James Larkin, also known as “Big Jim”, was born in Liverpool, England in 1876 to James Larkin, a fitter, and Ann McNulty. At the age of five, Larkin lived in Newry, Ireland with his grandparents. He returned around the age of eight. He spent the rest of his youth in Liverpool.
Larkin lived with his parents in one of the most poorest areas of Liverpool. As a child, he was forced into casual labor because of his parents’ financial circumstances. At the tender age of 14, he lost his father.
This affected the Larkin family tremendously, which is why Larkin left school completely. Nevertheless, it is known that Larkin, after his father passed away, joined the Independent Labour Party. He became a sympathizer of the works of Karl Marx and a socialist. Larkin used to also sell The Clarion.
Larkin did whatever he could to survive. On occasions, he worked as as a paperhanger or as a French polisher. He also worked as a butcher’s assistant.
However, Larkin worked throughout his youth more in the docks. Eventually, because of his work ethic, he became a foreman. Larkin always experienced deprivation. It was inexorable. And throughout the years, he also saw how much his compatriots suffered in the hands of corporations.
In 1905, Larkin’s life changed radically. He, because of the abuses of Harrison Line, orchestrated a labor strike. He was also one of the few foreman to participate. Larkin, because of his participation on the then famous protest, was fired. His courage, however, payed off. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia
He was noticed by the National Union of Dock Labourers. Months later, he was given a full-time position. The following year, the union sent Larkin to Scotland so that he could unionize workers. Larkin exceeded the union’s expectations, for he organized over 700 workers in Preston and Glasgow.
Larkin became more prominent when he participated in Belfast. The National Union of Dock Labourers sent him so that he could unionize Belfast’s dock workers. However, he accomplished much more. Carters and coal men joined, including the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Larkin was even able to unite Catholics and Protestants. The following year, Larkin established the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union.