James Larkin was born in Liverpool, England, on January 21, 1876. He didn’t have much in the way of a formal education due to his being raised poor and not being from an upper class neighborhood.
He was forced to work and help supply the family with income, therefore, he worked several different jobs throughout his youth, ultimately he became a foreman of the Liverpool docks.
In 1903, James married Elizabeth Brown, and together they had four sons.
James Larkin believed workers were treated poorly and he would later join the “National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL)”, and became a trade union organizer full-time in 1905.
In 1907, he relocated to Dublin, that is when he started a union of his own called the “Irish Transport and General Workers Union.” This union had one goal in mind, and that was to unite all Irish workers, whether skilled or unskilled.
In 1913, over 100,000 workers had become involved in a strike, known as the “Dublin Lockout”. The strike lasted for eight months, and eventually the workers were awarded their right to fair employment.
James Larkin would later take part in protests against the war, around the time World War I was just getting started; afterwards he came to America to help raise money to fight the British. He was arrested during the “red scare” of 1919, and found guilty of anarchist communism in 1920; he was then pardoned and deported to Ireland three years later.
That was when he organized the Workers’ Union of Ireland and confirmed recognition from the Communist International group in 1924.
For James Larkin, the 1920s were hell and the 1930s he was in a sort of purgatory. He had left the limelight and was concentrating on the WUI, which was not doing well.
James Larkin was focused on creating support for his seat on the Dublin Corporation. By the time the 1940s arrived, James was mellowing out, his ambitions were behind him, allowing him to show his kinder, gentler side.
He had been sensing that his life was coming to an end shortly after the death of his wife, Elizabeth in 1945 and it was important to him that he make amends with the Church.
He remained active in the WUI up until his last breath, it was late 1946 when he had an accident. He had fallen through a floor as he was supervising some repairs that needed done to the WUI’s “Thomas Ashe Hall”. He passed away on January 30, 1947 at Meath Hospital.