Irish labor union leader Jim “Big Jim” Larkin is among the most celebrated of all Irishmen in that country’s history. Few other men or women have been commemorated in so many different mediums, including works of public sculpture, songs, books, plays, movies and even street names.
It’s amazing that for most of Jim Larkin’s rabble rousing career as socialist, labor leader, political firebrand, revolutionary and alternative newspaper publisher, he was perhaps mostly reviled by the majority of his countrymen — and even by many of the people in his own labor movement. Learn more about James Larkin: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/big-jim-larkin-hero-or-wrecker-review-when-big-jim-looked-small-1.2524094 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/easterrising/profiles/po08.shtml
But history has not only looked kindly upon the life and work of Jim Larkin — admiration for what he accomplished and stood for has grown year by year.
One of the most prominent effigies to Jim Larkin is a magnificent statue depicting him with upraised arms, exhorting the urban poor of Dublin to get off their knees, rise up and through off the yoke of the wealthy elite. The statue graces a prominent spot on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.
Several streets and roadways are also named for Jim Larkin. One is actually in England where Jim Larkin was born in Liverpool in 1875. Road L4 1YQ is known as Jim Larkin Way. It runs through Kirkwood, a district of Liverpool.
Larkin has been memorialized in numerous songs. One of the most well known is a number by the New York Irish rock band Black 47 who wrote “The Day Jim Larkin Was Set Free.” The Irish Dubliners, a folk group, scored a hit with “The Ballad of Jim Larkin.” And famed Irish folk singer Paddy Reilly is known for his song, “Jim Larkin,”
Numerous poets have been inspired to write odes to Jim Larkin. These include Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh, Frank O’Connor, Donagh, McDonagh and Lola Ridge.
A character based on Jim Larkin is featured in James Plunkett’s novel, ”Strumpet City.” Another novelist, Lyn Andrews, also features a Jim Larkin character in her book, “Where the Mersey Flows.”
Jim Larkin continues to inspire the arts today, For example, actor Ger O’Leary made waves and received critical praise recently for his inspired one-man performance of the famous union leader.