The 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and summer school was again a highly successful and uplifting event. Four days and nights of talks, debates, films, singing, poetry and music concluded at the Maldron Hotel on the Saturday night 1st August with a rousing and spectacular musical tribute to labour leader Joe Hill, who was executed one hundred years ago.
Earlier actress Kaiulani Lee had brought Mother Jones to the streets of her childhood when she performed her play Can’t Scare Me…The Story of Mother Jones at the Firkin Crane before an appreciative and amazed audience. It was a triumph for Kaiulani, a tribute to the professionalism of everyone at the Firkin Crane and the fulfilment of a long cherished dream of the Cork Mother Jones Committee to have Ms Lee come to Cork to perform. We acknowledge the support of Ms Becky Bartovics in bringing this about. We thank Ms Lee on an amazing performance and for her insightful contributions to several other elements of the festival.
According to Jim Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee
“We were delighted with the 2015 festival, the lectures and debates were outstanding with capacity attendances, morning, afternoon and evening. It was a real privilege to present Fr Peter McVerry with the 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones award, no one deserves it more for his brave determination to question the causes of homelessness and do something about it”
It was memorable to hear Chris Mullin give a very personal, frank and objective account of his role in the campaign to free the Birmingham Six and later describe in amusing detail his affection for the late Tony Benn as well as his forthright views on the election of a new British Labour Party leader. Dave Hopper and the Durham Miners’ Association contributed so much to the ground breaking Mother Jones lecture and later their description of the injustice of what took place at Orgreave”
Historians and writers such as Luke Dineen, Ann Matthews, Leo Keohane, Scott Millar, Theo Dorgan and John Jefferies presented papers on the political and historical flux and lesser known personalities of the first decades of the 1900s, which had 1916 Rising at its core. The extraordinary life of Cork woman Ethel Boole was critically examined by author Alannah Hopkin while Margaret O’Keeffe presented a very wise and thoughtful paper on a current topic of water and democracy.
Music, singing, poetry, a garden party and everything in between was as usual an integral element of the event and under the direction of William Hammond and Richard T Cooke, the very best of Cork talent was well represented throughout. Johnny Nyhan organised the emotional tribute to Joe Hill. Films were also central to the festival and Frameworks Films ensured a professional presentation.The staff and management of the Maldron Hotel kept the show working at all times in spite of the crowds. The local Shandon community provided magnificent logistics support, a colourful backdrop and a wonderful historic setting to the 2015 Festival which again showed to all what an organised community in the very heart of Cork City can achieve.
Jim Nolan continued
“So many people contributed to the success of the festival, especially those in the trade union movement across Ireland, north and south. This support combined with that of the City Council, the local community, the media and the huge international support of the Mother Jones groupsand individuals in Britain and America, the festival provides a fitting and appropriate celebration of a famous and uniquely Cork rebel…….Mary Harris……known to the world as Mother Jones. Long may it continue”
The dates for the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School will be announced shortly, all will be welcome to come along and experience the unique atmosphere which it generates.