More on Tadhg Barry

There has been a lot of interest following our article on Tadhg Barry and the piece on him in today’s Irish Times  (see

Among those who contacted our committee was Tadhg Barry Galvin, a grand-nephew of Tadhg Barry now living in England.

Tadhg Barry Galvin (right) with Chris Ruane MP at the House of Commons

Tadhg Barry Galvin (right) with Chris Ruane MP at the House of Commons

Tadhg sent us the above photo of him presenting booklet on his grand-uncle Alderman to Chris Ruane MP, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary group for the Irish in Britain.

Newspaper clipping of Tadhg Barry's funeral cortege leaving Dublin

Newspaper clipping of Tadhg Barry’s funeral cortege leaving Dublin

Also (above) a press clipping from November 22nd 1921 showing the funeral of Alderman Tadhg Barry at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin. Mourners, led by the Lord Mayor of Dublin include TDs Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha and WT Cosgrave. Bottom photo on cutting shows the train carrying Tadhg Barry’s remains leaving Kingsbridge (Heuston) station on its poignant voyage back to Cork. Alderman Tadhg Barry is buried in the Republican Plot St. Finbarr’s cemetery, Cork.

Mother Jones Music

Hank Wedel is one of the best known musicians on the Cork scene and beyond.   Born in the US in the 1960s Hank grew up in New York City and Mallow, Co. Cork in the ‘70s, he lived for awhile in NYC in the ’80s and ’90s but is based in Cork City

Hank is well known for his involvement in the live music scene in that city, working with bands such as “Princes Street” and “Open Kitchen”, as well as a long-standing Monday night residency at Charlies Bar on Union Quay with mandolinst Ray Barron but has played with a wide range of performers from Christy Moore to Shane McGowan and Bono.  Here is Hank and Ray Barron playing El Chocolo from an appearance on Balcony TV Cork in May 2013. Hank and friends will be playing during the festival at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon from 10pm on Wednesday, 31st July 2013.

Jimmy Crowley has been a central figure in the Irish folk scene since the enthusiastic reception of his debut album The Boys of Fairhill in 1977. With his band Stokers Lodge their mission was to present the street ballads of Cork city complimented by the ornate folk songs of the rural hinterland of Cork and Kerry in an exciting orchestration of uilleann pipes, concertina, autoharp, harmonium, mandolin, bouzouki and guitar in their native accent. Jimmy, who plays regularly in Britain and the US, will be appearing at the Spirit of Mother Jones festival for an afternoon session entitled “Songs of the Beautiful City”at 4.30pm in the Maldron Hotel on Wednesday 31st July 2013.

Vita Cortex documentary to feature at Mother Jones Festival

Vita Cortex workers and supporters rally at factory

Vita Cortex workers and supporters rally at factory

A documentary on the lengthy struggle of the Vita Cortex workers will be shown at the Mother Jones Festival in Cork on Wednesday, 31st July. The workers sit-in at the Vita Cortex factory has already gone down in the annals of Cork’s long history of worker’s struggle. The 161 day long occupation of the plant at Kinsale Road began on 16th December 2011 after the workers at the factory were told that Friday evening that their jobs were gone and that would be getting no redundancy pay from the company. The shell-shocked workers, some of whom had given as much as 47 years of service to the company, decided this was completely unacceptable and they began a sit in that was to last until 24th May 2012 and gain the workers worldwide notice and respect.

The Vita Cortex occupation showed graphically that a century after the great labour disputes of the early 20th century workers are still under threat from unscrupulous employers and have to fight for every entitlement. While many gains have been made, especially through the efforts of the trade union movement and workers’ blood, sweat and tears, these gains can easily be reversed unless struggle continues and people are prepared to take a stand.

Vita Cortex 011

The film “161 Days – the Vita Cortex workers’ struggle” is a bird’s-eye view of the long fight of the workers for a just settlement from their employer. The film, shot by Cork filmmaker Declan O’Connell and produced by his son, Barra, engages with the workers and watches the developing situation as messages of support flood in from around the world. Among those sending messages of support were Sir Alex Ferguson, former footballer Paul McGrath, actor Cillian Murphy, ex-President Mary Robinson, singer Christy Moore and renowned philosopher and commentator Noam Chomsky. The film follows the highs and lows of the workers morale, the solidarity, the protests and the attempts to achieve a just settlement and, finally, the eventual jubilation when the workers succeed. The film will be shown at the Firkin Crane, Shandon at 11.00am on Wednesday, 31st July as part of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

Day 30 of occupation which was to last 161 days

Day 30 of occupation which was to last 161 days

The Cork Lockout of 1909

The Cork Strike and Lockout.

Cork Historian Luke Dineen will give an account of a little remembered dispute in Cork in 1909, which had an influence on the later Dublin Lockout of 1913. Luke will speak at the Firkin Crane on Wednesday 31st July at 2pm.

On Thursday June 10th 1909 some coal porters affiliated to the ITGWU at Messrs Sutton walked off their jobs as a result of having to work alongside others from the British based union the Workers Union of Great Britain and Ireland. What started as inter union hostility led to a prolonged and vicious labour war across Cork City. According to the Cork Constitution some 500 policemen occupied Cork by 18th June to prevent the growing violence.

By 22nd June thousands of workers were locked out by employers across the City. Workers marched through Cork on successive days from June 23-26. By 1st July 1909, some 6000 men were either on Strike or locked out and sacked from their jobs. The Cork Employers’ Federation began to employ blacklegs or Workers Union men, which led to serious animosity.

Newspaper photo of strike-breaking truck escorted by police and followed by strikers, St. Patrick's Quay, Cork

Newspaper photo of strike-breaking truck escorted by police and followed by strikers, St. Patrick’s Quay, Cork

With strike pay to the unionised labour minimal and many workers receiving no income at all, and with workers protests being met with violence from the RIC, the strike, lockout fell apart in the early days of July 1909. “By the end of the lockout, Cork’s labour movement was in a shambolic state” according to Luke Dineen.

These events in Cork influenced the formation in 1911 of the Dublin Employers Federation to come together, remain united and well organized under William Martin Murphy It demonstrated that “organised ruthlessness” against the ITGWU was the road to victory. In addition it realised that the skillful use of the media against the workers was essential.

The ITGWU also learned that it needed major financial resources to support its members on a prolonged strike or lockout. During the Cork strike, James Fearon of the ITGWU organized a type of protective workers militia among the Cork workers to protect themselves from the attacks of the RIC and imported blacklegs. Luke Dineen states that “this was the first time that the Irish urban poor came together for the purpose of mutual self defence”. The emergence of the Irish Citizen Army later in Dublin may have owed its gestation to the earlier organised efforts to protect workers from the baton charges in Cork.

Ship being unloaded at St. Patrick's Quay, Cork around 1900

Ship being unloaded at St. Patrick’s Quay, Cork around 1900

Luke Dineen is a graduate of University College Cork. He recently completed a Master’s Degree in the Irish Revolution 1912-1923.

Film on Tadhg Barry to screen at Mother Jones event

Tadhg Barry union banner

Tadhg Barry union banner

A recently launched documentary film on the life of Cork trade unionist, Irish republican and socialist Tadhg Barry is to feature at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Wednesday, 31st January. It will be shown at the Firkin Crane theatre at 12.00 Noon. Barry, a city alderman on Cork Corporation, was shot dead at Ballykinlar internment camp in Co. Down in November 1921.   Tadhg Barry Remembered, a documentary by Framework Films in conjunction with Cork Council of Trade Unions was made for Cork Community Television and  explores Barry’s growing involvement in labour politics and the advanced nationalist movement.  It tells of his journalistic writings on the Gaelic Athletic Association and the labour movement.   The following article is by local historian Donal Ó Drisceóil from UCC.

Tadhg Barry was born in Cork in 1880. He lived on Blarney Street, went to school in the North Monastery and commenced work at Our Lady’s Asylum in 1899 as an attendant and after a period in England, came back to work as a public servant in the Pensions Board.

From the turn of the century, he became immersed in the growing national, cultural literary and political revival and moved in these circles which were led by Tomas MacCurtain, Sean O’Hegarty and Terence MacSwiney. Tadhg was a brilliant organizer, keeper of notes and minutes, fine writer, quietly efficient and had wide interests.

Police photo of Tadhg Barry after his arrest at City Hall meeting

Police photo of Tadhg Barry after his arrest at City Hall meeting

Barry and some others grew impatient with an inefficient Cork GAA Board and re-

organised it over a period of years. He had been involved with a number of GAA Clubs including Eire Og, Sundays Well Hurling Club and Fainne an Lae Camogie Club on Blarney Street. He played hurling, refereed, coached hurling and camogie, wrote as the columnist Ciotog in the Cork Free Press. He even found time to write a book “Hurling and How to Play it” in 1916.

He became more active with the Irish Volunteers and organized meetings for Larkin and James Connolly. Following the period of confusion in Cork which accompanied the 1916 Rising, Barry was active in establishing the ITGWU, following its virtual demise after the 1909 Cork Lockout. As he became more prominent, due to mass imprisonments of leaders after 1916, he attracted attention from the authorities and spent much of 1917 in prison.

Barry threw himself into union activities during 1918 onwards as well as being very active in Sinn Fein and the Volunteers. He began to write for the Southern Star, under the heading “Neath Shandon’s Steeple” and contributed articles to various trade union publications.

Following a further period of imprisonment in 1918, he emerged to become a full-time organiser and secretary of the ITGWU No 1 (James Connolly Memorial) Branch. Never one to stay still for very long, Barry led strikes, pursued demands for wages increases and made the branch a model unit. He was selected as a candidate in the local elections of 1920 and Alderman Barry romped home.

He then combined his union activities with his public duties, which was extraordinarily difficult at a time when two Lord Mayors of Cork died, one murdered and one on hunger strike. With virtual war taking place on the City streets, he managed to organize the Irish Trade Union Congress AGM in the old Connolly Hall in August 1920, however it was only a matter of time before he was arrested.

Finally in early February 1921, he was picked up and sent to Ballykinlar Camp in Co Down, where he organised the camp activities and recreation, many socialist in nature to keep the hundreds of volunteers active in those months. As the Treaty talks progressed after the Truce, some of the volunteers were being released.

On 15th November 1921, as he joined many others to say goodbye to a departing group, he was suddenly shot dead by a young sentry named Barrett, who seemed to have fired in panic. The cover up started immediately and the inquest was inconclusive as the British military authorities refused to cooperate.

Funeral of Alderman Tadhg Barry

Funeral of Alderman Tadhg Barry

His remains were returned to Cork; thousands of people marched in his funeral procession in Dublin or attended the passing of his remains through various towns.

On arrival in Cork, the body of Tadhg Barry was met by tens of thousands of people representing all shades of union, labour, nationalist and republican opinion as his remains were taken to the North Chapel.

Sunday 20th November 1921 saw a huge turnout of people again on the route to his final resting place at St Finbarr’s cemetery.

Tadhg Barry represented a proud socialist republican tradition in the Connolly mould. The British forces regarded him as a serious troublemaker; however his active involvement in community, sporting and social organisations made him well known throughout the city. He operated quietly in many organizations and had a reputation of a man who got things done. His short lifetime of service deserves to be more widely remembered.

Our thanks to Donal O’Drisceoil for his research from which the above is drawn and which is contained in his pamphlet Tadhg Barry (1880-1921) The Story of an Irish Revolutionary.

“Tadhg Barry Remembered,” Produced by Framework Films in collaboration with the Cork Council of Trade Unions.

This film followed by a discussion will be shown at 12 noon at the Firkin Crane on Wednesday 31st July 2013 as part of the “Spirit of Mother Jones Festival”. All are welcome.

“Mother Jones – Sinner and Saint”

Prof. Simon Cordery

S. Cordery

Professor Simon Cordery

Professor Simon Cordery will be the main speaker on the final day of our festival this year, Thursday 1st August (Mother Jones Day). Simon is Chair of the History Department at West Illinois University and Author of “Mother Jones, raising cain and consciousness” Below is a short article by Simon and a taster for his contribution to on August 1 at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival at the Firkin Crane theatre, Cork

To challenge the status quo, to threaten those in power, to demand justice for the sake of the downtrodden invites retribution. Only a woman of spirit—with courage to spare and a sense of righteousness—would dare to confront mega-corporations and the state. In the late nineteenth century, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones made herself into that person.

Mary Harris became Mother Jones. In her late sixties she developed the persona of a white-haired grandmother who stormed the coal mines to remind the robber barons—the “pirates,” as she called them—of their duty to workers. Armed only with a quick wit and the labor theory of value she forced Americans to confront crucial questions about the nature and direction of capitalism. For people who accepted the world as it was, this was her sin: she was the conscience the nation lacked.

But to those who suffered in the mining villages and along the coal seams she was a saint. Jubilant cries went up when “Mother” was coming to help them. She made them see how they could save themselves through collective action. She drew a clear distinction between “her” boys and the owners and politicians destroying the promise of republicanism. Mother Jones could be saucy and she could be blunt, using the language of working men and questioning their manhood whenever they cowed before the bosses, but she fought for her boys and they loved her for it.

Mother Jones could also be tender. Even as she directed her caustic speeches and ferocious anger at the corrupt and the powerful she demonstrated her concern for the plight of children. She tried to help child workers in the rope factories and the cotton mills of the South. She led striking families on a “Crusade” to berate President Theodore Roosevelt on the front porch of his vacation home. She organized “mop and broom” brigades to bring mothers into the fight and engage the children in strikes. Her struggle included the oppressed of all ages.

The spirit of Mother Jones was born in Catholic Cork and her understanding of Jesus as a radical advocate of fairness and equality. It was fertilized by lessons of her revolutionary Irish forbears. The spirit of Mother Jones took shape in the private sorrows of her young adulthood and then bore fiery fruit across the picket lines where she helped to re-shape labor’s demands and victories and bring about a new, better future.

Jimmy Crowley to play at Mother Jones festival

Jimmy Crowley


We are delighted to announce that Cork’s favourite troubadour, Jimmy Crowley, will give an afternoon performance at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Wednesday, July 31st.

Jimmy was born in Douglas in Cork and took up singing in the late 60s and he formed a group known as Stokers Lodge called after a landmark in Douglas where local huntsmen met for a day’s sport. He started writing songs in 1971.

As well as writing his own songs he also encouraged and promoted older working class ballads and long lost songs from all over Cork. He ran the legendary folk club at Douglas GAA club for many years. Jimmy likes to be among the real people of Cork City and to sing songs of hunters, sportsmen, deeds of valour, great and little events, the topics of conversation of the ordinary people.

His first album “The Boys of Fairhill” released in 1997, contained such classics as the Pool Song, Johnny Jump Up, Salonika, The Armoured Car and of course The Boys of Fairhill. This was followed by a second album “Camphouse Ballads” and “Some Things Never Change”. Later still “Uncorked” appeared in 1998, while “The Coast of Malabar” appeared in 2000.

Jimmy’s song about the sailing ship, the Asgard II, “My Love is a Tall Ship” is well known among the sailing fraternity. Jimmy has played all over Ireland, Europe and America and is a familiar face in Cork. Jimmy is known as the Bard of Cork and with good reason as his unique style of singing and his love of his native City, and especially the Shandon area is central to his musical vision.

Jimmy is also well known for his wonderful charity work over the years. This was seen in 2010 when the cream of Cork talent -Roy Buckley, Cha & Miah, Billa, Bill (minor)O’ Connell, Seán Óg O hAilpín, Seán Ó Sé and John Spillane led by Jimmy Crowley came together and recorded a song titled: Barracka – Buttera Song especially composed by Richard T. Cooke (Mother Jones Festival Committee) to raise funds to purchase musical instruments in Cork schools – for a very worthy cause.

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2013 will present a unique workshop by Cork’s famous son, Jimmy Crowley: “Songs of the Beautiful City: Jimmy Crowley’s Ethnographical Journey”

Jimmy appears at the Maldron Hotel on Wednesday July 31st from 4.30 to 5.30pm.

Admission is free. Not to be missed!