Historian Luke Dineen to speak at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2022.

As 2022 signals a return to real festival events, we are happy to announce that Luke Dineen will once again speak at this year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival. 

Labour and trade union historian Luke has appeared at many of our festivals and is one of the most popular contributors. 

He brings to life the often forgotten history of the trade union movement in Cork and its proud contribution to bettering the lives of ordinary people.

Luke, who was awarded a PhD in labour history from UCC will speak on the “Cork General Lockout of 1923”.

The end of the Civil War in May 1923 encouraged the Cork Employers’ Federation (CEF) to demand wage reductions across a wide range of workplaces in the city. Discussions and negotiations with the unions failed to resolve the issues and by July 1923, the ITGWU dockers were on strike. The employers insisted on wage reductions of  up to 25% and further reductions in workers allowances which the unions refused to accept.

On 20th August 1923, most businesses in Cork closed, the Cork Lockout had begun, over 6000 workers were on strike. 

It was part of a wider effort by employers in other cities and towns across Ireland to bring about wage cuts.

Despite large marches, sackings, mass unemployment and growing signs of serious shortages of food and coal stocks, John Rearden, a solicitor and secretary of the CEF refused to compromise and the impasse dragged on in the city. 

Recently elected TD and UCC Registrar Alfred O’Rahilly acted as arbitrator in the dispute and agreed a resolution with Trade Union leader Jim Hickey.

Most workers went back on reduced wages by mid November and while at  the end of the day, both sides accepted compromises, the trade unions suffered most as the lockout used up much of their financial resources in strike pay, Payments to strikers by the ITGWU were almost 24,000 pounds representing 15% of all the union’s expenditure for 1923. (1919 was under 1%). Membership fell to a third of its 1923 level by 1928. Employers still retained the right to hire and fire at will. 

Most employees were back at work by early November. 1923 was an annus horribilis for the Irish Trade union movement.

The new Free State government had signalled that they no longer needed to encourage the acquiescence and support of organised Labour in the struggle for independence.

The government instead aligned with the new State’s established business class, whose pragmatic rapprochement with the new political order reflected the inherent conservatism of the real victors in the Irish Civil War. 

Luke Dineen will speak at the Shandon Maldron Hotel at 11.30 am on Saturday 30th July. All are welcome. 

Sources: 

Article by Luke Dineen ‘Class War in Cork’: The Cork General Lockout of 1923′ in Saothar 46.  (Journal of the Irish Labour History Society 2021).

Article by Francis Devine, The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union in Cork City and County 1918-1930. (Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Volume 124, 2019).

Honouring Their Fighting Spirit.

The decision by Cork City councillors on 15th March 2022 to rezone the Bessborough area marked Children’s Burial Ground to a landscape preservation zone, was as a result of the sustained campaign fought by members of the Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance (CSSA) over many years. This zoning should help to enhance the protection afforded the burial grounds on the site of the former Bessborough Mother and Child Institution. The location of the remains of up to 859 babies who died is still uncertain. 

Following the successful appeal by the CSSA in 2021 to the An Bord Pleanala (the Irish Planning Board), which led to the refusal of planning permission for the construction of blocks of apartments on the site, this Cork City Council decision represented further vindication for the survivors of Bessborough Mother and Child institution in their efforts to protect this burial site. 

Members of the CSSA, who were present in the Council Chamber received a huge round of applause from Cork City councillors at the meeting.

Front Row L to R: Catherine Coffey O’Brien, Ann O’Gorman with the Spirit of Mother Jones Award 2021, Maureen Considine.  Back Row: Maureen Sullivan, Mary Dunlevy, Phil Kinsella and Sheila O’Byrne of the CSSA outside Cork City Hall.

The CSSA was nominated to receive the 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Award for their outstanding efforts to protect the site. 

Earlier in the evening at City Hall the 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Award was presented personally to CSSA’s Ann O’Gorman by Gerard O’Mahony on behalf of the Cork Mother Jones Committee. 

Ann’s daughter Evelyn, born almost 50 years ago in Bessborough, was buried in an unmarked grave there.

Ann O’Gorman with the Spirit of Mother Jones Award

Ann was described by Maureen Considine of the CSSA as ” an amazing campaigner and an inspirational hero to all of us”. 

She has demanded for many decades that this site should be “marked, protected and blessed”.

This Cork City Council decision will  contribute to the preservation of the burial site and the realisation of Ann O’Gorman’s dream.

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival Announcement for 2022.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee wishes to announce that our eleventh annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2022 will take place on the final weekend of July. 

James Nolan spokesperson for the festival stated,

“We are absolutely delighted to announce that our annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival will take place as usual in Shandon on the last weekend in July. 

The dates for the three day festival are from Thursday 28th July until Saturday 30th July 2022.

We will continue to have a wide range of events on issues which we consider would be in the Spirit of Mother Jones.”

We hope to have a “real” festival at venues across Shandon and while it is dependent on the Covid-19 position at the time, we are optimistic that we can make the festival happen.

Full details of our festival partnerships and many other events and plans will be announced over the spring and summer as they are confirmed.

Spirit of Mother Jones Award Presented to the Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance.

Congratulations to the Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance (CSSA) on being the recipients of the Spirit of Mother Jones Award for 2021.

CSSA members, Catherine Coffey O’Brien, and Maureen Considine, accompanied by Sheila O’Byrne, and Phil Kinsella received the award from James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee during the recent festival. The award itself is based on the story of the Children of Lir in Irish folklore.

From Left: Sheila O’Byrne, Catherine Coffey O’Brien, Phil Kinsella, and Maureen Considine.

Catherine expressed her delight for the recognition and community support which this award represents and stated that the CSSA felt honoured to have been nominated to receive it as it meant so much to the group. 

The official citation from the Cork Mother Jones Committee is as follows. 

“The Spirit of Mother Jones Award for 2021 is presented to members of the Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance for:

·         Their bravery and determination to ensure that development does not take place on sensitive burial areas of the former Mother & Baby ‘Home’ at Bessborough in Cork.

·         Their efforts to organise a voice for the mothers of deceased children, and to publicly question where the remains of hundreds of babies are buried, and why the records of burials have not been produced to date.

·         Their work in locating the OSI 1950 Map which has a marked location of a Childrens’ Burial Ground in Bessborough clearly displayed.

·         Their resilience in defending and verifying the accuracy of this map at the oral hearing of An Bord Pleanala during April 2021 and for convincing the planning Board to reject the proposed development.

·         Their continuing campaign to seek the right with the common tradition for a dignified burial place for those who died, for the preservation of the burial grounds, for access to the grounds and for the creation of an appropriate memorialisation garden for the mothers and children at Bessborough.

The members of the CSSA are the second Cork-based recipients of this International Award which is named in honour of Cork born Mary Harris known around the world as Mother Jones.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is honoured that the CSSA has accepted the 2021 award which indeed is an acknowledgement of our admiration for their determination to honour the dead, and continue to fight for the living.  

Day 4 of the 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Online Festival.

Tonight at 8.30 pm, there is a special Cork Singers’ Club Mother Jones Night.  For a zoom connection email John Murphy at dublinhill6@gmail.com as soon as possible or join in through the Cork Singers Club Facebook Page. 

The online festival schedule on Cork Community Television (which can be located on any search engine using http://www.corkcommunitytv.ie) is as follows: 

·        2:00 pm. The Mine Wars produced and directed by Randall MacLowry

·        4:00 pm. Mother Jones and Her Children by Frameworks Films.

·        7:00 pm. Dr. Sean Pettit…….An Extraordinary Teacher with an introduction by Richard T Cooke.

This film features Sean’s final presentation “The Cork City of Mary Harris” at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on 29th July 2016.

·        8:00 pm. The Songs of Mother Jones. Featuring Māire Ní Chēilleachair, Karan Casey, William Hammond, Mags Creedon, Richard T Cooke, John Murphy, John & Gearoid Nyhan and Mick Treacy,

The singers of the tribute songs to Mother Jones at the Butter Market Garden in Shandon.

Day 3 of the Spirit of Mother Jones 0nline Festival 2021.

Saturday 27 November 2021                                                                                      

·         2:00 pm. Blood on the Mountain produced by Mari-Lynn Evans.

·         4:00 pm. Palikari:  Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre by Lamprini C Tomas and Nickos Ventouras.

·         6:00 pm. Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America by Rosemary Feurer.

·         6:30 pm. Interview (zoom) with Mari Steed, Adoption Rights campaigner.

·         7:00 pm. Maureen Considine and Catherine Coffey O’Brien of the Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance, CSSA discuss their effort to safeguard the Bessborough Burial ground.

All events are available on Cork Community Television at http://www.corkcommunitytv.ie or Virgin Media Channel 803.

Day 2 concluded with an interview of Donal O’Drisceoil by Ann Piggott of the Cork Mother Jones Committee and Alan, William and John bring matters for the day to a conclusion with a selection of tunes and songs at the Maldron Hotel.

Day 2 of the Online Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2021.

Why not forget Black Friday and click on www.corkcommunitytv.ie

Friday 25th November.

2:00 pm. The highlights of the past ten years of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festivals.

7:00 pm. Tadhg Barry Remembered. A documentary by Cork Council of Trade Unions and Frameworks Films.

Dr. Donal Ó Drisceoil interview.

8:00 pm. Interview with Dr. Donal Ó Drisceoil, author of Utter Disloyalist: Tadhg Barry and the Irish Revolution. 

The official launch of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2021 took place at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon last night. The Lord Mayor of Cork represented by Cllr. John Sheehan declared the festival open and stated that he was delighted that the festival had proceeded this year as each event set out to challenge one’s views of history and social issues. Speaker, Anne Twomey attended and participated in a brief Q&A session afterwards in relation to questions about Muriel MacSwiney. 

Welcome to 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival (online).

Begins today. 

Click on www.corkcommunitytv.ie or Virgin Media channel 803.

Thursday 25th November 2021.

2:00 pm. The highlights of the 2020 online Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

Muriel MacSwiney.


7.30 pm. Muriel MacSwiney………..The Unlikely Revolutionary.         An interview with Anne Twomey, historian and teacher, of the Shandon Area History Group.

Anne Twomey. Shandon Area History Group.

Solidarity to all our American friends of Mother Jones on Thanksgiving Day.

The Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance (CSSA) to receive the 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Award.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is proud to announce that the 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Award will be presented to members of the campaigning group The Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance (CSSA).

Members Maureen Considine, Ann O’Gorman and Catherine Coffey O’Brien have agreed to accept the award on behalf of the members of the Alliance. 

Maureen Considine and Catherine Coffey O’Brien of the CSSA in discussion.

Jim Nolan on behalf of the Cork Mother Jones Committee declared;

“We are pleased to announce that the Spirit of Mother Jones Award for 2021 has been awarded to members of the Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance who have campaigned for the proper memorialisation of the women and children who lie buried in the grounds of the former Mother and Babies Home at Bessborough in Cork City.

Specifically the CSSA by their determination and bravery prevented the recent plans to construct apartments on sensitive areas of the Bessborough grounds and through their efforts they discovered an Ordnance Survey Map from 1950 which clearly shows the marked Children’s Burial Ground.

In addition to their actions the members of the Alliance, their experts and their legal team won an oral planning hearing of An Bord Pleanala and convinced the planning inspector of the merits of their argument to protect the Children’s Burial Ground. 

Finally by their ongoing efforts and continuing campaign to seek the human right in accordance with common Irish tradition for a dignified burial place for those who died, for the preservation of the burial grounds, for the right of access to those grounds and for the creation of an appropriate memorialisation garden for the mothers and children at Bessborough, they have displayed the courage of their convictions and are worthy of the Spirit of Mother Jones award for 2021.

We are indeed honoured to present the Spirit of Mother Jones award for 2021 to the representatives of the Alliance, Catherine Coffey O’Brien, Ann O’Gorman and Maureen Considine.”  

The Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance (the CSSA) represents a group of survivors of Bessborough Mother and Baby ‘Home’.  The CSSA’s membership is largely composed of mother-survivors, whose babies’ died in the institution, and includes family members. Children and mothers who died in Bessborough are buried onsite and in various public burial places such as St. Joseph’s cemetery (Ballyphehane) and All Saints cemetery (Carr’s Hill), with just a handful of the total burials marked.

Following proposals for development on the grounds of Bessborough towards the end of 2020, the CSSA opposed the plans citing the newly discovered evidence for the location of a large Childrens’ Burial Ground on the Bessborough estate. The Commission of Investigation into the Mothers and Baby ‘Homes’ stated that it is “highly likely” that burials took place in the grounds.

Using the 1950 Ordnance Survey original map drawing, which clearly shows “Childrens’ Burial Ground” marked on the grounds of the former Bessborough lands, the CSSA’s legal team convinced An Bord Pleanala to refuse permission for the development on the grounds that it would be “premature to grant permission for the proposed development prior to establishing whether there is a children’s burial ground located within the site and the extent of any such burial ground.” This has now created some space to ensure the proper memorialisation of the women and children who are “highly likely” to lie buried in the grounds.

OSI 1950 Bessborough

The full citation reads as follows.

The Spirit of Mother Jones Award for 2021 is presented to members of the Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance for:

Their bravery and determination to ensure that development does not take place on sensitive burial areas of the former Mother & Baby ‘Home’ at Bessborough in Cork. 

Their efforts to organise a voice for the mothers of deceased children, and to publicly question where the remains of hundreds of babies are buried, and why the records of burials have not been produced to date.

Their work in locating the OSI 1950 Map which has a marked location of a Childrens’ Burial Ground clearly displayed. 

Their resilience in defending and verifying the accuracy of this map at the oral hearing of An Bord Pleanala during April 2021 and for convincing the planning Board to reject the proposed development.

Their continuing campaign to seek the right with the common tradition for a dignified burial place for those who died, for the preservation of the burial grounds, for access to the same and for the creation of an appropriate memorialisation garden for the mothers and children at Bessborough. 

The members of the CSSA are the second Cork-based recipients of this International Award which is named in honour of Cork born Mary Harris known around the world as Mother Jones. The award will be presented this week to Catherine, Ann and Maureen at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival. 

A discussion about the role of the CSSA and its contribution to the oral planning hearing will be shown on Saturday 27th November at 7:00 pm on Cork Community Television as part of the online Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 21. Further details at www.motherjonescork.com

The Spirit of Mother Jones Awards to date;

  • 2013,     Margaret Aspinall and Sue Roberts. (Hillsborough Family Support Group).
  • 2014,     Gareth Peirce. Solicitor.
  • 2015      Fr Peter McVerry. 
  • 2016      Dave Hopper (RIP) General Secretary, Durham Miners’ Association.
  • 2017      Ken Fleming. (International Transport Workers Federation). 
  • 2018      Mary Manning (on behalf of the Dunnes Stores workers).
  • 2019      Louise O’Keeffe.
  • 2020      Antoinette Keegan.
  • 2021     Catherine Coffey O’Brien, Ann O’Gorman & Maureen Considine (for Cork Survivors & Supporters Alliance).

Songs for Mother Jones 2021.

William Hammond organised the recording of seven songs which commemorate Cork born Mary Harris. Frameworks Films undertook the filming and recording of the session on a beautiful morning in Shandon, Cork City. The recordings were held at the old Butter Market garden under the landmark Bells of Shandon during the summer of 2021.

The programme of songs will be shown on Cork Community Television on Sunday 28th November at 8:00 pm.

Karan Casey at the recording at Shandon.

The music video features newly written songs by Karan Casey, John Murphy and Mags Creedon sung by the songwriters.

It also includes a song The Ballad of Mother Jones written by legendary Teresa Ní Chárthaigh of Blarney Street and sung by Māire Ní Chēileachair. Richard T. Cooke has written a song “And the Band played Hallelujah” which he recites. John Nyhan, his son Gearoid and Mick Treacy also contribute a song “Let The Mountains Roll”.   Finally, William features with a waltz he composed for Mother Jones and a song recorded by Gene Autry called “The Death of Mother Jones”.

The Singers.

Máire Ní Chéileachair.

From Farran in Cork, Máire got her love of singing and the Irish language from her parents who are from Kilnamartyra. In 2018, Māire won Corn Ui Riada and was also named TG4 singer of the year, she has recorded two CDs.

John Murphy.

From Ballyvolane in Cork City, he is a prolific songwriter and a member of the Cork Singers Club. He has commemorated the Burning of Cork in song along with some of Corks finest musicians in his recent debut album entitled, Cork 1920, A City In Flames.

Karan Casey.

Karan Casey from Ballyduff Lower, Co Waterford is an Irish folk singer and traditional singer, and a former member of the Irish band Solas. She is one of the most instantly recognisable, alluring and original voices in all of world music. Her recording, Distant Shore, is a collection of potent and beautiful Irish and contemporary ballads.

Richard T. Cooke.

Richard is a true blooded Corkonian and this is evident in the many books, television history documentaries, radio programmes and songs. And this was recognised when he received the prestigious Lord Mayor’s Civic Award in 2009:-” For his lifetime in promoting Ireland and his beloved City of Cork to the world through his writings and through his songs.” Richard is a member of the Mother Jones Committee.

William Hammond.

Known also as Hammy is from Fermoy he has been living in Cork for over 40 years. William has a great love of traditional music and set dancing. He is an accomplished accordion player in the  CD style  and a singer with the Cork Singers Club. William has been organising festivals in Cork for over 35 years including the Cork Folk Festival, Michael Dwyer Fest, Féile Fearmuí and the Mother Jones Festival.

John Nyhan.

John was born in Cork City and is now living in North Cork. Influenced by the Folk Revival musicians including; Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Tom Paxton, Ewan MacColl, Fairport Convention, Sweeney’s Men, Planxty and Rory Gallagher. John is known throughout Ireland and the USA as a promoter of Folk and Bluegrass concerts and he is joined by his son Gearoid in this recording. His friend Mick Treacy a veteran of the Holy Ground Folk Club in Birmingham and of the folk scene in England and Ireland accompanies.

Mags Creedon.

Mags is a member of the Cork Songwriters Club and she regularly performs poemsong at Munster Arts events with O’ Bheal poetry. She is a Pan Celtic finalist in 2018, and 2019 and has performed on the charity Èalù album 2016 Commissions. Mags is also a member of the Cork Singers Club and has written a song for the Cork Libraries about the Cork writer, Frank O’ Connor.

The filming and recording by Frameworks Films took place on Sunday 29th August 2021 at the old Shandon Butter Market garden in the heart of the Shandon Historic Quarter.  The Cork Mother Jones Committee wish to express our thanks to everyone involved in Cork’s tribute to Mother Jones.