Mother Jones Visits Shandon, before Christmas 1920.

We imagine if Mother Jones visited Shandon, before Christmas 1920. During this time Ireland’s War of Independence was raging, and much of Patrick’s Street in Cork had been recently burned down by the Auxiliaries. The funeral of Terence McSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, who died after a 74 day hunger strike in Brixton prison had taken place through the streets of Cork, a few weeks earlier. Mother Jones, (Joan Goggin) visits her former home near Shandon and walks around the deserted streets, where she played as a child (Aoife Delaney). She recalls her childhood memories where she, her mother (Eadaoin Delaney) and her family had once been happy prior to the Great Famine and the emigration of her family to Canada.

Just Imagine if Mother Jones Returned to Shandon

The Cork Mother Jones Committee will show a short film of Mother Jones visiting Cork  100 years ago in December 1920 at the Spirit of Mother Jones Virtual festival (Friday Nov 27thto Monday Nov 30th).

There is no evidence that Mary Harris/Mother Jones ever did return to Cork city where she was born in 1837 and left after the Great Hunger in the 1840s.

However for the purposes of the imagination, we imagine Mother Jones visiting her childhood home and streets in Shandon just before Christmas 1920 after the burning of Cork City.

Taking the lead role is actress Joan Goggin know to all as Cork’s own Mother Jones. Joan’s family, especially her Dad had an involvement in the labour/trade union movement for many years and the famous union leader Jim Larkin sometimes stayed in their house when visiting Cork.

The film also features a series of flashbacks to the 1840s where Joan is joined by her daughter Eadaoin Delaney who plays the role of Ellen Cotter, Mary Harris’s mother. Joan’s granddaughter Aoife plays a young Mary Harris skipping on the streets of Shandon.

In a remarkable twist of faith, in her soliloquy at Shandon, Mother Jones recalls her only son named Terence who was born in 1865, but who tragically died in the Memphis yellow fever epidemic in October 1867 and  acknowledges Cork’s Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney who had died a few weeks earlier in October 1920.

This short film entitled Mother Jones Returns to Shandon was filmed in and around the Streets of Shandon by Frameworks Films. 

All events will be streamed by Frameworks Films for the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2020 and will be freely available to view by all.

Full programme of events will appear here and the Mother Jones Cork Facebook by mid-November.

Joan Goggin (Courtesy of Andy Jay)
Joan in Shandon
Joan with Lord Mayor John Sheehan at the March of the Mill Children 2019
Joan at the March of the Mill Children 2019.

Mother Jones May Day We Shall Rise Party

Join our live celebration on zoom. WE SHALL RISE!
Preregister at link recommended. Join Sara Nelson (AFA/CWA), Cecil Roberts (UMWA) & Daniel Mulhall, Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S., Brian O Brien, Ireland’s consul general for Chicago & Midwest.& MORE !
Toasts from Cork Ireland, Mother Jones’ birthplace & Mother Jones
Monument, Mt. Olive Illinois.
Learn about our MJ Chicago sculpture
project in Chicago from our artists.
Registration recommended. We’ll give the live meeting info on the day of the meeting

Recommend you register in advance for this meeting:

zoom poster

Cork’s Lord Mayor praises Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

Lord Mayor John Sheehan along with Ann Piggott of the Cork Mother Jones Committee listening to John Nyhan singing the Pete Seeger ballad “Where Have All The Flowers Gone

The Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. John Sheehan launched the 2019 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School at the Maldron Hotel in Shandon on Wednesday 26th June.

During the course of the launch, the Lord Mayor praised the organisers of the festival, stating that such a festival was essential in a democracy where people could attend, listen, participate and examine their own ideas and views on issues in society.

Lord Mayor Sheehan with James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee at the festival launch.

Lord Mayor Sheehan with James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee at the festival launch.

Lord Mayor Sheehan said that he was looking forward to officially opening the festival on Wednesday 31st July in Shandon.
Music and songs were provided by Richard T Cooke, Joan Goggin and family and John Nyhan. Ann Piggott detailed the packed programme of events at the forthcoming festival and summer school, mentioned in particular the highlight of the March of the Mill Children pageant and formally thanked the Lord Mayor for launching the festival.

Lord Mayor Sheehan with James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee at the festival launch.

Lord Mayor Sheehan with James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee at the festival launch.


Members of the Shandon Area History Group, Dominic, Denis, Dypna, Maeve and Grace at the Mother Jones festival launch..

Ger McCarthy, Cork Mother Jones Committee, William Frode de la Foret and Beibhinn O’Callaghan of Cork Community Art Link.

Our sincere thanks to all at Cobh Animation Team for their attendance at the launch and for the fabulous photos, many more of which can be found on their Facebook page

Best wishes to Shandon Street Festival 2019

The Cork Mother Jones Committee would like to extend our best wishes to all involved at the Shandon Street Festival as they prepare for their 2019 festival which takes place next Saturday, 22nd June in and around Shandon Street on Cork’s Northside.  The festival runs from 1 to 6pm and will have something for all the family.

Shandon Street Festival 2019

The Shandon Street Festival is in many ways a sister festival of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.  It was with tremendous help from the Shandon Street Committee that we got off the ground in 2012 and many of the same individuals play a key role in both festivals which take place in the same area of the city.

Programme outside

Shandon Street fesstival (outside)

Inside of Flyer / programme

Helen O’Donovan R.I.P.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee wish to extend our deepest sympathies to Mick O’Donovan and his family on the death of Helen.

Helen O’Donovan

Helen was a great friend to everyone at the annual festival and contributed and gave so much to this event over the past 8 years. 
She had the voice of an angel and her beautiful rendering of classic songs such as “Mother”, “Black Flowers” and “The Curragh Wrens” in and around Shandon will live on forever in all our hearts and memories.
May Helen Rest in Peace.

Cork’s new footbridge not to be named after Mother Jones

The new footbridge which is to be named after Mary Elmes (1908-2002)

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is very disappointed that the bridge across the River Lee was not named after Mary Harris/Mother Jones.
However, we are extremely heartened by the huge levels of public support we have received from many quarters and especially from Cork City and the United States for our efforts to have this local woman honoured in her native city.
We thank very much the eight councillors who voted for Mother Jones:
Cllr. Mick Finn (Lord Mayor, Non-Party)
Cllr. Tony Fitzgerald (Fianna Fail)
Cllr. Kieran McCarthy (Non-Party)
Cllr. Lil O’Donnell (Non-Party)
Cllr. Marion O’Sullivan (Solidarity)
Cllr. Fiona Ryan (Solidarity)
Cllr John Sheehan (Fianna Fáil)
Cllr Ted Tynan (Workers’ Party)
Mother Jones will remain an inspirational figure in the hearts of millions of ordinary people and she will continue to encourage children, women and men to fight for their rights, for the labour movement and for social justice.

  “The name of Mother Jones may not yet appear on a public edifice in Cork city, her native place, but her call for people to “pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living” will always live on “

James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is working away to organise our eighth annual Spirit of Mother Jones festival in the Shandon community this year (from 31st July until the 3rd August) and everyone will be most welcome as we will again have an interesting, challenging and relevant line up.

Announcing “The Song for Mother Jones” competition.

Plans are underway for the eight annual Spirit of Mother Jones festival and summer school in Shandon, Cork which takes place this year from Wednesday July 31st until Saturday 3rd August.


In an exciting new development, the Cork Mother Jones Committee is planning to hold an international song competition to select a new “Song for Mother Jones”.


Entries can be submitted at any time up to the commencement of the festival.


The theme of the song should reflect Mother Jones or associated issues such as social justice, mining or the labour movement.


The song has to be your own song, or played by yourself or someone you know or nominate. It has to be an original composition.


The song must be played live and with no more than one accompanist and must be performed during the festival.


If you want to submit a song or wish to take part please contact the festival committee or submit an MP3 to


“We are encouraging and calling on songwriters and performers everywhere to participate and come up with an original work which reflects the life and work of Cork born Mother Jones.

 Already there is a vast repertoire of Mother Jones songs and ballads from Gene Autry, Si Kahn to our own Andy Irvine. The song “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” is reputed to have been used following Mother Jones trips to isolated mining communities.

Now we want to enhance the Cork imprint on some further songs and these new songs will be performed at the forthcoming Spirit of Mother Jones festival.

 We will announce full details of prizes, dates and venues closer to the festival on the festival website ( itself but we are asking potential songwriters to begin working on the songs which they propose to submit. “


The full programme for the 2019 festival and summer school in Shandon is in the course of preparation but will contain some new and interesting elements to involve increased public participation. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions for the inclusion of material or topics please contact the Cork Mother Jones Committee as soon as possible at

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