Farren, Thomas (1879–1955), trade unionist, was born 11 December 1879 in 39 Bride St., Dublin, one of at least two sons of James Farren, stone cutter, and Bridget Farren (née Thorpe). His brother John Farren also became a notable trade unionist and was an alderman in Dublin in 1910. Educated locally, Thomas became a stone mason and developed an interest in trade unionism. He joined the Stonecutters Union of Ireland, and by 1912 he was appointed its general secretary.
In 1912–13 he was a member of Dublin corporation and sat with the other members of the Dublin Trades Council (DTC) under the auspices of the Dublin Labour Party. During the 1913 lockout he played a prominent role in administering the strike fund and was involved in the conference that was trying to find a solution to the crisis. After the war broke out he supported the stance of James Connolly (qv) on neutrality for Ireland, and as a result in 1914 he became treasurer of the Irish Neutrality League. In 1915 he was elected president of the DTC and in that same year in the Dublin (College Green) by-election he became the first Irish Labour Party parliamentary candidate. He adopted a strong line on women's right to vote, stressed Labour's stance on neutrality, and maintained his objections to any partition of Ireland. He was, however, defeated, with 1,816 votes against the 2,445 for his opponent, the Irish party candidate J. D. Nugent (qv).
A strong nationalist, he had links with many radical figures, and was a member of the finance committee of the O'Donovan Rossa (qv) funeral committee in 1915. He took part in the 1916 rising with the Irish Citizen Army and was interned. On his release he met with British labour leaders to try to secure the discharge of other Irish trade union leaders. This resulted in a meeting with the prime minister, Lloyd George, to discuss the national question and attempt to find a peaceful compromise, but was to no avail. He was a co-founder and member of the executive of the National Aid Association, which was set up to help prisoners of the rising and their dependants. In 1917 he and the trade unionist William O'Brien (qv) controversially helped in the Sinn Féin election campaign of Count George Plunkett (qv). Although he supported the campaign he still remained a member of the Labour Party and objected to the party's withdrawal from the 1918 general election. Quite radical in his thinking, he favoured the idea of a workers’ republic.
In 1918, after the Stonecutters Union of Ireland was absorbed, Tom Foran (qv) appointed Farren to be a full-time official of the ITGWU, as secretary of the Dublin no. 5 branch (building trade). President of the Irish Labour Party (1919–21), he was also a member of the Irish Trade Union Congress executive council (1918–26), and became its president in 1920. In 1920 he was a co-signatory of the call for a general strike in support of hunger strikers, for which he was arrested again but released within a short time. He was re-elected to Dublin corporation in 1920 and held his seat until 1923.
In 1922 he was involved in the attempts to find a solution to the split in Sinn Féin over the treaty, holding many meetings in the Mansion House. He was secretary of the breakaway Dublin Workers’ Council (1921–5) and was involved in the Unity Committee in 1928, which reunited the trades council. In 1924 he was appointed a workers’ advisor to the International Labour Office. In 1943 he withdrew his Labour Party candidature in Dublin South, after the candidacy of Jim Larkin (qv) jnr was accepted, claiming that the party's constitution had been violated. This led to a rift in the party and finally a split in 1944. Farren objected to the operations of British-based unions in Ireland and was an advocate of the formation of the Congress of Irish Unions in 1945. A member of the Irish Free State senate (1922–36), he constantly campaigned for better living conditions and social welfare for the Dublin working class. After a long illness, he died 28 March 1955 in the Hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin.
He lived for some time at 24 High St., Dublin, but later moved to 45 Crumlin Road, Dublin, with his wife Nellie, who died two weeks before his own death.