Irish Ambassador visits Mother Jones Monument to learn of Cork born Mother Jones
The Irish Ambassador to the United States, Daniel Mulhall has paid a historic visit to the final resting place of Cork born Mother Jones (born Mary Harris in Cork, Ireland in 1837)
Daniel Mulhall, Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States, met with Rosemary Feurer, Northern Illinois University Professor and Director of the Mother Jones Heritage Project on May 4, 2018, at the historic Mother Jones Monument/Union Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive, Illinois. His mission was to learn more about the history of this renowned figure and the special place where she is buried.
Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, 1837-1930, was born in Cork, Ireland and was once known as the “most dangerous woman in America” as she fought for labor rights.
The meeting was arranged by Ireland’s Consul General to the Midwest, Brian O’Brien, who was present at the Heritage Project’s dedication of a historical marker to Jones in December 2017, southbound I-55 Coalfield Rest area adjacent to historic Route 66. Ambassador Mulhall was in St. Louis, Missouri last week, when a break in his schedule allowed for a trip to this the monument, which is about an hour’s drive from St. Louis.
Ambassador Mulhall was impressed with the personal story of Mary Harris Jones, of her role in United States history. He remarked that he had been unfamiliar with her before, but found her a truly memorable. “It’s hard for us to contemplate the suffering” Mary Harris Jones endured as she experienced the Great Hunger, then further hardships as immigrants in the United States. It’s important to note that she did not give up, he suggested, and seemed to have an “indefatigable spirit.”
Ed Becker, President of Union Miners Cemetery board gifted Mulhall with the Miners’ Angel CD he produced of Mother Jones songs. Mulhall was truly enthused by the CD, recognizing some of the artists such as Andy Irvine, who performed at the 2012 inaugural Cork Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.
Also present at the meeting was Judy Simpson, board member of the Mother Jones Heritage Project, and Kate Klimut, project volunteer. Mike Katchmar, treasurer of the cemetery board, was also present at the meeting.
Ambassador Mulhall and Consul General O’Brien committed to helping the aims of the Heritage Project through the Embassy’s offices. He announced a grant to help fund the Project’s next historical marker on I-55 near Waggoner, Illinois. He also pledged to be present at the dedication of the marker and to promote knowledge of Mother Jones history in the United States through the United States Embassy.
Mayor Skertich arranged a visit to the small Mt. Olive Mother Jones Museum. There Mulhall took much interest in the boards currently on display that were from Cork’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.
The visit has been watched with great interest by Mother Jones enthusiasts in Ireland. James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee expressed delight at the visit of the Irish Ambassador to the USA, Mr. Daniel Mulhall to the grave of Mother Jones at the miners’ cemetery in Mount Olive, Illinois on 4th May 2018
“It just again demonstrates the growing acknowledgement by increasing numbers of people of the unique role of Cork woman Mother Jones as a trade union leader over many decades in the USA and her contribution to the rights of workers in America.
She was indeed an extraordinary woman in her day and it is really wonderful to see her life and achievements being acknowledged by the Irish Ambassador, Mr. Mulhall during his visit to her resting place at Mount Olive.”
Stated Mr. Nolan.
The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and summer school will take place in the Shandon Historic Quarter from Wednesday, August 1st to Saturday, August 4th 2018.