Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School events on Friday 2nd August.
Friday 2nd August
11:00 a.m. L Luke Dineen
“Craftsmen and the Irish revolution, 1920-23” .
Cathedral Visitor Centre
1:00 p.m. M Music at the Maldron.
2:30 p.m. L Dr. John Barimo.
“Social Justice, Inequality and Climate Change”. Cathedral Visitor Centre
3:30 p.m F Remembering the Cork Climate Change March 2019
L Micah Neilson. Fridays for Future Cork.
L Alicia O’Sullivan. Irish Ambassador for the Worlds Oceans.
5:00 p.m F Fords – Memories of the Line.
A film documentary produced by the Ford Ex-workers Group and Frameworks Films.
7:30 p.m. L Michael Kingston, Tom McSweeney.
“The Whiddy disaster
Statement by Madame Ginette Ravaleu, President of the
French-Irish Association of Relatives and Friends of the Betelgeuse
Firkin Crane Theatre.
9:30 p.m M John Nyhan and Mick Treacy present the songs of Pete Seeger (1919- 2014)
Huge congratulations to the worthy winners of the 2019 Spirit of Mother Jones Song Contest.
“Mine Workers’ Angel” by John Murphy with backing by Martin Somers (Jean O’Murchu agus Mortin)
The winners may sing their song at the plaque on Saturday evening, along with songs from Rory McCarthy.
Our thanks to all those who entered the contest.
Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School on Thursday 1st August.
The Radical Irish Diaspora
11:00 a.m. Lorraine Starsky
“In the Footsteps of Mother Jones – The Life and Legacy of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn 1890- 1964”
Cathedral Visitor Centre
1.00 p.m. Music at the Maldron.
2.30 p.m. Dr Kieran Groeger.
“The Extraordinary Life of John Swiney, the United Irishman from Shandon.”
Cathedral Visitor Centre
5.00 p.m The Limerick Soviet
A collaborative documentary between the Limerick Council of Trade Unions and Frameworks Films. We celebrate the 100th Anniversary of The Limerick Soviet. Author Liam Cahill will introduce the documentary. An exhibition on the Limerick Soviet courtesy of Cork City Library will be on site.
Maldron Hotel, Shandon
7.30 p.m. Anne Twomey Shandon Area History Group.
“Mary Elmes …………An Irish Heroine”
Firkin Crane Theatre
8:00 p m Fili Na Reabhloide (Poets of the Revolution)
Myo Café, Popes Quay.
Readings from your favourite poets of revolution and social change.
(Tel. 083 0425942)
9.30 p.m Club Ceoil Ballyphehane Ballad Group.
Evening includes the Song for Mother Jones.
First Cork Person to receive the Spirit of Mother Jones Award.
The Cork Mother Jones Committee is proud to announce that the 2019 Spirit of Mother Jones Award will be presented to Louise O’Keeffe.
Louise is the first Cork recipient of this International Award which is named after Cork born Mary Harris who became known around the world as Mother Jones.
Louise O’Keeffe describes herself as an ordinary West Cork woman and mother of two children. Yet this extraordinary woman fought a 15 year long battle to get civil redress for the sexual abuse she suffered at Dunderrow Primary School in Co Cork. Having failed to find justice in the Irish Courts she proceeded to take the Irish government to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
In 2014 the ECHR found in her favour.
According to James Nolan, spokesperson for the Cork Mother Jones Committee,
which presents this annual award
“Louise O’Keeffe is indeed an extraordinary woman, a fighter for justice who was determined to ensure justice for herself and the hundreds of people who suffered similar injustice in the schools of Ireland. In doing this she exposed the failure of the Irish authorities in spite of the Irish courts to ensure Irish children were protected from sexual abuse in Irish schools.
Louise spoke at the 2018 Spirit of Mother Jones summer school, her contribution was regarded by many of those attending as an inspirational talk in which she described in vivid detail her personal journey through the obstacles and the difficulties she faced in her long quest for justice.
Louise O’Keeffe is a worthy recipient of the 2019 Spirit of Mother Jones Award and the Cork Mother Jones Committee is extremely proud and happy that Louise is the first Cork person to receive this unique honour.
Mother Jones herself would have been proud of her fighting spirit.”
James Nolan stated,
In spite of the 2014 European Court Judgement, the Irish government moved to prevent victims from receiving compensation. After introducing a compensation scheme, they included a further obstacle which ensured victims could only receive compensation if they could prove their abuse occurred in the aftermath of a prior complaint made against their abuser.
This was virtually an impossible condition for young children to have acted on and every single applicant for the compensation scheme was rejected.
Earlier this July, more than 5 years after the European Court decision the independent assessor to review the scheme, retired High Court Judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill that this ridiculous obstacle imposed by the State represented “an inherent inversion of logic and was a fundamental unfairness to the applicants….it was inconsistent with the core reasoning of the judgement of the ECHR in the Louise O’Keeffe case.”
As a direct response to a public call from Louise O’Keeffe, the Taoiseach, Mr. Leo Varadkar apologised to victims in the Dail on Tuesday 9th July. Yet some 400 applicants continue to wait for justice.
The award is presented annually to people who act and work in the spirit of Mother Jones and Louise O’Keeffe now joins a worthy list of past recipients.
The 2019 Award will be presented to Ms O’Keeffe by James Nolan and the Cork Mother Jones Committee on Wednesday 31st July at 2pm approx following the official opening of the 2019 festival at the Maldron Hotel, in the Shandon Historic Quarter in Cork.
The Cork Spirit of Mother Jones Awards to date have been to;
2013, Margaret Aspinall and Sue Roberts. (Hillsborough Family Support Group)
2014, Gareth Peirce. Solicitor.
2015 Fr Peter McVerry. Campaigner for the homeless.
2016 Dave Hopper (RIP) General Secretary, Durham Miners’ Association.
2017 Ken Fleming. (International Transport Workers Federation.)
The 8th Annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School opens in the Shandon area on the northside of Cork city today.
Events at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Wednesday 31st July 2019.
10:30 a.m. F A film by Rosemary Feurer.
Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman
Cathedral Visitor Centre
11:00 a.m. F Frameworks Films
Mother Jones and Her Children. Cathedral Visitor Centre
12: 30 a.m. The March of the Mill Children pageant at Shandon Plaza.
(With the assistance of Cork Community Art Link.)
1:30 p.m. Official festival opening by the Lord Mayor of Cork at Maldron Hotel, Shandon
3:00 p.m. L Séan Ó Tuathaigh
“Outlanders – Stories of the Displaced”. Cathedral Visitor Centre
7: 00 p.m. L Joe Creedon
“Ellen Cotter, the mother of Mary Harris, and Inchigeelagh in the early 1800s”
Firkin Crane Theatre
8:00 p.m L Professor Elliott Gorn. (Author of Mother Jones…..the Most Dangerous Woman in America)
“The story of Mother Jones”
Firkin Crane Theatre
9:30 p.m. M The Cork Singers’ Club
Maldron Hotel, Shandon.
Mother Jones………her background, her life and her legacy.
Firkin Crane Theatre, Shandon.
Wednesday 31st July 2019 at 7pm.
On Wednesday 31st July, Elliott J Gorn, US historian and author and Joe Creedon, historian from Inchigeelagh, will discuss the background, life and times of Mother Jones and what is known of her mother’s life in Inchigeelagh. This will represent the most comprehensive account of Mary Harris/Mother Jones yet seen in Cork.
In her autobiography published in 1925, Mother Jones writes just a few lines on her Cork roots.
“I was born in the City of Cork, Ireland in 1830. My people were poor. For generations they had fought for Ireland’s freedom. Many of my folks died in that struggle. My father Richard Harris came to America in 1835 and as soon as he became an American citizen he sent for his family.”
Mother Jones was 88 years old when this autobiography was published. Her dates above are incorrect in that she was actually born around 31st July 1837 (baptised by Fr John O’Mahony on 1st August 1837 at the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne). Also her father and brother left for Canada in 1847, not 1835.
However her failure in this autobiography to mention her mother Ellen Cotter is strange but then she spends just a few pages on her early life as Mary Harris, the remaining 200 pages concentrate on Mother Jones.
On February 9th 1834, Richard Harris and Ellen Cotter were married in the old church in Inchigeelagh, this was then located in the centre of Inchigeelagh Village towards the rear of the present day Creedons Hotel. The village was quite small at the time comprising about a dozen buildings in all.
Their first son Richard was born in 1835 and was baptised also in Inchigeelagh, however the family had moved to live in Cork City as Mary and her later siblings Catherine 1840, Ellen in 1845 and William in 1846 were all baptised in the Cathedral.
Rural Ireland was then a place of agrarian conflict and poverty in the early 1800s as the growing population was very dependent on tiny holdings and the potato as a food source. Throughout Munster, the Whiteboys led by Captain Rock were in constant conflict with the authorities and outrages, reprisals and retaliation were common.
In 1822, the Battle of Keimaneigh took place near Inchigeelagh and involved hundreds of Whiteboys. The subsequent fall out from this would have reverberated around the local rural area as State repression forced people into insurrection. Thousands crowded into the towns and cities adding to the widespread destitution.
Once the potato blight was found in potatoes in rural Cork in the summer of 1845, it signalled the beginning of the Great Famine, which devastated Ireland and impacted on millions of Irish lives and left a mark on the emotional psyche of the Irish people ever since. The Harris family were just one of hundreds of thousands of families who fled Ireland seeking a better life.
Young Mary Harris left Cork, and her subsequent story and how she overcame personal tragedy has become an inspiration to millions of immigrants. Yet she found the will and determination to fight the economic and political injustice which she had first experienced in Ireland and later in the USA.
Joe Creedon lives in Inchigeelagh in Uibh Laoire. He is deeply immersed in the history, heritage and folk memory of this beautiful part of Muskerry. His vivid accounts of the people of his village are told with a vibrancy and passion. Listening to Joe takes one directly to the ancient world of his ancestors and the countryside of his native place. His story becomes a living portrait of the era described. Joe will tell of Ellen Cotter and early 19th Century Inchigeelagh.
Elliott Gorn attended the very first Mother Jones Festival in Shandon in 2012 and described the life and impact of Mother Jones. Elliott made the original discovery in relation to the baptism of Mary Harris at the North Cathedral in 1837, which was published in his classic account of Mother Jones (Mother Jones – The Most Dangerous Woman in America, published 2001, Hill and Wang). This book remains a very comprehensive account of the life of Mary Harris and the union/labour activities of Mother Jones.
In his conclusion Elliott stated,
“She was expected to go silently through life, for she was a mere worker in a country that worshipped success, an immigrant in a nativist land, a woman in a male-dominated society, and an elderly person in a nation that cherished youth. Hers was a voice that American’s were not supposed to hear. That was her final legacy – out of nothing but courage, passion, and commitment, she created a unique voice, a prophetic voice, and raised it in the cause of renewing America’s democratic promise.”
Elliott has just completed The Story of Emmett Till – Let the People See, published by Oxford University Press. He will speak about Emmett Till on Saturday 3rd August next at 3pm at the Firkin Crane Theatre.
Social Justice, Inequality and Climate Change.
By Dr. John Barimo.
Cathedral Visitor Centre, Friday afternoon, 2nd August at 2.30.
This lecture will explore issues of environmental and climate justice from local and regional levels to the planetary scale. The conversation will be grounded in ecological and environmental sciences with pertinent background information provided with the intention of moving the discourse beyond established dogmas.
The talk will include experiential insights into traditional Native American cultures with regards to land use practices and ecological awareness. Representative historical events will be explored to gain insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the environmental movement.
The concept of NIMBY will be considered with local and regional environmental issues with attention focused on case studies where inequalities can be generally detected along socio-economic lines. Finally, concepts will be scaled up to planetary level to consider the linked issues of carbon emissions, ocean acidification and climate change, and their disproportionate impacts on developing countries and small island nations.
This lecture will be immediately followed by a short film Remembering the Cork Climate Change March 2019. (Frameworks Films). This impressive, colourful and vocal march of students protesting about the failure to tackle Climate Change took place on 15th March 2019 beginning at Emmet Place in Cork and finishing at City Hall Cork. Over 5000 students participated.
Micah Neilson is a member of Fridays For Future Cork which helped to organise the Cork Climate Change march. She will then discuss the role of the grassroots movement Fridays For Future Cork has played in the recent student strikes in Ireland and how they have propelled the impact of Climate Change to the very top of the political and social agenda.
Alicia O’Sullivan is from Skibbereen in West Cork and is Ireland’s Youth Ambassador for the Oceans. She admitted recently that the impact of Climate Charge has made her afraid of the future. An activist on social issues she will also discuss the role of the youth of the world in saving the planet from extinction. She has recently campaigned against the planning permission for a plastics factory in her native town.
The meeting will conclude with a full panel Questions and Answers.
All are welcome to attend.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pete Seeger, John Nyhan and Mick Treacy will sing some of the songs associated with this legendary folk singer at the Maldron Hotel on Friday 2nd August at 9.30pm.
Pete Seeger remained committed throughout his long life to basic principles such as defence of trade unions, the rights of workers, social justice, peace and protection of the environment. An activist at heart, a songwriter, he wrote hundreds of songs, saved many “lost’ songs and popularised dozens of others.
“Songs won’t save the planet, but neither will books or speeches. But songs are sneaky things, they slip past borders, they proliferate in prisons”.
His main influences were Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Alan Lomax and Aunt Molly Jackson. Pete listened in awe as Leadbelly talked to his guitar, he sang for his next meal with Guthrie and he marvelled as Aunt Molly veteran of Harlan County mine wars sang out “I am a Union Woman”.
He studied sociology in Harvard, yet he wanted to be a journalist. The Harvard Class of 1940, including John F Kennedy, graduated without Pete who had dropped out. Abandoning his efforts to become an artist he discovered the songs and music of the people which allowed the working class to express themselves.
He was an integral part of the initial fusion and synergy of folk music with social and union activism, IWW songs, communist and leftist politics in the post-depression years. His first public appearance as a singer in 1940 ended with Pete forgetting how to play his 5 string banjo and then forgetting the words. Yet his dedication, belief and resilience saw him found the Almanac Singers and play Madison Square Garden in May 1941 before thousands of striking workers from the Transport Workers’ Union, led by Kilgarvan born Mike Quill.
The Almanac Singers “Talking Union” album featuring Pete and Woody became a musical bible for thousands of union activists and ensured the survival of songs such as Solidarity Forever (Ralph Chaplin), Which Side Are You On (Florence Reece) and We Shall Not Be Moved. The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the entry of the Americans into World War 2 ensured the demise of the Almanacs.
Seeger was drafted into the Army and served the war out in Saipan. Tragically, his baby son Peter, with his wife Toshi died at 4 months while he was in Saipan. After the war, he helped to organise People’s Songs, a huge collective of musicians and union activists which shared songs and promoted left-wing causes. Later he established Sing Out.
In 1949, Pete along with Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman established The Weavers. They achieved popular success with hits such as Goodnight Irene (written by Pete’s old friend Lead belly), Wimoweh and Tena, Tzena, Tzena.
The advent of the McCarthy witch hunts ensured Pete became a target for the FBI and informers. Labelled a “Commie” and “Stalin’s Songbird”, the notorious and feared blacklist brought about the demise of the popular Weavers, with work drying up. Pete considered himself a communist with a small “c”, he supported many communist causes, was a member of the Communist Party and defended them in the 40s and 50s but claimed to be a musician first rather than a politician.
Through the grinding 1950s, Seeger became a lightning rod for the FBI and was relentlessly investigated for sedition by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. 1961 saw him cited for contempt of Congress and sentenced to ten one year periods in jail to run concurrently. Finally in May 1962, a Court of Appeal dismissed the charges.
His plight aroused a worldwide campaign. The Pete Seeger Committee in England had Paul Robeson as president, Ewan MacColl as secretary and Benjamin Britten, Doris Lessing and Sean O’Casey as sponsors. 4000 people packed the Royal Albert Hall in his support in 1961. A young Bob Dylan accused the authorities of framing him and described Seeger as a “saint.” Tommy Makem publicly supported Pete.
The 1960s saw the folk/rock boom take off and groups such as Peter, Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio had huge hits with If I Had a Hammer and Where Have All The Flowers Gone. Turn Turn Turn and his adaption of the Cuban poem Guantanamera is embedded in the public consciousness. Pete’s version of We Shall Overcome an old gospel hymn adapted by striking tobacco workers in the 40s and published in People’s Songs became the anthem of the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements. He marched at Selma with Dr Martin Luther King and encouraged Bernice Johnson and the Freedom Singers, who brought the spiritual and slave songs of the South to the Civil Rights movement.
Back in 1949, Pete and his wife Toshi had purchased 17 acres of land on a hilly site overlooking the River Hudson, near Beacon north of New York. There they built a “log cabin” and raised three children (Danny, Mika and Tinya) amidst the woods. Toshi was an activist, “the brains of the family” who shunned the limelight, she organised Pete and organised concerts, festivals and their itineraries (Newport Folk Festival, the Clearwater festival).
A non-drinker and non-smoker, Seeger lived a relatively independent ascetic lifestyle, answering mail from all over the world, writing songs, supporting union and social causes and simply chopping wood.
In the 60s he noticed how the nearby environment was deteriorating and how the Hudson River was increasingly contaminated with toxic materials. Vowing to try to rectify this environmental degradation floating past his remote home, he led a project to build a sloop to travel the river to educate people and society about cleaning up the once beautiful Hudson. In 1969, Clearwater was finally launched and still plies the waterways.
Seeger played his banjo and sang at hundreds of counter culture events through the 70s and 80s and influenced generations of singers and activists, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and dozens of others acknowledged his pioneering influence, Pete in turn acknowledged Huddie, Aunt Molly and Woody. His 90th Birthday concert at Madison Square Garden was a huge event as the folk music world paid homage.
A highlight for Pete came when Barack Obama asked him to perform at his presidential inauguration concert in 2009. Accompanied by Tao Rodriguez, his grandson and Springsteen, they sang This Land is Your Land, written by Woody Guthrie.
Pete passed away on 27th January 2014. Toshi Seeger died on 9th July 2013.
John Nyhan was born in Cork City, he now lives in North Cork. He was heavily influenced by the Folk music revival of the 60s and 70s and has been playing and promoting music for over 40 years. In the 1970s he was a founding member of the Shandon Folk Club in Eason’s Hill, within earshot of the Shandon Bells.
John worked as a peace campaigner in Northern Ireland in the 70s as a member of Voluntary Services International. He is well known for his involvement in the Bluegrass and Folks concerts which take place at the Village Arts Centre in Kilworth in North Cork.
Along with Mick Treacy he has played at the Mother Jones festivals and his song themes have included the songs of Joe Hill, songs of the mining communities and the songs of the Spanish Civil War in 2017. In 2018 John and Mick honoured Ewan MacColl in an unforgettable performance.
Mick Treacy was a familiar figure in the folk clubs across English which resulted from the Folk revival. He was a member of the famous “Munstermen” folk group which played and sang on the UK folk circuits. The Munstermen had their own club known as the “Holy Ground” in the Cambridge Inn. Mick’s knowledge of folk ballads is encyclopaedic and his powerful performances along with his old friend John Nyhan are always memorable at the festival.
The songs of Pete Seeger will be sung at the Maldron Hotel in Shandon at 9.30 pm on Friday night 2nd August at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2019.
Some news in from our friends at the Mother Jones Heritage Project in Illinois with thanks to Prof. Rosemary Feurer.
Firstly there’s an update on two exciting musical events
Tickets go on sale tomorrow, 4th February for what promises to be a highly impressive performance of the 2019 Siamsa na nGael – a Celtic Celebration of the Arts, Song, Dance and Stories.
Tickets are on sale beginning February 4. Post performance and sponsorship packages are available by calling 312-798-2348. The event takes place at the Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago.
Next there’s the equally exciting performance of the musical Mother Jones in Heaven by the inimitable Si Kahn who performed at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork in 2014. The musical will be performed on Wednesday, March 27th 2019 at 7.00pm at the Irish American Center in Chicago.
There’s also the Mother Jones May Day Birthday Party on May 1st celebrating Mother Jones unofficial “American birthday” at the same venue, followed by the opening of a brand new Mother Jones exhibition by artist Lindsay Hand. The exhibition and works are funded by the Government of Ireland.