Day 2 of Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School

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

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School on Thursday 1st August.

The Radical Irish Diaspora

11:00 a.m.       Lorraine Starsky

        “In the Footsteps of Mother Jones – The Life and Legacy of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn         1890- 1964”                

Cathedral Visitor Centre

1.00 p.m.         Music at the Maldron.

William Hammond

2.30 p.m.         Dr Kieran Groeger.

                        “The Extraordinary Life of John Swiney, the United Irishman from Shandon.”

Cathedral Visitor Centre

 

5.00 p.m          The Limerick Soviet

A collaborative documentary between the Limerick Council of Trade Unions and                  Frameworks Films. We celebrate the 100th Anniversary of The Limerick Soviet. Author Liam Cahill will introduce the documentary. An exhibition on the Limerick Soviet courtesy of Cork City Library will be on site.

Maldron Hotel, Shandon

7.30 p.m.         Anne Twomey Shandon Area History Group.

“Mary Elmes …………An Irish Heroine”   

                          Firkin Crane Theatre 

 

8:00 p m         Fili Na Reabhloide (Poets of the Revolution)

                        Myo Café, Popes Quay.

Readings  from your favourite poets of revolution and social change.

(Tel. 083 0425942)

9.30 p.m        Club Ceoil Ballyphehane Ballad Group.

Evening includes the Song for Mother Jones.    

Maldron Hotel

 

Photos from the final day of Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2018

The 7th Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School came to an end last evening (Saturday, 4th August) with a well-attended toast to Mother Jones at the plaque in her honour at John Redmond Street.   The 2018 festival has been a tremendous success with capacity crowds at all our events and and a combination of fabulous lectures, film and music.

We wish to thank all those who contributed to making the event such a success.

Here are some photos from Saturday’s events:

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington who gave a fascinating insight into the life and activism of her grandmother Hanna Sheehy Skeffington

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington presentation

William Hammond of the Cork Mother Jones Committee makes a presentation to Micheline Sheehy Skeffington

Frank Connolly

Frank Connolly who spoke about his new book NAMA-land

Frank Connolly presentation

Frank Connolly after receiving presentation from Ann Piggott and Ann Rea of the Cork Mother Jones Committee.

Mick and Jennifer Treacy

Musician Mick Treacy with his daughter Jennifer

 

Ukelele band

Ukelele band providing some of the music at the Butter market plaza

Loretta Williams / Mother Jones

Loretta Williams as “Mother Jones” at the Mother Jones plaque

 

Rory McCarthy

Rory McCarthy sings at the Mother Jones Plaque

 

Toast

Some of the crowd at the annual Toast to Mother Jones at the Mother Jones Plaque

 

Loretta and Ann

Loretta Williams as Mother Jones with Ann Piggott of the Cork Mother Jones committee

 

Ladies in period costume at the Mother Jones Plaque

“The Female Vote: Why Gender Matters in American Politics” – Emily Twarog

Emily E.LB Twarog will appear at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school on Friday morning 11am at the Cathedral Visitor Centre.

 For many people in Ireland, American politics remain a mystery, we do not understand how Donald J Trump could be elected President of America. Dr Twarog will examine one aspect of the election, why more white women vote Republican and voted for President Donald J Trump.

 Emily will address the topic:  “The Female Vote: Why Gender Matters in American Politics”

 “You don’t need the vote to raise hell”

Mother Jones

 

Emily Twarog

Emily Twarog

“Throughout the twentieth century, working and middle-class women struggled to collaborate. For many working-class women, Mother Jones’ declaration that “you don’t need the vote to raise hell” rang true far more than Alice Paul’s persistent call for equality through the vote.  This division continues into the twenty-first century as they deepen along multiple identities – racial, class, gender, and educational.

 

White women repeatedly voted against their own self-interest. Let us run some numbers. In 2004, Republican George W. Bush got 55 percent of the white female vote and Democrat John Kerry got 44 percent in what analysts call a “reverse gender gap” (one working in the GOP’s favor) of 11 points. In 2008, Republican John McCain got 53 percent of the white female vote and Democrat Barack Obama got 46 percent—a gap of 7 points.

 

Compared with four years earlier, the reverse gender gap remains but decreased by 4 points. Progress? No. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney got 56 percent of the white female vote compared with President Obama who got just 42 percent. Far from narrowing, the reverse gender gap among white women widened to 14 points.

 

In 2016, despite the presence of a white woman on the ballot, the gap persisted among white women with a staggering 10-point split. Republican Donald Trump got 53 percent of the white female vote and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton got 43 percent of the white female vote. As a whole, white women still opted to vote for someone who not only did not look like them, but was also heard by the entire nation (and beyond) admitting to sexually harassing women.

 

In my talk, I will examine the complexities of American electoral politics in more depth”.

 

Emily E. LB. Twarog, PhD is Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Labor and Employment Relations Labor Education Program

 

Affiliate faculty, European Union Center

Affiliate faculty, Women & Gender in Global Perspectives 

 

Emily is the author of a recent Politics of the Pantry: Housewives, Food, and Consumer Protest in Twentieth Century America (Oxford University Press) in hardback and e-book. Available IndieboundAmazon and Powell’s (a union shop).

One Woman’s Fight for Justice

 

Louise O'Keeffe

Louise O’Keeffe (Pic:: Courtpix)

Louise O’Keeffe describes herself as an ordinary West Cork woman and mother of two children. Yet this extraordinary woman took the Irish government to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which in January 2014 found in her favour in a landmark judgement.

Louise had fought a long 20 year battle through  the Irish courts to get civil redress for the sexual abuse which she suffered in Dunderrow Primary School in Co Cork in the early 1970s for which her school principal Leo Hickey was convicted.  In 1998, Mr Hickey was charged with 386 criminal offences of sexual abuse involving 21 former pupils. He pleaded guilty to 21 sample charges and was sent to prison for three years.

Louise was deemed ineligible for compensation from the Residential Institutions Redress Board and so began her long journey, with the aid of her solicitor Ernest Cantillon, through the High Court, (January 2006), and the Supreme Court, (December 2008), which both ruled that the State was not liable.

Four Courts

The Four Courts, Dublin, seat of the Supreme Court

Following the Supreme Court decision, the State Claims Agency (SCA) wrote to 135 other people around the country who had made similar claims and effectively threatened to pursue them for legal costs if they did not drop their claims immediately. Many did drop their claims through fear of exposure to large legal costs!

Undaunted, Louise bravely continued her fight and on June 16th 2009 (Application no 35810/09) took her case to the ECHR which in January 2014 found the Irish State to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights for its failure to put in place any mechanism of State control to protect Irish schoolchildren from sexual abuse in relation to the abuse Louise had endured in primary school.

ECHR

European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg

On the day of the ECHR decision, Louise stated “This is a great day for the children of Ireland”. Two days later the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny on 30th January 2014 apologised to her for the “horrendous experience she had to go through” and he stated that she was “a woman of extraordinary commitment”.

There has been ongoing controversy about the Government’s interpretation of the ECHR’s finding. Many commentators such as the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and University College Cork’s Child Law Clinic suggest that the Government’s redress scheme is overly restrictive in its interpretation of the ECHR O’Keeffe finding. This appears to have now made it almost impossible for victims to qualify for redress as the State requires that a prior complaint of abuse must have existed in the school before the claimant was abused.

The Minister for Education appointed Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill as an independent assessor to examine appeals where the State Claims Agency decided claims were ineligible. Justice O’Neill has sought an explanation from the Minister as to whether the rejection by the adversarial SCA, of many claims on the grounds of evidence of prior complaint was consistent with the ECHR O’Keeffe judgement. Very few cases have been settled under the State scheme to date.

Louise O’Keeffe will tell the story of her fight for justice at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Thursday afternoon 2nd August at 2.30 pm at the Cathedral Visitor Centre. All are welcome.

Press launch for Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School

Launch of 2018 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School

 

The seventh Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and summer School takes place in Shandon Historic Quarter from Wednesday 1st August to Saturday 4th August.

Details of this year’s events will be released at a Press Launch in Cork’s Maldron Hotel tomorrow (Wednesday 26th June).

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is delighted to announce a varied and topical programme of events for the festival in 2018.

As well as the traditional venues at the Firkin Theatre and the Maldron Hotel, we are particularly pleased to announce that many of the talks at this year’s summer school will take place at the Cathedral Visitor Centre attached to the historic North Cathedral.

In effect Mary Harris/Mother Jones is coming home as it was on 1st August all of 181 years ago that she was baptised at the North Cathedral in the very same 200 year old baptism font which is still used today in the Cathedral.

Among the major highlights of the festival will be the premiere of a new documentary, Fords – Memories of the Line’, a film about what it was like to work on the assembly line at Ford’s car manufacturing plant in Cork, which operated on the Marina from 1917 to 1984. The documentary was produced by Frameworks Films, a Cork based production company, in collaboration with Ford’s Ex-Workers Group. It will document the closure of the factory in 1984 and the impact this had on the men, their families and the city of Cork. This should be of interest to anyone connected to the Ford Motor Company and its car factory in Cork

The Committee intends to celebrate the achievements of the suffragette movement and the one hundred anniversary of the right of women to vote, which took place in the 1918 election.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is very pleased to confirm that Dr. Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, the grand-daughter of suffragette leader Hanna Sheehy Skeffington has agreed to speak about her grandmother at the 2018 Spirit of Mother Jones summer school.

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington was born in Kanturk, Co Cork in 1877 and went on to spend a lifetime fighting for the rights of women, including the right to vote, until her death on 20th April 1946. Hanna’s husband Francis Sheehy Skeffington was murdered during the 1916 Rising.

In an extraordinary coincidence, during a visit to America in 1918, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington had shared a speaking platform in San Francisco with Mother Jones.

The two Cork-born women met and spoke together at this meeting on April 16th 1918.

Hanna’s American visit and her meeting with Mother Jones will be described by Micheline at the Mother Jones summer school on Saturday 4th August, 2.30 at the Firkin Theatre in the Shandon Historic Quarter.

Professor Louise Ryan, a native of Cork, is professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield, who has published extensively on the suffragette movement. Her recent publication Winning the Vote For Women is a huge contribution to an understanding of the period will examine the connections between the Irish campaigners for womens’ rights and the trade union movement.

Further Cork highlights include a specially commissioned lecture from noted Cork historian Anne Twomey who will speak on the lives and influence of Mary, Annie and Muriel MacSwiney. This will be of major interest to many people in view of the role of the MacSwiney family during the War of Independence and in the new State.

University College Cork historian Luke Dineen will lecture on Cork born Thomas “Corkie” Walsh, a member of the Irish Citizen Army, who fired the first shot of the 1916 Rising in Dublin. A memorial was recently erected to “Corkie” Walsh in St. Finbarr’s Cemetery.

 

According to James Nolan, spokesperson for the Mother Jones summer school

“We are thrilled that Dr. Sheehy Skeffington and a wide range of the other speakers have agreed to come and speak at the seventh annual Spirit of Mother Jones summer school.

They will explore the various connections between the campaigns for votes for women and the trade union movement as well as the war of Independence over hundred years ago while others will speak on current international and national topics.

The summer school has gone from strength to strength and many hundreds are expected in the Shandon area as a further indicator of the growing importance of this unique event and the line-up of speakers and films this year is testament to this.”

The addition of the new venue, the Cathedral Visitor Centre will allow for a further expansion of the summer school and we are so happy that Mother Jones is returning close to her birthplace and indeed the very place where she was baptised in 1837”

declared Mr Nolan.

 

Among the other speakers confirmed is Mary Manning who on the 19th July 1984 refused to register the sale of two Outspan South African grapefruits at the Dunnes Stores Henry Street branch and set off a chain of events which captured the world’s attention. Mary will tell the story of the Dunnes Stores Strikers and their historic fight against Apartheid which aroused the interest and gratitude of Nelson Mandela himself, on Friday evening the 3rd August at the Firkin Theatre at 7.30. Her book Striking Back. The untold story of an Anti-Apartheid Striker in conjunction with Sinead O’Brien, will be available.

 

Ms Louise O’Keeffe who having failed in the High Court and Supreme Court and who then took the Irish government to the European Court of Human Rights where she was successful over its failure in its duty to protect children in Irish school will speak about her lengthy 20 year battle through Irish courts.

Investigative journalist Frank Connolly will speak on NAMA-land. – How the transfer of billions of euro in public assets enriched a new elite which is the subject of his latest best-selling book.

The festival’s strong American connections is again reinforced this year by the presence of Dr John Barimo who will talk on the reasons why many American trade union and working class people supported Donal Trump.  Dr Emily Twarog of the University of Illinois will discuss the role of gender and the female vote in the USA, which had an influence in the election outcomes. Actress Loretta Williams from Illinois will re-enact Mother Jones at her fiery best.

Other films include the Cork premiere of Up to the Last Drop – The Secret Water War in Europe, produced by Small Planet Productions in Greece and directed by Yorgos Avgeropoulos.

On the final evening we have a special showing of the film Pride at the Firkin Theatre which documents the extraordinary cooperation between the London based LGBT community and the Welsh Miners during the 1984 British Miners Strike.

There will be a wide range of musical events, featuring Jimmy Crowley, John Nyhan, William Hammond, Richard T Cooke and the Shandon Shawlies and the Cork Singers Club in the wider festival at various locations in the Shandon Historic Quarter to celebrate the life and spirit of Mother Jones.

As the fame of Mother Jones spreads, 2018 has seen the erection of a road marker commemorating her on the famous Route 66 in Illinois as well as an exhibition at the new museum near Mount Olive her final resting place. There have been further exhibitions and gatherings in Chicago.

In early May 2018, the Irish Ambassador to America, Mr Dan Mulhall paid a visit to the grave and monument to Mother Jones at Mount Olive Miners cemetery accompanied by Rosemary Feurer of the American Mother Jones Heritage Project.

We wish to thank the Irish Trade Union movement, the Cork City Council and our sponsors for their support, all events are free and open to the public (but please come early as some events fill up quickly).

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School has started

1st August

Timetable for Tuesday, 1st August 2017

1st August 2017, is Mother Jones Day in Cork and it is also the opening day of the 6th annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School in the Shandon area of the city.

Today’s events start with the official launch of this year’s festival by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Tony Fitzgerald at the Maldron Hotel.

After the opening ceremony takes place, at 2.30pm there will be a showing of “Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman” by Rosemary Feurer.

This will be followed at 3.00pm with a lecture by Julianna Minihan who will talk about the life and career of Florence Kelley entitled: “Slums, Factories and Child Labour: Florence Kelley (1859-1932)”.

At 4.00pm there will be a showing of “Mother Jones and her Children” by  Cork based Frameworks Films which was shot in Cork and the United States in 2014.  This will be followed by a discussion with the film-makers and others involved in the project.

At 7.30pm there will be a series of lectures (The 2017 Mother Jones Lectures) as follows:

  • “Revitalising the Labour Movement – What can we learn from the Justice for Clery’s Workers’ campaign victory?” – by Ethel Buckley of SIPTU
  • James Goltz of the United Mine Workers Association (USA) will formally present the proclamations from the AFL-CIO and UMWA (see news item on this site 31/8/2017) to view the proclamations
  • “Challenging Injustice, Inequality and the Unethical” – Ed Byrne, President of the ASTI.

The day winds down at 9.30pm with a session of music from the Cork Singers’ Club in the main bar at the Maldron Hotel.

 

Origins and Lessons of the Spanish Civil War

Historian and author Harry Owens, will address the topic “Origins and Lessons of the Spanish Civil War” at the Maldron Hotel on Friday 4th August at 2.45.

Spain 1937

Anarchist militia from the National Confederation of Labour wave their flags and rifles for the camera in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. ca. 1937 Barcelona, Spain

The Spanish Civil War was one of the most significant events of the 20th century and became a frightening prelude to World War 2. While it was fundamentally a war between the Spanish people, it was really a battle between the establishment and the workers and peasants, between the forces of conservatism and those seeking progress. Massive foreign intervention ensured a bloody conflict, which resulted in a total defeat for the democratically elected government and its supporters, and consigned Spain and her people to almost 40 years of rule by a fascist government.

Looking at some figures to gauge the extent of the war, Andy Durgan in his book “The Spanish Civil War” (Palgrave Macmillan 2007 Studies in European History) estimates that around 350,000 people died during the period 1936-1939 and its aftermath, out of a population of 25 million.

barricade

Republican forces barricade

He concludes that about 100,000 people were executed by Franco’s Nationalists during the war itself and more than 20,000 soon afterwards. Hundreds of thousands were condemned to prison and exile, ostracism or poverty as Franco consolidated his power and as hunger and terror became official policy and many more died. Others estimate that 150,000 republican supporters  were summarily executed, and lie in unmarked mass graves all over Spain today, in what is now accepted as “the Spanish Holocaust “.

Durgan also contends that about 38,000 people were executed by the Republicans, about half in the first six weeks of the war. In the same period close to 7000 Catholic clergy were killed. This was accompanied by huge destruction of property, churches, and monasteries and was often the result of chaos, fear, ignorance and criminality.

The immediate background to this war began in early 1930s, which saw a new coalition of republicans and socialists come to power and challenge the total grip of the privileged elites which had dominated Spain for centuries. These elites consisted of the Royalty, large landowners, the Catholic Church and army officers. In stark contrast, landless labourers worked under feudal conditions for wealthy landowners in rural Spain while in urban areas, wealthy industrialists exploited the urban poor. One in four children went to bed hungry each night, women, the chattels of their husbands were largely uneducated, and had no vote. The productive power houses of Catalonia and the Basque country seeking a modern market economy, demanded independence.  These conflicts simmered under the surface.

Graham Coton painting of the bombing of Gernika / Guernica

Earlier insurrections by miners and workers in Asturias in Northern Spain in October 1934, were defeated after which the Army murdered several hundred striking miners. This brutality served as a foretaste of the cataclysm to come and ensured a total break between the two sides. It pitched the urban and rural poor against the privileged elites. Following the General Election of February 1936, a Popular front of the Left emerged victorious and set about giving effect to the long awaited land reforms and improvements in pay and working conditions so long demanded in the mills, factories and large businesses throughout Spain.

Conflict broke out quickly in July 1936 when the Army rebelled in Africa and while the initial mutiny was defeated by the workers militias of the socialist, communist and anarchist trade unions, the country descended into war when the Nationalists under Army Chief, General Francisco Franco established an alternative military controlled state at Burgos in the north of Spain.

There followed one of the most brutal and savage wars seen in Europe. The foreign intervention by Germany (17,000 troops) and Italy (70,000 troops) in terms of men and equipment including planes, along with almost 80,000 Moroccan soldiers contributed to the gradual erosion of the Republican/Popular Front territories. In spite of tremendous, brave and passionate resistance in defence of the elected government by the workers militias and volunteers, the resistance to the Franco onslaught was eventually overcome.

The Soviet Union assisted the Republic. The Communist Comintern, an organisation which advocated global communism, recruited and organised the International Brigades. Some 35,000 volunteers from 53 countries came to fight Franco along with several thousand others who fought with other left wing groups. These were actively involved in all of the severest fighting mainly used as shock troops. They suffered 80% attrition, with 30% killed in action. Their bravery and dedication could not be questioned in what afterwards was called the last just war.

The Spanish Civil war brought out the best in people but also the worst. The April 1937 bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by the German Airforce foreshadowed the horror of the widespread indiscriminate bombing of civilians in World War 2. In remembering the battle of Jamara, the defence of Madrid, the battle of the Ebro, the courage of La Pasionaria and the slogan No Pasaran, Guadalajara, the uprising in Barcelona, the battle of Mazuco…………. the long and haunting legacy of Spain remains vivid. Poets and intellectuals such as Federico Garcia Lorca were murdered during the war.   The fight against fascism is commemorated by artists, poets and writers such as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and George Orwell.

The Spanish working class challenged the entrenched elites in Spain, fought bravely and courageously for a democratic revolution against impossible odds. The powerful elites of Spain were joined by Hitler and Mussolini who tested their war machines and tactics. The impact of the German Condor Legion on the ground proved very effective in the actual fighting.

"Guernica"

Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica”

The political establishments ruling European democracies, largely sat back and failed to defend a democratically elected government from being overthrown. Could Russia have done more to properly arm the Republicans? Should the communists, socialists, anarchists and varied trade unionists have supported each other more effectively? Thousands of papers have been written and the discussions go on.

What is certain is that as a result of the defeat of the Republic, most of the Spanish people and in particular workers and peasants were consigned to almost 40 years of brutal repression until 1977. (Franco died in 1975). The Second World War soon broke out in Europe. Some historians have considered that had the Republican government/Popular Front defeated the forces of Franco, the Second World War might have been avoided. Yet could the poorly armed untrained republicans ever have defeated the might of the Spanish Army?

In the current volatile political climate which has seen Donald Trump become President of the USA, the British people vote to leave the European Union, the growth of right wing populism, the rise of Putin, are there enduring lessons to learned in relation to the Spanish Civil War? Are these still in any way relevant today?

Historian Harry Owens, who has spent a lifetime researching the Spanish Civil War, has visited Spain many times and has contributed to many books including Brigadista- An Irishman’s Fight Against Fascism- Bob Doyle, will consider this topic on Friday afternoon 4th August at the Maldron Hotel at 2.45.