Cork’s Mother Jones Festival launched at packed press conference

The Cork Mother Jones Festival was formally launched yesterday at a packed press conference at Shandon’s Maldron Hotel.

Between 50 and 60 people, including reporters, photographers, columnists and members of the Cork Mother Jones committee attended the press launch where the full line-up of events and acts was announced.

Committee member Jim Fitzpatrick said that there had been a phenomenal growth in public interest in Mother Jones since the committee had been formed last year and had announced its intention of formally commemorating a Cork woman who had made her mark on the social, political and labour history of the United States of America and indeed throughout North America.

Councillor Ted Tynan, whose 2010 motion to Cork City Council calling for official recognition to be given to Mary Harris Jones, said that the Cork woman, once practically unknown in her native city, would now be a well known icon of the city and of the Shandon area in particular.

The list of events and musical performances taking place during the July 31st to August 2nd Festival is quite impressive:-

The Firkin Crane will see the opening of a photographic exhibition, which details her life at 12.15 on Wednesday 1st August. This will be followed at 1pm by a concert featuring many local artists performing songs, poetry and extracts from the writings of Mother Jones. Later at 3pm, Professor Elliott Gorn of Brown University and Marat Moore a former miner and member of the United Mineworkers of America will give a talk on the historical significance of “the most dangerous woman in America”.

The Butter Exchange Band will perform some Mother Jones classic songs such as “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes”, “Union Maid” in a recital, just after the famous Bells of Shandon ring out at 18.37.

Following the formal unveiling of the plaque by members of the Cork Mother Jones Commemoration Committee, the evening’s entertainment will continue at 8.30 with a spectacular fundraising concert at St Anne’s Church, Shandon featuring Andy Irvine  (Tickets for the Andy Irivine concert can be got from any committee member or by phoning Ger on (086) 3196063 or Jim on (086) 3033576.

The Maldron Hotel will be the venue for the final musical event of the festival with a spectacular free concert featuring Hank Wedel, Two Time polka and a host of artists beginning at 9.30.

The previous evening’s “gathering” will see the Irish premiere of the film, “Mother Jones, the most dangerous woman in America” directed by Rosemary Feurer who will attend the launch also at the Maldron Hotel, followed by an evening of songs and music featuring the Cork Singers Club.

There will also be a bus tour for the guests and other interested people including a trip to Cobh from where Mary Harris emigrated with her family during the Great Famine and to Inchigeela where Mary Harris’s mother Ellen Cotter came from.  Bus tickets are €15 euro and can also be got from Ger on (086) 3196063 or Jim on (086) 3033576 or from any committee member.

The Manager of the Maldron Hotel, where much of the weekend’s events will be centred, said that the Mother Jones Festival would be an important boost to tourism in the Shandon which is a microcosm of the city’s history.  Michael Lally, who is also a member of the committee, said that the Mother Jones Festival, the redevelopment of the area and its wealth of historical assets was making the Shandon area a magnet for tourism.

Historian Richard T. Cooke agreed while Jim Nolan of the Shandon Street Festival said that the rediscovery of Mother Jones added new colour and diversity to the history and culture of the area.

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