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Jim Larkin: The Man that Improved the Lives of Irish Workers

His name is Jim Larkin and he is considered a national Irish hero by many people. This man worked hard during the early 20th century to bring about lasting changes to Ireland’s work force. James “Jim” Larkin was born in Ireland in 1876.

The nation had suffered a great potato famine during the middle part of the 19th century. This famine lasted from 1845 – 1849.

The potato famine was so devastating that it left the country crippled in terms population and economic opportunity. Thousands of Irish people had immigrated from the nation to the United States. Those that remained had to etch out a living as best as they could.

By the turn of the century Jim Larkin was working to support his family. His father had died while he was a teen and he had to step up to support his clan.

The working conditions for many Irish people were beyond deplorable. While the potato famine had ended nearly 50 years ago, the country still hadn’t recovered from this epidemic.

Thousands of Irish families lived on farms and some were so poor the only shelter they had were mud huts. Many people had to turn to the workhouse for survival. Workers in the urban areas had to find whatever type of jobs they could find.

It was these conditions that created an environment where workers could easily be exploited. Long hours, short wages and dangerous working conditions were common part of the workforce in early Ireland. Jim Larkin worked for many years within these conditions. He eventually became a foreman despite the harsh circumstances he endured on the job.

Eventually, the workers on the dock where Larkin was employed decided to protest their conditions. This took place in 1906.

Larkin joined in this event and did an outstanding job with getting the workers point across. He lost his position as a foreman but became a labor organizer for the National Union of Dock Labourers or NUDL.

He eventually went on to make himself into one of the best labor organizers in the history of the nation. Jim Larkin’s tactics, his courage and his oratory skills had helped him to improve the lives of millions of Irish workers for well over a century.