Above: The Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Tony Fitzgerald, Tony Fitzgerald being presented with an ornamental urn containing earth from the grave of Mother Jones at Mount Olive by Jim Goltz of the United Mine Workers of America – on the opening night of the 6th Spirit of Mother Jones Festival at the Maldron Hotel, Cork, last night. Photo via William Hammond.
1st August 2017, is Mother Jones Day in Cork and it is also the opening day of the 6th annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School in the Shandon area of the city.
Today’s events start with the official launch of this year’s festival by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Tony Fitzgerald at the Maldron Hotel.
After the opening ceremony takes place, at 2.30pm there will be a showing of “Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman” by Rosemary Feurer.
This will be followed at 3.00pm with a lecture by Julianna Minihan who will talk about the life and career of Florence Kelley entitled: “Slums, Factories and Child Labour: Florence Kelley (1859-1932)”.
At 4.00pm there will be a showing of “Mother Jones and her Children” by Cork based Frameworks Films which was shot in Cork and the United States in 2014. This will be followed by a discussion with the film-makers and others involved in the project.
At 7.30pm there will be a series of lectures (The 2017 Mother Jones Lectures) as follows:
- “Revitalising the Labour Movement – What can we learn from the Justice for Clery’s Workers’ campaign victory?” – by Ethel Buckley of SIPTU
- James Goltz of the United Mine Workers Association (USA) will formally present the proclamations from the AFL-CIO and UMWA (see news item on this site 31/8/2017) to view the proclamations
- “Challenging Injustice, Inequality and the Unethical” – Ed Byrne, President of the ASTI.
The day winds down at 9.30pm with a session of music from the Cork Singers’ Club in the main bar at the Maldron Hotel.
Tickets are still available for the Karen Underwood concert which takes place at the Maldron Hotel this Wednesday night at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, starting at 9.30 pm.
Karen was born in Chicago in the early 60s at a time when the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum. Her home was full of music and song and she absorbed many musical influences as a young girl from Nat King Cole to Church and Gospel music.
She arrived in Cork in her 30s around 1997 and settled in the city. Here she experimented with various musical genres however the music of her heroine Nina Simone was celebrated in her show “The Nina in Me” where she sings many of Nina Simone’s songs interspersed with commentary of life, her memories of America and the tragedy, joys and experiences of her life in Cork.
Karen’s version of “Mississippi Goddamn” is awesome while “Strange Fruit”, with its echoes of lynching in America resonate the growing fear in today’s Trump’s America. Her live performances are a tribute to her extraordinary versatility and her embracement of what life throws at one.
Karen has performed all over Ireland, including the National Concert Hall, the Olympia, the Gaiety and she has appeared on numerous TV and radio programmes.
Tickets for this festival fundraising show are €15 euro each (limited to 70) and are available from the Maldron Hotel, or from Nolan’s (Victuallers) 21/22 Shandon Street or phone 086 1651356. This show is highly recommended
The Cork Mother Jones Committee has received commemorative scrolls from a number of trade union groups from the United States which collectively represent many millions of American workers. The proclamations express gratituted and appreciation of Cork born Mary Harris Jones (a.k.a. “Mother Jones”) and her pioneering work on behalf of U.S. and migrant workers in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th century and also express thanks to the City of Cork and the Cork Mother Jones Committee for hosting the festival and summer school in her honour.
The proclamation from the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO), the largest federation of trade unions in the United States, and its affiliates, representing in excess of 12.5 million U.S. workers, states: “On behalf of the 12.5 million members and 55 affiliates of the AFL-CIO, we are proud to support the Cork Mother Jones Festival. America is a nation built by immigrants like Mother Jones whose Spirit lit a flame in our hearts”.
A second proclamation, from the Illinois AFL-CIO Board, “We are honored she (Mother Jones) chose Illinois as her final resting place. We give special thanks and recognition to the annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, for keeping her Irish Spirit alive in her birthplace, the Shandon area of Cork City, County Cork, Ireland. We thank you for sharing this grand individual with us. We are a grateful nation and a better one thanks to her. Blessed are all of you for keeping her spirit alive”.
The third proclamation is from the United Mineworkers of America, a union that Mother Jones had a close association with during her life. It includes a personal word from the union’s International President, Mr. Cecil E. Roberts: “I, Cecil E. Roberts, International President of the UMWA, proclaim on behalf of a grateful miners’ nation, its friends and allies, that we will never forget this remarkable Irish-born woman, who showed us how to fight against injustice with every breath, fiber and essence of her being. We give special thanks and recognition to the remarkable annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival for keeping her Irish Spirit alive in her birthplace, County Cork, Ireland, in the Shandon area of Cork City”.
It’s that time of the year again and members of the Cork Mother Jones Committee have been busy preparing for this year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School. Once again this year we are privileged to have permission to showcase the event with a fabulous window display in the main Cork City tourist office at Grand Parade.
This year’s display focuses on Mother Jones’ links to mining, especially coal-mining and a colourful display it is indeed. Our sincere thanks to Diana and the staff at the tourist office and to Fáilte Ireland, Ireland’s official tourism authority. Thanks also to our own committee members Ann Piggott and Dominic O’Callaghan for creating the dazzling display.
Fr Sean McDonagh will present a talk entitled “Climate Change – Our Response” at the Maldron Hotel on Thursday 3rd August 2017 as part of a general “environment day” at the 2017 Spirit of Mother Jones summer school.
Fr. Sean McDonagh was born in Nenagh, Co Tipperary in 1944 and was ordained a priest in the Columban order in 1969. He was sent to work in Mindanao in the Philippines where he spent four years working in Oroqueita City. Later he worked amongst the T’boli indigenous people near Lake Sebu where he witnessed at first hand the destruction of the local forests. Thus began his environmental activism which has led to a huge literary output and his travels across the world explaining that environmental destruction leads to global poverty especially amongst the poor.
He highlights the causes and effects of climate warming, the lack of access to fresh water, the destruction of our oceans. He opposes the patenting of seeds and animals and warns of the dangers of genetic engineering which concentrates power and control over food production in a few unaccountable multinationals. In 2006 he published Climate Change: The Challenge to Us All in which he discusses the consequences of Global Warming. His is a passionate and urgent call to all, including the churches to become active in ensuring solutions are found.
Fr McDonagh has written numerous articles and papers for various newspapers and magazines around the world. He is a strong advocate for Pope Francis’s recent Encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si – On Care for our Common Home”, described by many as the most revolutionary papal encyclical ever. He argues for the Church to become the catalyst for the change needed to safeguard the planet. Currently President of An Taisce: The National Trust for Ireland, Fr Sean has assisted many environmental organisations over the decades. He is a proud Tipperary person and enjoys the game of hurling.
Climate Change: As a result mainly of the combustion of fossil fuels, there is an accumulation of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxides in the atmosphere leading to the rise in average global temperatures by 0.6 C degrees in the past 100 years but scientists are predicting that the earth’s temperature could rise by between 1.4 C degrees this century. Many scientists also predict that this rise will have catastrophic results for the earth. High temperatures, heat waves, rising sea levels, violent storms, loss of food production, loss of wildlife, water shortages, the list is endless. But one thing is clear- it will have a major change on the world as we know it.
On Wednesday 19th July 2017, the Irish Government produced the National Mitigation Plan which detailed 106 ways to reduce the impact of Climate Change in Ireland. It promised a “fundamental societal transformation”. However Ireland is likely to be well short of reaching its target for a 20% reduction in emissions from the 2005 figures by the year 2020. Indeed emissions are projected by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency to increase 2015-2020 by between 10% and 20% in the transport sector and 5% in the agricultural sectors. These are the big emitters with Agriculture contributing 33% and Transport 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland.
The Paris Agreement aims to restrict global temperature rises to well below 2% above pre-industrial levels and is committed as a whole to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Ireland is currently way off the mark! Will the latest glossy green brochure of the National Mitigation Plan be just another symbol of Irish indifference to climate change? Or are we all going to ensure we do not remain bystanders to the threat facing future generations?
Fr Sean McDonagh will present his views on Thursday evening 3rd August at 7.30 at the Maldron Hotel, Cork.
Songs of the Spanish Civil War with John Nyhan, Mick Treacy and friends.
This event takes place at the Maldron Hotel on Friday night 4th August at 9.30 pm. All are welcome. Singers and songwriters are welcome to come along and take part but please contact John Nyhan beforehand.
Many people are aware of Christy Moore’s inspiring song and the words of Viva La Quinta Brigada, which he credited to the book, Connolly Column written by Michael O’Riordan, and read while Christy was on holiday in Spain. The words concentrate on the Irish members of the International Brigades who lost their lives during the war, however there is a huge rich vein of songs and poetry associated with the Spanish Civil War.
Mick Treacy and John Nyhan hope to explore this rich vein of songs, stories and poetry during the forthcoming Spirit of Mother Jones festival.
A recent note from Mick indicates their intentions
“I will be working from this list hopefully but not in this order
The Ballad of Kit Conway, Viva la Quinta Brigada, Hans Beimler, Jarama Valley, Venja Jaleo, The Peatbog Soldiers, off to Salamanca, O’Duffy’s ironsides, Jamie Foyer, The Thaelmann Column, The Bantry Girl’s Lament, Come you Anti-fascists, Viva la Quince Brigata(Spanish) and Bandiera Rossa as well as poems by Charlie Donnelly, John Cornford , Donough Mc Donough and others.”
Mick came to folk music through listening to The Weavers , Delia Murphy, Joe Lynch, Connie Foley and the one and only Margaret Barry in the fifties and then the Skiffle movement in Britain which was spearheaded by Ken Colyer one of the leading exponents of the Classic New Orleans Jazz style in Britain. The revival of interest in Folk song and music happened to coincide with this outbreak of people’s music making and before long there was a natural fusion which led to Skiffle groups becoming Folk Groups like The Ian Campbell group in Birmingham or The Quarrymen from Liverpool becoming the Beatles.
Mick went to England in late 1960 became part of the whole folk revival first listening and learning from Ewan McColl, Bob Davenport, Alex Campbell, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and many more. By 1964 he was singing in Birmingham Town Hall in a fund raising concert for West Midlands Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and later joined an Irish Group called ‘The Munstermen’. This lead in turn to the founding of ‘The Holyground Folk Club’ which had three glorious years and hosted many of the world’s great folk artistes.
In 1967 he came to Dublin and sang in most of the venues of the day such as the Embankment, the Castle Inn, the Old Sheiling and many of the local Folk Clubs before returning to his native Mitchelstown where he settled down, got married and raised a family. He has always had an interest in the songs of the working people collecting many down through the years. He feels privileged to have shared the platform and stage with many pacifist and socialist poets, writers, singers and performers who shared his dreams.
John was born in Cork City and now lives in Lombardstown, North Cork, where he plays an active role in the local community. He was heavily influenced by the Folk revival and has been playing and promoting music for over 40 years.
During the 70s he was a founding member of The Shandon Folk Club in Eason’s Hill, within an earshot of the Shandon Bells. Today he continues his voluntary involvement as a promoter of concerts and festivals. He is especially well known for the Bluegrass and Folk concerts he runs at The Village Arts Centre, Kilworth Co Cork. John is an avid collector of folk, bluegrass and songs of the people and has an encyclopaedic recall of singers and songs.
In the 1970s he worked as a peace campaigner in the North of Ireland as a member of Voluntary Service International. He was also a worker with the Simon Community.
A regular contributor to the annual Mother Jones festival, John organised the legendary session “The songs of Joe Hill” in 2015 and in 2016 performed his vast repertoire of mining songs along with Mick Treacy.