Mother Jones Festival starts today

Mother Jones comes home to Cork

The Cork Mother Jones Festival opens in the Shandon area of the city today (Tuesday), marking the 175th anniversary of the birth of Mary Harris who was better known in her adopted home of America as Mother Jones.  The festival will kick off at 7.00pm this evening at the Maldron Hotel, John Redmond Street, with a showing of the Irish premiere of the documentary film Mother Jones, America’s Most Dangerous Woman.  In attendance to present and discuss the film will be Rosemary Feurer, producer and director.   This will be followed, at 9.30pm by an evening of music and songs at the Maldron Hotel to celebrate Mother Jones, with the Cork Singers Club.

Mother Jones was an uncompromising fighter against the appalling conditions in which workers and particularly mine and mill workers toiled.  She played a major role in highlighting the use of child labour in American mines and factories and often clashed with America’s wealthiest industrialists including John D. Rockefeller.  She continued her activity into her 80s and 90s, until her death, aged 93 in 1930.

The Mother Jones Festival 2012 is the very first commemoration of Cork woman, Mary Harris outside of America and the first in Cork. The highlight of the event will be the unveiling of a memorial plaque to Mother Jones in John Redmond Street on Wednesday evening.

All events will take place on the north side of Cork City, in the historic Shandon area, in association with Shandon Street Festival. The locations of events such as the North Cathedral (“North Chapel”), St. Anne’s Church (“Shandon Bells”), the Firkin Crane, and the Maldron Hotel ( formerly the North Infirmary) are all a few minutes walk from each other and about 5 minutes walk from the Christy Ring Bridge over the River Lee.

The Festival’s organisers, the Cork Mother Jones Commemorative Committee, have said that there has been huge interest in the event, particularly from the United States where Mother Jones is a national icon for trade unionists and working people.

The full programme of events can be downloaded in PDF format here

Ken Loach expresses delight at Cork Mother Jones plans

Ken Loach at Cannes in 2006

Ken Loach at Cannes in 2006

In a message to the organisers of the Cork Mother Jones Festival, film director Ken Loach expressed his “delight” that the committee are “planning to celebrate Mother Jones , – what a formidable woman”.

Loach, who won the coveted Palm D’or award at Cannes in 2006 for his film West The Wind that Shakes the Barley,which was set in West Cork during the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, wrote to our committee recently and praised its plans to remember Mother Jones.

He went on to say “So remembering our heroes, and heroines, is very important. I’m sure there are contemporary battles that can be connected to the ones Mother Jones fought”.
He concluded by stating that the festival was “a brilliant idea”.


Just a few days before the Cork Mother Jones Festival starts (Tuesday 31st July) and we’d like to take some time out to acknowledge some of the individuals and organisations who have assisted the committee over the past weeks and months.   We would like to offer our sincere thanks to the following and we are sure you will all be impressed with the festival and that it has been worth all the effort:

  • Aubane Historical Society
  • Cathedral Credit Union
  • Communications Workers Union,
  • Cork Archives Institute
  • Cork City Council
  • Cork Council of Trade Unions
  • Rosemary Feurer
  • Firkin Crane Centre
  • Peter Foynes
  • Framework Films
  • Franciscan Well Brewery
  • Professor Elliot Gorn
  • William Hammond
  • Heineken Ireland
  • Illinois Labor History Society
  • Irish Congress of Trade Unions
  • Andy Irvine
  • Si Kahn
  • Arthur Leahy
  • Kaiulani Lee
  • Ken Loach
  • Maldron Hotel Cork
  • Marat Moore
  • National Sculpture Factory
  • North Cathedral
  • Chris Rowland
  • Shandon Area Renewal Association
  • Shandon Historical Society
  • Shandon Street Festival
  • SIPTU trade union
  • St. Anne’s Shandon
  • John Swift
  • The People of Cork
  • UNITE, the Union
  • Mike Wilkins, Sculptor

Thank  you one and all, from the Cork Mother Jones Commemorative Committee.

Andy Irvine tickets in big demand

Andy Irvine – a unique performance at Shandon

There is considerable interest in the unique Andy Irvine concert which will take place as part of the Cork Mother Jones Festival on Wednesday, 1st August in Cork’s historic Shandon Church, starting at 8.30pm.
This is the first time Shandon has hosted an event of its type and Andy Irvine is proving to be a very popular choice with heavy demand for tickets.   If you want to see Andy perform in Shandon you will need to act fast.  Tickets are still available on at this link and a small number are also available at the Maldron Hotel, John Redmond Street.  Price  is just €10.  The Mother Jones committee also have some tickets, for details ring Ger on (086) 3196063.

The concert will begin at 8.30pm, immediately after the unveiling of the Mother Jones commemorative plaque at John Redmond Street.  We would ask all those attending to ensure they take their seats as soon as possible once the unveiling ceremony is complete.
A reminder also that on the same evening there will be a live session in the Maldron Hotel with a selection of local musicians and other performers.  There will be no admittance fee to the Maldron event which will begin at 9.30pm.

Previously unrecorded song about Mother Jones surfaces in the US

A previously unrecorded song about Mother Jones, written in 1902, has surfaced in the United States where it was written to welcome Mother Jones to a gathering of miners in Iowa.

On the Appalachian activists listserv, Marat Moore heard about a new CD on the Battle of Blair Mountain. It won’t be released until August 1, next coincidentally Mother Jones Day in Cork and on it is this previously unrecorded song from 1902 called “Welcome, Mother Jones” sung to Mother Jones when she went to see coal miners in Iowa. Marat, a former US miner, writer and founding member of the Daughters of Mother Jones will be participating in our festival in Cork on August 1st.

Welcome Mother Jones

Submitted to the United Mine Workers Journal, printed October 16th, 1902.
Note from Journal: “The following verses, composed by the local bard Jenkin D. Reese were sung by him and family Monday evening at the meeting in the courtroom.” (Mahaska, Iowa).

All Hail, Mother Jones, to Mahaska,
The Garden of Eden in soil;
That has been the gem of all Iowa
In production of coal and of toil.
The smiling of faces that greets you,
Our heroine of labor and right,
God bless your dear soul, is our feeling
For visiting ‘Aska tonight.

The themes of your speeches are grander,
And richer than silver and gold;
The life of the mansions eternal,
Where wisdom and love will unfold.
Steer forward! March on with thy mission;
Through strife and injunction be brave,
And follow the steps of the leader,
The starving and toilers to save!

The world of today is advancing,
But Nero is yet on the throne;
And Croesus with iron rod ruling,
The devil will soon take his own.
The light of millennium is dawning,
The ages unborn will be blest;
Mother Jones will be ever remembered
When her soul joins the heavenly rest.

Our performers – Hank Wedel

Hank Wedel has been part of the music scene around Cork City and County for over 20 years with his eclectic mix of folk, country, jazz and rock and other music styles.

Hank Wedel

Singer-songwriter Hank Wedel was born in the USA in the 1960s,
grew up in New York City and Mallow, Co. Cork in the ‘70s, he lived for awhile in NYC in the ’80s and ’90s but is based in Cork City

Hank is well known for his involvement in the live music scene in that city, working with bands such as “Princes Street” and “Open Kitchen”, as well as a long-standing Monday night residency at Charlies Bar on Union Quay with mandolinst Ray Barron.

Hank has also performed with Irish music legends Kila, Shane McGowan and Bono.

Irish folk-singer legend Christy Moore recorded Hank’s song “Listen” and made it the title track of his best-selling 2009 album on the Sony records label.

Hank will be one of the headline performers at a night of music, song and dance at the Maldron Hotel as part of the Mother Jones Festival on Wednesday 1st August.


We have been asked by a number of groups and individuals outside of Ireland how they can make donations to the Cork Mother Jones Commemorative Comittee.  Donations in the Republic of Ireland can be made through our bank account at Ulster Bank, Blackpool, Cork, Ireland, account number 10793602, Sort Code 98-54-81. Those wishing to donate from outside the Republic of Ireland can do so  by direct bank transfer to (IBAN) IE85ULSB, Account Number 985481 10832608 or Bank Identifier Code (BIC) – BIC ULSBIE2D.

All donations will be receipted and we are most grateful for them.  Without such donations and the assistance of a number of organisations it would not be possible to run the festival.

Countdown begins to Mother Jones Festival

The countdown begins for the Cork Mother Jones Festival which takes place from Tuesday, 31st July to Thursday, 2nd August.

There has been huge interest in the festival from right around the Ireland but especially in Mary Harris Jones native city of Cork, Ireland and in her adopted home in the United States of America.    We still have some tickets left for the Andy Irvine concert in Shandon on the Wednesday night (1st August) and for the bus tour to Cobh on Thursday 2nd August (see related posts below for more details).  And of course there has been great interest in the commemorative medallion that we have produced which is for sale at €10 and will undoubtedly become a collectors item in years to come.

Our guest contributors – Kaiulani Lee

Kaiulani Lee

Kaiulani Lee

Kaiulani Lee is an author and actor with more than 35 years of experience in theatre, film and television, mostly in the United States.   She has appeared in numerous films, television dramas and theatrical work, including her acclaimed stage performance in the role of Mother Jones in Can’t Scare Me, the Story of Mother Jones.  Another award-winning play is A Sense of Wonder.

Kaiulani Lee has been nominated for the Drama Desk Award on Broadway and has won the OBIE Award for outstanding achievement off-Broadway.

Ms. Lee has guest starred on numerous television series from The Waltons to Law & Order.  Her film work began with The World According to Garp and has continued through Civil Action, Stephanie Daley and A Bird in the Air.   She portrayed “Martha Ballard” in the critically-acclaimed PBS film A Midwife’s Tale.

She taught in the film department at New York University’s Kanbar Institute of Film and Television and for the past thirteen years has taught acting at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. Ms. Lee is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Bowdoin College for her contribution to and excellence in the arts.

Kaiulani as Mother Jones

Kaiulani Lee as Mother Jones (Photo Todd Messegee via DC Theatre Scene)

In Cork, Kaiulani will reprise her role as Mother Jones in excerpts from her stage show Can’t Scare me, the Story of Mother Jones.    According to critic Terry Ponick of the DC Theatre Scene, “(Kaiulani) Lee speaks in Mother Jones’ native Irish dialect throughout and carries it on spectacularly well without breaking stride as some thespians occasionally do. She’s also at home with the character she embodies, behaving gently and solicitously when her labor union charges need grandmotherly advice, but then erupting into a full-blown radical rabble-rouser when she climbs the barricades. It’s an awesome performance, a phenomenal realization of a bigger-than-life historical character, impressive whether you’re on the side of labor unions or not.

Her performance in Cork will add a sense of living history to the story of Mother Jones and we are sure that she will impress her audience and bring Mother Jones to life in our midsts during the Cork Mother Jones festival.

Some of our musical performances

Below is a list of some of the musical treats that can be enjoyed during the Cork Mother Jones Festival on July 31st and August 1st.

Venue and Performers:-


(1) The Maldron Hotel, John Redmond St

Tuesday 31st July at 9.30pm, admission free.
The Cork Singers Club and Jim Williamson.
Featuring union song covers from Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger
and some Mother Jones songs from Si Khan’s new musical.
Jim Williamson will sing some of the songs from this new
exciting musical, the first time they will be played in public
in the world.

(2) The Firkin Crane, Shandon

Wednesday 1st August at 1pm admission free
Mother Jones concert with Richard T Cooke, the
Cork Memory Lane Group, the Active Pulse Drama
Group, James McCarthy play the songs and stories
associated with Mother Jones. Richard himself will
perform a tribute to Mother Jones for the first time.
(3) Outside St.Anne’s Church, Shandon.
Wednesday 1st August at 6.45.
The Butter Exchange Band recital. Free open air
The famous Butter Exchange Band will play the
songs associated with Mother Jones, such as Union Maid
(Woody Guthrie), She’ll be coming round the Mountain when she comes”
“The death of Mother Jones” Gene Autry and stirring union and
mining songs.   .

(3) St.Anne’s Church, Shandon, (The Bells Of Shandon).

Wednesday 1st August at 8.30 pm, Ticket only.
Tickets 10 euro from or 086 3196063.

Featuring Andy Irvine.

This legend of Irish folk music intends to pay
his own tribute to Mother Jones. His album Abocurragh
features his famous track,”The Spirit of Mother Jones”
This will be a unique once off musical event at the
home of Mother Jones, not to be missed.

(4) Maldron Hotel, John Redmond St.

Wednesday, 1st August at 9.30pm. admission free.
Mother Jones Celebration Concert featuring
Hank Wedel, Two Time Polka and a host of musicians,
singers and dancers.
We would like to acknowledge the support
of all the musicians for this unique celebration in honour
of a famous Cork woman, who was born on this day 175 years ago
but who was written out of Cork’s history until this festival.
We are also grateful for the organising skills
of William Hammond of the Cork Folk Festival.