We have learned with great sadness of the sudden death of Micheál Manus O’ Riordan on 27th September 2021.
Manus’s emotional tribute to his father, Michael “Remembering Michael O’Riordan: A Neighbour’s Child” at the 2017 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, moved deeply all those who attended.
His talk was followed by a celebration of his father’s participation in the Spanish Civil War held outside the old family home on Pope’s Quay in Cork City. He was accompanied by his sister Brenda on what was the one-hundredth anniversary of Michael’s birth.
Manus also attended the 2019 festival with his partner Nancy Wallach and contributed valuable insights to the lecture on Elizabeth Gurley Flynn by Lorraine Starsky.
Micheál Manus O’Riordan commenced work in Liberty Hall for the Irish Transport and General Workers Union on 22nd March 1971. Manus carried out post-graduate work at the University of New Hampshire, USA, where he took a master degree in the economics of collective bargaining and industrial relations. On his retirement from SIPTU on 28th May 2010 as Head of Research, he stated, “For 39 years it has been my great privilege and honour to serve the One Big Union of Larkin and Connolly, No pasarán! Ni saoirse go saoirse lucht oibre!”.
Manus wrote widely on labour topics for books, magazines and journals, including Liberty and was an excellent speaker. While he specialised in labour and working-class history, he conducted extensive research on the Spanish Civil war as Ireland Secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust.
He never forgot the activists of the Left, such as those of the International Brigades who fought Fascism in Spain.
In a recent article on Muriel MacSwiney in the Ballingeary & Inchigeela Historical Society Journal 2016, Manus referred to a 1962 exchange of correspondence he had with Muriel MacSwiney as a twelve-year-old boy.
A beautiful singer of traditional songs, his rendering of “The Red Flag” and West Cork’s own, “The Bould Tenant Farmer”, were a joy to hear at the festival gatherings. On behalf of the Cork Mother Jones Committee, we wish to express our sincere sympathy to all his family. We remember his generous assistance, cooperation and absolute delight at participating actively at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festivals.