James (Big Jim) Larkin
(21 January 1876 – 30 January 1947) was an Irish trade union
leader and socialist
activist, born to Irish parents in Liverpool
. He and his family later moved to a small cottage in Burren
, southern County Down
. Growing up in poverty, he received little formal education and began working in a variety of jobs while still a child. He became a full-time trade union organiser in 1905.
Larkin moved to Belfast
in 1907 and founded the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union
, the Irish Labour Party
, and later the Workers' Union of Ireland
. Perhaps best known for his role in the 1913 Dublin Lockout
, "Big Jim" continues to occupy a significant place in Dublin
's collective memory.
Larkin's family lived in the slums of Liverpool during the early years of his life. From the age of seven, he attended school in the mornings and worked in the afternoons to supplement the family income—a common arrangement in working-class families at the time. At the age of fourteen, after the death of his father, he was apprenticed to the firm his father had worked for but was dismissed after two years. He was unemployed for a time and then worked as a sailor
. By 1903, he was a dock foreman, and on 8 September of that year, he married Elizabeth Brown.
From 1893, Larkin developed an interest in socialism
and became a member of the Independent Labour Party
. In 1905, he was one of the few foremen to take part in a strike on the Liverpool... Read More