Memories of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2022

Yes! We did it again!

Mother Jones returned to sprinkle her unique magic over this our eleventh festival gathering in and around Shandon from 28th July till Saturday evening 30th July. Following two years of Covid-19 where the events were mainly pre-recorded for television which allowed our festivals to continue and be enjoyed although human contact was at a minimum, it was a great relief to meet up with people again and witness the interaction and discussions at a real event. Our heartfelt thanks to Cork Community Television for covering both the festivals for 2020 and 2021.

Prior to this festival, an extremely worried committee wondered would people come along, would they attend, did they remain apprehensive, how would they react to the real-life presentations by speakers, enjoy music and songs by musicians and singers?

The answer was definite and yes, they did! People came in huge numbers and participated actively and eagerly.

Each year there is something very special about the recipients of the Spirit of Mother Jones awards, their endless efforts to demand justice or to seek a better and fairer society create such a positive energy field at the festival.  

Antoinette Keegan with Don O’Leary.

The sheer dignity, passion and joy of Antoinette Keegan and her family, who lost her sisters Mary and Martina is humbling. Year after year since the 1981 Stardust tragedy, the Keegan family and many other families bereaved by the fire that Valentine’s night continue to seek the truth for the loss of their 48 children who never came home. The Spirit of Mother Jones Award for 2020 was to have been presented to Christine Keegan however Christine (Antoinette’s Mam) sadly passed away on 14th July 2020 and Covid-19 had prevented the presentation to Antoinette since then.  

Phyllis and Maurice McHugh, whose beautiful daughter Caroline died in the fire also attended and it was a privilege for everyone to listen to and hear their heart-breaking stories. Their resilience and quest for the truth is awesome.

Likewise, the Spirit of Mother Jones Award for 2022 went to Don O’Leary and all at the Cork Life Centre. Their vision and practical support for young people who fall through the education system and the cracks in society has been shown to work and work effectively. Yet the support of the educational establishment for this vision often fails to provide the resources necessary to ensure the continuation of the extraordinary work being done for the young people who enter its protective doors. 

A theme of many of the festivals has been the failure to acknowledge the role of women in history, something Mother Jones would have been familiar with. The role of five Cork women during the revolutionary period was examined in the latest Shandon Area History Group/Frameworks Films production Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times documentary was examined. Sisters Nora and Sheila Wallace and Mary and Annie MacSwiney along with their sister-in-law Muriel Murphy. One day soon Cork will surely acknowledge properly all of them and so many others. The Cork City Council documentary Endurance and Engagement introduced us all to four other Cork women who made a huge contribution to the city.

Professor Maggie O’Neill in collaboration with Traveller Pride launched the Feminism Walking Tour of Cork which as it expands and develops will highlight the huge role of women in history and society and will become a highlight of a visit to Cork city. Rain on the evening proved no obstacle to the inaugural walkabout.

Cork Feminist Walk

As the Decade of Centenaries reaches a close, the work of a few historians continues to explore with a critical eye the experiences of many women during the period. Anne Twomey certainly did not hold back as she detailed the shocking treatment meted out to some women by all sides during the War of Independence and Civil War. The idea that Irish wars are different and that women were treated with a civility and respect by all sides in those wars certainly needs to be examined and discussed. The violence perpetrated on women remains unspoken about as the accounts remain untold or hidden away in the silence and omerta of the participants and the files. The truth needs to be told before the Decade of Centenaries fades away, otherwise it may never be! 

Looking to impacts on Irish society from earlier years, Angela Flynn in a presentation in which past events influenced current failures, gave a forensic analysis of what our health service might look like had Dr Noel Browne’s Mother and Child Scheme been successfully implemented in the 1950s. Her forensic presentation was a perfect way to honour the efforts of this visionary doctor and politician on the 25th Anniversary of his death.

Angela Flynn with Mary Crilly, Freewoman of Cork City.

Cork’s own Mother Jones, Joan Goggin had earlier honoured her own father’s friend, labour leader James Larkin for the 75th anniversary of his passing. Historian Luke Dineen delivered a fascinating account of the General Strike in Cork in 1923, another forgotten labour battle lost in the midst of the Civil War and its aftermath, although the outcome of the strike had a hugely negative impact on thousands of Cork workers and their families.

We learned about Red Tom Hickey from Westmeath, we visited the magnificent North Cathedral and in the company of Anne Twomey, we examined the Baptism register for 1837 and the baptism font where Mary Harris was baptised on August 1st of that year.

Baptism Font in the North Cathedral, Cork
Cllr. John Sheehan, acting Lord Mayor with speaker Peter Buckingham.
Denis Wilson, Shandon Area History Group, Liam O’hUigin, with Ann Piggott.

Visions of what a united Ireland might look like were debated with trade union representatives from TUNUI and later with author Frank Connolly. Liam O hUigín took us out on an early morning tour of Shandon.

What a wonderful night we had with the legendary Cork Singers’ Club and to hear again singers such as Therese MacCarthaigh and her husband Sean from Blarney Street and so many others was a special treat, our thanks to everyone especially Jim Walsh and William Hammond.

Therese and Sean McCarthaigh

Eve Telford and Jimmy Crowley showed just how good they can be for the traditional Friday festival lunchtime gig, while the legendary John Nyhan and his son Gearoid provided further practical evidence as to just how relevant the songs of Woody Guthrie still remain after more than eight decades.

Eve Telford with Jimmy Crowley

The traditional final toast at the Mother Jones Plaque allowed us all the opportunity to remember absent friends. We honoured committee member John Jefferies (RIP) and so pleased that his sister Monica was on hand to receive a special presentation from everyone who worked with John on the Cork Mother Jones Committee. We remembered Manus O’ Riordan, Liam Cahill and Helen O’Donovan and other absent friends also. 

Monica Jefferies with Joan Goggin.

So many people and organisations helped to bring the eleventh Spirit of Mother Jones Festival to fruition. Frameworks Films, Cork Community Tv, the Shandon Area Renewal Association, Shandon Area History Group along with the Shandon Maldron Hotel and Dance Cork Firkin Theatre.

Cork City Council Heritage and Tourism Departments along with the City and County Libraries and Cork City and County Archives have been hugely helpful and supportive. We wish to thank Cllr. Damian Boyle, Cllr. Colette Finn, and Cllr. John Sheehan who attended the festival as acting Lord Mayor of Cork. Also, we are grateful to Cllr. Kieran McCarthy and Cllr. Ted Tynan for their assistance.

Our sponsors in the Irish Trade Union movement ensure the unique festival takes place and guarantee that it remains open and free to all to attend. SIPTU at Liberty Hall has sponsored the festival from its very beginning and we are very grateful. Likewise, the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland, especially the Cork South Paddy Mulcahy Branch. IFUT, the INTO and Connect are also valued sponsors. Local sponsors include the Cathedral Credit Union and Cllr Ted Tynan.

Special mention to Mary Dineen, Joan Goggin, Eadaoin and Aoife, Anne Twomey, Jimmy Crowley, Luke Dineen, John Nyhan and the Cork Singers’ Club for their support. Finally, to all our speakers from far and near who come and speak and engage in debate and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere on the north side of Cork. The festival remains relevant to people, it must remain when necessary willing to challenge the accepted orthodoxy and above all we wish to remain interesting.

Let us know by email what you wish to discuss at next year’s summer school. Our email is motherjonescork@gmail.com.

Our thanks too to Friends of Mother Jones around the world for their encouragement especially those in Chicago, Mount Olive, Washington, Colorado and elsewhere. Cork may have given Mother Jones to the world, now Mother Jones is bringing the world to Cork.

Provisional dates for the 2023 festival are Thursday 27th July to Saturday 29th July 2023.

Hope to see you there.  

Cork Mother Jones Committee 2022.

Richard T Cooke, James Nolan, Ann Piggott, Dominic O’Callaghan, Ann Rea, William Hammond, Geraldine McCarthy, Shannon Smyth, John Barimo, Angela Flynn and Gerard O’Mahony.                   

Happy Birthday, Mother Jones

Mary Harris was born in Cork City in 1837.

On the morning of 1st August 1837, she was baptised by Fr. John O’Mahony in the North Cathedral.

Her parents were Ellen Cotter and Richard Harris, and her sponsors were Ellen Leary and Richard Hennessy.

St. Mary’s Cathedral Baptism Register 1833- 1853.

Her sister Catherine was baptised in the Cathedral on the 29th March 1840, while brother William was baptised here on 28th February 1846.

(Our thanks to Anne Twomey, Bernard Spillane of the North Cathedral and Nora Hickey of Kinsale for her genealogy work.)

Anne Twomey points to the then location of the baptismal font in the Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne – Nora Hickey looks on (right).

Jimmy Crowley and Eve Telford To Appear at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2022.

Eve Telford is a singer of traditional folk songs as well as her original compositions. She sings traditional Irish songs, and also Welsh, Scottish and English songs.

Eve Telford

In her singing of traditional songs, one can sense her deep-seated connection with the old folk singers who have passed on. 

She is currently recording an album of Child ballads learnt from the singing of Irish Travellers, with her partner, the singer and musician Jimmy Crowley. She has been booked for folk festivals in Ireland and Britain, such as Cork Folk Festival and Whitby Folk Week, both solo, and as a duo with Jimmy Crowley.

Her original songs are inspired by the wellsprings of world mythologies, indigenous rights, a proximity to the natural world, and a commitment to political protest.

Eve was born in Adelaide, Australia, and grew up in Japan, Tasmania, England and Wales, before finding her home in Co. Cork, Ireland. She believes that her early exposure to different cultures, as well as the absence of television and screen-culture in her childhood contributed vastly to the development of her folk psyche.

Jimmy Crowley has been a regular at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival since the very beginning of the event.

His collection of ballads and his singing style has appealed to generations of people everywhere but especially on Cork’s North side. Many of his songs represent working class traditions and gatherings.

Jimmy began singing in the late 60s and he formed Stokers Lodge. The group became regulars in the folk clubs around Cork city.

By the early 70s he had begun to write his own material and revived the art of the ballad maker.

His songs feature local Cork customs, sports and drinking. Draghunting, road bowling and hurling appear as well as local features such as Quinlans Pub in Blackpool, the Lee Road and The Boys of Fairhill. 

The Boys of Fairhill Album and Songs from a Beautiful City.

While serving his time to a cabinet-maker he learned a popular song in 1920s Cork called simply Boozing. In Johnny Jump Up he sings of a cider so strong from being stored in old whiskey casks that it represented a passport to heaven.  Jimmy sings of Katty Barry, Mother Jones, Mick Barry the bowler, Father Mathew and Jack Doyle.

The words of many of over 140 of these ballads are contained in his great work Songs From The Beautiful City, published by the Freestate Press in 2014. Jimmy has made an inestimable contribution to the preservation of traditional Cork ballads.

Jimmy loves playing at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and one should not miss his performance with Eve Telford on Friday 29th July at the Shandon Maldron Hotel.

Jimmy and Eve will sing at the Shandon Maldron Hotel from 1 to 2pm for a lunchtime concert on Friday 29th July.

All are welcome, but please come in good time to guarantee a seat.

Jimmy Crowley and Mick Moloney in 2015 at Cork City Library at the launch of Songs From a Beautiful City.

Note:

Mick Moloney was born in Castletroy, Co. Limerick. He joined up with Donal Lunny and Brian Bolger in 1966 to form the Emmet Folk Group, where he sang and played the banjo and mandolin. Later this group became The Emmet Spiceland (after Mick had left). In the late 60s he and Paul Brady joined the Johnsons, with Adrienne and Lucy Johnson whose father had a pub in the village of Slane, Co Meath. The Johnsons had a string of hits including arrangements of The Travelling People, The Tunnel Tigers, O’Carolan’s Concerto and The Wind in My Hands.  Mick went to America around 1973 and played traditional songs and collected roots music. In 1993 he was awarded a doctorate in folklore and music from the University of Pennsylvania. Mick played, sang, taught and amassed a vast collection of songs and tunes during his lifetime. He was professor of Music at New York University. Sadly he was found dead at home in Greenwich Village on 27th July 2022.   

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.

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.

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.

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.

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2021 Events Schedule.

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival will take place online on Cork Community Television from Thursday 25th November 2021 until Sunday 28th November 2021. We are hoping to have a number of live events, including Q&A’s with the interviewees as well as some live music at the Maldron Hotel in Shandon during the course of the Festival. These are subject strictly to the Covid 19 regulations specified at the time and the attendance will be limited.

Thursday 25th November – Sunday 28th November 2021

Programme of online events on Cork Community Television.

Poster of Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2021. Designed by Shannon Smith.

Thursday 25th November 2021

  • 2:00 pm. The highlights of the 2020 online Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.
  • 7.30 pm. Muriel MacSwiney………The Unlikely Revolutionary.                                     An interview with Anne Twomey, historian and teacher, of the Shandon Area History Group.
Anne Twomey.

Friday 26th November 2021

  • 2:00 pm.  The highlights of the first ten years of the Spirit of Mother Jones festivals.
  • 7.00 pm. Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the death of Tadhg Barry, of Blarney Street.

                       Tadhg Barry Remembered. Documentary by Cork Council of Trade Unions and Frameworks Films.

  • 8.00 pm. Interview with Dr. Donal O’Drisceoil

                       Author of Utter Disloyalist: Tadhg Barry and The Irish Revolution.

Dr. Donal Ó Drisceoil

Saturday 27th November 2021.

  • 2:00 pm. Blood on the Mountain produced by Mari-Lynn Evans.
  • 4:00 pm. Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre produced 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.
Mari Steed
  • 7:00pm. Maureen Considine and Catherine Coffey O’Brien of the Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance, CSSA discuss their effort to safeguard the Bessborough Burial ground.
Maureen Considine and Catherine Coffey O’Brien.

Sunday 28th November 2021

  • 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.
Dr. Sean Pettit and Richard T. Cooke.
  • 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.

These events will feature on Cork Community Television at http://www.corkcommunitytv.ie or Virgin Media Channel 803.

The 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival will also include Q&A sessions with the speakers at the Maldron Hotel after the broadcasts on Cork Community Television. The capacity is strictly limited in accordance with the Covid-19 regulations for the safety of participants.  Full details on how to attend will be announced later.

Dr Sean Pettit – an Extraordinary Teacher.

Cork Community Television, Sunday 28th November at 7:00 pm.

We are proud to present Dr. Sean Pettit’s lecture entitled “The Cork City of Mary Harris” which he gave to the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones festival. Sean was a much loved and respected teacher and UCC lecturer who became widely known as a writer, broadcaster and a man with an intimate knowledge of the people and streets of Cork. 

Sean Pettit and Richard T. Cooke.

His publication This City of Cork 1700-1900 (1977) is long regarded as a classic. He believed that the best way to appreciate and experience the City was to go out and about on the streets. In his introduction he argued that “the main emphasis is on the people who made it, and on how they lived”. He did not neglect giving a raw and realistic account of the sick, the poor and the social problems through history in the City especially in the context of the Famine era into which Mary Harris was born in 1837.

Dr. Pettit with the aid of his large collection of photographs and prints captivated the vast attendance on that lovely Friday afternoon in July 2016 on the north side of Cork city. Sadly Sean passed away suddenly just a few months later on November 23rd 2016.

The introduction to “The Cork City of Mary Harris” will be given by his good friend Richard T Cooke. Richard is a founding member of the Cork Mother Jones Committee, himself a writer, singer and broadcaster and the author of many publications including My Home By The Lee (1999).

Dr. Sean Pettit……..An Extraordinary Teacher will be shown on Cork Community Television, livestream on www.corkcommunitytv.ie or Virgin Media 803 on Sunday evening 28th November at 7:00 pm as part of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2021.

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.