The Life And Challenges Of Jim Larkin

The Irish labour movement began with the ITGWU. Fewer than ten percent of Irish workers were in a union.

This led to activists arguing for an Irish based union since so many were British. The ITGWU was launched by Jim Larkin and this created a Republican force in the movement. The idea was for One Big Union to encompass all the workers.

Jim Larkin was insecure and concerned about money. The ITGWU was pulled into the conflict during the Great Labour Unrest. The union went from 5,000 members to 15,000. The Labour Party was established in 1912 by Congress.

Jim Larkin’s popularity had greatly diminished. This changed during the Lockout of 1913. During this war 20,000 workers stood against 404 employers and Jim Larkin became a labour champion.

Jim Larkin went to the United States in 1914. His sojourn to America was mismanaged and he took a pro-German stance. He could not make a living as a socialist speaker so he began disrupting the United States munitions industry for the Germans. Learn more about Jim Larkin: and

He went to New York and joined the Socialist party after refusing to conduct sabotage for the Germans. He was arrested in 1919 during the red scare and sent to Sing Sing for criminal anarchy.

Jim Larkin attempted to attain a passport to Ireland in 1918. He finally stowed away on a ship. William O’Brien was managing the ITGWU and viewed him as a loose cannon. His marriage to Elizabeth was not going well and she refused to help him get out of jail in 1922. Read more: Jim Larkin | Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia

He was deported to England where he spent ten years. He separated with his wife and lived with his sister. An assault on the leadership of the union led to his expulsion in 1924.

Jim Larkin was active until the end of his life. In 1946 he fell through a floor at Thomas Ashe Hall. In January of 1947 he died in the Meath Hospital. His mass was given by his friend Archbishop John Charles McQuaid. He knew the end of his life was close since Elizabeth died in 1945. For this reason he had reconciled with the church.

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