2013 Opening video and news of 2014 Festival

Here’s a video of the official opening of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2013 which was performed by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Catherine Clancy on Tuesday, 30th July at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon, Cork.   Our thanks to Catherine Courtney for the video.  Music performed by Richard T. Cooke.

Meanwhile news of next year’s festival:-


The Cork Mother Jones Committee is delighted to announce that the dates for the 2014 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival are from Tuesday 29th July until Friday 1st August 2014 in Shandon, Cork.
A full programme of lectures, talks, plays, music and other events associated with the Spirit of Mother Jones will be held in and around the Shandon area in that period. If anyone would like to submit ideas for discussion by the committee, please do so through the email address and we will consider all suggestions.
We would like to thank all our friends who visited the area during the recent 2013 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival or attended any of the events. We wish to thank Professor Simon Cordery who delivered the 2013 Mother Jones Lecture and his family Stacy and Gareth. Also Margaret Aspinall and Sue Roberts who travelled from Liverpool and who collected the Spirit of Mother Jones Award for 2013.
We are indeed grateful to all the other speakers from all over Ireland, and to all the musicians, bands, singers and those such as Framework Films, Wildacre productions and Rosemary Feurer who supplied films.
Our thanks go to the Managements and staff of the Firkin Crane Theatre and the Maldron Hotel for their cooperation and assistance throughout the festival. We want to acknowledge the kind financial support of the festival by the 1913 SIPTU, ICTU Commemoration Committee and the Gathering.
Finally to the people of Shandon and the Shandon Street Festival for their kindness and support and to the many hundreds of people who attended the events.

Prof. Elliot Gorn to deliver Ernie O’Malley lecture

Professor Elliot Gorn, author of Mother Jones, the Most Dangerous Woman in America, who was a guest at the inaugural Cork Mother Jones Festival in 2012 is to deliver this year’s Ernie O’Malley Lecture at Glucksman Ireland House, New York University on Thursday, 17th October at 7.00pm.  Prof. Gorn will be introduced by Professor Joe Lee.

Elliot J. Gorn

Prof. Elliott J. Gorn

Prof. Gorn will discuss the life of the labour leader Mary Harris, better known as Mother Jones, “the most dangerous woman in America” and the “grandmother of all agitators”, focussing on her Irish origins and influences, as well as how she has been remembered in Cork and the United States.  This is the fifteenth annual Ernie O’Malley Lecture in Irish American History.  The Ernie O’Malley Lecture series is endowed by Cormac K.H. O’Malley in honor of his father, Irish independence fighter and author.

Elliott Gorn is Professor of American Civilisation and History at Brown University. He specializes in the social and cultural history of the United States in the 19th and 20th century and has written numerous books on related subjects.

Joe Lee held the position of Chair of Modern Irish History at University College Cork (NUI Cork) for many years until 2002.  He is currently Professor of History and Glucksman Professor of Irish Studies and Director of Glucksman Ireland House at New York University.  He is also a former member of Seanad Éireann, the Irish Senate.

There will be free admission to the lecture for members of Glucksman Ireland House and to all students / faculty with a valid NYU I.D. Card.  For non-members $10 donation at the door for general event series.   In order to ensure a seat at events please RSVP to (New York Uni) +212-998-3950 (option 3) or email ireland.house@nyu.edu


Greetings from American women miners

American Women Miners Celebrate New Name—“Daughters of Mother Jones”

by Marat Moore (US)

Women miners reunion at Jonesborough, Tennessee

Women miners reunion at Jonesborough, Tennessee

Mother Jones had a very busy week on both sides of the Atlantic! Buoyed by your festival in Cork, her spirit sprinted over to aptly-named Jonesborough, Tennessee, to a reunion of 60 women miners and supporters on Aug. 2-4.

Women miners traveled from across the United States, England and Canada to east Tennessee for their  first gathering in 14 years—and celebrated their rebirth as the “Daughters of Mother Jones.” The women miners, mostly retired, renewed strong bonds and the commitment to organize in the labor movement in the tradition of Mother Jones. They held a special memorial to women miners who have died, including nine killed on the job.

The group held broad discussions of organizing more broadly and the need to preserve their history in the USA, held in the large archive of the Coal Employment Project at East Tennessee State University. Women miners were active for 20 years in CEP, their national support, education, and advocacy group as well as being very active members of the United Mine Workers of America. CEP held national conferences for 20 years from which drew hundreds of activists, union officials and union brothers along with women coal miners. This year is the first time women miners have reunited since CEP closed its doors in 1999.  They brought memorabilia of their mining years—suitcases full of political t-shirts, photographs, audiotapes, media clips and personal archives.

Jody Hogge, a local UMWA president from Illinois, dressed as Mother Jones and gave a fiery update on the union’s fight against coal giants Peabody and Arch Coal to preserve retiree health benefits and pensions for 23,000 families l, which sold off their “legacy obligations” to a company that is in bankruptcy.

Many coal areas and states were represented: Alberta, Canada; and Arizona’s Navajo Nation, Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio, and Tennessee, , along with participants from Georgia and North Carolina. Special guests included CEP friends Anne Scargill and Betty Cook from the Women Against Pit Closures in Barnesley, England, which has fought for justice alongside the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) since the mid-1980s. Other special guests included nine members of the family of Patsy Fraley, a woman miner from eastern Kentucky who traveled from three states to honor her memory.

On Saturday night musician and social activist Sue Massek performed a new play by Si Kahn, “Precious Memories” based on the life and music of Sarah Ogan Gunning, a miner’s wife in eastern Kentucky in the 1930s. Gunning wrote songs about union organizing and miner’s struggles that were deeply admired by folksinger and fellow activist Woodie Guthrie. Women sang along and clapped to the familiar songs.

The “Daughters of Mother Jones” originally grew from the women miners’ movement, when two CEP members worked to organize miners’ wives and families in the UMWA Pittston strike in 1988-89. Women staged the first nonviolent act of civil disobedience of the strike, occupying the corporate headquarters, and the CEP members suggested the name, which the women adopted.

Now the tradition has expanded to encompass the still-active and amazing group of women coal miners, and next year we have been invited to the Durham Gala to mark the 30-year anniversary of the national strike in England in mid-July. We hope to travel from Durham to your next festival in 2014 and help build the spirit of Mother Jones!

James Connolly song book

A songbook, edited by James Connolly in 1907, is to be republished for the first time in over a century and will be launched separately in a number of locations. The Cork launch will take place on Wednesday, 2nd October 2013 at Cork City Library with a concert from 9.00pm at the Pavilion, Carey’s Lane (off Patrick Street). Full details on the advert below.

Cork Concert Adv0002 (1)

Festival opens to acclaim

There was a sizeable turnout on Tuesday night (30 July) for the opening session of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2013.  After the opening of the Mother Jones exhibition at the Maldron  Hotel by Cork’s Lord Mayor Catherine Clancy, the attendance moved to the Firkin Crane theatre up the street for the main session.

Margaret Aspinall and Sue Rogers

Margaret Aspinall (centre) and Sue Rogers enjoying performance by members of the Cork Singers Club at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2013 (Photo: John Jefferies)

Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group gave a passionate speech to the crowd which included both veteran Liverpool supporters and people from all walks of life.  She told the gathering about how officialdom had conspired against the families of the 96 victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and outlined long struggle of the families for the truth, a campaign which continues to this day.  Accompanied by another Hillsborough relative, Sue Rogers, Margaret impressed the audience with her honesty and no-nonsense manner.   The Spirit of Mother Jones Award 2013 was presented to Margaret and the session ended with a rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone sung by Jim Williamson.