. He later moved to the USA where he provided funds to fight the British. He was arrested in 1920 for criminal anarchy, and pardoned in 1923. He was then deported to Ireland, where he formed the Workers’ Union of Ireland.