Greed is Good for Nothing

Justine McCarthy will address the above topic at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school on Monday August 1st August 2016.

Justine McCarthy

Justine McCarthy

Justine is from Bandon, Co Cork and was educated at the Ursuline convent in Blackrock.   Her father and grand-father were councillors and her immersion in a political family has stood to her as a commentator on contemporary politics and Irish life.


Justine McCarthy was chief features writer and columnist with the Irish Independent from 1984. She is now a columnist and reporter with The Sunday Times.

Ms McCarthy worked with Aspect and Village magazine and her articles have appeared in newspapers such as the Guardian, Observer and Washington Post.

Deep Deception (book cover)

Deep Deception (book cover)

She is the author of Mary McAleese: The Outsider and Deep Deception: Ireland’s Swimming Scandals.Justine has won more than a dozen journalism awards, including the Journalists’ Journalists features writer award. Kevin Myers once described one of her columns as “the very quintessence of the feminist narrative” which, she was surprised to read on Wikipedia, was intended as criticism.  She considered it a compliment!


She is a regular broadcaster and appears frequently on Tonight with Vincent Browne where her forthright comments usually ensure respectful silence from Mr Browne. Ms McCarthy is an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Limerick.

Justine McCarthy's biography of Mary McAleese

Justine McCarthy’s biography of Mary McAleese


Her commitment to the truth in her writing along with her absolute determination to expose cant, hypocrisy and injustice in the Irish political system stand out. She is a strong and committed defender of those seeking justice in Ireland and her opinions on issues which matter are expressed cogently and fearlessly.


Justine McCarthy will speak to the topic “Greed is Good for Nothing” at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school on Monday evening 1st August at 7.30 pm at the Maldron Hotel.


Frederick Douglass……..campaigner against slavery… his Cork visit!

Laurence Fenton will present Frederick Douglass in Cork…the Black O’Connell during the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school. He will speak at the Maldron Hotel on Friday morning 29th July at 11.30 am.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Bailey, known to the world as Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland in February 1818, and spent his entire life seeking the abolition of slavery. In 1845 he published the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave”, which was widely read.

While on a tour of Ireland and Britain, he arrived in Cork on Friday 10th October 1845 under the auspices of the Cork Anti-Slavery Society (founded in 1826) and stayed at the home of businessman and philanthropist Thomas Jennings on Brown Street. (The Paul Street car park now stands on the site of the Jennings house).

Douglass was helped in Cork by Isabel Jennings, daughter of Thomas and co-secretary of the Cork Ladies Anti-Slavery Society, while the then Lord Mayor Richard Dowden supported and accompanied Frederick to every meeting. He also met the well known temperance campaigner Fr Mathew during his visit.

During his three week visit Douglass gave a series of a dozen lectures on various topics in locations throughout Cork City to packed audiences. A very forceful and charismatic orator, he gave a two hour graphic account at Cork Court House on the injustice of slavery on Tuesday 14th October. He was particularly critical of the failure of some sections of religion in America to oppose slavery.Douglass later spoke at the Wesleyan Church in Patrick’s Street on Friday 17th October. His lecture on 23rd October in the Imperial Hotel is commemorated by a plaque within the hotel erected in August 2012.


Frederick Douglass in Ireland (Book)

His final speech at the Independent Chapel on 3rd November was also well received. During his travels in Ireland the poverty and penury afflicting the great majority of people made an impression on him and even as the first reports of potato crop failures circulated in the media, Douglass’s writings began to reflect his fight against slavery as being part of a larger global battle against social injustice. He spoke many times in support of women’s rights and suffrage over the years.

Frederick Douglass died on 20th February 1895 and is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, in Rochester, New York.

Laurence Fenton is the author of Frederick Douglass in Ireland ‘The Black O’Connell’ published in 2014 by Collins Press.Laurence will discuss the impact of the Douglass visit to Cork on Friday morning 29th July at the Maldron Hotel as part of the Mother Jones summer school programme.

Dr. Sean Pettit to speak at Mother Jones Summer School 2016

The distinguished historian Dr Sean Pettit to speak at 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Summer School.


The 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones summer school is privileged to announce that Dr Sean Pettit will speak about Cork in the 1800s on Friday afternoon 29th July at this year’s event.

Dr Sean Pettit (left)

Dr. Sean Pettit (left) with Richard T. Cooke of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival committee

Ever wonder what the 1840s Cork city and the Shandon of Mary Harris looked like, felt like, and sounded like?

Sean has enabled generations of Corkonians and visitors alike to move back in time to the city streets of past years, to experience the people who lived in the fine houses ordark alleyways of the city and to immerse themselves in the city of yesteryear.

Originally a secondary school teacher, Dr Pettit later lectured at UCC for over 30 years, where thousands of students absorbed the history and stories of the Rebel City from the oft timescaptivating accounts and hisengaging performances. One did not need to keep notes at his lectures, his enthrallingdescriptions of places and people great and smallaroused our curiosity and we later walked in the footsteps of Sean to explore and experience those streets for ourselves.

Following a series of weekly talks on “Corkabout” entitled “Cork in the Nineteenth Century” and a series of six lectures for the Adult Education Department of UCC, Sean wrote his outstanding work, “This City of Cork 1700 – 1900”. Published by Studio Publications in 1977 and dedicated to his wife Aruba Coghlan, it represents a standard reference work on the history and people of Cork in that period. Long out of print, a reprint is overdue to bring its contents and love of Cork city to a wider audience.

This City of Cork!

The opening chapter of this book… “A Thousand Years of Living ByThe Lee” begins…………

“A city is there to be appreciated and to be experienced. The best way to do so is to go out and about on the streets to see with one’sown eyes the shape, the colour and the texture of its houses, churches, public buildings, bridges, shops, railway stations, quays and places of industry”

Dr Pettit at Cork City Hall

Dr. Sean Pettit and his wife Aruba Coughlan with Lord Mayor Chris O’Leary at  Cork City Hall

A young Mary Harris was born also on those streets in 1837, walked and played on those streets in the 1840s and probably witnessed the events, death and hunger which formulated the wellsprings of childhood experience from which emerged her later passion and commitment of her many campaigns against labour injustice in America.

Sean has also published “The Streets of Cork”, “Cork City Tourist Trail”, “My City by the Lee” and several other books. He has won numerous awards and has conducted walking tours of the City for many thousands.

Dr Pettit will speak on Friday afternoon 29th July at 2.30 at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school.

Durham Miner’s Gala 2016

The Durham Gala and Big Meeting 2016.

Saturday 9th July.

Durham Miners Gala

Durham Miners Gala

The 132nd Durham Miners’ Gala takes place on Saturday 9th July 2016. It embraces a huge flowing march of village pit groups with miner and community banners and colliery bands, which winds its way through the ancient streets of Durham, past the County Hotel to the Racecourse for the Big Meeting. This colourful and friendly event is surely a reflection of the pride in the triumphs and tragedies of the past, a sounding board for the present spirit of the working class communities and provides inspiration for the idealism of a just and fair society in the future.

The 2016 Gala begins about 8am and continues for 4/5 hours, followed by the Big Meeting where the assembled crowds will listen to various speakers including this year, the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

One of the very many colourful union banners to be seen at the Durham gala

One of the very many colourful union banners to be seen at the Durham gala

The blessing of banners takes place also at Durham Cathedral in mid-afternoon, while there are numerous meetings, lectures, music and discussions in the days preceding the Gala itself. A visit to the Miners’ Hall and Parliament at Red Hill in the city gives one a deep appreciation of the struggles and solidarity of mining communities over many decades.

The first Gala took place in 1871, among the Irish speakers have been Michael Davitt in 1893, Jim Larkin in 1914 and John Hume in 1995, when he joined Arthur Scargill, John Prescott and Dennis Skinner on the platform. Davitt spoke of his support for the eight-hour working day, while a fiery Larkin just before the Great War berated the union leaders of the time and in a prescient phrase of a darker echo of history described “how one section after another can be beaten, not by the employers, but by the enemy within your own camp” to describe disunity within trade union organisations.

General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, Dave Hopper attended the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school in 2015 where he presented the 2015 Mother Jones lecture and later gave an eye witness vivid account of the battle for Orgreave. President of Durham Miners’ Association, Alan Cummins also attended the Cork Mother Jones events in 2015.

For further information on the 2016 Gala visit

Read The Big Meeting – A History of the Durham Miners’ Gala by David Temple.