Mother Jones festival begins today!

Members of the committee of Cork Mother Jones Festival and guests with Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Mary Shields

Some of the guests at this year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, along with committee members, being received at Cork City Hall today, by the Lord Mayor Mary Shields.

Cork's Lord Mayor, Cllr. Mary Shields with some  members of the Cork Mother Jones Commitee at City Hall this morning (L-R): James Nolan, Cllr. Ted Tynan, the Lord Mayor, Michael Lally.

Cork’s Lord Mayor, Cllr. Mary Shields with some members of the Cork Mother Jones Commitee at City Hall this morning (L-R): James Nolan, Cllr. Ted Tynan, Lord Mayor Shields, and  Michael Lally.


The third annual Spirit of Mother Jones opens tonight, heralding the start of a four-day festival of film, debate, music and more in the historic Shandon area on Cork City’s Northside. The festival is the culmination of months of preparation and effort and puts in place an event which has now become established as one of Cork’s most unique festivals, recalling the life and legacy of Mary Harris / Mother Jones, Cork’s rebel daugthter, America’s venerable campaigner.

Today’s events, under the heading “The Gathering”, are as follows:-

Tuesday, 29th July 2014

5.00pm – Official Festival opening at the Maldron Hotel

6.00pm – “Mother Jones, America’s Most Dangerous Woman” – a film by Rosemary Feurer (at the Firkin Crane).

7.30pm – The Cork Mother Jones 2014 Lecture with Professor James Greene of the University of Massachusetts, Boston and author of Death in the Haymarket and the West Virginia Mine Wars.

9.30pm – Cork Singer’s Club perform at the Maldron Hotel.

Songwriting workshop with Si Kahn tonight

There is an extra feature tonight for all budding songwriters!

Si Kahn

Si Kahn

Monday 28th July: Spirit of Mother Jones festival
Si Kahn song writing workshop at the Maldron Hotel at 8pm. Open to all songwriters, singers and people interested in how to pen songs, all are very welcome to come along and discuss their song ideas with Si.

Beautiful Cork ready to welcome Mother Jones home

Mother Jones display in window of Nolan's butcher shop, Shandon Street.

Mother Jones display, Nolan’s butcher shop, Shandon St. Pic: Martin Duggan.


A few days ago we reported that volunteers were busy preparing the Shandon area of Cork for the Spirit of Mother Jones festival which starts next Tuesday, 29th July.   Today we have some photos to show the results of that work.    Our sincere thanks once again to Shandon Area Resident’s association, local business premises, Cork City Council and local volunteers.

Si Kahn at Shandon

Si Kahn visits historic Shandon. (L-R): Jim Nolan, Si Kahn, Ger O’Mahony and Elizabeth Minnich (more details click pic). Photo: Martin Duggan


Flowers around the Mother Jones plaque, John Redmond Street, Shandon, Cork City.

Flowers around the Mother Jones plaque, John Redmond Street, Shandon, Cork City.


Flowers in an old milk churn at Cork's historic Butter Market, Shandon.

Flowers in an old milk churn at Cork’s historic Butter Market, Shandon.

Flower baskets at Shandon

Flower baskets at Shandon

Mother Jones in the minefields of West Virginia

“Mother Jones in the Minefields of West Virginia: An American Adventure Story”


Prof. Jim Green

Prof. Jim Green

The 2014 Cork Mother Jones Lecture will be presented by Professor James Green of the University of Massachussets, Boston. The lecture will take place at 7.30 at the Firkin Crane Centre in Shandon on Tuesday 29th July.

James Green was inspired by John F Kennedy’s speech calling racial inequality a “moral issue”, he was stunned by the assassination of Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers that same night. Moved by Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” in August 1963 and devastated by Kennedy’s assassination in November.


He worked as an intern in the office of Illinois Senator Paul H Douglas for two summers in 1965 and 1966 and met Senator Eugene McCarthy, whose Presidential primary campaign he joined in 1968. Later he met Senator George McGovern, who had earned a PhD in labour history from Northwestern University.

“All three men played roles in public life I admired”

Jim studied for his own PhD in history with C. Vann Woodward at Yale and became fascinated with the history of radicalism and political protest in the United States.

“My purpose was to study the past to understand injustice in our society-and then to explain how men and women who suffered from injustice gained the will to struggle against it and to strive for a better society”

Jim has worked to fight against injustice and worked for a better society for almost half a century!

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is very honoured to have Professor James Green deliver the third annual Cork Mother Jones Lecture at the Firkin Crane on Tuesday 29th July at 7.30pm.




Cork prepares for Spirit of Mother Jones festival

Cork Tourist office

Cork Tourist Office on Grand Parade with Mother Jones window display (Pic: A. Mahony)

A “Spirit of Mother Jones” window display is the highlight of Cork’s main tourist office on the city’s Grand parade this week.   The display highlights the life and work of Mother Jones, her Cork birthplace and promotes the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival which begins in the historic Shandon district next week on Tuesday, 29th July.    In addition to the Tourist Office display in the city centre, the Shandon area is en fete currently with colourful bunting and is awash with flowers with hanging baskets and floral displays while a number of local business premises also feature Mother Jones posters.  Our sincere thanks to the Shandon Area Resident’s Assocation, Fáilte Ireland, the staff of the Cork Tourist office and especially to Mother Jones committee members James Nolan for his work with the Shandon displays and Ailbhe Mahony who put together the tourist office display.    The festival also features prominently on Cork City Council’s website and in local media.

Cork, and Shandon in particular,  can take a bow.  Mother Jones would be impressed.



Durham Miners’ Gala

The 130th Durham Miners Gala was held on Saturday 12th July 2014. It was one of the largest ever gatherings and took place in glorious sunshine. Known as the Big Meeting, it was a spectacular and colourful success. It celebrates the history, the heritage and the human struggle of the mining communities of the North East of England.

Durham crowds

Procession of bands and banners and some of the 100,000 who attended the Durham Miners’ Gala 2014

General Secretary of the Durham Miners Association, Dave Hopper who presided, extended a warm welcome to the massive attendance at the Racecourse, on the banks of the River Wear. Earlier he had reviewed the massive parade from the balcony of the County Hotel at the Old Elvet for over 5 hours. Thoughts of the 30th Anniversary of the British Miners Strike were never far from proceedings, especially since the release of Thatcher Government’s Cabinet papers which exposed both the true extent of the planned pit closures and how far Mrs Thatcher was prepared to go to break the National Union of Mineworkers.

The Durham Miners Gala is an extraordinary manifestation of union, worker, community solidarity, something which Mother Jones advocated. The Gala’s historical legacy goes back to 1871, over 140 years yet it does not forget its history of struggle or its heroes such as Tony Benn, Bob Crow and Stan Pearce all of whom passed away in the last few months. A key speaker, Denis Skinner MP advocated a “new Durham Manifesto” to safeguard decent working conditions, decent pay and fair play.

Irish socialist leader and trade union giant James Connolly featured on banner with other icons of the movement

Irish socialist leader and trade union giant James Connolly (top left) featured on banner with other icons of the movement

Yet as one listens to the Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant at the wondrous Durham Cathedral, during the blessing of new miners banner produce a moving sermon based on “people being at their best when pulling together” and one witnesses the pride of a packed Cathedral as five Miners Brass Bands parade up the central aisle with their new banners, the centrality of miners suffering and experience and their bonds of solidarity to the wider community and society is never in doubt.

new banner celebrating inaugural meeting of Durham Miners' of 1871 unveiled at the County Hotel

new banner celebrating inaugural meeting of Durham Miners’ of 1871 unveiled at the County Hotel

The challenge will be to ensure the Gala’s future, however it was very evident from the number of school and community banners appearing behind the main lodge banners on the Parade and the huge numbers of young people attending that that process is well under way.

Another one of the hundreds of banners carried in Durham on July 12th

Another one of the hundreds of banners carried in Durham on July 12th

Dave Hopper will speak at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Thursday afternoon at 3.15 at the Firkin Crane as part of the Festival’s “Miners day”. Betty Cook and Anne Scargill of Woman Against Pit Closures (WAPC) along with Paul Winter of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign are also speakers in a series of presentations which begin at 11am and continue throughout the day and evening.


Spirit of Mother Jones Concert 2014

The Mother Jones Gala Concert will once again be one of the highlights of the music programme of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and will take place at the Firkin Crane theatre in Cork’s historic Shandon area on Wednesday, 30th July 2014, beginning at 9.00pm after a full day of film, lectures and debate. Once again the inimitable Richard T.Cooke will be the MC for the concert and we can expect a few songs and plenty of banter from Richard who is one of the “unsung” heroes of the festival.     The full line-out for the gala concert is as follows:

Richard T. Cooke, singer, song-writer, historian and raconteur

Richard T. Cooke, singer, song-writer, historian and raconteur

Richard T. Cooke, troubadour, radio pressenter, etc, etc. The Cork Rokk Choir will serenade us with songs from the Mother Jones era. Kieran McCarthy, Tenor, will perform contemporary songs accompanied by the Cork Rokk Choir. The Cork Shakespearing Company, who are currently celebrating 90 years of Hollywood stage productions, will perform a Mother Jones monologue. Aoife Delaney, Actor / Singer – will perform a young Mary Harris (Mother Jones). Muddy Lee and the Cork Shawlies – will perform their No.1 Cork song entitled “Up the Coal Quay”. To finish off an exciting evening of music and performance the Mother Jones Ceili Band will give a concert at the nearby Maldron Hotel, commencing at 10.30pm. Our thanks to Richard T. Cooke, William Hammond and all concerned.