The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2020

The full Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2020 programme from Friday 27th November 2020 to Monday 30th November 2020 is now available. All events are free to view on Cork Community TV and everybody is welcome over the course of the weekend. We hope that you enjoy the 2020 programme.

Friday 27th November


3:00 p.m. The Dynamic Role of Labour Unions in the Wake of Covid-19 and
the Safe Keeping of Front-Line Workers”
A Partner Event with University College Cork Civic Engagement and the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival
Speakers: Phil Ní Sheaghdha (INMO), Ann Piggott (ASTI), Dr Edward Lahiff (IFUT)
Co-ordinated by Dr John Barimo.
Click Here for direct webinar access at the time of the event.
7.30 p.m. Introduction by Cllr Joe Kavanagh, Lord Mayor of Cork
“What Did the Women Do Anyway?”
A discussion with Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Group


Saturday 28th November


11.00 a.m. Tadhg Barry Remembered
Documentary film by Frameworks Films in collaboration with the Cork Council of Trade Unions.
2:30 p.m. “Ahawadda to Dáil Eireann: the amazing story of Sean Dunne, union organiser”
Discussion with historian Diarmuid Kingston
3:30 p.m. “And the World Turns Away” Discussion with Peadar King
7:00 p.m. “Cork Burning” A power point presentation by Michael Lenihan
8:00 p.m. An evening with Jimmy Crowley at the Firkin Theatre
Sunday 29th November
Mother Jones Festival Archives
11:00 a.m. 2:30 p.m. 4:00 p.m.
8:10 p.m.
“The story of Hillsborough” with Margaret Aspinall (2013) “Error of Judgement” with Chris Mullin (2015)
“One Woman’s Fight for Justice” with Louise O’Keeffe (2018)


Sunday evening with the Cork Singers’ Club

(Zoom and live on Cork Singers’ Club Facebook page)
If anyone wishes to participate email John Murphy
dublinhill6@gmail.com


Monday 30th November
Mother Jones Commemoration Day: 90th Anniversary
3:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. 7.00 p.m.
8:00 p.m.
“Ellen Cotter and Inchigeela in the 1800s” by Joe Creedon (2019) “The story of Mother Jones” by Professor Elliott J Gorn (2019)
Mother Jones and her Children
Documentary by Frameworks Films
“Shandon in the time of Mother Jones”
Narrated by Kieran McCarthy
8:30 p.m. Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman By Rosemary Feurer
8:45 p.m. “Mother Jones visits Shandon in 1920”
With Joan Goggin
9:00 p.m. The legacy of Mother Jones. Tributes to Mother Jones
Times and Link at http://www.corkcommunitytv.ie or Virgin Media 803 on the box. Check the schedule on Cork Community TV for final times and repeats.


(Full programme and times on http://www.motherjonescork.com and Facebook)

The Dynamic Role of Labour Unions in the Wake of Covid-19 and the Safe Keeping of Frontline Workers

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in partnership with

University College Cork Civic & Community Engagement

27 November 2020, 3.00 – 4.00 pm (Irish GMT)

We are at critical juncture for trade unions and worker’s rights during this period of economic stress, joblessness, and wealth concentration.  Education and healthcare professions are among those front-line workers who now face increased health and safety risks.  Join Dr Edward Lahiff (IFUT National Executive) in conversation with Ms. Ann Piggott, President of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) and Ms. Phil Ni Sheaghdha, General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) on the role of Unions in leading the way forward.

With both health and education sectors providing vital services to society, panellists consider how the global pandemic will reframe issues of labour rights and workplace safety over the next decade.

To Register: (see below)

This event will be hosted live and broadcast using Microsoft Teams.

SPEAKERS:

·         Dr. Edward Lahiff (moderator), Branch Chair of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) at University College Cork. 

·         Ms. Phil Ni Sheaghdha, General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO);

·         Ms. Ann Piggott, President of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI);

Organised by Dr. John Barimo in partnership with University College Cork Civic & Community Engagement.

There will be a couple of ways for people to register and attend the Live Event webinar.  

1. You can pre-register with Eventbrite. Eventbrite is programmed to send email reminders 24-hours and 1-hour before the event, so less likely to forget. Click Here to Register

2. Click Here for direct webinar access at the time of the event.

IMPORTANT: This event will be broadcast on Microsoft Teams.  If you have not used Microsoft Teams in the past, please allow yourself a few extra moments before the event.  *You do not need to download the MS Teams app.  When you click the link to join simply (1) select option ‘Join on Web Instead’. (2) On next screen select ‘Join Anonymously’.   

Photos: Phil Ni Sheaghdha, Ann Piggott, Dr. Edward Lahiff, Dr. John Barimo.

Antoinette Keegan is the Spirit of Mother Jones Award recipient for 2020.

The late Christine Keegan and her daughter Antoinette. Photo courtesy of Sam Boal


The Cork Mother Jones Committee is proud to announce that the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Award will be presented to Antoinette Keegan of the Stardust Victims Committee.

Antoinette and her mother Christine Keegan were due to speak in Cork at this year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Summer school. Sadly, Christine passed away in July after a lifetime of fighting for justice for the Stardust victims.

The Keegan family have been central to the efforts for the past 40 years to investigate the causes of the fire. The recent announcement of a new inquest into the victims of the Stardust Fire is testament to the determination of Antoinette and her family and the Stardust Victims committee to pursue the truth of the night of the 13/14th February in 1981. 

“The Spirit of Mother Jones Award is awarded this year to Ms. Antoinette Keegan of the Stardust Victims Committee for her determination, resilience and longstanding efforts to pursue truth, accountability and justice for the Stardust victims and their families over almost 40 years.  

Antoinette and her late mother Christine and father John have pursued answers to what happened at the Stardust fire on 14th February 1981, where 48 young people lost their lives, including Antoinette’s sisters Mary and Martina.

In spite of her own injuries, the loss of her sisters, and the failure of the Authorities to provide answers, Antoinette has continued to actively campaign to uncover the full truth of the events of that night. She is an inspiration to so many!

For her bravery, courage and commitment, Antoinette Keegan is a very worthy recipient of the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Award.”

The Cork Mother Jones Committee

The award has been presented each year since 2013 by this committee to the person we feel most represents the fighting spirit of Mother Jones, who was born Mary Harris here in Cork in July 1837 and went on to become known throughout the world as Mother Jones. She fought for the rights of workers and the trade union movement and was involved in numerous campaigns

We will arrange to present the award representing The Children of Lir to Antoinette as soon as it becomes safe to do so in view of the current Covid-19 situation. It is hoped Antoinette will be able to come to Cork to speak at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school in 2021. 

For details of the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival which will take place online between the 27th and the 30th Novembersee www.motherjonescork.com. The full programme of events will appear this coming weekend.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/stardust-campaigner-honoured-with-the-spirit-of-mother-jones-award-1.4412466?mode=amp

Previous recipients of this award have been

2013, Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

2014, Gareth Peirce, Solicitor

2015 Fr. Peter McVerry.

2016 Dave Hopper, RIP Durham Miners’ Association

2017 Ken Fleming, International Transport Workers Federation

2018 Mary Manning, (Dunnes Stores Workers)

2019 Louise O’Keeffe.

2020 Antoinette Keegan.

What Did the Women Do Anyway?

This was a dismissive comment originally made to a founder of Cumann na mBan In Cork, Lil Conlon. 

Years later, the comment also annoyed members of the Shandon Area History Group. 

The result was Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times published in 2019 by the Shandon Area History Group.

This ground breaking publication reveals some of the hidden pages of the story of eleven Cork women who took part in the War of Independence and Civil War in Cork. Varying from the internationally recognised Mary MacSwiney to the almost invisible Wallace sisters, the stories of these ordinary women remained largely untold until now.

As part of the forthcoming Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, a documentary called “What did the Women do Anyway?” featuring a discussion with historian Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Group about these remarkable women will be shown as part of the festival’s contribution to the Cork Commemoration 1920-1923. 


Filmed by Frameworks Films one can hear of the story of the Wallace Sisters, of the opera singer Kate ‘Birdy’ Conway  the issue of violence against women,  the failure to acknowledge the womens selfless contribution to the War of Independence and the ongoing efforts to ensure the role of other women such as Muriel Murphy and Nora O’Brein are recognised.  


Back in 1949, Tom Barry in his Guerrilla Days in Ireland stated that the women “were a splendid body of young women and their value to the IRA was well appreciated by the enemy” . One may well ask were these women ever really appreciated by the IRA or the leaders of the new Irish State?  

The discussion with Anne Twomey, What Did the Women Do Anyway will be available online during the forthcoming 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival (27th-30th November). Links and the full programme of events will appear on www.motherjonescork.com. and Facebook.


Our thanks to the Shandon Area History group for their assistance and for photos. Check out their Facebook page to obtain a copy of the book, Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times.

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.

The remarkable Wallace sisters.

Documentary on One – The Little Shop of Secrets by Bill Murphy.Saturday July 18th at 1pm on Radio 1.


In the early decades of the last century two sisters, Nora and Sheila Wallace, ran a small newsagents in the centre of Cork City. However, their customers were unaware that when they bought their Irish Times or Cork Examiner, that this small shop also traded in military secrets during the Irish War of Independence – from deciphering codes, to keeping the inventory of armaments for the Cork No. 1 Brigade, Irish Republican Army. 

Sheila and Nora Wallace grew up in rural north Cork, before coming to live and work in Cork City in the 1900s where they rented the premises on Brunswick Street (now St Augustine’s Street) in the centre of the city. On the very narrow street in the shadow of the large St Augustine’s Church, the shop sold newspapers, sweets, cigarettes, magazines and religious items such as statues and rosary beads. 


Over the shop the sisters lived in small, meagre quarters. Interested in nationalist and socialist ideals, Sheila and Nora became friendly with figures such and James Connolly and Countess Markievicz. Because of their deep-rooted sense of nationalism, they also came to know prominent local nationalist figures in Cork such as Tomás McCurtain, Terence MacSwiney, Florence O’Donoghue, Seán O’Hegarty, as well as Michael Collins.  
As the nationalist movement gained more popularity throughout Ireland, the Wallace Sisters became deeply involved with the Irish Volunteers. After the shutting down of the Cork Volunteers headquarters in Sheares Street in 1917, the Wallaces’ small shop became more than a meeting place for the leadership of the Cork Volunteers. It was essentially the Brigade headquarters where the intelligence and communications activities in the city and county were co-ordinated during the War of Independence. 


Records show that Sheila became a Staff Officer in the IRA, making her one of the highest female rank holders in the organisation at the time. Meetings of Cork No. 1 Brigade leadership were held in the kitchen at the back of the shop, where raids and ambushes were planned. Dispatches went through the shop for IRA operations. Spies in the Crown forces were recruited and handled by the Wallaces and British Army codes were deciphered by them. They also kept meticulous records of the armaments and equipment held by the Brigade, effectively acting in the role as quartermasters.


In The Little Shop of Secrets, Bill Murphy – grandnephew to Sheila and Nora Wallace – pieces together the remarkable story of two young women who placed their lives in grave danger by running an intelligence centre, safe house and spy network from their little shop in the centre of Cork City during the War of Independence, right under the noses of the Royal Irish Constabulary and British Crown forces. 
Contributors to the documentary include Dr. John Borgonovo and Gabriel Doherty from the History Department in University College Cork, local historians Anne Twomey and Gerry White, Commandant Daniel Ayiotis of the Bureau of Military History, Daniel Breen of Cork Public Museum, Bernadette Wallace – niece to Nora and Sheila Wallace, Ted Murphy – grandnephew to Nora and Sheila Wallace.


Saturday 18th July, 1pm, RTÉ Radio 1Sunday 19th July, 7pm, RTÉ Radio1 Narrated by Bill Murphy Produced by Bill Murphy and Sarah Blake www.rte.ie/doconone


Note:On 30th July 2016, Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Group gave a talk on “The Wallace Sisters” at the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Summer School before a packed audience which included Bernadette Wallace, a niece of the sisters.The remarkable story of the sisters came as a surprise to many who attended, which showed how quietly these two extraordinary women went about their business.  

The Extraordinary Wallace Sisters | The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

An Irishman’s Diary about about a republican newsagents in revolution-era Cork.

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

The “Spirit of Mother Jones” Festival 2013

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is delighted to announce the holding of the 2013 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Shandon from Tuesday 30th July to Thursday 1st August 2013.

This international “Shandon Summer School” event will see speakers from Ireland joined by participants from both the United Kingdom and the United States, who will attend to discuss issues associated with social justice, labour history and trade union struggles. These were issues close to the heart of Cork born Mary Harris known throughout the world as Mother Jones, after whom the event is named in honour.

In 2012 Shandon was the location for the inaugural Mother Jones Festival which celebrated the 175 Anniversary of the birth of Mary Harris nearby. The festival was hugely successful, receiving coverage throughout Ireland and America and placing the historic Shandon area in international focus.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee felt Shandon should continue to honour Mother Jones by highlighting and providing a platform for discussing labour history, trade union actions for fair working conditions and social issues in the setting of the birthplace of Mother Jones.

“What better way to remember the great Mother Jones that by listening to, learning of and discussing the struggles of ordinary workers and people in an annual Summer School format in this area?”

“It would be a fitting tribute to an extraordinary Cork woman”

Jim Nolan of the Mother Jones Committee.

The Shandon festival/summer school will have a mixture of speakers, lectures discussions, films and music and songs associated with these struggles over three days.

On Tuesday evening, 30th July the Chairperson of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, Margaret Aspinall will speak on the traumatic events which took place at the Hillsborough Stadium on the 15th April 1989, when 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives. Margaret’s son James was among those who never came home from that game. Margaret will give an account of the families long 23 year campaign to highlight the injustice and untruths which surrounded the real causes of this appalling disaster.

Wednesday afternoon 31st July will see Ken Fleming of SIPTU and an Inspector with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) give a lecture on the exploitation of seafarers on vessels operating under Flags of Convenience. Over the past 4 years Ken has recouped over a million euro in unpaid wages for foreign seafarers in Irish ports, six vessels were detained and over 100 seafarers repatriated.

Later that evening Padraig Yeates, journalist, writer and author of the book “Lockout”, an account of the bitter workers strike in 1913, will give the Centenary lecture on the Dublin Lockout. The Lockout was a watershed in Irish political and labour history and began a chain of events which led eventually to the 1916 rebellion. Padraig Yeates is a renowned expert on this period in Irish history. His Centenary lecture will take place at 7pm on Wednesday 31st August at the Firkin Crane.

On Thursday 1st August, Mother Jones Day, we are honoured to present Professor Simon Cordery of Western Illinois University who will deliver the annual Mother Jones lecture. Simon has written extensively on the activities of Mother Jones and recently completed a history and analysis of Mother Jones entitled Mother Jones “Raising Cain and Consciousness”.

“All the speakers will present in their different ways a common thread through history of ordinary people and families fighting for basic rights whether in their work places or in their daily lives as epitomised by the spirit of Mother Jones who spent most of her life defending the rights of workers and their families in the United States of America.”

Jim Nolan

The festival will see Andy Irvine return to Cork to perform a special concert in honour of Mother Jones at the Firkin on Thursday 1st August. There is limited capacity and tickets will need to be pre purchased.

Richard T Cooke is organizing a Mother Jones tribute concert also at the Firkin Crane on Wednesday 31st July.

Noted actor Jer O’Leary will perform a Jim Larkin monologue while the famous Cork Singers Club will perform a series of labour and trade union songs at the Maldron Hotel.

All are welcome to attend this unique event which forms part of the Gathering events in Cork City in 2013.

For further information contact:

Jim Nolan 0861651356
Michael Lally 0868540896
Gerard O’Mahony 0863196063.