Ireland’s most provocative union leader, firebrand and rabble-rouser, James “Big Jim” Larkin, reached a turning point in 1914. The massive strike known as the Dublin Lockout has finally been busted after some six agonizing months of violent confrontation in the streets.
The event produced the famous Bloody Sunday incident of August 1913 — a horrific melee featuring hundreds of club-wielding policemen beating thousands of protesters bloody in the streets of Dublin.
Jim Larkin was perhaps the primary architect of the Dublin Lockout. This unprecedented attempt to force the Dublin wealthy elites to pay fair wages to the urban poor was joined by 20,000 strikers. But when things went bad, Dublin became a dangerous place for Larkin. He decided it was time to put some distance between himself and his beloved Ireland.. Shortly after the strike’s end, he sailed for America.
When Jim Larkin arrived in America in 1914 he picked up right where he left off. He immediately began agitating for unions in New York. He raised money for his various socialist causes and worked his special brand of social-political subversion with the help of willing leftist allies in the United States.
By 1919, American authorities had had enough of Jim Larkin. They arrested him on a series of trumped charges and tossed him in jail. After a brief trial he was convicted of plotting revolution against the United States and sent to New York’s notorious Sing Sing prison. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm
While doing his time in Sing Sing, Larkin received a famous visitor — none other than the Hollywood movie star, Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin was a fan of Jim Larkin. He also took considerable pride in his own Irish ancestry. Although considered the quintessential British gentleman, Chaplin’s grandmother was Irish. The famous actor took frequent vacations in County Kerry.
Chaplain also sent a gift to Larkin’s wife who was awaiting his return in Ireland — a pair of high-end slippers.
Jim Larkin was released from Sing Sing in 1923 after receiving a pardon from newly elected Governor Al Smith — who just happened to be New York’s first elected Irish-American governor.
Larkin was ordered deported by the U.S. State Department. When he arrived back in Ireland, a crowd of 4,000 people were on hand at Dublin’s Liberty Hall to welcome him home.