He did not have much in the way of formal education, but he rose to become one of the most prominent names in the history of the Irish labor movement. He is Jim Larkin.
Born in Liverpool, England in 1876, Larkin came from an impoverished family. He started working at the age of seven in order to help them financially. As a young adult, he found employment as a sailor and a dock worker. His hard work earned him a position as a dock foreman in Liverpool. But when the 1905 dock strike occurred, Larkin sided with the workers. It cost him his foreman’s position, but it did bring him to the attention of the National Union of Dock Labourers. Working as an organizer for them, Larkin went to Scotland in 1906, where he unionized workers in Glasgow and Preston. In addition, he led protests again Chinese immigrants he felt were taking jobs from locals.
1907 brought Larkin to Belfast, Ireland, where he organized the dock workers in that city to strike. At one point, he even persuaded the local department of the Royal Irish Constabulary to go on strike. Larkin was even successful in uniting Catholics and Protestants in his union efforts. He soon moved to other parts of Ireland to organize workers, culminating in the Dublin Lockout of 1913.
Following the Lockout, Larkin journeyed to United States, where he joined the Socialist Party of America and became a supporter of the Soviet Union after its formation. It is also alleged he disrupted the transportation of war supplies to Europe. In 1920, he was sentenced to prison for criminal anarchy due to his communist leanings. In 1923, he was released and returned to Ireland, where he continued to champion labor and socialist causes until his death in 1947. To this day, Larkin is considered an icon in Ireland, with songs, books, and poems written about him, and a statue erected in his honor in Dublin.