The Cork Mother Jones Commemorative committee was established in 2012 to mark the 175th anniversary of the birth of Mary Harris / Mother Jones in Cork, Ireland. After a highly successful festival marking that anniversary it was decided to make the festival an annual event marking the life and legacy of Mother Jones.
Although famous in other parts of the world, especially in the United States of America where she was once labelled “the most dangerous woman in America”, Cork born Mary Jones (née Harris) – or Mother Jones as she is perhaps more widely known – was virtually unknown and certainly not recognised as yet in her native city. The festivals and activities of this committee have changed that and now the name of Mother Jones is widely known in Cork and beyond.
The Cork Mother Jones Commemorative Committee, in conjunction with Cork City Council commissioned Cork Sculptor Mike Wilkins to create a limestone plaque to honour Mother Jones in the Shandon area of the city, near her birthplace. This plaque was erected near the famous Cork Butter Market and was unveiled on 1st August 2012 which is the 175th Anniversary of her baptism in the North Cathedral (we have not been able to ascertain her actual date of birth but it would most likely have been a few days before this date). Her parents were Ellen Cotter, a native of Inchigeela and Richard Harris from Cork city.
Few details of her early life in Cork have been uncovered to date, though it is thought by some that she was born on Blarney Street and may have attended the North Presentation Schools nearby. She and her family emigrated to Canada soon after the Famine, probably in the early 1850s.
Later in the United States, after tragic deaths of her husband George Jones and their four children, she became involved in the struggle for basic rights for workers and children’s rights, leading from the front, often in a militant fashion. She was a constant thorn in the side of the establishment. When she died in 1930, she was a legend in her adopted land. A magazine (Mother Jones) is still published to this day, along with dozens of books and countless references in US Labour History. She certainly can claim to be the most famous Cork woman in the history of the United States of America.
In 2012, 175 years passed since Mary’s birth in Cork city and to honour her life, this broad-based voluntary Commemorative Committee, along with local community organisations, honoured one of Cork City’s most famous daughters with an immensely popular festival. The unveiling off the plaque at John Redmond Street was just part of a wider celebration which will be held in and around Shandon on 31st July and 1st August 2012. This celebration featured a number of writers, film producers and people associated with Mother Jones in the United States. There were concerts, public lectures and discussions held in the Maldron Hotel and the Firkin Crane centre as well as an exhibition in the Firkin on the life and times of Mother Jones.
The Committee can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at Cork 4503481 or mobile (086)1908281 or (086) 3196063.