On Friday July 29th at about 11:00 am we will gather at the magnificent North Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne and known affectionately throughout Cork with some understatement as the ‘North Chapel’. It was originally dedicated in 1808 on the site of an earlier church.
Anne Twomey will give a brief history of the Cathedral with particular reference to its connections with the baptism of Mary Harris on the morning of 1st August 1837.
Professor Maggie O’Neill in collaboration with Traveller Pride will launch the Feminism Walking Tour website followed by a walk.
Gather outside the Maldron Hotel Shandon at 3.45 pm on Saturday 30th July. All welcome.
The thematic focus of this walk is on celebrating the contribution of women to art, culture, society and the city; exploring the role of women in addressing sexual and social inequalities, and building fairer, safer communities. The walk, which is the first in a series of walks, writes women into the spaces and topography of the city. The walk was created in discussion with students from University College Cork, Naomi Masheti, Cork Migrant Centre; Danielle O’Donovan, Nano Nagle Place; Mary Crilly, Sexual Violence Centre Cork; Eileen O’Shea, Traveller Visibility Group; John Barimo, Mother Jones Plaque and James Cronin, Honan Chapel.
The walk and website will be launched at the Mother Jones Festival 30th July 2022!
Dr Angela Flynn is a lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery in UCC. Having worked as a nurse in the NHS in London, she returned to Ireland in 1999. She was shocked at just how unfair and inequitable the Irish health system was and was taken aback by the stark two-tiered system. Over half the population of Ireland pay for private health insurance because they know that should they need to see a consultant or have scheduled surgery they will languish on waiting lists if they stay as public patients. Angela decided to examine the history of the Irish health care system that led to this inequity for her PhD, and she used Noel Browne’s Mother and Child Scheme as one of the case studies. She has published a number of papers from this research. Now in 2022, on the 25th anniversary of the death of Noel Browne, Angela will discuss an imagined world where his scheme had been successful and explore the potential health system we could have had.
Noël Browne was born in Waterford on 20th December 1915. He died in Connemara on the 21st May 1997.
A quarter of a century has passed since the death of Noël Browne, the most controversial Minister for Health in Ireland’s history. His courageous account of early life and a political career of over 40 years can be found in his autobiography ‘Against The Tide’ published in 1986. Written with a rare honesty and integrity, it portrays an often heartbreaking account of the ‘precarious survival’ of early family life against the backdrop of the deathly poverty, illness and the sheer awfulness of daily experience for many poor people in the new Irish State. His earliest memories of witnessing the savagery of the Irish Civil war ensured his abhorrence of violence.
Both parents, Joseph (1923) and Mary Therese (1929) died of tuberculosis (TB) and many of his seven siblings contracted the killer disease, Noel who also had TB was one of three to survive, while his sisters Annie, Eileen, Una and Jody, his brother all eventually succumbed.
Official figures show that from 1921 to 1950, 114,000 Irish people died of the disease. Scarcely an Irish family remained untouched and many families were completely wiped out.
Browne was fortunate to be “adopted” by the Dublin surgeon Neville Chance and his family who ensured Noel gained entry to Trinity College and eventually became a doctor.
He realised quickly that the only way to change Ireland’s disastrous health system was to become directly involved in political action. Browne, by now a committed socialist was elected to Dail Eireann in 1948 as a Clann na Poblachta TD. The Clann, led by Sean McBride with ten TDs joined a Coalition government. To the surprise of many he was appointed Minister for Health on his first day in the Irish parliament.
He commenced a massive hospital construction project, free X-ray screening for tuberculosis patients and set in motion systems to eliminate tuberculosis with the aid of Streptomycin. The blood transfusion service was set up.
Browne set a frenetic pace within the department, he was indeed a man in a hurry witnessing the immediate and positive impact of the National Health Service (NHS) introduced by the UK Health Minister Aneurin Bevan in July 1948.
Unprecedently and uniquely for a politician, he decided to actually implement the health reforms contained in the Irish 1947 Health Act, fully aware that he would “only have one crack at it”. However his proposal to introduce free medical care for children under 16 and their mothers in order to reduce child mortality which became known as the Mother and Child Scheme was vigorously opposed by the Catholic Hierarchy which it described as ‘the free-for-all Mother And Child Scheme’ and Irish Medical Association (I.M.A) which condemned it as ‘the socialisation of medicine’.
Browne refused to concede to the concessions demanded by the Church and the establishment and once he lost the support of his leader in Clann na Poblachta, Sean MacBride who requested his resignation he was eventually forced to resign on 11th April 1951.
Now a political outsider, he never regained access to political power again to drive positive structural change in the health system.
Later many of the changes Browne had helped to introduce made a real difference to ordinary people and the arrival of vaccines and new drug treatments helped to reduce significantly the death rate. This fell by half within a few years and was down to 15% of the 1940 levels by 1960. The death sentence of a TB diagnosis was no more.
While aspects of his health scheme were eventually put in place, his initial opportunity to construct a NHS type universal health care system for Ireland was lost and the two tier private and public health system remains in place.
Noel Browne remained in politics, moving in and out of various political parties, marginalised by those in the political power, ignored by others, always controversial, passionate from the back benches, sometimes caught up in roundabout arguments of the Left yet adored by many radicals as an uncompromising advocate for the social justice and a universal free health system.
John Horgan’s book Noël Browne, Passionate Outsiderportrays this complex man in a warts and all analysis with empathy, understanding and some criticism.
Browne’s love story with Phyllis Harrison, was told by Phyllis in her publication Thanks For The Tea, Mrs. Browne – My life with Noel.
Written with love and affection, sadness and struggle, courage and quiet passion, Phyllis describes their life together as “a stormy passage” and the difficulties they faced through over fifty years of married life. The couple even tried farming, an episode described with some humour in an Amateur Farmer’s Journal. Browne was originally informed that he had six months to live when they married back in 1944, he again suffered a relapse after his appointment as Minister and occasionally ran his department from his sick bed.
Noël Browne retired from politics in the early 80s, daughters Ruth and Sue raised, he and Phyllis moved to an isolated cottage in Connemara on the west coast of Ireland where he wrote his memoirs Against The Tide, which became a best seller. Some former political colleagues received blunt assessments of their actions and when coupled with a gripping narrative, the book remains a very rare and raw account of Irish life and politics.
His successful efforts to end the scourge of TB and his exposure to a new generation of Church control of the State remain his major achievements.
But his passionate dream of providing access to a decent health service for all citizens of the Republic of Ireland based on need remains to be achieved.
‘He lies in the clean sandy soil by the Atlantic shore, where he liked to sit every afternoon, seagulls and screaming curlews flying above him’
On Saturday afternoon 30th July at 2.30 Angela Flynn will discuss the Mother & Child Scheme, imagine if it had been successful and explore the potential health system we could have had.
The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival will take place online on Cork Community Television from Thursday 25th November 2021 until Sunday 28th November 2021. We are hoping to have a number of live events, including Q&A’s with the interviewees as well as some live music at the Maldron Hotel in Shandon during the course of the Festival. These are subject strictly to the Covid 19 regulations specified at the time and the attendance will be limited.
Thursday 25th November – Sunday 28th November 2021
Programme of online events on Cork Community Television.
Thursday 25th November 2021
2:00 pm. The highlights of the 2020 online Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.
7.30 pm. Muriel MacSwiney………The Unlikely Revolutionary. An interview with Anne Twomey, historian and teacher, of the Shandon Area History Group.
Friday 26th November 2021
2:00 pm. The highlights of the first ten years of the Spirit of Mother Jones festivals.
7.00 pm. Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the death of Tadhg Barry, of Blarney Street.
Tadhg Barry Remembered. Documentary by Cork Council of Trade Unions and Frameworks Films.
8.00 pm. Interview with Dr. Donal O’Drisceoil
Author of Utter Disloyalist: Tadhg Barry and The Irish Revolution.
Saturday 27th November 2021.
2:00 pm. Blood on the Mountain produced by Mari-Lynn Evans.
4:00 pm. Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre produced by Lamprini C Tomas and Nickos Ventouras.
6:00 pm. Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America by Rosemary Feurer.
6:30 pm. Interview (zoom) with Mari Steed, Adoption Rights campaigner.
7:00pm. Maureen Considine and Catherine Coffey O’Brien of the CorkSurvivors and Supporters Alliance, CSSA discuss their effort to safeguard the Bessborough Burial ground.
Sunday 28th November 2021
2:00 pm. The Mine Warsproduced 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 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival will also include Q&A sessions with the speakers at the Maldron Hotel after the broadcasts on Cork Community Television. The capacity is strictly limited in accordance with the Covid-19 regulations for the safety of participants. Full details on how to attend will be announced later.
Cork Community Television, Sunday 28th November at 7:00 pm.
We are proud to present Dr. Sean Pettit’s lecture entitled “The Cork City of Mary Harris” which he gave to the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones festival. Sean was a much loved and respected teacher and UCC lecturer who became widely known as a writer, broadcaster and a man with an intimate knowledge of the people and streets of Cork.
His publication This City of Cork1700-1900 (1977) is long regarded as a classic. He believed that the best way to appreciate and experience the City was to go out and about on the streets. In his introduction he argued that “the main emphasis is on the people who made it, and on how they lived”. He did not neglect giving a raw and realistic account of the sick, the poor and the social problems through history in the City especially in the context of the Famine era into which Mary Harris was born in 1837.
Dr. Pettit with the aid of his large collection of photographs and prints captivated the vast attendance on that lovely Friday afternoon in July 2016 on the north side of Cork city. Sadly Sean passed away suddenly just a few months later on November 23rd 2016.
The introduction to “The Cork City of Mary Harris” will be given by his good friend Richard T Cooke. Richard is a founding member of the Cork Mother Jones Committee, himself a writer, singer and broadcaster and the author of many publications including My Home By The Lee (1999).
Dr. Sean Pettit……..An Extraordinary Teacher will be shown on Cork Community Television, livestream on www.corkcommunitytv.ie or Virgin Media 803 on Sunday evening 28th November at 7:00 pm as part of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2021.
The official launch of the tenth annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival will be held in University College Cork on Thursday 14th October 2021 in conjunction with the UCC Department of Community and Civic Engagement and Community Week.
The Cork Mother Jones Committee is also delighted to collaborate with The Center for Earth Ethics in New York for a special Zoom event hosted by University College Cork later that evening at 5pm local time on Thursday 14th October featuring an interview with Mona Polacca, a Native American spiritual elder from Arizona. All are welcome to register for this event.
According to James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee.
“We are very happy to work with the UCC Department of Community and Civic Engagement and The Center for Earth Ethics in New York to help bring this outstanding and interesting event to Cork.“
“We hope it will attract a large audience of young people and students to the ideas and thoughts of the Native American community as to the way we are treating the Earth. Mona Polacca will explore our connections to Mother Earth and the Environment from a Native American perspective. We wish to thank University College Cork for its cooperation to present this relevant and challenging discussion, which will be repeated later at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in November.“
“The tenth Spirit of Mother Jones Festival will be held from the 25th November to 28th November and it will be largely available to all as it will be shown on Cork Community TV (see www.corkcommunitytv.ie). We are optimistic (subject to the Covid-19 provisions at that time) to have a number of live events in and around Shandon during the period.“
“Among the topics which will be discussed at this year’s festival will include an account by UCC historian and author, Donal Ó Drisceoil of the life and death of Cork republican, trade union organiser and socialist Tadhg Barry of Blarney Street who was killed on the 15th November 1921, just over 100 years ago.“
“In addition, historian Anne Twomey will discuss the life of Muriel MacSwiney in an interview “Muriel MacSwiney….an Unlikely Rebel”. From the Mother Jones archives, Richard T Cooke will introduce the late Dr Sean Pettit’s presentation about his beloved Cork to the festival on 29th July 2016.“
“Many other talks and documentaries from the last nine years of Mother Jones festivals will be shown on Cork Community TV over the weekend. The full programme of events will issue later”.“
Keep your calendar clear! The Cork Mother Jones Committee wishes to announce that the 2021Spirit of Mother Jones Festival will take place on the final weekend of November (Thursday November 25th – Sunday 28th November.). This will be our tenth festival and we are eagerly looking forward to it.
“We are absolutely delighted to announce that our tenth annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival will be held later this year. The dates for the four-day festival will be from Thursday 25th November until Sunday 28th November 2021 inclusive.
We are aiming to have the festival at venues in and around Shandon as usual although this is dependent on the Government Covid-19 rules which apply by November, however we remain very optimistic that these will permit gatherings and meetings by this time.
In case there remain issues with Covid-19, we can confirm that as a contingency we will also prepare a full online festival.
The Cork Mother Jones Committee is determined to ensure there will be a Spirit of Mother Jones festival in 2021 and we are working towards achieving that outcome.”
James Nolan spokesperson for the festival
Full details of our festival partnerships, music and many other events will be announced over the summer/ autumn as they are confirmed.
The full Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2020 programme from Friday 27th November 2020 to Monday 30th November 2020 is now available. All events are free to view on Cork Community TV and everybody is welcome over the course of the weekend. We hope that you enjoy the 2020 programme.
Friday 27th November
3:00 p.m. The Dynamic Role of Labour Unions in the Wake of Covid-19 and the Safe Keeping of Front-Line Workers” A Partner Event with University College Cork Civic Engagement and the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival Speakers: Phil Ní Sheaghdha (INMO), Ann Piggott (ASTI), Dr Edward Lahiff (IFUT) Co-ordinated by Dr John Barimo. Click Here for direct webinar access at the time of the event. 7.30 p.m. Introduction by Cllr Joe Kavanagh, Lord Mayor of Cork “What Did the Women Do Anyway?” A discussion with Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Group
Saturday 28th November
11.00 a.m. Tadhg Barry Remembered Documentary film by Frameworks Films in collaboration with the Cork Council of Trade Unions. 2:30 p.m. “Ahawadda to Dáil Eireann: the amazing story of Sean Dunne, union organiser” Discussion with historian Diarmuid Kingston 3:30 p.m. “And the World Turns Away” Discussion with Peadar King 7:00 p.m. “Cork Burning” A power point presentation by Michael Lenihan 8:00 p.m. An evening with Jimmy Crowley at the Firkin Theatre Sunday 29th November Mother Jones Festival Archives 11:00 a.m. 2:30 p.m. 4:00 p.m. 8:10 p.m. “The story of Hillsborough” with Margaret Aspinall (2013) “Error of Judgement” with Chris Mullin (2015) “One Woman’s Fight for Justice” with Louise O’Keeffe (2018)
Sunday evening with the Cork Singers’ Club
(Zoom and live on Cork Singers’ Club Facebook page) If anyone wishes to participate email John Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday 30th November Mother Jones Commemoration Day: 90th Anniversary 3:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. 7.00 p.m. 8:00 p.m. “Ellen Cotter and Inchigeela in the 1800s” by Joe Creedon (2019) “The story of Mother Jones” by Professor Elliott J Gorn (2019) Mother Jones and her Children Documentary by Frameworks Films “Shandon in the time of Mother Jones” Narrated by Kieran McCarthy 8:30 p.m. Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman By Rosemary Feurer 8:45 p.m. “Mother Jones visits Shandon in 1920” With Joan Goggin 9:00 p.m. The legacy of Mother Jones. Tributes to Mother Jones Times and Link at http://www.corkcommunitytv.ie or Virgin Media 803 on the box. Check the schedule on Cork Community TV for final times and repeats.
We are at critical juncture for trade unions and worker’s rights during this period of economic stress, joblessness, and wealth concentration. Education and healthcare professions are among those front-line workers who now face increased health and safety risks. Join Dr Edward Lahiff (IFUT National Executive) in conversation with Ms. Ann Piggott, President of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) and Ms. Phil Ni Sheaghdha, General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) on the role of Unions in leading the way forward.
With both health and education sectors providing vital services to society, panellists consider how the global pandemic will reframe issues of labour rights and workplace safety over the next decade.
To Register: (see below)
This event will be hosted live and broadcast using Microsoft Teams.
· Dr. Edward Lahiff (moderator), Branch Chair of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) at University College Cork.
· Ms. Phil Ni Sheaghdha, General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO);
· Ms. Ann Piggott, President of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI);
Organised by Dr. John Barimo in partnership with University College Cork Civic & Community Engagement.
There will be a couple of ways for people to register and attend the Live Event webinar.
1. You can pre-register with Eventbrite. Eventbrite is programmed to send email reminders 24-hours and 1-hour before the event, so less likely to forget. Click Here to Register
2. Click Here for direct webinar access at the time of the event.
IMPORTANT: This event will be broadcast on Microsoft Teams. If you have not used Microsoft Teams in the past, please allow yourself a few extra moments before the event. *You do not need to download the MS Teams app. When you click the link to join simply (1) select option ‘Join on Web Instead’. (2) On next screen select ‘Join Anonymously’.
Photos: Phil Ni Sheaghdha, Ann Piggott, Dr. Edward Lahiff, Dr. John Barimo.
The late Christine Keegan and her daughter Antoinette. Photo courtesy of Sam Boal
The Cork Mother Jones Committee is proud to announce that the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Award will be presented to Antoinette Keegan of the Stardust Victims Committee.
Antoinette and her mother Christine Keegan were due to speak in Cork at this year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Summer school. Sadly, Christine passed away in July after a lifetime of fighting for justice for the Stardust victims.
The Keegan family have been central to the efforts for the past 40 years to investigate the causes of the fire. The recent announcement of a new inquest into the victims of the Stardust Fire is testament to the determination of Antoinette and her family and the Stardust Victims committee to pursue the truth of the night of the 13/14th February in 1981.
“The Spirit of Mother Jones Award is awarded this year to Ms. Antoinette Keegan of the Stardust Victims Committee for her determination, resilience and longstanding efforts to pursue truth, accountability and justice for the Stardust victims and their families over almost 40 years.
Antoinette and her late mother Christine and father John have pursued answers to what happened at the Stardust fire on 14th February 1981, where 48 young people lost their lives, including Antoinette’s sisters Mary and Martina.
In spite of her own injuries, the loss of her sisters, and the failure of the Authorities to provide answers, Antoinette has continued to actively campaign to uncover the full truth of the events of that night. She is an inspiration to so many!
For her bravery, courage and commitment, Antoinette Keegan is a very worthy recipient of the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Award.”
The Cork Mother Jones Committee
The award has been presented each year since 2013 by this committee to the person we feel most represents the fighting spirit of Mother Jones, who was born Mary Harris here in Cork in July 1837 and went on to become known throughout the world as Mother Jones. She fought for the rights of workers and the trade union movement and was involved in numerous campaigns
We will arrange to present the award representing The Children of Lir to Antoinette as soon as it becomes safe to do so in view of the current Covid-19 situation. It is hoped Antoinette will be able to come to Cork to speak at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school in 2021.