Songs of Woody Guthrie for the 2022 festival.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Nyhan

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

Mick Treacy

Jimmy Crowley and Eve Telford To Appear at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2022.

Eve Telford is a singer of traditional folk songs as well as her original compositions. She sings traditional Irish songs, and also Welsh, Scottish and English songs.

Eve Telford

In her singing of traditional songs, one can sense her deep-seated connection with the old folk singers who have passed on. 

She is currently recording an album of Child ballads learnt from the singing of Irish Travellers, with her partner, the singer and musician Jimmy Crowley. She has been booked for folk festivals in Ireland and Britain, such as Cork Folk Festival and Whitby Folk Week, both solo, and as a duo with Jimmy Crowley.

Her original songs are inspired by the wellsprings of world mythologies, indigenous rights, a proximity to the natural world, and a commitment to political protest.

Eve was born in Adelaide, Australia, and grew up in Japan, Tasmania, England and Wales, before finding her home in Co. Cork, Ireland. She believes that her early exposure to different cultures, as well as the absence of television and screen-culture in her childhood contributed vastly to the development of her folk psyche.

Jimmy Crowley has been a regular at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival since the very beginning of the event.

His collection of ballads and his singing style has appealed to generations of people everywhere but especially on Cork’s North side. Many of his songs represent working class traditions and gatherings.

Jimmy began singing in the late 60s and he formed Stokers Lodge. The group became regulars in the folk clubs around Cork city.

By the early 70s he had begun to write his own material and revived the art of the ballad maker.

His songs feature local Cork customs, sports and drinking. Draghunting, road bowling and hurling appear as well as local features such as Quinlans Pub in Blackpool, the Lee Road and The Boys of Fairhill. 

The Boys of Fairhill Album and Songs from a Beautiful City.

While serving his time to a cabinet-maker he learned a popular song in 1920s Cork called simply Boozing. In Johnny Jump Up he sings of a cider so strong from being stored in old whiskey casks that it represented a passport to heaven.  Jimmy sings of Katty Barry, Mother Jones, Mick Barry the bowler, Father Mathew and Jack Doyle.

The words of many of over 140 of these ballads are contained in his great work Songs From The Beautiful City, published by the Freestate Press in 2014. Jimmy has made an inestimable contribution to the preservation of traditional Cork ballads.

Jimmy loves playing at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and one should not miss his performance with Eve Telford on Friday 29th July at the Shandon Maldron Hotel.

Jimmy and Eve will sing at the Shandon Maldron Hotel from 1 to 2pm for a lunchtime concert on Friday 29th July.

All are welcome, but please come in good time to guarantee a seat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Songs for Mother Jones 2021.

William Hammond organised the recording of seven songs which commemorate Cork born Mary Harris. Frameworks Films undertook the filming and recording of the session on a beautiful morning in Shandon, Cork City. The recordings were held at the old Butter Market garden under the landmark Bells of Shandon during the summer of 2021.

The programme of songs will be shown on Cork Community Television on Sunday 28th November at 8:00 pm.

Karan Casey at the recording at Shandon.

The music video features newly written songs by Karan Casey, John Murphy and Mags Creedon sung by the songwriters.

It also includes a song The Ballad of Mother Jones written by legendary Teresa Ní Chárthaigh of Blarney Street and sung by Māire Ní Chēileachair. Richard T. Cooke has written a song “And the Band played Hallelujah” which he recites. John Nyhan, his son Gearoid and Mick Treacy also contribute a song “Let The Mountains Roll”.   Finally, William features with a waltz he composed for Mother Jones and a song recorded by Gene Autry called “The Death of Mother Jones”.

The Singers.

Máire Ní Chéileachair.

From Farran in Cork, Máire got her love of singing and the Irish language from her parents who are from Kilnamartyra. In 2018, Māire won Corn Ui Riada and was also named TG4 singer of the year, she has recorded two CDs.

John Murphy.

From Ballyvolane in Cork City, he is a prolific songwriter and a member of the Cork Singers Club. He has commemorated the Burning of Cork in song along with some of Corks finest musicians in his recent debut album entitled, Cork 1920, A City In Flames.

Karan Casey.

Karan Casey from Ballyduff Lower, Co Waterford is an Irish folk singer and traditional singer, and a former member of the Irish band Solas. She is one of the most instantly recognisable, alluring and original voices in all of world music. Her recording, Distant Shore, is a collection of potent and beautiful Irish and contemporary ballads.

Richard T. Cooke.

Richard is a true blooded Corkonian and this is evident in the many books, television history documentaries, radio programmes and songs. And this was recognised when he received the prestigious Lord Mayor’s Civic Award in 2009:-” For his lifetime in promoting Ireland and his beloved City of Cork to the world through his writings and through his songs.” Richard is a member of the Mother Jones Committee.

William Hammond.

Known also as Hammy is from Fermoy he has been living in Cork for over 40 years. William has a great love of traditional music and set dancing. He is an accomplished accordion player in the  CD style  and a singer with the Cork Singers Club. William has been organising festivals in Cork for over 35 years including the Cork Folk Festival, Michael Dwyer Fest, Féile Fearmuí and the Mother Jones Festival.

John Nyhan.

John was born in Cork City and is now living in North Cork. Influenced by the Folk Revival musicians including; Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Tom Paxton, Ewan MacColl, Fairport Convention, Sweeney’s Men, Planxty and Rory Gallagher. John is known throughout Ireland and the USA as a promoter of Folk and Bluegrass concerts and he is joined by his son Gearoid in this recording. His friend Mick Treacy a veteran of the Holy Ground Folk Club in Birmingham and of the folk scene in England and Ireland accompanies.

Mags Creedon.

Mags is a member of the Cork Songwriters Club and she regularly performs poemsong at Munster Arts events with O’ Bheal poetry. She is a Pan Celtic finalist in 2018, and 2019 and has performed on the charity Èalù album 2016 Commissions. Mags is also a member of the Cork Singers Club and has written a song for the Cork Libraries about the Cork writer, Frank O’ Connor.

The filming and recording by Frameworks Films took place on Sunday 29th August 2021 at the old Shandon Butter Market garden in the heart of the Shandon Historic Quarter.  The Cork Mother Jones Committee wish to express our thanks to everyone involved in Cork’s tribute to Mother Jones.

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.

 

 

 

Winners of the 2019 Spirit of Mother Jones Song Contest

Huge congratulations to the worthy winners of the 2019 Spirit of Mother Jones Song Contest.
“Mine Workers’ Angel” by John Murphy with backing by Martin Somers (Jean O’Murchu agus Mortin)
The winners may sing their song at the plaque on Saturday evening, along with songs from Rory McCarthy.

Our thanks to all those who entered the contest.

 

Jimmy Crowley returns to the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

Jimmy Crowley will again perform at the eighth Spirit of Mother Jones festival at the Maldron Hotel on Friday 2nd August at 1pm. In what has become a huge highlight of the festival Jimmy explained how much this gig means to him.

Jimmy Crowley (left) with fellow singer / songwriter and member of the Cork Mother Jones Committee Richard T. Cooke

Writing in the Evening Echo on August 11th 2018, Jimmy said of his 2018 Mother Jones gig,

 

“I somehow attain my almost perfect audience for this little gig; people there for the right reasons; they’re patient with me if I want to introduce some new material; not too demanding of the “old stuff” and I get, perhaps, the most gentle, genial gentleman in Cork to introduce me and MC the event – the irrepressible Richard Cooke. “

 

Jimmy Crowley has been performing and singing ballads in Cork for almost 50 years. He was born in Douglas in Cork, began writing songs in the early 70s and ran the folk club at Douglas GAA club for many years. His band Stokers Lodge was known throughout Ireland.

 

Jimmy likes to talk and sing songs of Cork characters such as hunters and drag hunting, of harriers and the Shandon foot beagles and sportsmen such as legendary road bowler Mick Barry from Waterfall, and the immortal hurler Christy Ring, of stupendous deeds of valour, local rivalries and personalities, great and little events, and the real everyday topics of conversation of the people.

 

 

His first album “The Boys of Fairhill” released in 1997, contained such classics as The Pool Song, Johnny Jump Up, Salonika, the Armoured Car and of course The Boys of Fairhill. This was followed by a second album “Camphouse Ballads” and “Some Things Never Change”. Later still “Uncorked” was released in 1998, while “The Coast of Malabar” appeared in 2000.

 

These songs live on now in the soul, the streets and the singers of Cork regardless of cultural and musical globalisation. Just imagine where else in the world would you get an uplifting song about Connie Doyle’s legendary Fair Hill harrier dog known as The Armoured Car?

 

Jimmy has played all over Ireland, Europe and America and is a familiar face on the streets of Cork. He is known as the Bard of Cork as his unique style of singing and his love of his native City, especially the local Shandon area is central to his musical imagination.

 

In 2014, Jimmy Crowley produced *Songs From The Beautiful City… The Cork Urban Ballads”.  Now generally considered to be his greatest work, Jimmy proclaims this collection as “the true history of the people of Cork City through their only resource of expression: the humble ballad.” So after many hard years of research, much ferreting out of local traditional ballads, elusive song writers and reclusive characters, collecting of lost and half remembered words which portray a lively, progressive and earthy narrative of our priceless history, our folklore and bealoideas, Jimmy delivered his masterpiece!

 

The book contains such classics as Marilyn Munroe (words by the late Paddy O’Driscoll, the much loved Bard of Ballinure), Cheer, Boys, Cheer (words by the late Helen O’Donovan for many years bean an tí with the Cork Singers Club) and The Old Skellig Lists (words by Teresa Mac Carthaigh, who also wrote and sings the hugely inspiring Ballad of Mother Jones). Jimmy has ensured not just the survival but the vitality of umpteen Cork ballads for future generations of singers.

 

In the preface to this book, Mick Moloney, of the New York University Department of Music stated;

 

“It’s hard to compare him to anyone else; but if there was just one singer I would place alongside Jimmy in the matter of flair, delivery and style it would be another County Cork native; the magnificent irrepressible Maggie Barry. It’s no surprise that Jimmy and I are both admirers of this trailblazing woman operating very much in a man’s world who sadly did not get the affirmation she deserved in her lifetime”                      

 

Visit www.jimmycrowley.com for details.

 

*Songs from The Beautiful City: The Cork Urban Ballads…..collected, edited and annotated by Jimmy Crowley. The Freestate Press 2014.

 

 

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.

 

Mother Jones Festival remembers Pete Seeger (1919 – 2014)

Mother Jones Festival remembers Pete Seeger (1919 – 2014)

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pete Seeger, John Nyhan and Mick Treacy will sing some of the songs associated with this legendary folk singer at the Maldron Hotel on Friday 2nd August at 9.30pm.

 

Pete Seeger remained committed throughout his long life to basic principles such as defence of trade unions, the rights of workers, social justice, peace and protection of the environment. An activist at heart, a songwriter, he wrote hundreds of songs, saved many “lost’ songs and popularised dozens of others.

“Songs won’t save the planet, but neither will books or speeches. But songs are sneaky things, they slip past borders, they proliferate in prisons”.

His main influences were Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Alan Lomax and Aunt Molly Jackson. Pete listened in awe as Leadbelly talked to his guitar, he sang for his next meal with Guthrie and he marvelled as Aunt Molly veteran of Harlan County mine wars sang out “I am a Union Woman”.

 

Almanac Singers album “Talking Union”

He studied sociology in Harvard, yet he wanted to be a journalist. The Harvard Class of 1940, including John F Kennedy, graduated without Pete who had dropped out. Abandoning his efforts to become an artist he discovered the songs and music of the people which allowed the working class to express themselves.

He was an integral part of the initial fusion and synergy of folk music with social and union activism, IWW songs, communist and leftist politics in the post-depression years. His first public appearance as a singer in 1940 ended with Pete forgetting how to play his 5 string banjo and then forgetting the words. Yet his dedication, belief and resilience saw him found the Almanac Singers and play Madison Square Garden in May 1941 before thousands of striking workers from the Transport Workers’ Union, led by Kilgarvan born Mike Quill.

The Almanac Singers “Talking Union” album featuring Pete and Woody became a musical bible for thousands of union activists and ensured the survival of songs such as Solidarity Forever (Ralph Chaplin), Which Side Are You On (Florence Reece) and We Shall Not Be Moved. The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the entry of the Americans into World War 2 ensured the demise of the Almanacs.

Pete Seeger in concert

Seeger was drafted into the Army and served the war out in Saipan. Tragically, his baby son Peter, with his wife Toshi died at 4 months while he was in Saipan. After the war, he helped to organise People’s Songs, a huge collective of musicians and union activists which shared songs and promoted left-wing causes. Later he established Sing Out.

In 1949, Pete along with Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman established The Weavers. They achieved popular success with hits such as Goodnight Irene (written by Pete’s old friend Lead belly), Wimoweh and Tena, Tzena, Tzena.

The advent of the McCarthy witch hunts ensured Pete became a target for the FBI and informers. Labelled a “Commie” and “Stalin’s Songbird”, the notorious and feared blacklist brought about the demise of the popular Weavers, with work drying up. Pete considered himself a communist with a small “c”, he supported many communist causes, was a member of the Communist Party and defended them in the 40s and 50s but claimed to be a musician first rather than a politician.

Pete Seeger at  HUAC

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

Through the grinding 1950s, Seeger became a lightning rod for the FBI and was relentlessly investigated for sedition by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.  1961 saw him cited for contempt of Congress and sentenced to ten one year periods in jail to run concurrently. Finally in May 1962, a Court of Appeal dismissed the charges.

His plight aroused a worldwide campaign. The Pete Seeger Committee in England had Paul Robeson as president, Ewan MacColl as secretary and Benjamin Britten, Doris Lessing and Sean O’Casey as sponsors. 4000 people packed the Royal Albert Hall in his support in 1961. A young Bob Dylan accused the authorities of framing him and described Seeger as a “saint.” Tommy Makem publicly supported Pete.

The 1960s saw the folk/rock boom take off and groups such as Peter, Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio had huge hits with If I Had a Hammer and Where Have All The Flowers Gone. Turn Turn Turn and his adaption of the Cuban poem Guantanamera is embedded in the public consciousness. Pete’s version of We Shall Overcome an old gospel hymn adapted by striking tobacco workers in the 40s and published in People’s Songs became the anthem of the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements. He marched at Selma with Dr Martin Luther King and encouraged Bernice Johnson and the Freedom Singers, who brought the spiritual and slave songs of the South to the Civil Rights movement.

Clearwater on the Hudson River

Back in 1949, Pete and his wife Toshi had purchased 17 acres of land on a hilly site overlooking the River Hudson, near Beacon north of New York. There they built a “log cabin” and raised three children (Danny, Mika and Tinya) amidst the woods. Toshi was an activist, “the brains of the family” who shunned the limelight, she organised Pete and organised concerts, festivals and their itineraries (Newport Folk Festival, the Clearwater festival).

A non-drinker and non-smoker, Seeger lived a relatively independent ascetic lifestyle, answering mail from all over the world, writing songs, supporting union and social causes and simply chopping wood.

In the 60s he noticed how the nearby environment was deteriorating and how the Hudson River was increasingly contaminated with toxic materials. Vowing to try to rectify this environmental degradation floating past his remote home, he led a project to build a sloop to travel the river to educate people and society about cleaning up the once beautiful Hudson. In 1969, Clearwater was finally launched and still plies the waterways.

Pete and Toshi

Seeger played his banjo and sang at hundreds of counter culture events through the 70s and 80s and influenced generations of singers and activists, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and dozens of others acknowledged his pioneering influence, Pete in turn acknowledged Huddie, Aunt Molly and Woody. His 90th Birthday concert at Madison Square Garden was a huge event as the folk music world paid homage.

A highlight for Pete came when Barack Obama asked him to perform at his presidential inauguration concert in 2009. Accompanied by Tao Rodriguez, his grandson and Springsteen, they sang This Land is Your Land, written by Woody Guthrie.

Pete passed away on 27th January 2014. Toshi Seeger died on 9th July 2013.

 

John Nyhan

John Nyhan

John Nyhan was born in Cork City, he now lives in North Cork. He was heavily influenced by the Folk music revival of the 60s and 70s and has been playing and promoting music for over 40 years. In the 1970s he was a founding member of the Shandon Folk Club in Eason’s Hill, within earshot of the Shandon Bells.

John worked as a peace campaigner in Northern Ireland in the 70s as a member of Voluntary Services International. He is well known for his involvement in the Bluegrass and Folks concerts which take place at the Village Arts Centre in Kilworth in North Cork.

Along with Mick Treacy he has played at the Mother Jones festivals and his song themes have included the songs of Joe Hill, songs of the mining communities and the songs of the Spanish Civil War in 2017. In 2018 John and Mick honoured Ewan MacColl in an unforgettable performance.

Mick Treacy was a familiar figure in the folk clubs across English which resulted from the Folk revival. He was a member of the famous “Munstermen” folk group which played and sang on the UK folk circuits. The Munstermen had their own club known as the “Holy Ground” in the Cambridge Inn. Mick’s knowledge of folk ballads is encyclopaedic and his powerful performances along with his old friend John Nyhan are always memorable at the festival.

The songs of Pete Seeger will be sung at the Maldron Hotel in Shandon at 9.30 pm on Friday night 2nd August at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2019.

 

Announcing “The Song for Mother Jones” competition.

Plans are underway for the eight annual Spirit of Mother Jones festival and summer school in Shandon, Cork which takes place this year from Wednesday July 31st until Saturday 3rd August.

 

In an exciting new development, the Cork Mother Jones Committee is planning to hold an international song competition to select a new “Song for Mother Jones”.

 

Entries can be submitted at any time up to the commencement of the festival.

 

The theme of the song should reflect Mother Jones or associated issues such as social justice, mining or the labour movement.

 

The song has to be your own song, or played by yourself or someone you know or nominate. It has to be an original composition.

 

The song must be played live and with no more than one accompanist and must be performed during the festival.

 

If you want to submit a song or wish to take part please contact the festival committee or submit an MP3 to motherjsong@gmail.com.

 

“We are encouraging and calling on songwriters and performers everywhere to participate and come up with an original work which reflects the life and work of Cork born Mother Jones.

 Already there is a vast repertoire of Mother Jones songs and ballads from Gene Autry, Si Kahn to our own Andy Irvine. The song “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” is reputed to have been used following Mother Jones trips to isolated mining communities.

Now we want to enhance the Cork imprint on some further songs and these new songs will be performed at the forthcoming Spirit of Mother Jones festival.

 We will announce full details of prizes, dates and venues closer to the festival on the festival website (www.motherjonescork.com) itself but we are asking potential songwriters to begin working on the songs which they propose to submit. “

 

The full programme for the 2019 festival and summer school in Shandon is in the course of preparation but will contain some new and interesting elements to involve increased public participation. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions for the inclusion of material or topics please contact the Cork Mother Jones Committee as soon as possible at motherjonescork@gmail.com.