Festival Time approaches!

2015 Festival Progamme - click image to view full size or download

2015 Festival Progamme – click on link in text or via the main menu.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is proud to introduce the 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones festival and summer school which begins on Wednesday 29th July and concludes on Saturday night, 1st August.


We feel very honoured to celebrate the memory of Mary Harris, known as Mother Jones, in the streets of her birthplace and we know that the speakers, musicians, poets, film makers, artists, singers, actors and the visitors will provide a festival and summer school that is interesting, relevant and challenging. The wonderful community of Shandon in Cork City will again provide a historic and colourful backdrop for the events. We also know that many others across the USA, the UK, Greece and elsewhere will be attending in spirit.


The full programme of almost 30 events over 4 days is available to download by clicking on this link: Spirit of Mother Jones programme 2015

The topics and subjects are varied and diverse, yet we are sure Mother Jones would have approved of the debates they will encourage among those attending. We will remember forgotten Cork heroes such as John Dowling and Lily Boole, and others such as Tony Benn, Joe Hill and Rachel Carson. We will hear of injustices perpetrated on the miners at Orgreave or on the Birmingham Six. We will wonder at the bravery of Irish Citizen Army and the labour struggles of the early 20th Century. We will hear of homelessness in our Republic in 2015 and the possible loss of our most precious natural resource.


We will listen to the very best of Cork and international music and song from Two Time Polka, Jimmy Crowley, Johnny Nyhan, Richard T. Cooke, William Hammond, the Cork Singers Club,  the Cork Rokk Choir and many, many more.


And we will experience Mother Jones herself when the superb Kaiulani Lee takes the stage to perform “Can’t Scare Me…the Story of Mother Jones”. 


Virtually all the events are free and open to everyone, (just be early!). For that we have to thank our sponsors, the Shandon community, all those participating and contributing on a voluntary basis and the ongoing work of the members of the Cork Mother Jones Committee to celebrate an inspirational woman. Come along!


Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!      



Water – a Human Right


Dr. Margaret O'Keeffe

Dr. Margaret O’Keeffe

Under the subtitle “Renewing Our Faith in (Strong) Democracy – Lessons from the Water Protests!” Dr. Margaret O’Keeffe will speak on this very topical issue at the Maldron Hotel, on Friday, 31st July at 2pm.

Dr. O’Keeffe, who lectures in Community Development at the Department of Social Studies, Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), says the lecture has its genesis in her thoughts, observations and peaceful activism over the last two years or so in relation to some of the critical issues regarding water privatisation in Ireland.

Drawing on Benjamin Barber’s conceptualisation of Strong Democracy (1998), I wish to link the discussion to wider debates in relation to various interrelated democratic struggles at local, national and global levels, including but not limited to issues of growing global inequality, privatisation, climate change and the proposed Trans-Atlantic TTIP trade deal”, states Margaret.

“I argue that the water protest struggle is linked to wider emancipatory struggles which use the democratic process to challenge the hegemony of corporate power in an increasingly unequal global economy.  I suggest that the water protest movement is a microcosm of wider democratic struggles across Europe and the world”.

“Failure to recognise these interlinkages and their adverse implications for a fairer society for all means that we inadvertently fail to see what is happening to our world, and the likely degraded and diminished world, in terms of hope and opportunity, that our children, grandchildren and generations yet to be born, will face now and into the future.”, she concluded.



Mother Jones flies high at Durham Miners Gala

Daughters of Mother Jones banner at Durham Gala 2015

Daughters of Mother Jones banner at Durham Gala 2015

The annual Durham Gala, organised by the Durham Miners’ Association was held at the Racecourse on Saturday 11th July 2015. The Big Meeting took place following the huge colourful parade of banners and bands through the city from early morning.

The new Daughters of Mother Jones Banner was carried proudly for the first time in the parade led by Betty Cook and Anne Scargill. Media estimates put the overall crowd at somewhere around a hundred and fifty thousand people. It was a triumph for the organisational abilities of Durham Miners’ Association under its General Secretary Dave Hopper, who reviewed the parade from the balcony of the County Hotel on Old Elvet.
County Hotel

Group on balcony of County Hotel including Dave Hopper review parade

Dave Hopper in welcoming all to the Gala in a rousing speech commented “We have endured five years of austerity during which the richest people in Britain have doubled their wealth while the poorest have been driven to the brink of destitution.”  Other speakers included Jeremy Corbyn MP and Owen Jones, author and journalist and trade union leaders who also addressed a packed Racecourse. All the current Labour Party leadership contenders attended the Gala.
One of the many bands that participated

One of the many bands that participated

Four new banners from Sacriston, Tanfield Lea, Usworth and the Durham Miners’ Area were blessed at Durham Cathedral later in the afternoon. They were accompanied by bands of the Durham Miners’ Association, Hade Edge, Boarshurst and Ellinton Colliery.  The Bishop of Durham,the Right Reverend Paul Butler in his sermon, referred to how the Durham Gala “demonstrates an underlying passion for justice”.
The Gala was accompanied by many fringe meetings, dozens of stalls, and even a Gala Funfair for the thousands of children present. On a sunny Saturday afternoon,after it was all over, the bands and their communities with their banners marched from the field, the 131st Durham Gala was a wonderful tribute to the resilience of the local mining communities and the Durham Miners’ Association and an inspiration to all who attended from around the world. See the Durham Miners facebook page for up to date details and discover how one can support the festival to ensure its survival. www.durhamminers.org
Dave Hopper General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association will deliver the 2015 Cork Mother Jones Lecture at the Firkin Crane on Wednesday 29th July at 7.15. He will be accompanied also by actress Kaiulani Lee. 
Dave will introduce the classic Yvette Vanson film The Battle for Orgreave at the Maldron Hotel at 11am on Thursday 30th July. Dave was present on the 18th June 1984 and will discuss the ongoing fight for justice for the miners and the demands for a full investigation into the events of that day.
Chairman of the Durham Miners Association Alan Cummings will also attend the festival.


Launch of Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School 2015


The launch of the 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School was held at the Maldron Hotel on Thursday 2nd July. It was an outstanding success. In front of a capacity audience, and having been introduced by Mr Joe Kennedy, Manager of the Maldron Hotel,  Cork Lord Mayor Cllr. Chris O’Leary officially launched the fourth festival and declared himself delighted at the packed and exciting programme of events which will take place in Shandon from Wednesday 29th July until Saturday 1st August next.

Departing from his script the Lord Mayor stated that he wished to comment that Mother Jones has never been more relevant than at present. He had read extensively about her commitment to social justice, her defence of workers rights and her work for the union movement. He believed that Mother Jones would be in the forefront of the campaign against austerity today, that she would be in favour of a living income for all and for a fairer and just society. He was proud to honour her and he was delighted to launch the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Shandon, the place of her birth. He promised he would return to open the festival on Wednesday 29th July.
A number of speakers gave details of the events, from the music sessions, to the Joe Hill concert to the summer school events. Young Aoife Delaney even sang a song! In all over 30 events are fixed for the four days ensuring a wide range of interesting and challenging talks, lectures and discussions, with a broad appeal. It was emphasised that all events are free and open to the public. There is just one fundraising event, a play “Cant Scare Me’… The Story of Mother Jones” performed by Kaiulani Lee on Friday 31st July. The attendance included the Shandon Shawlies and CobhAnimation whose outfits were outstanding and created a turn of the 20th century atmosphere to the proceedings. Even Mother Jones aka Joan Goggin arrived to captivate the attendance.

Mother Jones monument at Mt. Olive, Illinois is rededicated




Mother Jones Monument rededicated June 20, 2015 Mount Olive, Illinois – the following report of the rededication at Mount Olive Miners Cemetery has been sent to the Cork Mother Jones Committee by Terry Reed , Field Services Director, of the Illinois Federation of Teachers www.ift-aft-org.

In the Union Miner’s cemetery lies the grave of Mary Harris “Mother” Jones. At the foot of a marble monument adorned with bronze statues of two miners and plaques commemorating fallen miners the simple head stone reads “Mother Jones”. On this Saturday in June hundreds of good union men and women gathered together with community folk around the gravesite and monument. They listened to the songs of working men and women sung by Bucky Halker and Chris Vallilo. They listened to speeches from local officials and committee members, Michael Carrigan, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO and other union officials, an Illinois State Senator, an Illinois Congressman and a USA Senator from Illinois. They watched as an actress, Margaret Orner, portrayed Mother Jones and breathed the words once spoken by the daughter of County Cork, Ireland. There was the obligatory prayer by a local clergy man that silenced the crowd as they bowed their heads. The grand finale had all in attendance circling the monument and grave joining hands while singing together the verses of the union anthem “Solidarity Forever”.

The Mother Jones Monument

The Mother Jones Monument

Everyone admired the craftsmanship and work of the union hands that brought the 80 year old monument back to its original splendour. The stone and mortar restored, the bronze shiny as new and the once crumbling foundation sturdy and strong. The gate at the entrance to the cemetery proudly displaying “The Resting Place of Real Union People” on its iron face plate looking as smart as it was when first erected. The many colored shirts displaying their union membership, Ironworkers, Steel workers, Electricians, Bricklayers and Stone Masons, Auto Workers, Laborers, Teachers, Government workers, Teamsters, Operating Engineers, Mine Workers, Painters all smiling and congratulating themselves. Proud of their coming together to insure that the monument and grave site will remain for at least another 80 years to be viewed and admired.

Sign over entrance to the Union Miners Cemetery, Mt. Olive

Mother Jones Museum, Mt. Olive, Illinois

IMG_2265 IMG_2267 IMG_2253


But even more than the marble and bronze and iron that make up the monument they came this day to draw sustenance from the spirit and life of Mother Jones. As speaker after speaker so eloquently reminded them this rededication accomplishes nothing if it doesn’t inspire each and every one to draw from the words and actions of the courageous person it honors. Mary Harris “Mother” Jones spoke truth to power. She utilized her speech and pen to attack injustice and backed it up with her actions. She stood fearless before the bosses of Industry, Governors of states, and Judges in their Courtrooms. Even the President of a nation was not above her ire. She faced the guns of her would be oppressors and the jails they tried to use to stop her. And all the time she walked among the working families she championed. Organizing, educating and agitating them to action. It is Mother Jones they came to honor. It is her life lessons they hope to carry on in their battles against austerity and the attacks on the working class and their unions.IMG_2257


Press Launch for 2015 Festival

The formal launch of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School takes place at the Maldron Hotel on Thursday July 2nd at 1pm.

Last year's launch: the then Lord Mayor of Cork Catherine Clancy with Michael Lally of the Cork Mother Jones Committee.

Last year’s launch: the then Lord Mayor of Cork Catherine Clancy with Michael Lally of the Cork Mother Jones Committee.

All are welcome to come along as the fantastic programme of events for 29th July to 1st August 2015 is announced.

Richard T. Cooke with the Cork Shawlies at last year's festival laun

Richard T. Cooke with the Cork Shawlies at last year’s festival launch

The full programme of events can be downloaded as by clicking Spirit of Mother Jones programme 2015 or on the link in the menu bar and side bar of this site.

We are delighted to announce the Irish pre miere of Can’t Scare Me…The Story of Mother Jones written and performed by Kaiulani Lee. This will take place at the Firkin Crane on Friday night 31st July at 8.30pm. Tickets from tickets.ie or 086 1651356. All other events are free and open to all.


Tony Benn – an appreciation


By Chris Mullin

During his long political career Tony Benn went through many incarnations: pillar of the Labour establishment, Cabinet minister, tabloid bogeyman, and serial dissident…national treasure.  Former Labour minister and fellow diarist, Chris Mullin, for 35 years one of one of Benn’s closest friends,offers a sympathetic but not uncritical assessment of one of the most significant politicians of the post-war era.

Tony Benn (1925-2014)

Tony Benn (1925-2014)

Tony Benn was a British MP for 47 years. He died on 14th March 2014 at the age of 88. Benn led an eventful life, he enlisted in the Royal Air force during the Second World War. He had to renounce his hereditary peerage in 1963, in order to take a seat in the House of Commons, which created huge sympathy for him as he had been denied a seat in spite of coming first in an election.

He opposed entry to the Common Market, served as Chairman of the Labour Party as well as in several cabinet posts and stood a few times for the leadership of the Labour Party. Tony Benn was a colourful politician, always in the thick of the action and controversy, very much as a leftwinger in the Labour Party and he loved to debate. As President of the “Stop the War Coalition” against the invasion of Iraq he spoke at what was probably the largest march/demonstration ever to take place in Britain in 2003.

Tony Benn has left behind a huge library of published diaries of his activities, books and texts of speeches.

Chris Mullin will speak about his friend and colleague on Saturday morning 1st August at the Maldron Hotel, Cork at 10.30am