Mount Olive Cemetery to honour the family of Mother Jones.

A commemorative bench honouring the memory of the family of Mother Jones will be unveiled on May Day 2022 at the Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive.

The grave of Mary Harris/Mother Jones lies in this unique cemetery, her memory forever immortalised in the large grave monument erected in 1936 to her memory.

Loretta Williams at the Mother Jones Monument.

During the forthcoming Mt. Olive International Mother Jones Festival 2022, the Union Miners Cemetery Perpetual Care Association along with the Illinois AFL-CIO and the UMWA Local 1613 will dedicate a memorial bench to her often forgotten husband George Jones and her children, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine and Terence who died in Memphis during the Yellow Fever epidemic of September 1867.

Entrance to Mt. Olive Cemetery courtesy of Pat Schmeder.

To hear directly from the Mayor of Mt Olive John Skertich and Nelson Grman, a member of the Union Miners Cemetery Perpetual Care Committee, long-time union activist and promoter of Mother Jones please click on the following link. 

https://youtu.be/6wGmP2e5ZGk

Why did Mother Jones wish to be buried at Mount Olive?

Every wonder why Mother Jones wished to be buried near “her boys”  at the town of Mount Olive, in Southern Illinois in the Union Miners Cemetery, which is located near Route 66 midway between Springfield and St. Louis?


Mother Jones had earlier written to the Miners of Mount Olive on November 12th 1923, seeking 

“a resting place in the same clay that shelters the miners who gave up their lives in the hills of Virden, Illinois on the morning of October 12th 1898, for their heroic sacrifice for their fellow men”.

Extract from Mother Jones and the Union Miners Cemetery Mount Olive, Illinois by the Illinois Labor History Society.

Her request was granted.

Grave of Mother Jones, Mount Olive.

 
The Battle of Virden claimed the lives of four Mount Olive miners and since 1899, October 12th has been celebrated as Miners Day in Illinois at the Union Miners Cemetery.


During the battle, seven miners were killed and forty were wounded. Five mine guards died and four were wounded. The youngest miner killed was Edward Long, just 19 years old from Mount Olive.

Virden Monument. Mother Jones rear centre.

Many activists from the Progressive Miners of America are buried at Mount Olive. Recently the remains of labour singer Anne Feeney, were placed in the cemetery.

To listen to the story of the Battle of Virden, the following is an interesting interview with local resident and historian John Alexander, an Illinois bookstore owner.
https://https://youtu.be/8qcBLQL2beg
www.buzzsprout.com/1856440/

Our thanks to JASE Media Services in Mount Olive for their kind permission to share this podcast.

Mother Jones Portraits Unveiled in Washington and Chicago.

On Saturday May 1st 2021, the Irish Embassy in Washington and the Irish Consulate in Chicago unveiled two beautiful portraits of Mother Jones. Commissioned by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and painted by artist Lindsay Hand, they represent a fitting tribute to this great Cork born woman, trade union and labour activist. This was part of “If Walls Could Talk” initiative by the Irish Consulate.

Irish Ambassador to America, Daniel Mulhall unveiled the portrait at the embassy where it will hang proudly alongside the portrait of the late civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis.

Kevin Byrne, the Irish Consul General in Chicago conducted an interesting discussion with Lindsay Hand, the artist and a series of Illinois based trade union leaders who explained what Mother Jones means to them. The trade union leaders who participated in the discussion included Sheila Gainer, UniteHere union organiser, Pat Meade of the Illinois Nurses Association and Deborah Cosey-Lane of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu2bRaFN2Yg
https://www.motherjonesmuseum.org/post/lindsay-hand-s-art-brings-fannie-sellins-spirit-to-life

To read the media reports of the Mother Jones portraits, click below.

Portraits of Shandon-born woman unveiled in Washington and Chicago (echolive.ie)

Irish born activist Mother Jones remains ‘an inspiration’ (irishtimes.com)

Mother Jones by Lindsay Hand
Mother Jones by Lindsay Hand

Anne Feeney – Folk Singer-Songwriter, Activist and Friend of the Mother Jones Festival – RIP

Anne Feeney, American folk singer, songwriter and trade union activist died on 3rd February 2021. Anne visited Cork in 2013 and in spite of serious health issues was determined to return and sing at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

When she did return in 2014 Anne sang at the Cork Singers Club on the opening night and later in a concert with Si Kahn at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in 2014. Anne and Si’s rousing version of Solidarity Forever literally raised the roof of the Firkin Theatre on that evening of  Thursday 31st July.

  • Have you been to Jail for Justice - Anne Feeney


Her labour activism and love of Mother Jones was derived from William Patrick Feeney, her grandfather who was a union organiser. Anne’s unique “Business Card” states her occupation simply as Folksinger/Agitator. The card also contains the quote from Utah Phillips “Anne Feeney is the best labor singer in North America” 

In tracks such as “We Fought Back“, “How Much for the Life of a Miner“, “How Long?“, “Whatever Happened to the Eight Hour Day?”her songs about respect for workers and working class solidarity display an uncompromising edge.  Anne always let people know which side she was on.

Direct and honest and her lyrics reflect this. She sang of Santiago Cruz, Fanny Sellins and Mother Jones, and sang with Pete Seeger, Si Kahn, Loretto Lynn and Billy Bragg and so many others at concerts and fundraisers all over the place.

The US Labour Heritage Foundation awarded her the Joe Hill Award in 2005.

Anne Feeney spent a lifetime of activism and her songs and albums reflected her total dedication to the fight against injustice. She always maintained that songs and music empower people to challenge and question oppression.

Anne loved Ireland, and she travelled all over the country during her Enchanted Way Tours. Her 2010 album Anne Feeney: Enchanted Way, demonstrated her versatility with some Irish classics like “Raglan Road” and “Hey, Ronnie Reagan!” Her website and blog demonstrate her never-ending activism and her practical support for the labour movement throughout America and elsewhere.

In the preamble to her 2008 Album, Dump the Bosses Off Your Back she stated,

“The working people of this country are an amazing lot. Against all odds, they will walk off their jobs and strike, enduring significant hardships sometimes for months and even years – and why? To protect future generations of workers – and to preserve elusive concepts like “dignity” and “respect”. The generosity of the American working class and their willingness to help others is downright awe-inspiring.” 

Anne Feeney

Anne herself was truly inspiring and was supportive of our efforts to keep the memory of her hero Mother Jones alive and is fondly remembered by her friends on the Cork Mother Jones Committee.

To her daughter Amy Berlin and son Dan and her family and friends we express our sympathy and solidarity.

Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston, Secretary of Labour nominee

Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston, has been nominated by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden as Secretary of Labour.

The news reports that Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Chicago since 2014, whose parents were from Co Galway, has been nominated by President elect Joe Biden to be his Secretary of Labour has been welcomed by the Cork Mother Jones Committee. If  Mayor Walsh is confirmed he would be the first union member to be Secretary of Labour in almost 50 years. He originally joined the Labourer’ Union local 223, eventually becoming president. Later he led the Boston Building Trade Council.


According to Jim Nolan spokesperson for the Committee.


“Back at the 2014 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, the recently elected Mayor Walsh took the trouble to send a wonderful message of support for the festival. The letter was delivered and presented to the Cork Mother Jones Committee on behalf of Mayor Walsh by the late Professor James Green, of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, who spoke at the 2014 festival. We were absolutely delighted at the time that the Mayor of Boston had recognised the Spirit of Mother Jones festival in Shandon in such a manner and was so forthright in praising our efforts to obtain due recognition for Cork-born labour hero Mother Jones.”

Jim Nolan


In his letter  dated July 25th 2014, Mayor Walsh thanked the Cork Mother Jones Committee “for honouring her powerful legacy” and went on to say “like Mother Jones we must abide wherever there is a fight against wrong”.


All at the festival were very appreciative of this letter which detailed the Mayor’s efforts over many years to support workers’ rights.


This is an extract from Mayor Walsh in his 2014 letter to the Cork Mother Jones Committee,

I know that the simple notion of fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work is far from a simple thing to achieve. Securing justice takes a hard, complex and constant struggle, it takes collective action that is only accomplished through the kind of community building you are doing this weekend in Cork” 

Marty Walsh – Lord Mayor of Boston


In response to the recent news, committee spokesman Jim Nolan issued the following statement:

Mother Jones herself could not have put it better and the Cork Mother Jones Committee proposes to send a letter of congratulations to Marty Walsh on his being nominated to this powerful Secretary of Labour position in the US Government. .”

Jim Nolan

Here is a link to our post about Mayor Walsh’s letter from 2014, which includes his full letter of support for the Festival: https://motherjonescork.com/2014/08/06/greetings-from-the-mayor-of-boston/

John Jefferies RIP.

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of John Jefferies, a founding member of the Cork Mother Jones Committee. John passed away at his residence in Cobh on February 10th 2020.

John was a member of our committee since 2011 and managed the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival website and Facebook pages. His knowledge of history, heritage, politics and people was quite extraordinary and his meticulous research and understanding of public and community history was unsurpassed.

Like Mother Jones, from whom he took much inspiration, John spoke for the underdogs in society and supported social justice and human rights issues.

At the 2015 festival he highlighted the important role of Cobh born, union organiser, Jack Dowling. In 2017 he published his book Death on the Pier …the Cobh Pier Head Shooting and the Story of the Moon Car.

John’s contribution to the work of this committee laid the foundations for many festivals. He focused on the history and story of ordinary working people and the trade union movement.

On behalf of the Cork Mother Jones Committee we wish to express our sympathy to his family and friends.

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2020 on Cork Community TV

Beginning on Saturday 1st August, the Cork Mother Jones Committee in conjunction with Cork Community TV are making available on television, some of the talks and presentations, which have been delivered at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festivals and Summer Schools since 2012.

The original series of Mother Jones annual lectures, will be shown on Saturday next while during the month of August, further talks delivered over the years at the Summer School will be televised. These will feature Margaret Aspinall, Louise O’Keeffe, Fr. Peter McVerry, Chris Mullin, Anne Twomey and many others.

These are free to view, thanks to Frameworks Films and Cork Community TV, for allowing us to celebrate Mother Jones during August.

The 2020 festival will be held in late November 2020. Further talks and speakers, will be televised during the November Festival.

To see the schedules or tune into the live stream please visit www.corkcommunitytv.ie

Mor tune into Virgin Media Channel 803.

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival Cork

Mother Jones Lives.

Some photos of past speakers, throughout the years.

Fr. Peter McVerry at the plaque in 2015.
Louise O’Keeffe receiving the Spirit of Mother Jones Award in 2018 from James Nolan and Ann Piggott of the Cork Mother Jones Committee.
Sue Roberts, Margaret Aspinall, Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Catherine Clancy, and Professor Simon Cordery in 2013.
Kaiulani Lee with Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. John Buttimer in 2012.
Marat Moore, Professor Rosemary Feurer, Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. John Buttimer, and Professor Elliott Gorn in 2012.
Former miner, Marat Moore in 2012.
Warren Davies in 2017.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Mick Finn, with the Mother Jones’, Joan Goggin, Aoife Delaney and Loretta Williams.
Luke Dineen in 2016.
Loretta Williams with Dominic O’Callaghan, Cork Mother Jones Committee in 2018.

Mother Jones Dedication -Film

The Cork Mother Jones Committee received the following film from Saul Schniderman, the person who discovered the site of Mother Jones’ death (1930) in Adelphi, Maryland. The Maryland Historic Trust has placed a marker there, on Powder Mill Road, before the Hillandale Baptist Church.

The film shows the dedication of the Mary Harris “Mother Jones” Elementary School on May 16, 2003. The film was made by Dave Zahren who worked for the Prince George’s County Board of Education, Television Resources division.

To view film Click here
(This YouTube clip will play after one minute.)

“This film celebrates the opening of Mary Harris “Mother Jones” Elementary School in Adelphi, MD, which opened in 2000. The film features footage from the dedication, including interviews from students, faculty, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. The film also includes a video shared with the audience on the day of dedicating the school, which includes additional interviews and more background on the school.

The film also features archival footage of Mother Jones, including a rare recording of her voice where she says, “…And I long to see the day when Labor will have the destinies of the nation in her own hands, and she will stand a united force and show the world what the workers can do.”

This film was produced by Prince George’s County Public Schools Office of Television Resources, and donated to the Meany Labor Archive by Mother Jones historian Saul Schniderman, also featured in the film.”

The Mary Harris Elementary School now has almost a thousand students and these comprise children from many nationalities. Mother Jones would have been extremely proud of this educational establishment named in her honour.

Mother Jones….. US National Mining Hall of Fame Inductee 248.

Mary “Mother” Jones picture from 1901

Mother Jones…..National Mining Hall of Fame Inductee 248.

On September 14, 2019 Mother Jones was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame in Leadville, Colorado.

According to its website….

“The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum is a monument to the memory of the men and women who pioneered the discovery, development, and processing of our nation’s natural resources. Our mission is to “tell the story of mining, its people, its importance to the American public, and to society’s sustainability.”  Known as the “Smithsonian of the Rockies” and the “Premier Showcase of American Mining” the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum houses 25,000 square feet of interactive and informative exhibits sharing the evolving narrative of mining and its relationship to our everyday lives.”

Mother Jones is Inductee 248.

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum at Leadville, Colorado, USA

Her induction citation read as follows;

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones is one of the most famous labor activists in the cause of economic justice. Her battle cry, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” truly said it all.  Her powerful speeches and knack for theatrics encouraged many to form unions and strike for fair wages and safe working conditions. Known as the “Miner’s Angel” for her advocacy on their behalf, Mother Jones’s activism set the stage for the labor and safety laws we all benefit from today. A champion of the working class, she organized numerous miners’ strikes against low pay, 12-hour days, 7-day work weeks, extreme mortality rates, and child labor, and railed against the servitude of company stores and company housing.  When she began organizing for the United Mine Workers Union in the 1890s, it had 10,000 members; within a few years, 300,000 men had joined.  Hearing Jones speak, you discovered the secret of her influence – she had force, she had wit, and above all she had the fire of indignation. Mother Jones’s impassioned work is recognized in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, U.S. Department of Labor’s Hall of Honors, and the Irish American Hall of Fame. 

National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum

The historian and sociologist James Loewen (Author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your High School History Textbook Got Wrong) criticised the National Mining Hall of Fame a few years ago for inducting mostly white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant men, who were disproportionately engineers, executives and wealthy mine owners. Where were the miners, Loewen asked, where the immigrants and workers of colour, the labour organisers, the women.  Why was there no commemoration to the thousands who died in the mines?

Mother Jones biographer Prof Elliot Gorn at last year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork, Ireland

Elliott Gorn, author of Mother Jones – The Most Dangerous Woman in America, who spoke at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork in 2019 stated

The Mining Hall of Fame has become a bit more inclusive in recent years, a little more attuned to worker exploitation, safety and environmental issues.  Hopefully, the inclusion of Mother Jones signals that the Hall of Fame will continue to pay more attention to the issues she long agitated about.”

Mother Jones visits Calumet, Michigan in August 1913

Mother Jones arrives at Calumet, Michigan in August 1913.

Mother Jones visits Calumet, Michigan in August 1913.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is very grateful to Jeremiah Mason, Archivist of the National Parks Service, Lake Superior Collection Management Centre at Keweenaw National Historical Park at Calumet in Michigan for providing the Cork Mother Jones Committee with a collection of five photographs of Mother Jones.

These show her arriving and taking part in a march in the town of Calumet in August 1913 to support an ongoing strike by the copper miners of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM).

Mother Jones greeted bylarge crowds as she arrives by car with local strike leaders

These photos from August 1913 show the sense of excitement, expectation and colour in the town at the arrival of 76 year old Mother Jones. She is surrounded by male union leaders and local dignitaries. The look of wonder in some of the workers standing close to Mother Jones gives the impression of the legendary status and reverence in which she is held by miners. Mother Jones herself appears very serious and quietly determined amidst the phalanx of union men. She addressed the workers later at a mass meeting in the town.

Mother Jones (in car) leads march of strikers through Calumet, Michigan, August 1913

The wider context of these rare photos (in addition to the earlier Michigan Technological University photos on this site) is even more important as 1913/14 was the period of the Coal Wars and of frenetic activity by Mother Jones, who was at the height of her fame. Earlier in 1913, she had been very active in the West Virginia miner strikes, which had turned violent.

Mother Jones arrives with union leaders

Mother Jones was arrested by the military, court-martialled and jailed. Detained from 12th February until 8th May 1913, she was as defiant as ever when released and continued working to support the miners, addressing a meeting at Carnegie Hall in New York on 27th May 1913.

Following this August visit to Calumet, she proceeded to Colorado to actively support the United Mine Workers of America in the year long strike. During this period she was deported by the militia from Trinidad, Colorado and imprisoned twice, for a two month period and later for 23 days in          Walsenburg in appalling conditions in a dark basement cell.

On release she made speeches in Boston, New York, Washington, Seattle and British Colombia and even found time to travel south to El Paso on the Mexican border to prevent the introduction of scab labour from Mexico. She testified in Washington before House Committee on Mines and Mining.

While she was in Washington, the massacre at Ludlow on April 20th 1914 took place.  Women and children were burned to death following the local militia setting fire to the miners tent colony established during the strike.

Over 70 people died during and after Ludlow and President Woodrow Wilson dispatched Federal troops to the region to prevent civil war breaking out. Mother Jones had called for the Federal Government to take over the mines. This was rejected by President Wilson, who subsequently made proposals to settle the strikes, she urged the miners to accept the proposals.

Mother Jones (seated in car) leads the parade in support of striking copper miners

Mother Jones, although by then almost 77 years old worked constantly to assist and provide support to “her boys”. She had attained legendary status among workers everywhere and was feared by the authorities and mine owners.

These photos show the huge impact of her arrival to help the union in “Copper Country”.

Our thanks to Jeremiah Mason and all at Calumet.

The photographs are courtesy of the National Parks Service, Lake Superior Collection Management Centre at Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet.