The drive for an increase in worker’s rights has remained at the heart of the history of Ireland for a number of years as James “Big Jim” Larkin has remained an ever-present figure in the iconography of a struggle which began in the early 20th-century for the Liverpool-born union leader and led to independence for the Irish Republic. Although he was not born in Ireland, Jim Larkin was born to Irish parents and identified as Irish having spent the majority of is early adulthood in the nation and returned there after a brief move to the U.S. in the late 1910s.
Jim Larkin arrived in the British-controlled Irish territory in 1907 after he had spent much of his childhood living with his grandparents in Ireland from 1876 to 1885 when he returned to Liverpool to find employment. Larkin later stated he felt an affinity with Ireland and would spend the next few years working in various jobs before arriving on the Liverpool docks and converting to a socialist ideal through the work of trade union leaders.
After being sacked unfairly from his job as a dock foreman in Liverpool, Jim Larkin embarked on his first period of strike leadership for the National Dock Laborers Union and would remain active in the organization for the next few years. The success of Larkin allowed him to become a popular figure with his fellow dock laborers and he became union organizer in 1906 but fell foul of the union leadership and was ostracized in 1907 to the non-union docks of Belfast and Dublin in Ireland.
It was in Ireland Jim Larkin made his most positive impression on the lives of a group of people who had been oppressed and overlooked by the establishment of the U.K. and been made to work without proper unionization. After becoming disillusioned with lack of assistance from England during a dispute with Belfast dock owners, Larkin formed his own Irish Transport and General Workers Union which led almost directly to the creation of the Irish Labour Party; the establishment of the Labour Party united Jim Larkin with James Connelly who would join Larkin is leading the calls for the Irish Republic to become independent.