Larkin was the nearest thing to a revolutionary leader that the modern trade union movement has thrown up. He wished, on syndicalist lines, to use trade union power not merely to obtain concessions but as a battering ram to destroy capitalism. Born in Liverpool of Irish parents, he went to Ireland to organize the dock workers. His first task was to persuade protestants and catholics to work together. In 1908 he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. In the autumn of 1913 a strike on the Dublin trams led to a long confrontation with the employers and gave Larkin his finest hour. Threatened with arrest, he whipped off a false beard on the balcony of the Imperial hotel, O'Connell Street, to encourage his men. The strike dribbled away with little gained and there were other matters to preoccupy Ireland.
Subjects: European History.