Documentaries at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2022.

Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times. 

A documentary from Frameworks Films and the Shandon Area History Group.

7.30 pm Friday 29th July at Dance Cork Firkin Crane.

‘Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times’ tells the story of five women –  Nora and Sheila Wallace and Mary, Annie and Muriel MacSwiney. These women played a vital role in the formation of the Irish state and yet their stories are not widely known. This documentary provides an account of the lives of these five women and in particular the part they played in the Irish revolutionary period, whilst still carrying on their roles as shopkeepers, teachers, wives and mothers. It attempts to answer in some small way the question that was often asked in the early years of the Irish Free State, ‘What did the women do anyway?’.

Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times.

Endurance & Engagement: Cork City Women in the 1920’s  

7.15 pm Thursday 28th July at Dance Cork Firkin Theatre.

The short documentary, commissioned by Cork City Council, as part of the Decade of Commemorations and  funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts Gaeltacht, Sport & Media looks at the lives of ordinary women in Cork City during the turbulent period of the struggle for independence and how they were impacted by the violence and unrest. The women included in the documentary are Eilish MacCurtain, The Duggan Sisters, Geraldine Neeson and Dr. Mary Hearn.  The research team on the project were Anne Twomey of Shandon History Group, Dr Helene O’Keeffe of UCC School of History, and Gerry White.  The documentary directors Ciara Buckley & David Slowo of Wombat Media. The  Executive Producer of this documentary was Christine Moloney of LW Management who will introduce it on the night. Release Date 2022. Runtime 32 minutes.

Peg Duggan

Mother Jones and her Children.

2:00 pm Thursday 28th July at the Maldron Hotel Shandon. 

This film tells the story of Mary Harris (1837 – 1930) from Cork who went on to become known “the most dangerous woman in America”. Starting with her early years in Cork, the documentary goes on to detail her life in America following the famine, her marriage to George Jones and the birth of her four children. It details the tragedies which befell her. Her growing involvement in the labour movement in America, defending the rights of children and workers is documented. Through interviews with leading experts on Mother Jones, we learn of her fearless and tireless campaign to organise workers at a time of severe labour strife and her international legacy today. Produced by Frameworks Films and the Cork Mother Jones Committee in 2014. Runtime is 52 minutes.

Mother Jones and Her Children

Mother Jones, America’s Most Dangerous Woman 

3:00 pm. Thursday 28th July at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon.

Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman is a documentary about the amazing labor heroine, Mary Harris Jones, known as Mother Jones. Mother Jones’ organising career influenced the history of early 20th century United States. She overcame class and gender limitations to shape an identity that allowed her to become an effective labor organiser in the early 20th century. Mother Jones transformed personal and political grief and rage about class injustices into an effective persona that led workers into battles that changed the course of history. The terrible conditions and labor oppression of the time motivated her to traverse the country, in order to organise against injustices. This film also gives a deeply moving account of the Ludlow Massacre. This is a film by Rosemary Feurer and Laura VazquezRelease Date 2007 (Canada). Its runtime is 24 minutes.

Mother Jones, America’s Most Dangerous Woman

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival Programme.

The formal Launch of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2022 will take place at the Shandon Butter Market Garden on Friday 1st July at 1pm.

Our eleventh annual festival takes place from Thursday 28th July until Saturday 30th July and contains a full programme of events, both indoors and outdoors.

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2022 Poster.

According to Jim Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

“We will have over 20 events ranging from talks and lively discussions, to walks and exhibitions, to presentations of awards and toasts as well as singing, poetry and music.

We wish to thank our sponsors in particular the Cork City Council, the SIPTU trade union, the ASTI Trade union and IFUT. With their assistance, it is possible to maintain the festival free and open to all.

Highlights will include the screening of the Shandon Area History Group/Frameworks Films documentary ‘Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times’ at the Dance Cork Firkin Crane Theatre on Friday night. 

Of special interest this year will be the visit of Antoinette Keegan, whose two sisters Mary and Martina died in the Stardust Fire tragedy in 1981.  Christine her mother and John her father were instrumental in establishing the campaign of the Stardust Victims to seek justice for their loved ones over the past 40 years.  Antoinette was will be presented with the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Award in person on Friday afternoon 29th July at 3pm.

We hope the people of Cork will come along and show their support to the victims and survivors of the Stardust tragedy in their efforts to attain justice.

After two years in which the festival went online, we are very much looking forward to meeting people again, whether they are regulars or dropping in for the first time to the festival, all will be welcome at Shandon.”

All events are free and all are welcome. (But come along early)

Songs of Woody Guthrie for the 2022 festival.

Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)  highlighted the suffering of the rural poor and dispossessed in depression and dust storm America of the 1930s.

His many songs provide the backdrop for many of the reality of ordinary American life outside of the glamour of Hollywood and big City dreams.

Guthrie openly supported the trade union movement and promoted left-wing causes for several decades and campaigned on social justice issues while his battered guitar proudly displayed the message “This Machine Kills Fascists”. 

During the 50s he along with thousands of others experienced the cancelation culture of the communist witch hunts of Joe McCarthy. (McCarthy of Tipperary and Galway heritage was publicly praised by some Catholic bishops in Ireland.) 

Travelling incessantly when younger, his songs chart the daily lives of a hidden class of drifting migrant labourers and poor farmers driven from their lands and jobs by exploitation and natural disasters and faced with poverty, hunger and death. 

His autobiography,  ‘Bound For Glory’ published in 1943, which has sold millions of copies, brought his life’s work and ideas to a wide audience.  

Woody played and sang with many of the great artists such as Sonny Terry, Cisco Houston, Leadbelly and Pete Seeger. 

The song collector Alan Lomax also recorded Woody for the Library of Congress. 

Many regard his composition ‘This Land Is Your Land’  as the alternative anthem of North America. 

There is some debate about the words of two of the original seven verses which were critical of the political situation and are rarely sung these days but may still be just as relevant.

As I went walking I saw a sign there  And on the sign it said “No Trespassing”. But on the other side it didn’t say nothing, That side was made for you and me.

In the squares of the City, In the shadow of a steeple;
Near the relief office, I’ve seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

His many songs include ‘Ye Shall Be Free”, ‘John Henry’, ‘Tom Joad’, ‘Pastures of Plenty’,  ‘So Long It’s been Good to Know Yah’, ‘Vigilante Man’, ‘ I Ain’t Got No Home’, while the Dust Bowl Ballads contains some of his finest work. He died after contracting Huntington’s Chorea, a degenerative disease. 

Poster from Kilworth, Co. Cork gig in 2012.

His son Arlo Guthrie with Marjorie Greenblatt (Mazia), is a well known folk singer and has visited and played gigs in Ireland and in Cork many times.

John Nyhan with Arlo Guthrie

The story and songs of Woody Gurthrie  will be told by John Nyhan, Mick Treacy and friends at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon on Friday night 29th July from 9.30, all welcome. Not to be missed.   

Mick Treacy

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.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago 2022 with Mother Jones.

Congratulations to all involved with bringing Mother Jones to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The Mother Jones inflatable was paraded through the streets of Chicago, on Saturday 12th March and received a great reception from the thousands lining the streets. Brigid Duffy also appeared as the Chicago Mother Jones.

The parade honoured Chicago’s essential workers. After a two year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the parade returned to Columbus Drive on Saturday, where the Chicago River was dyed green, a 60 year tradition. This event is believed to be the largest neighbourhood based St. Patrick’s Day parade outside of Dublin, drawing as many as 150,000 people.

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.

Some Memories of the Tenth Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2021.

The tenth Spirit of Mother Jones Festival concluded on Sunday night 28th November 2021 with the songs of the Cork Singers’ Club.

The 2021 festival programme required a miracle due to the deterioration in the Covid-19 situation in Ireland and yet the Cork Mother Jones committee and friends ensured the completion of 20 events over the four days and managed to broadcast most of them on Cork Community Television. The extent of the collaboration we received from numerous groups, organisations and individuals to create a festival demonstrates that there is no substitute for people working cooperatively. 

Taking the example of the resilient spirit of Mother Jones as the road map, everyone just “ploughed on”,  (while ensuring full compliance with the Covid-19 regulations to keep people safe), we achieved our aim to carry through with the ambitious programme of events.

Poster of 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival designed by Shannon Smyth.

Highlight for those lucky to be in attendance was the presentation of the Spirit of Mother Jones Award to the brave representatives of the Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance (CSSA).

Following the televised broadcast of the thought provoking conversation between Catherine Coffey O’Brien and Maureen Considine of the Alliance, they were joined by Phil Kinsella and Sheila O’Boyle for the formal presentation of the 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Award by James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee. 

It was an emotional occasion!

One is however left to ponder at the ongoing silence of so many and to wonder how this country can even consider allowing planning applications for development/construction of apartments to take place on the OSI marked burial grounds of hundreds of children?  In spite of our reputation for mourning and honouring our dead, why are marked burial grounds no longer deemed sacred from development and are the hundreds of children whom we as a nation failed in the past to protect not allowed to now rest in peace?

Earlier, adoption rights campaigner Mari Steel who had herself been adopted from Bessborough in the early 60s discussed her journey to locate her own mother Josie. 

A number of Q&A sessions with each of the speakers at the Maldron Hotel followed the Cork Community TV transmissions and the subsequent discussions, arguments and queries were reminders of the sparkle and sparks associated with many of the Spirit of Mother Jones meetings over the past decade. We appreciated the kind comments of Cllr John Sheehan deputising for the Lord Mayor who as he formally opened the festival stated that “he eagerly looked forward to the challenging programme of events at the festival each year as it was essential in any functioning democracy that people ask the hard questions”.

From the tragedy of Tadhg Barry, who spent his entire adult life working in the engine room of the revolution in Cork to the eventful and long life of Muriel MacSwiney, an unlikely revolutionary, the debates and sharing of information went on. The late and much loved Dr Sean Pettit could be seen once again displaying his legendary oratorical skills describing the Cork City of Mary Harris and much more. His final public performance displayed his creative approach to his lectures and his love of Cork City highlighted how he provided the stimulus for generations of local Cork historians.

We did not forget Mother Jones either and many of the documentaries at the festival sought to frame the American background and landscape in which Mother Jones operated in the early 20th Century. We appreciate the assistance of our friends, in America, UK and Greece. Her memory was enhanced in Cork through the efforts of singers such as John Murphy, Cait Ni Cheallachair, William Hammond, Karan Casey, Richard T Cooke and Mags Creedon who performed songs and stories relating to the life of Mother Jones. John and Gearoid Nyhan accompanied by Mick Treacy performed “Let the Mountains Roll”.  Our thanks to the Cork Folk Festival and Cork Singers’ Club for their invaluable assistance. Cork’s own Mother Jones, Joan Goggin and her family Eadaoin and Aoife supporting the event all the way.

As the tenth festival recedes into the memory, so many people and organisations should be thanked. Without Eddie Noonan and the crew of Frameworks Films and Cork Community Television, the festival could not have happened in these never ending Covid days. We really appreciate the practical support our main sponsors such as Cork City Council, Cathedral Credit Union, the ASTI, SIPTU and the INTO as well as the assistance of the Shandon Maldron Hotel and WhazOn Cork which have continued to assist us even as we cannot have normal social gatherings and discussions which were always the heart, soul and magic of the Spirit of Mothers Jones festivals. 

Our thanks go to all the participants this year who give of their time on a voluntary basis to contribute to the events, to designers Abbie O’Shea and Shannon Smyth, website administrator Ferdia O’Mahony and to Ciaran Cronin and Aidan Fitzpatrick of A to Z printers. For 2021 we wish to especially thank the Centre for Community and Civic Engagement in University College Cork for promoting and assisting the formal launch of the festival back in October on the beautiful grounds of UCC.

Our collaboration with the Centre For Earth Ethics in New York with respect to the Mona Pollaca interview was innovative.  Finally we are thankful to the journalists at the Evening Echo, Irish Examiner, Irish Times, Southern Star and 96FM for providing local and national coverage of the events as many normal community publicity channels were closed due to Covid-19.

As a committee we now look forward to working on the next Spirit of Mother Jones festival in 2022.

If anyone has ideas for topics, for speakers or for entertainment for this 2022 festival, please drop a brief email to motherjonescork@gmail.com and we will consider all suggestions.

Some of the extensive press coverage of the 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival follows:    

https://www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/arid-40751109.html

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/mother-and-baby-home-campaigners-honoured-with-mother-jones-award-1.4737326

https://www.echolive.ie/corknews/arid-40750860.html

https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsandculture/arid-40752849.html

https://www.irishpost.com/news/cork-mother-and-baby-home-campaigners-honoured-with-award-224813

https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/munster/arid-40751139.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 27 November 2021                                                                                      

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

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

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

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

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

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

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