Social Justice, Inequality and Climate Change.

Social Justice, Inequality and Climate Change.

By Dr. John Barimo.

Cathedral Visitor Centre, Friday afternoon, 2nd August at 2.30.

Fridays for Future Cork

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.

John Barimo

Dr. John Barimo

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 Nelson

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

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.

 

 

Mother Jones Festival remembers Pete Seeger (1919 – 2014)

Mother Jones Festival remembers Pete Seeger (1919 – 2014)

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”.

 

Almanac Singers album “Talking Union”

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.

Pete Seeger in concert

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.

Pete Seeger at  HUAC

Pete Seeger in a forthright stance at the US House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)

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.

Clearwater on the Hudson River

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.

Pete and Toshi

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

John Nyhan

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.

 

Mother Jones continues to draw huge interest in the USA

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.

Mother Jones historical marker

This may be of interest to our friends in the United States and especially in the state of Illinois.

The Mother Jones Heritage Project in Illinois will be unveiling a new permanent marker  at Highway I-55 Northbound, Coalfield Rest area at 12 Noon on Tuesday, 11th December 2018. All are welcome

Among the guest speakers will be Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mineworkers of America and Prof. Elliott Gorn, biographer of Mother Jones.   Mr. Roberts will officially cut the ribbon to unveil the new marker.

The following information on the new marker has been received from our friends at the Mother Jones Heritage Project:-

The large outdoor marker profiles Mother Jones, the Cork-born agitator for labor rights.

The indoor exhibit tells the story of the 10,000 coalfield women who marched to Springfield in 1933 in the Mother Jones tradition.

We will launch two walking tours as part of our Stories series:
1) an interactive tours of the Union Miners Cemetery/Mother Jones Monument in Mt. Olive Illinois
2) a walking tour of Virden Illinois, where the the UMWA waged a defense of unionism in 1898.
These tours will include performances, songs and mapping that will bring this story to a broad audience in the years to come.

We are grateful to our donors and supporters, who boosted these efforts and have done so much to keep this effort going, including the following organizations whose contributions have boosted this effort:

Government of Ireland,  United Mine Workers of America, Mother Jones Foundation, Springfield & Central Illinois Trades & Labor Council, Southwestern Illinois Building Trades Council, Illinois Labor History Society, Illinois State Historical Society, Illinois Humanities, Northern Illinois University, Rick Hargett, Shane Austin (Ironworkers), Barbara Miller, Amy Bromsen, Bill Parker, Laurel Parker, Jeanne Graham, Terry Reed, Jim Dixon.

We thank the following teams who have been working on these projects:

Historical marker design and installation include:  Elliott Gorn, Kate Klimut, Rosemary Feurer, Stephanie Seawell Fortado, Dave Rathke,  Shane Austin of Ironworkers, Witt Sign-Chicago

Team for indoor exhibit: Rosemary Feurer, Elliott Gorn, Stephanie Seawell Fortado, Greg Boozell, Sophia Varcados (NIU creative services), Kate Klimut, Ace Sign-Springfield

Team for tours and stories: Rosemary Feurer, Kate Klimut, Sophia Varcados (NIU creative services), Greg Boozell, Mark Raupp, Vivian Nesbitt, Bill Yund, Bucky Halker

A night of music with the Songs of Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl (photo via The Guardian)

Well known Cork folk singers, John Nyhan and Mick Treacy will present the songs of Ewan MacColl at the Maldron Hotel Bar on Friday night 3rd August at 9.30pm.

John Nyhan

John Nyhan

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.

 

Mick Treacy

Mick Treacy

Along with Mick Treacy he has played at several Mother Jones festivals and his song themes have included the songs of Joe Hill, songs of the mining communities and in 2017, the songs of the Spanish Civil War. 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.

 

Ewan MacColl, born James Henry Miller (Jimmie Miller) in Salford in 1915, became one of the best known and influential folk singers in Britain over many decades. Largely self-educated, MacColl became an active and lifelong Communist and took part in many unemployed worker campaigns during the great depression years.

He was an actor, folk singer, songwriter, song collector and poet. He wrote over 300 songs during his life, many classics and a few of questionable worth.  Some of his songs were recorded by Irish folk groups such as the Dubliners, the Clancy Brothers, the Pogues and Luke Kelly. Dick Gaughan also recorded several of his compositions.

Classics include “Dirty Old Town“, which was written in 1948 for a Theatre workshop production, “Landscape with Chimney’s”, a documentary play about Salford in Lancashire.  “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face“, (1958) “The Shoals of Herring“. (1961) and “Freeborn Man” written in 1966 for a radio ballad entitled The Travelling People.

Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger album cover

An avid collector of material, he worked closely with his good friend Alan Lomax, who recorded some of his material, he also worked with A.L. Lloyd (Bert Lloyd), who collected a vast trove of working class and coal mining ballads. MacColl also met up with uilleann piper Seamus Ennis, who himself was a collector of traditional music.

He wandered folk music clubs and singing clubs, a few outstanding and a few in questionable locations (in public houses) and many with dubious atmosphere. MacColl questioned why some trade unions seemed unaware of their cultural responsibilities and urged them to provide a base for the vibrant sub-culture in folk music that was then taking shape in the 50s.

His daughter with his second wife, Jean Newlove, was the late singer Kirsty MacColl. His third wife Peggy Seeger (Half-sister to the American singer Pete Seeger) collaborated in many of his songs and albums.

His gritty and honest autobiography, “Journeyman” (Sidgwick & Jackson) completed just before his death in 1989 is dedicated to Peggy and states “The names of a number of people who appear in this book, especially in the early days, have been changed to avoid hurting feelings”

In her introduction to this book published in 1990, Peggy in turn reflects on the Ewan MacColl she lived with for 25 years and their three children Neill, Calum and Kitty. She laments on how much fascinating material was not included in what were his memoirs. He failed to claim credit for many of his achievements and neglects to mention his connections many of the people he knew and worked with such as Brendan and Dominic Behan, Sean O’Casey, Paul Robeson, George Bernard Shaw and Billie Holiday as well as a host of screen stars.

Ewan MacColl’s influence on the folk music revival was enormous and remains so today.

John Nyhan and Mick Treacy will tell his story and sing some of his songs on Friday night 3rd August at 9.30 pm at the Maldron Hotel Bar.

 

Loretta Williams to play Mother Jones at festival

American actress Loretta Williams will appear at the 2018 Spirit of Mother Jones festival and will give a number of performances including at the formal opening in front of the Lord Mayor, Cllr Mick Finn. 

Loretta Williams as Mother Jones with Jim Alderson as “General” Alexander Bradley

Loretta Williams, a historical reenactor from Illinois, portrays Mother Jones through fiery and original presentations. She has performed in Mt. Olive, Illinois at the Union Cemetery and Mother Jones Museum. She has also taken her presentations to various civic and cultural organizations.

Her re-enactments of diverse historical personalities are presented through Alton Theatre’s Vintage Voices and Living History Tours for the Alton, Illinois Convention and Visitors Bureau. Loretta’s performances bring to life the personalities that helped shape the political and cultural dynamics of the Midwest.

Loretta Williams

Loretta Williams reprises Mother Jones at the Mother Jones memorial in Mount Olive

The Mother Jones Museum utilises Loretta’s Mother Jones portrayal to educate children and adults concerning the struggles experienced by miners, labourers and their families. Loretta looks forward to sharing her experiences as Mother Jones with visitors to the Mother Jones Festival in 2018.

Loretta will be staying in Shandon and making appearances at the festival, so let’s ensure a warm Shandon welcome to Mount Olive’s own Mother Jones to the birthplace of Mother Jones in Cork.

 

 

 

NAMA-land – Frank Connolly’s latest book

cover

NAMA-land cover

The investigative journalist, Frank Connolly will appear at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and summer school on Saturday morning the 4th August at 11am at the Firkin Theatre.

Mr Connolly will discuss his latest book NAMA-Land: The Inside Story Of Ireland’s Property Sell-Off And The Creation Of A New Elite. (Published by Gill Books 2018).

Frank Connolly

15.7.08. Dublin. FRANK CONNOLLY Writer/Journalist. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

Following the crash of the Celtic Tiger in 2008, the Government established the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) in 2009. It was designed to manage the disastrous position of Ireland’s the “bad” banks which had huge loans outstanding from builders, developers and property speculators resulting from the dramatic fall in value in property prices and their own reckless lending practices.

What followed was the largest transfer of €31.8 billion in loans which had a book value of €74 billion in property assets from public ownership to private interests. This mechanism was designed to save banks, which had huge distressed debts on their books from the collapse by effectively providing them with liquid funds using Government borrowed money following the transfer of their bad assets to NAMA.

Frank Connolly questions why these assets were subsequently disposed of in large bundles to global hedge funds and to vulture funds which “sweat out” their acquisitions in order to maximise their returns on the assets which they have obtained from NAMA at a fraction of their true worth.

protest Dublin

Housing protest

One of the result is that many thousands of Irish people have lost homes and properties as these funds “collect” on their investments which they obtained at a substantial discount. Increasingly long established tenants are being evicted as the vulture funds claim they wish to upgrade these apartments which they acquired as “job-lots” in order to increase substantially the subsequent rents. The State is often left with the rehousing costs of the former tenants.

Nama-Land “will hopefully provide an insight into one of the most significant and far-reaching political and financial experiments in the history of the state, one which will have a profound impact on Irish society and its people for many years to come”.

“Frank Connolly’s careful and penetrating investigative research has exposed critical truths about malfeasance in high places and the often ugly workings of political power generally, actions that have caused great harm to the general population” Noam Chomsky.

Frank Connolly will speak at the Firkin Crane Theatre on Saturday morning 4th August 2018 at 11am. All are welcome.