Spirit of Mother Jones Festival Brochure published

The programme for the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School 2017 is now available with the publication of the official brochure today (23rd June).

The programme covers a comprehensive range of events which will take place during the Festival and Summer School.  These will include lectures, music, film showing and commemorative events over the five days of 2017 event which runs from 1st to 5th August in the Shandon area of Cork city.

You can download the 2017 brochure by clicking Mother Jones Cork Programme 2017.

 

The Environmental Battle in Cork Harbour

Anti-Incinerator demo

Anti-incinerator protest at Carrigaline, Co. Cork, 2016

As the wider community around Cork Harbour continues to await the decision of An Bord Pleanala (State planning board)  in relation to the planning application by Indaver Ireland to construct an incinerator in Ringaskiddy, Councillor Marcia Dalton of Cork County Council will address this issue on Thursday morning 3rd August at the Maldron Hotel at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School.

Cork Harbour is a beautiful place and home to tens of thousands of people. It is a large natural harbour extending from Cork city to the Atlantic Ocean at Roches Point. Dotted around it are towns and villages, the best known are historic Cobh, Crosshaven, Monkstown and Passage. In past centuries the British Navy long recognised its importance and its ability to provide protection and it created an impregnable series of forts around the entrance making it one of the most important naval bases and ports on the west of Europe. It has been a trading port for centuries and hundreds of thousands emigrated from Cobh (formerly named Queenstown) in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Almost 50 years ago, many questioned the Government decision to designate areas of Cork Harbour as a centre for heavy and polluting industry and sought answers as to why the quiet Ringaskiddy Village area was selected as the centre for a deep water port. Located near the south western entrance of the Harbour this small village and community was the furthest location on the harbour from existing road networks, infrastructure such as rail links and connections to the rest of Ireland. That road infrastructure is still not fully in place and Ringaskiddy village itself is now virtually cut off from the harbour.

Already then located on Haulbowline Island was Irish Steel and while it provided many hundreds of jobs, its legacy to the harbour has been a large toxic island comprised of 650,000 cubic metres of contaminated waste, which is only now being finally removed. This had given rise to fears for residents and workers health.

Ringaskiddy demo

One of many anti-incinerator rallies at Ringaskiddy

The simmering resentment over the creation of industrial dumps in the area came to national prominence at the Battle of Barnahealy in May 1978, when a forceful attempt to dump asbestos waste (from the Raybestos Manhattan factory in Ovens, near Ballincollig), in spite of a protest by 200 local people organised by the Ringaskiddy Residents Association resulted in violence. The asbestos loaded dump truck from the factory some 35 Kilometres away was driven through the permanent picket of local people including many children, resulting in nine people being treated in hospital. The asbestos factory closed in 1980.

The harbour became associated with the vociferous campaign against pungent odours and pollution from some pharmaceutical plants during the 80s, even as the Merrill Dow plans to establish a factory in Killeagh further east in County Cork were defeated by environmental groups in 1989. There followed a vigorous campaign against the Sandoz factory incinerators by the Cork Environmental Alliance (CEA) in the 90s.

The sustained efforts by local groups such as Responsible Industry in Cork Harbour (RICH) and the CEA and many other community organisations contributed to the then creation of a Department of Environmental Protection and the establishment by its Minister Mary Harney of the Irish Environmental Protection Agency in 1993 (EPA).

Cork Harbour

Cork Harbour (not to scale)- the Indaver incinerator site at Ringaskiddy is highlighted with a star.

Former RTE Today Tonight journalist, Jerry O’Callaghan in his 1992 book The Red Book…The Hanrahan Case against Merck, Sharp and Dohme” concluded

“Cork Environmental Alliance may have lost the battle to stop Sandoz but they probably won the war. In future it is difficult to imagine any chemical projects getting past the praetorian guard of environmentalists without the most thorough inquisition”

Just a year later, on the morning of 6th August 1993, the Harbour exploded back into public consciousness, and exposed the failures to enforce environmental regulations, when the huge explosion and fire at the Hickson Pharmaceutical Plant to the south of Ringaskiddy village created international publicity. It was a miracle that this accident did not result in a major damage escalation and disaster in the lower harbour as water to fight the flames ran dry. For a critical period that morning, the Cork County Council Report acknowledged that there was “a severe lack of water for firefighting”.

Stunned into action both the public authorities and a more progressive industry devoted resources to improving the situation under the watchful and wary eyes of local residents and local environmental groups. The situation gradually improved and tourism, leisure, business, environmental and educational based projects slowly brought about the realisation that this was the way to improve the local harbour economy and create sustainable jobs.

Indaver fire Antwerp 2016

Massive fire which followed an explosion at an Indaver incinerator near Antwerp, Belgium in February 2016

Then in 2001, Indaver Ireland, a Belgian owned incineration company, submitted plans for a waste incinerator just a kilometre from Ringaskiddy village, close by the Irish Naval Headquarters at Haulbowline, within Cork Harbour. The Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (CHASE), an alliance of local groups was established to oppose this incinerator.

Described by Frank McDonald, a former Environment editor at the Irish Times in his 2005 book (with James Nix), Chaos at the Cross Roads as “the biggest battle in Ireland so far has been fought over Indaver’s hazardous waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy”, the drums of the battle still reverberate daily in Cork Harbour over 12 years later.

A further generation of local people, young and old, has now spent almost 17 years of their lives fighting this incinerator, through three permission applications, through An Bord Pleanála (the State Planning Board), through the Environmental Protection Agency, through the courts in Ireland and Europe. Hundreds of thousands of euro have been raised from voluntary efforts and spent and irreplaceable time lost to their families as ordinary people wade through thousands of complex documents as official deadlines for submissions come and go!

LÉ Niamh at Haulbowline

Irish Naval patrol ship LÉ Niamh at the Irish Naval base at Haulbowline less than a kilometre from the Indaver incinerator site

The third planning application for an incinerator to burn 240,000 tonnes of various waste streams was submitted by Indaver Ireland to An Bord Pleanála on 13th January 2016 and a further public planning enquiry Oral Hearing was held during April/May 2016 in the nearby town of Carrigaline. This was particularly noteworthy for the completely united front of Harbour residents, young and old, politicians of all political parties and a wide range of social, educational, tourism, trade union and cultural organisations and the Irish Department of Defence which expressed total opposition to the project.

During the 17 day Oral Hearing, very serious flaws in the Indaver planning application were exposed in spite of the behind closed doors consultation between Indaver (involving at least six pre-application consultation meetings since 2012) with An Bord Pleanala, permitted under the fast-track Strategic Infrastructure Act 2006.

Toxic legacy

Toxic Legacy – slag heap from former Irish Steel plant on Haulbowline seen from Spike Island. Photo: John Jefferies.

Tuesday evening April 26th 2016 (Day 6) of the Oral Hearing was described as “electric” by Caitriona Reid in her recent book “Our Third Fight” as dozens of local residents vividly and angrily described to the Planning Inspector how their community had suffered through bad planning over the decades.

Indaver demo

Protest outside Indaver site, Ringaskiddy

Residents have now spent 60 days at oral hearings into various Indaver incinerator applications and have repeatedly stated that they have no trust whatever in the Indaver Ireland company.

To date a fourth decision deferral has been made by An Bord Pleanala (August 10th 2017 is the latest decision day!)…… and so will continue a new round of the battle in what may already be the longest running environmental battle anywhere in Europe…..the battle for environmental justice in Cork Harbour.

 

Councillor Marcia D’Alton, is an independent Cork County Councillor based in the Passage/Monkstown area. Marcia is an environmental engineer and one of the opponents of this project. She will tell the story of this saga when she talks on Thursday 3rd August at 11am at the Maldron Hotel. Her presentation will form part of the “Environment Day” on that date at the Spirit of Mother Jones 2017 summer school.  

 

By Admin.

 

Karen Underwood sings the Blues in Cork

The Cork Mother Jones committee announces that singer Karen Underwood will appear for the first time at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Wednesday night 2nd August at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon, at 9.30 pm.

Karen Underwood

Karen Underwood concert at Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

Karen was born in Chicago in the early 60s at a time when the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum. Her home was full of music and song and she absorbed many musical influences as a young girl from Nat King Cole to Church and Gospel music.

She arrived in Cork in her 30s around 1997 and settled in the city. Here she experimented with various musical genres however the music of her heroine Nina Simone was celebrated in her show “The Nina in Me” where she sings many of Nina Simone’s songs interspersed with commentary of life, her memories of America and the tragedy, joys and experiences of her life in Cork.

Karen’s version of “Mississippi Goddamn” is awesome while “Strange Fruit”, with its echoes of lynching in America resonate the growing fear in today’s Trump’s America. Her live performances are a tribute to her extraordinary versatility and her embracement of what life throws at one.

Karen has performed all over Ireland, including the National Concert Hall, the Olympia, the Gaiety and she has appeared on numerous TV and radio programmes.

Karen Underwood Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard

Tickets for this festival fundraising show are €15 euro each (limited to 70) and are available from the Maldron Hotel, or from Nolan’s (Victuallers) 21/22 Shandon Street or phone 086 1651356. This show is highly recommended.

Music at the Maldron 2017

 

Richard and Jimmy

Jimmy Crowley and Richard T. Cooke

Music at the Maldron

 

Among the liveliest events at the Spirit of Mother Jones festival are a lunch time series of concerts held at the Maldron Hotel each day (Wednesday to Friday 1 to 2pm) featuring some wonderful Cork singers and musicians. Organised and compered by the irrepressible Richard T Cooke, these “Music at the Maldron” sessions should not be missed. Come along and enjoy……see you there!

   

 Lunchtime Song & Music Concerts

 

Richard T. Cooke MC

 

 Wednesday, August 2nd 

 

Muddy Lee & Shandon Street Shawlies Choir

 Frances O’ Sullivan 

(Traditional Singer, Cork Rokk Choir)

The Vocalic 

 

  Clann Chorcai members: 

Aoife Delaney (Young Mother Jones, Singer, Actor)

Joan Goggin (Singer, Poet, Actor)

Eadaoin Delaney (Singer, Musician, Poet, Actor)

Joan Goggin

Singer, Actor and Poet, Joan Goggin dressed as “Mother Jones”. Picture: Andy Jay

 NICHE: Sing Your Heart Out Group members:

Rose Broderick, Nuala Panek, 

David McGrath (Singers)

 

 

Thursday, August 3rd

 Mother Jones Ceili Band Concert & Guests

 

Friday, August 4th

The Jimmy Crowley Concert

Cork born, international renowned recording artist and author 

 performs a selection of songs from his songbook in his own quintessential Cork style. 

 

  • Admission Free
Cork Shawlies

Richard T. Cooke (centre) with Lord Mayor Des Cahill and the Shandon Street Shawlies at last year’s festival. Photo (c) Martin Duggan.

 

The Revolutionary Women of Cork’s Northside 1916-1923

On Wednesday evening, the 3rd August, Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Group will speak on the above topic at the 2017 Spirit of Mother Jones summer school.

Anne Twomey

Anne Twomey of Shandon Area History Group speaking at last year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

The recent celebrations of the 1916 Rising were marked by an examination of the central role played by many women during the period of the Irish Revolution. In contrast to 1966, when little mention was made, publications such as “No Ordinary Women: Irish Females Activists in the Revolutionary Years 1900-1923” by Sinead McCoole and John Borgonovo in his “Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918” made determined attempt to reveal the story of the contribution of women during this period.

The landmark exhibition by the Shandon Area History Group “Ordinary Women in Extraordinary times” at the St Peters Vision Centre in Cork in June 2016, concentrated on the activities of ten women in Cork whose roles lay largely hidden.

badge

Cumann na mBan lapel badge

Through their efforts and others the full extent of the invisible yet essential infrastructure provided by women which supported the ongoing revolution from 1916 all over Ireland is being unveiled.

With Cork becoming the cockpit of the revolution from 1917 onwards, a number of extremely determined yet forgotten (or ignored) women constructed an impenetrable yet vital support network to the struggle for independence then taking place. Their pivotal and defiant actions, deemed almost irrelevant by history more concerned with the glory of the battle is slowly emerging into the consciousness of their communities.

Anne Twomey at a recent lecture where she detailed the tireless and heroic work of those revolutionary women remarked how “those that knew…..knew!” Now we need to know!

Memorial Window

Stained glass window at Our Lady of Lourdes church, Ballinlough, Cork in memory of Birdie Conway.

The Shandon Cumann Na mBan group after 1916 provides a touchstone for many of the women. At the centre of this group was Lil Conlon and her sisters. Lil was an indefatigable worker who performed many tasks during the troubled period and later penned a book Cumann Na mBan and the Women of Ireland 1913-1925 in which she posed the question “What did the women of Ireland do anyway?”

Lil Conlon book

Lil Conlon’s book on Cumann na mBan (published 1969)

Kate “Birdie” Conway, whose early career was as a professional operatic singer, later became a founder member in Cork of Cumann Na mBan and afterwards Shandon Branch president, played a huge role from 1914 to 1922. Her fundraising, her organising and support activities for prisoners’ dependents and in the cultural area were legendary. She arranged concerts, and often sang at them herself. “Birdie” Conway passed away on 21st February 1936. Today she is remembered by a magnificent stain glass window in the entrance portal at the Ballinlough Church in Cork city.

In Clogheen, on the northern ridge of the city, Mary Bowles was arrested in January 1921 as she tried to hide a Lewis gun while local men escaped from an attempted ambush. She suffered dreadfully at the hands of her captors, and was imprisoned although just a very young teenage girl. She is remembered in a ballad “Mary Bowles… the Pride of Sweet Clogheen

Across in Blackpool, Peg Duggan and her sisters Sarah and Annie, living at 49 Thomas Davis Street, operated an escape network for those on the run for years. Her flower shop on Parliament Street was a centre of Volunteer/IRA activity until closed by order of the British authorities. She was among the first on the scene of the murder of Lord Mayor Tomas MacCurtain in Blackpool on 20th March 1920 and she rendered first aid and comfort for his widow, children and the extended Walsh family throughout that terrifying night.

Emma Hourigan who lived nearby at 45 Maddens Buildings was very active, running intelligence, putting up posters, campaigning and organising. Yet six of her neighbours from Maddens Buildings consisting of just 76 houses were killed during World War 1. Historian Mark Cronin (Blackpool to the Front: A Cork Suburb and Ireland’s Great War 1914-1918) details how hundreds of young men from Blackpool and surrounds had fought in the British Army during the Great War and almost 70 never came home.

Emma Hourigan

Emma Hourigan

From this small Blackpool community one begins to appreciate the complexity of Irish life and history in a small urban village and the difficulties faced by Emma Hourigan and others who bravely took the republican road to freedom. By a sad irony the contributions of the women in the War of Independence and the men who went to fight for John Redmond to achieve Home Rule were virtually written out of Irish history.

In the very heart of Cork City in St Augustine Street stood the innocuous paper shop run by the Wallace sisters who were members of the Irish Citizen Army. This unpretentious premises was effectively the intelligence post office for the volunteers and the IRA for 5/6 years. Nora and Sheila Wallace’s heroic and invisible contribution to the revolution is only now surfacing from the shadows.

Wallace Sisters

Sheila and Julia Wallace

Margaret Lucey typed drafts of Principles of Freedom by Terence MacSwiney, while MacSwiney’s sisters Mary and Annie spent their entire lives working for the achievement of a Republic.

Young Kitty Daly was very active, she took part in the burning of Macroom Railway Station and was involved in the ambush of a British officer near the present St. John’s School.

Geraldine Sullivan (Neeson), was Muriel Murphy’s bridesmaid at her marriage to Terence MacSwiney on 9th June 1917. She transported explosives on her person around the city. The transport of arms and explosives from place to place became normal for the more active women in 1920-1921.

In 5 Devonshire Street, Nora O’Sullivan was actively involved and bravely hid and carried weapons for volunteers, who were subject to constant searches. Sinead McCoole’s book contains a curious self-prophetic note made by Nora to her friend Kitty Coyle, while a prisoner in Kilmainham Gaol during the Civil War….

“Remember me is all I ask,

and if remembrance proves a task,

forget”

 

Their unique stories will be told on Wednesday evening 3rd August by Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Group. The Group has made a major contribution to public history by researching and continuing to tell the story of these extraordinary women and others during the Irish Revolutionary period. The Cork Mother Jones Committee wishes to thank Anne Twomey and Maeve Higgins for their research on which this article is based. Photos courtesy of the Shandon Area History Group except where stated.

“A Plastic Ocean” at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School 2017.

plastic pollution at sea

Plastic Ocean – floating plastic

The Cork Mother Jones Committee will screen the stunning environmental film “A Plastic Ocean” at the sixth Spirit of Mother Jones festival on Thursday afternoon 3rd August 2017 at the Firkin Theatre in Shandon. While many regard tackling climate change as being vital to the survival of the planet, other threats are also accumulating in the environment.

This film investigates how the world’s increasing addiction to plastic is impacting the food chain and how that is effecting every one of us through new and developing human health problems. The results will astound viewers as the film captures never-before-seen images of marine life under threat from plastics.

A Plastic Ocean – film poster

A Plastic Ocean is filmed in 20 locations around the world and documents in chilling detail the effects of the some 8 million tons of plastic which we dump in the world’s oceans annually. Each year some 300 million tons of plastic are manufactured in the world, half of which we use just once before we dump it, making it one of mankind’s most destructive inventions.

The film follows documentary film maker Craig Leeson and a free diver Tanya Streeter, who while filming the blue whale, discover huge quantities of plastic floating in the waters off Sri Lanka. What follows is a global odyssey to discover what is happening in the oceans around the world.

Taking four years to film, and costing some $3.5 million the results should force people to question the plastic pathway and urge industry and all of us users to seek safe alternative solutions.

The evidence of plastic pollution which the film makers found shocked them and made them question a world where plastic is everywhere, yet few question why we produce so much, use so much and where it goes when discarded. The build-up of micro plastics and the creation of ocean garbage patches places the viability of the world’s oceans to sustain life under huge pressure.

Tanya Streeter

Tanya Streeter on the island of Tuvalu

The ratio of plastic to plankton in the Mediterranean Sea is 1:2, in some places the small plastic particles outnumber plankton by a ratio of 26:1.  A large amount of discarded plastic carries toxic chemicals such as BPA, phthalates, pesticides and PCBs. Over 90% of seabirds worldwide have plastic pieces in their stomachs. If this trend continues, and with studies showing that plastic is entering the food chains, then what is the future for human health and our very planet?

Plastics are created from the oil hydrocarbons and one solution would be to return plastics to oil. The search for bacteria to break plastic molecules down continues but the oceans or indeed the earth are not able to do so.  Some proposed solutions such as incineration create many toxic and poisonous emissions to the environment. Have the plastic manufacturers any real answers to safeguarding the environment from their products?

Oil Rigs

Oil – leaves lasting damage

Plastic Oceans is a global network of independent not for profits and charitable organisations, united in their aim to change the world’s attitude towards plastic within a generation.

“A Plastic Ocean” will be screened on Thursday afternoon 3rd August at the Firkin Theatre in Shandon as a contribution to an “Environment Day” at the Spirit of Mother Jones festival. Discussion to follow. All are welcome. Further lectures on environmental issues will be announced shortly.

New film “Blood on the Mountain” will feature at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2017

Blood on the Mountain

Blood on the Mountain movie poster

Blood on the Mountain is a newly released award-winning documentary.  It  is a fearless look at the 150 year history of the US coal industry. It has been endorsed by both the United Mine Workers of America and Sierra Club.   This is a story of human struggles endured at the mercy of unregulated industries and corrupt politicians.
The film’s director is Mari-lynn Evans who is “a life-long fan of Mother Jones.” She faced terrific obstacles and efforts to stop the film from the coal industry, which “reminded me of what Mother Jones and activists 100 years ago had to face.”
The film, she notes, “is a story of human struggles endured at the mercy of unregulated industries and corrupt politicians,” that should interest people far beyond West Virginia: “The injustices to the workers, environment and communities in the coalfields of Appalachia are the “canary in a coal mine” illustrating to all Americans what happens when corporations are allowed absolute control to inflict atrocities and politicians abdicate responsibility for those they are elected to protect.”

The film is showing at the Mother Jones Museum & Heritage Project Newsletter

May Day Special at the Mother Jones Museum at Mount Olive, Illinois on 29th April.  We are delighted to announce that we will also be showing the film for the first time in Ireland at the 2017 Spirit of Mother Jones in Cork which runs from 1st to 5th August in the Shandon area of the city – further information coming soon when the 2017 Festival Programme is available.
For further information on the Mother Jones events in Illinois visit it the Mother Jones Lives! page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MotherJonesLives/