Mother Jones in the minefields of West Virginia

“Mother Jones in the Minefields of West Virginia: An American Adventure Story”

 

Prof. Jim Green

Prof. Jim Green

The 2014 Cork Mother Jones Lecture will be presented by Professor James Green of the University of Massachussets, Boston. The lecture will take place at 7.30 at the Firkin Crane Centre in Shandon on Tuesday 29th July.

James Green was inspired by John F Kennedy’s speech calling racial inequality a “moral issue”, he was stunned by the assassination of Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers that same night. Moved by Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” in August 1963 and devastated by Kennedy’s assassination in November.

 

He worked as an intern in the office of Illinois Senator Paul H Douglas for two summers in 1965 and 1966 and met Senator Eugene McCarthy, whose Presidential primary campaign he joined in 1968. Later he met Senator George McGovern, who had earned a PhD in labour history from Northwestern University.

“All three men played roles in public life I admired”

Jim studied for his own PhD in history with C. Vann Woodward at Yale and became fascinated with the history of radicalism and political protest in the United States.

“My purpose was to study the past to understand injustice in our society-and then to explain how men and women who suffered from injustice gained the will to struggle against it and to strive for a better society”

Jim has worked to fight against injustice and worked for a better society for almost half a century!

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is very honoured to have Professor James Green deliver the third annual Cork Mother Jones Lecture at the Firkin Crane on Tuesday 29th July at 7.30pm.

 

 

 

Durham Miners’ Gala

The 130th Durham Miners Gala was held on Saturday 12th July 2014. It was one of the largest ever gatherings and took place in glorious sunshine. Known as the Big Meeting, it was a spectacular and colourful success. It celebrates the history, the heritage and the human struggle of the mining communities of the North East of England.

Durham crowds

Procession of bands and banners and some of the 100,000 who attended the Durham Miners’ Gala 2014

General Secretary of the Durham Miners Association, Dave Hopper who presided, extended a warm welcome to the massive attendance at the Racecourse, on the banks of the River Wear. Earlier he had reviewed the massive parade from the balcony of the County Hotel at the Old Elvet for over 5 hours. Thoughts of the 30th Anniversary of the British Miners Strike were never far from proceedings, especially since the release of Thatcher Government’s Cabinet papers which exposed both the true extent of the planned pit closures and how far Mrs Thatcher was prepared to go to break the National Union of Mineworkers.

The Durham Miners Gala is an extraordinary manifestation of union, worker, community solidarity, something which Mother Jones advocated. The Gala’s historical legacy goes back to 1871, over 140 years yet it does not forget its history of struggle or its heroes such as Tony Benn, Bob Crow and Stan Pearce all of whom passed away in the last few months. A key speaker, Denis Skinner MP advocated a “new Durham Manifesto” to safeguard decent working conditions, decent pay and fair play.

Irish socialist leader and trade union giant James Connolly featured on banner with other icons of the movement

Irish socialist leader and trade union giant James Connolly (top left) featured on banner with other icons of the movement

Yet as one listens to the Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant at the wondrous Durham Cathedral, during the blessing of new miners banner produce a moving sermon based on “people being at their best when pulling together” and one witnesses the pride of a packed Cathedral as five Miners Brass Bands parade up the central aisle with their new banners, the centrality of miners suffering and experience and their bonds of solidarity to the wider community and society is never in doubt.

new banner celebrating inaugural meeting of Durham Miners' of 1871 unveiled at the County Hotel

new banner celebrating inaugural meeting of Durham Miners’ of 1871 unveiled at the County Hotel

The challenge will be to ensure the Gala’s future, however it was very evident from the number of school and community banners appearing behind the main lodge banners on the Parade and the huge numbers of young people attending that that process is well under way.

Another one of the hundreds of banners carried in Durham on July 12th

Another one of the hundreds of banners carried in Durham on July 12th

Dave Hopper will speak at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Thursday afternoon at 3.15 at the Firkin Crane as part of the Festival’s “Miners day”. Betty Cook and Anne Scargill of Woman Against Pit Closures (WAPC) along with Paul Winter of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign are also speakers in a series of presentations which begin at 11am and continue throughout the day and evening.

 

The Story of the Magdalenes

On Wednesday afternoon 30th July, at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival,  Claire McGettrick, co-founder of Justice for Magdalenes (now JFM Research) will speak at the Firkin Crane in Shandon, Cork,  about the story of the Magdalenes.

Claire is an activist, researcher and also co-founder of the Adoption Rights Alliance.

She worked as Research Assistant on the project Magdalene Institutions: Recording an Archival and Oral History, which collected the oral histories of 79 interviewees, including 35 Magdalene survivors. The Magdalene Names Project, which is central to Claire’s work with JFM Research, makes use of historical archives to develop a partial, repaired narrative of the lives of some of the women who died behind convent walls, with the aim of creating a lasting memorial to these women.

Claire McGettrick

Claire McGettrick

Origins and growth of the Magdalenes.

The Magdalene system of sending young women into institutional homes developed from the appalling poverty, disease, prostitution and poor conditions which existed in Ireland in the early 19th Century. Later the effects of the Famine consigned thousands of women to a life of desperation on the streets with little hope of income or shelter. It was the era of Workhouses, Lock hospitals and Asylums.

Cork with a population of about 80,000 had a particular high level of poor housing and bad sanitary conditions throughout the City. In 1809 a Catholic Magdalen Asylum was established in Peacock Lane, Blackpool by a Mr Terry. Later, the Irish Sisters of Charity were asked to take over the running of the Asylum and following the completion of the St. Vincent’s Convent on the grounds, the Order took over the Asylum in 1846. In 1810 another Refuge was founded on the South Terrace by Protestants, which took in women mainly from prison.

In July 1872 the Good Shepherd Nuns opened a Magdalen Asylum at Sunday’s Well in Cork, which was followed in 1873 by the opening of the Convent and later still by an Industrial School. The original aim of the Magdalene Asylums was to provide training and shelter for prostitutes anxious to reform however this rehabilitation gradually became a punitive based system, particularly after the foundation of the Irish State.  The regime involved harsh working conditions for no pay, where the women and girls were incarcerated against their will, not knowing if they would ever be released.

The concept that these women were to do lengthy penance for their sins became deeply ingrained in the reasoning behind their removal to the Magdalene Institutions. Some escaped, some were released to family members, while over 1,000 died behind convent walls, never seeing freedom.    And, a significant number remained within the institutions, dependent on the religious orders for the rest of their lives.

The Magdalene Institutions remained attached to the local religious convents which ran their day to day activities. These institutions established laundries which using the readily available and cheap labour became important sources of income for the religious orders. Thousands of women and girls worked in the Magdalene Laundries, as more and more “fallen”, destitute or perceived troublesome women were incarcerated. In reality, most were frightened young girls, often transferred from the industrial school system.

Forgotten by society and abandoned by their own families, these women and girls remained captive behind the high walls, invisible to society and ignored by successive governments.

 

In 1993, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge decided to sell some of their land at High Park, Drumcondra and applied to the Department of the Environment for the exhumation of 133 women. The exhumation order was granted by the Department on 25th May 1993. When the undertakers were carrying out the task of exhuming the bodies on 23rd August 1993, an additional 22 remains were discovered. The Department of the Environment then supplied an additional exhumation order to allow the removal of “all human remains” at the relevant site.

The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge told the Department of the Environment that they could not produce death certificates for 24 women on the exhumation order who appear under fictitious names. The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge also told the Department that they could not produce death certificates for a further 34 women on the exhumation order. The remains of 154 out of 155 of the women were then cremated and reinterred at Glasnevin Cemetery. Questions about the circumstances of these women and their exhumation remain unanswered.

Inaccessible Magdalene burial plot, Sunday's Well Cork.   Plaque beneath broken cross reads: "A memorial to the Residents of St. Mary's Good Shepherd Convent, Sunday's Well. 1873-1993"

Inaccessible Magdalene burial plot, Sunday’s Well Cork. Plaque beneath broken cross reads: “A memorial to the Residents of St. Mary’s Good Shepherd Convent,
Sunday’s Well 1873-1993″

 

Growing questions.

Do Penance or Perish, A Study of Magdalen Asylums in Ireland, by Francis Finnegan published in 2001 traced the development of the Magdalene movement and provided the 19th century history of four of Ireland’s Convent Magdalen Asylums.  More and more voices were being raised questioning the stillness of the injustice. In addition to some early articles, a Channel Four Television production Sex in a Cold Climate released in 1998 broadcast the distressing accounts of the system by former inmates of the Irish Magdalene system.

This was followed in by the 2002 film by Peter Mullan called the Magdalene Sisters.  Survivor advocacy group Justice for Magdalenes was founded in 2003, asking questions about the circumstances surrounding the High Park exhumations. In 2007 Prof James M Smith’s (Boston College/JFM Research) Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment charted the 20th century Magdalene regime, offering the first crucial evidence of State involvement in the laundries. Steven O’Riordan’s film “The Forgotten Maggies” appeared in 2009. Some fearless articles by the late Mary Raftery in the Irish Times also added to the growing disquiet around these institutions.

The last Magdalene Laundry, located at Sean MacDermott Street in Dublin, closed in 1996. Many convents also declined and due to the lack of entrants closed. The laundries, no longer useful or profitable could not compete with huge national and multinational industrial operations and with the advent and widespread use of washing machines, they fell into disrepair.

Increased media exposure and the growing strength of survivor advocacy groups such as the Justice for Magdalenes group, (JFM) which began its political campaign in 2009, saw a growing clamour for the establishment of a Compensation Scheme for all Magdalene survivors as well as an official apology from the Irish State. The official apology on the 19th February 2013 by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the Magdalene survivors marked an important milestone in the campaign as the women were finally vindicated. While the Taoiseach described the “Nation’s Shame”, neither Church nor State will acknowledge the human rights violations which have taken place, although the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on the Vatican to conduct an enquiry.

What remains is to ensure that the sentiments expressed in the Taoiseach’s official apology are now delivered on.  Judge Quirke was appointed by the government to devise a scheme of payments to the survivors reported in May 2013, subsequently his recommendations were accepted by the government. A scheme of ex-gratia payments has now begun and the implementation of the recommendations is continuing. By April 2014, some 731 applications for compensation have been received and some €10 million has been paid to 280 Magdalene Laundry survivors.

JFM Research says it is preparing a response to the McAleese Report, which falls far short of honouring the lived experience of the women and girls who were incarcerated.  Will we ever know the full truth of what went on behind the Irish Magdalene Laundries’ walls for over 100 years?

Following the recent reports of serious questions around the mothers and baby homes and the promised Government inquiry into what occurred, many social justice organisations are urging that the inquiry would be widened to include a full investigation into the Magdalene Laundries, due to the extent of movement of women and children between both institutions.

Claire McGettrick has played an active role in the pursuit of truth and justice on these issues, her lecture will take place on Wednesday afternoon 30th July at 3pm at the Firkin Crane centre, and everyone is welcome.

Tadhg Barry Remembered

The extraordinary life and death of Tadhg Barry from Blarney Street.

 

Tadhg Barry

Cover image of Donal O Drisceóil’s pamphlet on Tadhg Barry

Tadhg Barry Remembered produced by Frameworks Films in collaboration with the Cork Council of Trade Unions.

 

The film of Tadhg Barry was first shown in Cork in 2013 and was also shown at the 2013 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival. The film has provoked a huge reaction from many people, based not least as to how an extraordinary Irishman could be nearly forgotten. However that is now changing and the film has been shown in Cork, Dublin, and Belfast and also in England and there are plans to show it on TG4, Ireland’s Irish language television station. Recently a new road on the north side of Cork City near Apple Computers has been named the Tadhg Barry Road.

 

This film will be introduced by Trevor Quinn of SIPTU and Jack O’Sullivan of the Cork Council of Trade Unions and will be shown on Friday morning 1st August 2014 at 11am at the Firkin Crane as part of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

Ann Piggott, President of Cork Council of Trade Unions, speaking at the naming ceremony for Tadhg Barry Road, Cork.

Ann Piggott, President of Cork Council of Trade Unions, speaking at the naming ceremony for Tadhg Barry Road, Cork.

 

Tadhg Barry was born in Cork in 1880. He lived on Blarney Street, went to school in the North Monastery and commenced work at Our Lady’s Asylum in 1899 as an attendant and after a period in England, came back to work as a public servant in the Pensions Board.

From the turn of the century, he became immersed in the growing national, cultural literary and political revival and moved in these circles which were led by Tomás Mac Curtain, Sean O’Hegarty and Terence MacSwiney. Tadhg was a brilliant organiser, keeper of notes and minutes, fine writer, quietly efficient and had wide interests.

Barry was an active member of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) but he and some others grew impatient with an inefficient Cork GAA Board and re organised it over a period of years. He had been involved with a number of GAA Clubs including Eire Og, Sundays Well Hurling Club and Fainne an Lae Camogie Club on Blarney Street. He played hurling, refereed, coached hurling and camogie, and wrote as the columnist Ciotog in the Cork Free Press. He even found time to write a book “Hurling and How to Play it” in 1916 especially for the boys of the North Mon.

He became more active with the Irish Volunteers and organised meetings for Larkin and James Connolly. Following the period of confusion in Cork which accompanied the 1916 Rising, Barry was active in re-establishing the Irish Transport & General Workers Union in the city, following its virtual demise locally after the 1909 Cork Lockout. As he became more prominent, due to mass imprisonments of leaders after 1916, he attracted attention from the authorities and spent much of 1917 in prison.

Barry threw himself into union activities during 1918 onwards as well as being very active in Sinn Fein and the Volunteers. He began to write for the Southern Star, under the heading “Neath Shandon’s Steeple” and contributed articles to various trade union publications.

Following a further period of imprisonment in 1918, he emerged to become a full-time organiser and secretary of the ITGWU No 1 (James Connolly Memorial) Branch. Never one to stay still for very long, Barry led strikes, pursued demands for wages increases and made the branch a model unit. He was selected as a candidate in the local elections of 1920 and Alderman Barry romped home.

He then combined his union activities with his public duties, which was very difficult at a time when two Lord Mayors of Cork died, one murdered and one on hunger strike. With virtual war taking place on the City streets, he managed to organise the Irish Trade Union Congress AGM in the old Connolly Hall in August 1920.

Finally in early February 1921, he was arrested and sent to Ballykinlar Camp in Co. Down, where he organised the camp activities and recreation, many socialist in nature, to keep the hundreds of volunteers active in those months. As the Treaty talks progressed after the Truce, some of the volunteers were being released.

On 15th November 1921, as he joined many others to say goodbye to a departing group, he was suddenly shot dead by a young sentry named Barrett. The cover up started immediately and the inquest was inconclusive as the British military authorities refused to cooperate.

His remains were returned to Cork; thousands of people marched in his funeral procession in Dublin or attended the passing of his remains through various towns.

On arrival in Cork, the body of Tadhg Barry was met by tens of thousands of people representing all shades of union, labour, nationalist and republican opinion as his remains were taken to the North Chapel. Sunday 20th November 1921 saw a huge turnout of people again on the route to his final resting place at St Finbarr’s cemetery.

Tadhg Barry represented a proud socialist republican tradition in the Connolly mould. The British forces regarded him as a serious troublemaker; however his active involvement in trade union, community, sporting and social organisations made him widely respected throughout the city. He operated quietly, had a reputation of a man who got things done effectively. His relatively short lifetime of service in the GAA, trade unions, and politically, so much of it behind the scenes out of the limelight in key pivotal positions, deserves to be more permanently commemorated in his native city.

We wish to thank Dr. Donal O’Drisceoil of U.C.C for his research from which the above account is drawn and which is contained in his pamphlet Tadhg Barry (1880-1921) The Story of an Irish Revolutionary.       

 

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From Allihies to Butte, Montana

Allihies mine pic Nigel Cox

Main engine house at the Mountain Mine at Allihies, built 1862. Photo (c) Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons licence

 

Tadhg O’Sullivan, Vice chairperson of the Allihies Copper Mine Museum will speak of the tradition of mining at the old Allihies Copper mines and the exodus of the miners in search of similar work to the town of Butte, Montana. Tadhg will speak at 4.15pm on Thursday 31st July at the Firkin Crane Centre in Shandon.

 

For most of the 19th Century, Allihies was a bustling mining town, with everything one would associate with such towns, money, vice, corruption, disease, crime and so on.  It had turned from a sleepy rural backwater to a centre of industry in 1812 and for over seventy years this mining venture continued, with an influx of Cornish miners along with many local workers at different levels of intensity, until the operation was wound down finally in 1884.

 

From around 1865 onwards the Allihies mining community had started to emigrate mainly to Montana and a town called Butte high in the Rocky Mountains.  Butte was beginning to experience the boom times that Allihies had experienced seventy years earlier and the miners and their families followed the work and the money.  It was approximately a 6000 mile journey, a journey many didn’t survive.  But those who did made their mark in this North-West corner of the United States and became the main players and the biggest community in what was one of the richest mining stories ever.

 

Butte today has a population of around 30,000 down from its height of 60,000 in the 1920s when it was one of the largest and most notorious copper boomtowns in America. The rush for riches also saw the growth of trade unionism epitomised by the founding of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) in 1893 and by the large support enjoyed by the Wobblies (the Industrial Workers of the World) in the town. In many ways Butte became a microcosm of the labour/capital wars of the late 1800/early 1900s and which culminated in the murder of union organiser Frank Little of the IWW in Butte in 1917. The town was later the scene of the Anaconda Road massacre in 1920.

 

The main protagonists were Marcus Daly’s Anaconda Copper Mining Company and the militant Western Federation of Miners, William “Big Bill” Haywood, Charles Moyer and Mother Jones trod the streets of Butte in defence of the miners, many of whom were Irish and some from her very own county. The WFM were a radical union and were to forefront of many strikes, and the campaign for an 8-hour day. Their activities caused some friction with the longer established United Mine Workers of America and attracted the attention of the Federal authorities.

 

Indeed Mother Jones arrived by train from Butte, where she had been organising strikes for better working conditions to West Virginia/Colorado in 1912 at the outbreak of the coal wars in the region (1912-1914). Although always associated with the UMW, Mother Jones maintained extremely cordial relations with the WFM and worked closely with both unions, as usual she just got on with organising workers.

 

Today Butte retains very strong Irish links and has a large St. Patrick’s Day parade. Allihies has constructed a beautiful museum in the old Methodist Church, originally built in 1845 for the Cornish copper miners who arrived in Allihies before the famine. The community run enterprise also has an Allihies Copper Mine Trail. www.acmm.ie

The Spirit of Mother Jones festival 2014 will try to ensure that the story of Mary Harris/Mother Jones from Cork city is again reconnected through the rich and complex tapestry of history to her links with the West Cork copper miners of Allihies and Butte, Montana. All are welcome to attend. The event forms part of the Miners’ Day at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school with speakers films and music from the USA, the UK, Greece and Ireland.

 

The Battle for Orgreave – 30 years on

Orgreave Festival poster 2014

Orgreave Festival poster 2014

Paul Winter of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Committee (OTJC) will speak at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Wednesday morning 30th July 2014 at 12 noon at the Firkin Crane, where as an eye witness he will describe the events of 30 years ago at the Orgreave Coking works during the British Miners Strike.

Paul’s account of his experiences will be preceded by the classic film The Battle for Orgreave by Journeyman Pictures and shown with the kind permission of producer/director Yvette Vanson. 

Paul Winter

Paul Winter

The Battle for Orgreave was a major event during the British Miners strike. Orgreave was the site of a Coking Works in the North of England which had been subject to picketing in an effort to bring production to a halt during the strike. It then became a focal point of the miners’ anger on the morning of 18th June 1984 when a mass gathering of pickets from all over Britain converged on Orgreave.

The events of that day have left a lasting legacy of bitterness all across mining communities ever since. Organisations such as the Orgreave Truth and Justice Committee (OTJC) have continued to campaign for the full story of Orgreave to be told. What happened at Orgreave, and the scenes of brutality involving a full scale charge on horseback on the miners by the police gave rise to some of the most horrifying images of violence ever seen in an industrial dispute anywhere!

While Mother Jones in her day would have experienced extreme violence against miners, the scenes at Orgreave were reminiscent of the violence perpetrated on the ordinary workers of Dublin during the infamous 1913 Lockout.

The events of the day formed an essential element of the efforts by the Thatcher government to defeat the miners by any means whatever. The use of the police in this manner by Margaret Thatcher ensured that the events would never be investigated and like the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, the payback was made by official cover ups and lies.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is extremely grateful to have received permission from Yvette Vanson, the Producer/Director of the film “The Battle For Orgreave” to permit a showing of the film at the Spirit of Mother Jones festival. This was first shown on Channel 4.

This will be followed with a talk by Paul Winter of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Committee. Paul is an ex miner from Barnsley who worked in the mining industry from 1980 to 1993 and was present at the Battle For Orgreave. Paul will describe the events of the day and will discuss the impact of the miners strike on his small but proud and passionate community. An understanding of the sometimes ignored events at Orgreave on that morning in June 1984 is essential to understanding the wider anger and raw feelings of injustice in the mining communities which remain to this very day!

Qatar – a World Cup graveyard?

Qatar rerun the vote

Among the many issues which Mother Jones championed was the protection of workers and ensuring that miners and factory workers worked in safe and decent working conditions. In spite of the passing of a century, tens of millions of workers are still denied basic human rights. None more so than the modern day slavery which is institutionalised in Qatar. This has been highlighted by the preparations for the World Cup in 2022. It is totally unacceptable that thousands should die to ensure we can enjoy the beautiful game in 2022.

 

David Joyce, the International Development Officer of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) will discuss the position at a lecture entitled “Qatar……a World Cup graveyard?” which will be held at the Firkin Crane in Shandon at 12 noon on Wednesday 30th July next, all welcome!

 

He makes the following points;

“Recent reports of corruption involved in the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar have cast doubt over its suitability as a venue for the Football World Cup.  Long before these revelations however, trade unions and human rights activists have been calling for a rerun of the vote for other reasons.

 

What’s wrong with working in Qatar?

Qatar is a government which takes no responsibility for workers. There are 1.4 million migrant workers in Qatar who have no rights.

  • 4000 workers could die before a ball is kicked in the 2022 World Cup.
  • 1200 workers have died since the World Cup was awarded in 2010, on available data from just two countries.

Qatar is a slave state. 1.4 million migrant workers are trapped in a broken system. Fundamental rights and freedoms do not exist for workers in Qatar whether for poor migrant workers or highly paid professional expatriates. Foreign workers are enslaved – owned by employers who hold the power of recruitment, total control over wages and conditions of employment, the authority to issue ID cards and the ability to refuse a change of employment or exit visa to leave the country. This is known as the kafala system.

 

Unions around the world have been calling on FIFA to rerun the vote for the Qatar 2022 World Cup unless Qatar respects workers’ rights. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has finally conceded the decision to award Qatar the World Cup was a mistake. But Qatar’s promises on labour laws have been purely cosmetic and it is time for FIFA to stand up for human rights. FIFA must use this opportunity to be a catalyst for change and ensure that the World Cup only takes place in Qatar if workers’ rights are fully guaranteed.

 

The five conditions the International Trade Union Confederation will impose are:

  • End Kafala;
  • Allow freedom of association and collective bargaining;
  • A minimum wage for all workers;
  • Introduce grievance procedures;
  • Work with responsible international recruitment agencies.”

 

Prof. Rosemary Feurer set to return to this years Spirit of Mother Jones festival

Image

Prof. Rosemary Feurer visits Cork’s historic Shandon Steeple in 2012.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is delighted to confirm that Professor Rosemary Feurer, who attended the inaugural Mother Jones festival is returning to the 2014 festival.

Rosemary is Associate Professor of History at the Dept. of History, Northern Illinois University. Her fields of study include the United States – 20th Century, Labour and Social Movements.

Rosemary will present a lecture entitled “Get off your knees”: James Connolly, Jim Larkin and Mother Jones in the Fight for a Global Labour Movement”, at the Firkin Crane Centre on Friday 1st August at 3pm.

“James Connolly, Jim Larkin, and Mother Jones were leading transnational organisers a century ago who learned from each other.  Connolly’s decision to come to the U.S. was in part inspired by the grounding in direct action labour movement struggles that Jones had helped to innovate. Long before James Connolly or James Larkin came to the U.S., the Irish workers and socialist movement that they led caught Mother Jones’ attention. The Irish and U.S. labour movement came to use the same language and inflection as they grew together. The similarity of language and purpose in these leaders, despite factional distinctions in their organisational loyalties, allows us to see how the radicals of a century ago contributed to the grounding of a global labour movement.

 

Both Connolly and Jones were members and speakers for the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World. And they both meant the “World” part of the title, even after Jones had stopped paying dues to the organization. They thought of themselves as being part of the same global movement that would allow workers democratic decision making and ownership and direction of human civilization. They used notions of “civilizing” influence of socialism and democracy.  

 

Both deeply believed that there was no one more suited to controlling the economic destiny of the nation than those who produced the wealth of the nation. They were comrades in the struggle for workers power”.

 

Rosemary Feurer, has been studying the links and connections between these activists and will discuss her important findings and reflections at this lecture, which is co-sponsored by the School of History at University College Cork.

She manages the largest website on labour history in the USA, www.laborhistorylinks.org and also manages www.motherjonesmuseum.org  Her publications include Radical Unionism in the Midwest 1900-1950 from Working Class in American History Series in 2007.

Rosemary’s award winning documentary which she produced and co-directed,  “Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman” was shown at the 2012 Cork Mother Jones Festival and Rosemary will again present this documentary on the opening night of the 2014 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival at 6pm.

2014 is the 100th Anniversary of the Ludlow massacre. Rosemary will also contribute at our remembrance of this important event in American history; “Then came Ludlow and the nation heard” a discussion along with Jim Green which will take place on Thursday evening at 7.15 at the Firkin Crane.

The Cork Harbour Soviet

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is delighted to welcome local historian Luke Dineen back to the Spirit of Mother Jones festival in 2014. Luke is 24 years old and is presently working on a PhD Thesis in UCC on the labour movement in Cork and Derry from 1917 to 1923. Luke gave a presentation on the 1909 Cork Lockout, a precursor of the Dublin Lockout, at the 2013 festival which stimulated some very interesting debate. In his presentation at the 2014 festival and summer school Luke will relate the story of the Cork Harbour Soviet of 1921.

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Robert Day (1885-1949). Photo from oireachtas.ie

In March 1920 at the height of the War of Independence in Cork, a Cork Corporation Cost of Living Commission was established by Lord Mayor Tomás Mac Curtáin to determine a proper living wage for Cork’s workers. In late September 1920 it reported that this wage was 70 shillings a week, rather more than most workers in the city received at this time. On 12 February 1921 it reiterated this.

Four days later, the Cork Harbour Board received a letter from the local ITGWU branch asking that the 70 shillings rate be put into effect by the Board. The Cork Harbour Board resisted implementing the wage for months and finally rejected the idea in June 1921.

Two months later, it rejected the claim again and a strike of the Board’s employees was declared. The Harbour Board, however, failed to realise that its refusal to grant this wage would lead to its workers seizing control of the Cork Custom House, where a red flag was flown and a soviet declared, in early September 1921.

The Harbour Board, traditionally a home of the city’s commercial elite, had a recent addition to its ranks – Bob Day, a trade union militant and the secretary of Cork’s ITGWU branch. Day, together with his close comrade William Kenneally, led the harbour workers in an endeavour that was reported as far away as New York.

The ‘Cork Harbour Soviet’ of 1921 of the 7th September existed for a very short time and is largely forgotten. Nevertheless, it revealed the place and militancy of workers in early 20th century Cork, the future position of the labour movement in Independent Ireland and, ultimately, the nature of the 1919-1923 Irish revolution itself.

The Cork Harbour Soviet of 7th September 1921 presentation by Luke will take place at the Firkin Crane on Wednesday 30th July.

Dave Hopper and the Durham Miner’s Gala

 

photo DaveHopper

Dave Hopper

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival is proud to welcome Dave Hopper, General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, and Secretary of the National Union of Miners (North East Area), which he represents on the National Executive Committee of the NUM.

Dave has been involved all his life in mining, he began as a coal miner before becoming active in the union. He played an active role in the Miners’ Strike in 1984/85 and witnessed the events at Orgreave on 18th June 1984.

He will speak about the impact of the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike and explain the significance of the Durham Miners Gala.

The Durham Gala.

The first Gala was held on 12th August 1871 and was organised by the Durham Miners. It is the largest annual organised gathering of workers in Europe. Miners from various National Mineworkers Union branches march behind their lodge or village banners and their colliery brass bands. Over 100, 000 can take part in the event, it has survived the virtual demise of the coal industry and goes from strength to strength.

The focal point is at the County Hotel at Old Elvet in Durham, where various processions of workers converge before heading to the Racecourse for speeches and a festival for all the family.

WAPC Banner Durham 2102

Women Against Pit Closures banner – one of many colourful banners at Durham Miner’s Gala

The Gala is a festive, colourful expression of union, socialist and working class traditions and takes place each year on the second Saturday of July in Durham. The Durham Gala at its core is about the expression of identity of mining communities, its resplendent and unique banners represent and display the heart and soul of the nobility of union membership and social and community solidarity.

Although the mines may be almost silent now and the traditions deemed old fashioned, the proud spirit and history of the mining communities remain and in the Durham Gala are displayed in all their resilient and powerful glory as a beacon of hope and belief in a fairer and equal and just society for all.

Dave Hopper will speak during “Miners Day” at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Thursday 31st July at the Firkin Crane in Shandon.

Visit http://www.durhamminers.org