March of the Mill Children re-enacted in Shandon, Cork

A re-creation of March of the Mill Children was held on 31st July 2019 and was staged by Cork Community Art Link. It was directed by Beibhinn O’ Callaghan and Elisa Gallo Rossi.
 The event took place on the historic streets of Shandon in Cork city in conjunction with the Cork Mother Jones Committee as part of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2019. Ms Joan Goggin was Mother Jones. The Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. John Sheehan attended.
We thank everyone who participated in what was is a historic event which commemorated the original event led by Mary Harris\Mother Jones from Philadelphia to New York during three weeks in July 1903.
For more information on the background of the original March of the Mill Children see our previous article here:https://motherjonescork.com/2019/06/25/mother-jones-and-the-march-of-the-mill-children/

Day 4 of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School 2019

The 8th annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School continues today (Saturday, 3rd August) and the main events finish tonight, However there will also be an evening with the talented Stan Notte on Sunday night at Maureen’s Bar, John Redmond Street.

Spirit of Mother Jones festival and summer school events for Saturday 3rd August.

 

10:30 a.m.   L       Briege Voyle

Ballymurphy August 1971” 

F        Includes a screening of the Channel 4 documentary “The Ballymurphy Precedent”

Directed by Callum Macrae

Firkin Crane Theatre.

2:00 p m.             A Conspiracy of Lies

Author and journalist Frank Connolly launches his novel (Mercier Press.)

Maldron Hotel.

3:00 p.m      L       Prof. Elliott Gorn

The Lynching of Emmet Till. ……………A Civil Rights Movement is born!”

Firkin Crane Theatre.

5:30 p m               Conal Creedon reads from his new novel Begotten Not Made

7:30 p.m    M       Annual toast and songs to Mother Jones at the plaque on John Redmond Street.

Maureen’s

9:00 p.m    M      Vocalic   (Dance and celebrate the end of the 2019 festival.)

Maldron Hotel.

 

Sunday 4th August. 

In the round with Stan Notte. Music and Spoken Word.

Maureen’s, John Redmond Street at 8.30pm,

All welcome.

 

 

 

Day 3 of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School, Cork

The 8th annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School continues today (Friday, 2nd August) and until tomorrow night.  Below you will find today’s programme.

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.

                            Jimmy Crowley.

  

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.

Maldron Hotel.

 

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)

Maldron Hotel.

 

 

 

Day 2 of Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School

The 8th annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School continues today and until next Saturday night.  Below you will find today’s programme.

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.

William Hammond

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.    

Maldron Hotel

 

The Ballymurphy Massacre

The Ballymurphy Massacre.

Saturday morning 3rd August at 10.30am

Firkin Crane Theatre.

Briege Voyle

On Saturday morning 3rd August , Briege Voyle will speak about what has become known as The Ballymurphy Massacre. Briege is the daughter of Joan Connolly. Joan, a mother of eight was shot dead by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment on Monday August 9th 1971, the day Internment without Trial was introduced in Northern Ireland.

Eleven people including Fr. Hugh Mullan, the parish priest in Ballymurphy in West Belfast were killed as a result of the actions by the British Army over the three days.  Fifty children endured the loss of a parent. The killings left the entire community traumatised yet no action was taken against those responsible and no one has been held responsible to date. This Parachute Regiment was later transferred to Derry. It went on to be responsible for Bloody Sunday on 31st January 1971.

Briege who has been prominent in the campaign for decades along with other relatives seeking the truth will tell her story of the human consequences for herself, her family and friends as a result of the actions of the British Army in her community during those three days in 1971. Other children of those who died will also attend and tell their personal stories.

The morning will also feature the showing of The Ballymurphy Precedent directed by Callum Macrae made in association with Channel 4. This was first released in August 2018 and featured in a cinema launch including a discussion with John Snow in the chair. The documentary was later broadcast as Massacre at Ballymurphy by Channel 4 on September 8th last.

The documentary provides a reconstruction of the shootings, with the survivors and families giving an account what took place in this small community in Belfast over three harrowing days. Their grief is palpable, and the huge sense of burning injustice at the loss of loved ones permeates the production.

After decades of campaigning, an inquest into the deaths began its oral hearings in Belfast on 12th November 2018 and these hearings continue under Presiding Coroner, Mrs Justice (Siobhan) Keegan.

It is long past time for the full truth about the events in Ballymurphy over the three days to be recognised and acted on by the British government

Briege Voyle will speak at the Firkin Crane Theatre, on Saturday morning 3rd August at 10.30 am.

All are welcome to come along.

Fords:- Memories of the Line

Fords – Memories of the Line

Maldron Hotel, Friday August 2nd 2019 at 5.00 pm.

A Documentary by Frameworks Films and Ford Ex-Workers’ Group.

Fords production line at Cork’s Marina plant – Photo courtesy of Bill Daly

This documentary was shown at the festival in 2018. Unfortunately many people were unable to gain access last year. Following many requests it will be repeated.    

The Fords factory became synonymous with Cork in the sixty seven years in which production was carried on in the Marina plant.

Henry Ford’s father William had left from Ballinascarthy, in West Cork in “Black 1847”, while his mother Mary Litigot (of Belgian extraction?) was the adopted daughter of Patrick Ahern who was born in 1804 at Fair Lane (now Wolfe Tone Street, on the north side of Cork city). Patrick Ahern had worked as a butcher before joining the British Army and eventually wound up in Michigan, USA. Henry was born in 1863, and he was raised by William and Mary in the Ahern household.

Henry Ford returned to Cork in August 1912 and visited Fair Lane. Later in 1917 he announced the construction of his first factory outside America. The old Cork Park racecourse on the Marina on the south bank of the River Lee was purchased for £21,000 and was levelled and piled. The new 330,000 sq. foot factory was constructed and began the production of the Fordson tractors on 1st July 1919.

By 1922, some 1600 men were employed. Later as Model Ts were manufactured along with tractors and the final Model T in the world was completed there in December 1928. The payroll quadrupled to 6700 until the impact of the Great Depression in the early 30s when there were mass layoffs. Thousands of former Cork production workers headed for the new Ford truck plant in Dagenham, Essex in the UK.

Group of Cork workers at Fords Marina. Photo courtesy of Bill Daly

The factory worked on through the Second World War, unions were finally fully recognised by Ford’s in Cork in the early 50s, and wages were higher than most other employments. The Cork factory produced all the other main Ford vehicles including the Model A, Model BF and Model Y; Prefect; Anglia; Escort; Cortina; and Sierra.

By then, the production/assembly line originally invented by Ransom E Olds and first implemented by Henry Ford in 1913 and used in Cork. This brave new world was sacrosanct, like a vein running through living organisms, the constant noise, the smells of the different processes, yet it had to keep moving, it must not stop, the vehicles, slowly taking shape shuffle forward in a never ending line and then continue their journey out of sight.

The daily working lives of thousands of men were dictated by the constant movement of the line, repetitive jobs, the systematic deskilling of many men, the daily deadening grind, the original time and motion study. Time was measured by passed hours and the number of jobs completed on the vehicles as they passed through the various work stations in slow motion or with alarming pace depending on one’s job and mind.  Work was constant, hum drum, tough, and some jobs on the line were particularly difficult.

However many memories of working relate to the comradeship, the ‘craic’, the chat, the banter, the ongoing and never ending Cork slagging. Tea-breaks, lunches, the endless sports discussions, soccer, hurling and the pints with colleagues at week-ends. Ford paid well and the community of workers and work had its own distinctive rhythm.

Fordsons soccer team, (the “Tractor Boys”) popularised association football in Cork in the early 1920s, the team was the first club from Cork to play in the League of Ireland in 1924 and won the Free State Cup in 1926. The club’s pitch was located at Pic Du Jer Park in Ballinlough which was owned by Ford.

Emma Bowell (2nd from right) with Eddie Noonan of Frameworks Films with Ann Rea and Bill Daly (left) at last year’s festival

Thousands of Corkonians passed through the Marina plant, in its blue and white colours, many families had several members working and the thronged mass of workers walking up and down Centre Park Road at clocking on/off times bore testament to the world of assembly work.

But time caught up with Fords and sentiment, the final impact of closure in 1984 left a deep wound on the people of Cork. Over 30 years former workers have come together to tell their own story of working in Fords. It is a story of life, work, the fun, the friends and the bonds which maintain the links between groups of workers who shared their lives at a Cork institution.

It is a workers film of working life…….a rare and priceless documentary.

Fords – Memories of the Line provides a fascinating insight into a Cork institution by those who worked on the line and is a must see for those who worked at Ford’s or for anyone with family members or friends who worked below on the Marina. Even now in 2019 ironically comes news that Fords is set to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in developing new facilities at Corktown in Detroit as the Marina site transforms slowly into the Cork Docklands development.

 

 

 

 

The Limerick Soviet of 1919

Limerick Trades Council

Photo: Limerick Trades Council in 1919.

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival will show the documentary, The Limerick Soviet, which has been produced by Frameworks Films, the Cork based film production company, in collaboration with the Limerick Council of Trade Unions, at the Maldron Hotel on Thursday evening 1st August 2019 at 5.00pm.

The documentary will be introduced by Liam Cahill, author of Forgotten Revolution, the Limerick Soviet 1919 (The Centenary Edition).

This documentary tells the thrilling story of a workers rising in Limerick in April 1919 when a general strike was called by the Limerick United Trades and Labour Council.

It followed the deaths on the 6th April of Robert Byrne, a local trade union activist and IRA member, as well as a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary, during an audacious escape attempt from custody by Byrne. As a result the British Authorities declared Limerick City a Special Military Area (SMA) whereby military restrictions would apply and permits were required to enter and leave.

The Limerick United Trades and Labour Council refused to accept that the workers of Limerick required permits to come and go to work and declared a general strike. Some 14,000 workers answered the strike call on Monday 14th April 1919. The Strike committee took control of the city and as a self- governing committee declared itself a Soviet. It was a highly effective, disciplined and a well organised operation under the leadership of John Cronin, a carpenter and Chairperson of the Trades Council.

John Dowling in 1919

John Dowling in 1919

Jack Dowling from Cobh, a former fitter in the naval dockyard in Haulbowline and friend of James Connolly, now an ITGWU organiser became “a pivotal figure” in the Limerick Soviet and in subsequent events.

John Cronin and his committee organised and supervised the distribution of food, transport, communications and movement in the City and even printed its own currency during the period. The strike received unprecedented international media coverage owing to the presence of journalists covering an international air race.

Eventually following negotiations and due to Church pressure and the lack of wider national union support, the Soviet decided on a full return to work by the 25th April and the SMA was abolished a few days later.

Limerick Soviet film by Frameworks Films

The Soviet was remarkable in its organisation, in its general unity of workers and in the courage and solidarity of the workers and trade unions. The words of Mother Jones on her death bed could be applied to this Limerick Soviet in that the workers of Limerick “showed the world what the workers can do”.

The Trades Council affirmed the right of workers to come and go from their employment without hindrance by the national authorities. It also displayed to the British Authorities and the Republican movement the potential power of organised labour and its potent force for action when provoked.

This compelling documentary was produced with the support of the Sound and Vision Scheme, an initiative of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

Mr Mike McNamara President of the Limerick Council of Trade Unions along with the film makers Emma Bowell and Eddie Noonan of Frameworks Films will also attend. 

Forgotten Revolution – Liam Cahill’s comprehensive history of the Limerick Soviet, completely rewritten and extended.

Liam Cahill is a historian and writer, he has researched the history of the Limerick Soviet for many years, and originally wrote the Forgotten Revolution in 1990 (published by O’Brien Press Ltd). Liam has had a long history of active involvement in the Irish Trade Union movement and has written and lectured extensively on Irish Labour history in the period 1916 – 1923.

Liam will introduce and discuss the Limerick Soviet at the Maldron Hotel in Shandon on Thursday evening 1st August 2019 at 5.00 pm.  Copies of his recent publication* will be available to purchase.

 

A special Limerick Soviet Exhibition will be on display courtesy of Cork City Library. The exhibition will continue to be displayed at Knocknaheeny Library during the month of August.

 

* Forgotten Revolution ….The Limerick Soviet 1919 …..A Threat To British Power In Ireland (The Centenary Edition) by Liam Cahill. Published by Orla Kelly Publishing.

 

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2019 – Press Launch

­­

Launch of the 2019 Spirit Of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School at the Maldron Hotel on Wednesday 26th June 2019 at 1pm by Cllr John Sheehan, Lord Mayor of Cork.

Click here to view or download the full brochure

 

Spectacular March of the Mill Children pageant planned for Shandon.

 The Eighth Spirit of Mother Jones festival and Summer School will take place in and around the Shandon Historic Quarter from Wednesday 31st July until Saturday 3rd August 2019.

 

The festival celebrates the life and achievements of Cork woman, Mary Harris who was born in the Shandon area in 1837 and went on to become Mother Jones, known as the “most dangerous woman in America” due to her activism on behalf of the miners, and exploited workers.

 

Over 30 events will be held, and will include dozens of participants from the US, UK and from all over Ireland. Events include the summer school itself as well as a host of singers, poets, films, book launches, music and the traditional toast at the Mother Jones plaque to conclude the festival.

 

One of the principal highlights will be the very first performance and recreation on the streets of Shandon of the historic March of the Mill Children led by Mother Jones in July 1903.

 

In cooperation with Cork Community Art Link and the Blarney Street Foroige group, the Festival committee have organised a pageant to celebrate this huge event in US history, which highlighted the exploitation of young children who were forced to work in the mines, mills and factories of America at the beginning of the 20th Century. (See note)

 

According to James Nolan spokesperson for the Cork Mother Jones Summer school.

 

“In its eighth year, the Spirit of Cork Mother Jones festival and Summer School in 2019 will be an interesting, relevant and challenging occasion. With over 30 free access events, it promises to be a wonderful four days in locations across the Shandon Historical Quarter and community.

 

Everybody who participates including speakers, musicians and committee give of their time on a voluntary basis in what is an absolutely unique festival covering heritage, labour, social justice and human rights issues.

 

We are again expecting hundreds of people to attend from the USA, the UK and from all over Ireland. (2018 saw nearly 2000 people attended events at the festival). The March of the Mill Children pageant will be the very first celebration of one of the most famous marches in the history of the USA outside of America. This took place in 1903 was organised and led by 66 year old Mother Jones. It should be an amazing morning in Shandon.”

 

Declared  James Nolan.

 

Other talks include  remembering the The Whiddy Disaster. This explosion in Bantry Bay in January 1979 caused the greatest loss of life of workers and seafarers in the history of the Republic of Ireland. The relatives of both the Irish and French people who lost their lives are still seeking justice. Michael Kingston who has led the campaign will speak along with Tom MacSweeney.

 

Briege Voyle, the daughter of Joan Connolly who was among those shot dead in Ballymurphy on the 9th August 1971 will speak on the impact of what has become known as The Ballymurphy Massacre. The will be followed by a showing of the Channel Four documentary, The Ballymurphy Precedent, directed by Callum Macrea, is a stunning account of events in Ballymurphy in Belfast on the days following the introduction of Interment Without Trial in August 1971.

 

We’re delighted to welcome back Professor Elliott J Gorn from Chicago, whose book in 2001 Mother Jones – The Most Dangerous Woman in America, led to the discovery of the correct date of Mother Jones’ baptism in the North Cathedral. Elliott will tell the story at the Firkin Crane Theatre on Wednesday 31st July, the opening night of the festival.

 

He will be accompanied by Joe Creedon well known historian from Inchigeelagh who will tell the story of Mary Harris’s mother Ellen Cotter who hailed from Inchigeelagh. Not to be missed by anyone with an interest in Mother Jones.

 

Current issues such as Climate Change will also be discussed. Dr John Barimo, a marine biologist from Miami will lead with a talk on Social Justice, Inequality and Climate Change, this will be followed by local schools activist Mical Neilson of Fridays for Future who organised the recent schools strikes and Alicia O’Sullivan Irish Ambassador for the World’s Oceans who have alerted us to the onset and impact of the effects of climate change on the world.

 

Of local Cork interest is the talk on John Swiney, the United Irishman whose woolen shop on Shandon Street was the HQ of the United Irishmen in Cork in the 1790s. An extraordinary character, he came back from exile in France to assist Robert Emmet in 1803. Historian Dr Kieran Groeger will provide an account of this amazing character, lost in Irish history.

 

Recently a bridge was named after Mary Elmes by the City Council, local historian and regular contributor to the Mother Jones festival Anne Twomey will give an account of her life. Another of the Irish Diaspora, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn known as “The Rebel Girl”, will have her story  told by Pittsburgh based Lorraine Starsky. Flynn had strong connections to Irish Labour leaders James Connolly and Jim Larkin.

 

Luke Dineen, historian will provide an account of the Irish Craft unions and their role in the Irish rebellion 1919 – 1923. A documentary on the Ford factory line also by Frameworks Films will be repeated.

 

The festival will remember the 100th Anniversary of the Limerick Soviet when the Frameworks Films documentary will be shown. The documentary will be introduced by Liam Cahill, author of Forgotten Revolution – The Limerick Soviet of 1919.

 

Writer and author Sean O’Tuathaigh whose recent book, Outlanders – Stories of the Displaced has been well –received will speak about his experienced among refugees and immigrants in the USA.

 

 Jimmy Crowley will again host Music at the Maldron concert on Friday 2nd August at lunchtime. The Song of Pete Seeger will be sung by perennial festival favourites John Nyhan and Mick Treacy. Richard T Cooke will again perform his Cork ballads, while William Hammond will play a traditional set. Vocalic and the Club Ceoil Ballyphehane Ballad Group also feature. Poets and writers Conal Creedon and Stan Notte are included.

 

The full programme of all the events will be released at the formal launch on Wednesday 26th June. (See  Mother Jones Festival Brochure 2019

 

This festival and summer school is almost unique in that it is entirely free to all and is sponsored by the Cork City Heritage Department, the Trade Union movement including SIPTU and the ASTI as well as the local community. It is organised by the community based and independent voluntary committee of the Cork Mother Jones Committee.

For further information contact James Nolan 0861651356 and Ger O’Mahony (Coordinator 0863196063)

For details see www.motherjonescork.com or Facebook.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Launch of the 2019 Spirit Of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School at the Maldron Hotel on Wednesday 26th June 2019 at 1pm by Cllr John Sheehan, Lord Mayor of Cork.

 

Spectacular March of the Mill Children pageant planned for Shandon.

 

The Eighth Spirit of Mother Jones festival and Summer School will take place in and around the Shandon Historic Quarter from Wednesday 31st July until Saturday 3rd August 2019.

 

The festival celebrates the life and achievements of Cork woman, Mary Harris who was born in the Shandon area in 1837 and went on to become Mother Jones, known as the “most dangerous woman in America” due to her activism on behalf of the miners, and exploited workers.

 

Over 30 events will be held, and will include dozens of participants from the US, UK and from all over Ireland. Events include the summer school itself as well as a host of singers, poets, films, book launches, music and the traditional toast at the Mother Jones plaque to conclude the festival.

 

One of the principal highlights will be the very first performance and recreation on the streets of Shandon of the historic March of the Mill Children led by Mother Jones in July 1903.

 

In cooperation with Cork Community Art Link and the Blarney Street Foroige group, the Festival committee have organised a pageant to celebrate this huge event in US history, which highlighted the exploitation of young children who were forced to work in the mines, mills and factories of America at the beginning of the 20th Century. (See note)

 

According to James Nolan spokesperson for the Cork Mother Jones Summer school.

 

“In its eighth year, the Spirit of Cork Mother Jones festival and Summer School in 2019 will be an interesting, relevant and challenging occasion. With over 30 free access events, it promises to be a wonderful four days in locations across the Shandon Historical Quarter and community.

 

Everybody who participates including speakers, musicians and committee give of their time on a voluntary basis in what is an absolutely unique festival covering heritage, labour, social justice and human rights issues.

 

We are again expecting hundreds of people to attend from the USA, the UK and from all over Ireland. (2018 saw nearly 2000 people attended events at the festival). The March of the Mill Children pageant will be the very first celebration of one of the most famous marches in the history of the USA outside of America. This took place in 1903 was organised and led by 66 year old Mother Jones. It should be an amazing morning in Shandon.”

 

Declared  James Nolan.

 

Other talks include  remembering the The Whiddy Disaster. This explosion in Bantry Bay in January 1979 caused the greatest loss of life of workers and seafarers in the history of the Republic of Ireland. The relatives of both the Irish and French people who lost their lives are still seeking justice. Michael Kingston who has led the campaign will speak along with Tom MacSweeney.

 

Briege Voyle, the daughter of Joan Connolly who was among those shot dead in Ballymurphy on the 9th August 1971 will speak on the impact of what has become known as The Ballymurphy Massacre. The will be followed by a showing of the Channel Four documentary, The Ballymurphy Precedent, directed by Callum Macrea, is a stunning account of events in Ballymurphy in Belfast on the days following the introduction of Interment Without Trial in August 1971.

 

We’re delighted to welcome back Professor Elliott J Gorn from Chicago, whose book in 2001 Mother Jones – The Most Dangerous Woman in America, led to the discovery of the correct date of Mother Jones’ baptism in the North Cathedral. Elliott will tell the story at the Firkin Crane Theatre on Wednesday 31st July, the opening night of the festival.

 

He will be accompanied by Joe Creedon well known historian from Inchigeelagh who will tell the story of Mary Harris’s mother Ellen Cotter who hailed from Inchigeelagh. Not to be missed by anyone with an interest in Mother Jones.

 

Current issues such as Climate Change will also be discussed. Dr John Barimo, a marine biologist from Miami will lead with a talk on Social Justice, Inequality and Climate Change, this will be followed by local schools activist Mical Neilson of Fridays for Future who organised the recent schools strikes and Alicia O’Sullivan Irish Ambassador for the World’s Oceans who have alerted us to the onset and impact of the effects of climate change on the world.

 

Of local Cork interest is the talk on John Swiney, the United Irishman whose woolen shop on Shandon Street was the HQ of the United Irishmen in Cork in the 1790s. An extraordinary character, he came back from exile in France to assist Robert Emmet in 1803. Historian Dr Kieran Groeger will provide an account of this amazing character, lost in Irish history.

 

Recently a bridge was named after Mary Elmes by the City Council, local historian and regular contributor to the Mother Jones festival Anne Twomey will give an account of her life. Another of the Irish Diaspora, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn known as “The Rebel Girl”, will have her story  told by Pittsburgh based Lorraine Starsky. Flynn had strong connections to Irish Labour leaders James Connolly and Jim Larkin.

 

Luke Dineen, historian will provide an account of the Irish Craft unions and their role in the Irish rebellion 1919 – 1923. A documentary on the Ford factory line also by Frameworks Films will be repeated.

 

The festival will remember the 100th Anniversary of the Limerick Soviet when the Frameworks Films documentary will be shown. The documentary will be introduced by Liam Cahill, author of Forgotten Revolution – The Limerick Soviet of 1919.

 

Writer and author Sean O’Tuathaigh whose recent book, Outlanders – Stories of the Displaced has been well –received will speak about his experienced among refugees and immigrants in the USA.

 

 Jimmy Crowley will again host Music at the Maldron concert on Friday 2nd August at lunchtime. The Song of Pete Seeger will be sung by perennial festival favourites John Nyhan and Mick Treacy. Richard T Cooke will again perform his Cork ballads, while William Hammond will play a traditional set. Vocalic and the Club Ceoil Ballyphehane Ballad Group also feature. Poets and writers Conal Creedon and Stan Notte are included.

 

The full programme of all the events will be released at the formal launch on Wednesday 26th June. (See www.motherjonescork.com)

 

This festival and summer school is almost unique in that it is entirely free to all and is sponsored by the Cork City Heritage Department, the Trade Union movement including SIPTU and the ASTI as well as the local community. It is organised by the community based and independent voluntary committee of the Cork Mother Jones Committee.

For further information contact James Nolan 0861651356 and Ger O’Mahony (Coordinator 0863196063)

For details see www.motherjonescork.com or Facebook.

 

The Peterloo Massacre – some Cork connections

Peterloo, a film by Mike Leigh has been released.  Starring Maxine Peake, Rory Kinnear, Neil Bell and Peter Quigley, and some 150 other actors along with thousands of extras, director Mike Leigh brings the events of that infamous day in Manchester to life.

Peterloo plaque

Plaque at the site of the Peterloo massacre, Manchester

On a sunny Monday afternoon, 16th August 1819, a large four-wheeled carriage adorned with flags and banners made its way slowly through the loud cheers of massed crowds towards the stage at St. Peters Field in Manchester. Seated at the front alongside the coachman was a small yet striking figure in a white dress waving a rectangular white banner, depicting a woman holding the scales of justice, while crushing a serpent, the banner of the Manchester Female Reform Society (MFRS).

Cork born Mary Pritchard (1789), now Mary Fildes, president of the newly formed MFRS cut an impressive figure as she proudly displayed her Society’s new banner to the vast crowd. She intended to present the banner and an address to one of the occupants of the carriage, Henry Hunt, the main speaker at the forthcoming monster Reform meeting about to commence. Reaching the small platform, the speakers along with Mary Fildes stood awaiting silence from the vast throng of working class men, women and children who had walked and marched in from the nearby towns across Lancashire seeking reform of the corrupt and elite electoral system. .

Henry Hunt

Henry Hunt

As the expectant gathering pressed closer to the platform and Henry ”Orator” Hunt began his speech, a band of Yeomanry advanced through the nearby streets, led by an Irishman Edward Meagher.

Mike Leigh’s film builds slowly up to a reconstruction of the 1819 Peterloo massacre. This peaceful pro-democracy rally attended by some 60,000 people who had gathered to hear the radical charismatic speaker and gentleman farmer Henry Hunt, was then attacked by British Yeomanry and Hussar Cavalry.

Using sabres wildly and viciously against unarmed people, they killed fifteen people (including a two year old child by the name of William Fildes) and injured upwards of 600 in this brutal and bloody massacre which became known as Peterloo (after the recent battle of Waterloo!). Later many suffered and died from infections brought on from the savage cuts received at the meeting.

Jacqueline Riding in her comprehensive publication Peterloo (with a foreword by Mike Leigh) states that women were very prominent in the attendance at St Peters Field. Four were among the dead or died later, upwards of a quarter of those injured were women and many including Mary Fildes were especially targeted by the Yeomanry. Mary herself was attacked initially on the platform by the special constabulary and later sabred by a yeoman. She managed however to escape from the field.

Upon her recovery, Mary continued to work for the rights of women. She was arrested while campaigned for birth control in the 1830s and later became a leading Chartist and influenced the original suffragettes. Ever the rebel she had named one of her children Henry Hunt Fildes. A grandson, Luke Fildes painted numerous social realism images of poverty, homelessness and injustice. She ran a pub in Chester and died around 1875/76 in her mid-80s.

 

The massacre caused outrage at the time, and led to a seismic shift in public opinion against the ruling clique and elites. It contributed to the founding of the Manchester Guardian in 1821 and later encouraged other Chartist newspapers as the clamour for democracy and reform grew.  Over in Livorno in Tuscany, the poet Percy Shelley raged on being informed of Peterloo and wrote The Mask of Anarchy………. “Rise like Lions after slumber in unvanquished number – Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you, – Ye are many – they are few.”

 

Mary Fildes

Mary Fildes with her banner (to left of platform)

The events of 16th August 1819 influenced the later development of the grass roots Chartism in the 1830s and lead to the People’s Charter. Henry Hunt, who died in February 1835 was regarded as a hero by many in Chartism. This in turn stimulated the later growth of the trade unions and the political mobilization of the working class into the Labour Party.

Indeed the events at Peterloo may well have aroused West Cork born Feargus O’Connor to stand for the post reform election in 1832, when he was surprisingly elected MP for Cork. Alongside reformer William Cobbett in the House of Commons, they supported what eventually became the Chartist demands. Both Fergus O’Connor and Daniel O’Connell organised the “monster meetings” based on the Peterloo example.

According to author James Epstein in his book “The Lion Of Freedom….Feargus O’Connor and the Chartist Movement, 1832-1842, Chartist leader O’Connor regarded Henry Hunt as his hero and declared himself to be a “Huntite”.

“Year after year he travelled to Lancashire to celebrate the anniversary of Hunt’s birth with local radicals, and often took the platform at the annual meeting at St Peters Field held to commemorate the ‘never to be forgotten’ 16th August.”

Feargus O'Connor

Feargus O’Connor, Chartist

As with so much of history, the massacre has been largely forgotten and the story of Peterloo disappeared from classrooms, schools and universities. Many have never heard of the events which took place at St Peter’s Field. Few visiting Manchester and St Peter’s Square even notice the red plaque on the nearby Hotel. Most pass by and not realise that they tread on the very birthplace of British democracy and the roots of Chartism and the British Labour movement.

At that time, only a tiny minority of people, possibly 3% had the vote. Dorothy Thompson, author of The Chartists estimated that even later in the 1830s just 653,000 men from an English and Welsh population of 13,000,000 could vote and just 80,000 men in Ireland from a population of 7.8 million and that was after the Reform Act of 1832. All had to vote by open polling in public whereby each vote was recorded.

As we approach the two hundredth anniversary of Peterloo, Mike Leigh’s dramatic film should encourage people to examine the source struggles for reform and democracy and to perhaps ask again how a small increasingly wealthy and powerful elite can control political and technological structures across the planet and can dictate the working and living conditions for countless millions of ordinary people barely surviving under austerity and poverty.

The film arrives to a bitterly divided Britain….. Yet Leigh’s stark history and political lesson for those who hark backwards to a glorious past British epoch might remember the bloody sacrifices made by the innocent people on that field at Peterloo.

 

Note: If anyone has further information about the Cork roots of Mary Pritchard born in 1789, who married William Fildes, a reed maker in Cheshire in 1808, please let the Cork Mother Jones Committee know. It is not clear if the child William Fildes was related to Mary’s husband.  You can email us at motherjonescork@gmail.com

 

 

 

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival – Timetable – Day 4 (Saturday)

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School

 programme 2018.

 

Saturday 4th August.

11.00  L   Frank Connolly,

NAMA-land…the inside story of Ireland’s property sell-off and the creation of a new elite”.

Firkin Theatre

2.30    L   Dr. Micheline Sheehy Skeffington

“Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, feminist, nationalist, socialist, pacifist – her activism in Ireland                                                           and the US”

Firkin Theatre

5.00    F    PRIDE

The true story of how a group of London-based gay and lesbian activists supported the                   families of Welsh miners during the 1984 miners strike. In association with the Quay Co-op and the support of Cork LGBT + Pride Week.

Firkin Theatre.

7.30    M  Toast and songs to Mother Jones at the plaque on John Redmond Street. Followed by music and festival closing events at the Shandon Plaza.

All are welcome.