On Thursday 28th July at 4pm, the unusual story of Tom Hickey, the Dubliner and friend of Mother Jones who tried to convert Texas to socialism, will be told by Professor Peter Buckingham at the Maldron Hotel Shandon. All are welcome.
Tom Hickey came to the United States from Ireland in 1892, became a machinist, and soon joined the Knights of Labor and the Socialist Labor Party. His party boss, Daniel De Leon, recognized the potential in this Irishman and even made him an “enforcer” against those who questioned the boss’s authority. The enforcer, though, eventually found himself forced out and moved west to start a new life. Ultimately, Hickey landed in Texas and saw an opportunity to use syndicalism as an organizing tool to build a state socialist party.
He did just that. Within a few years, Hickey transformed the faction-ridden Socialist Party of America in Texas into a force strong enough to threaten the Republican Party at the ballot box. He gained a large following thanks to a unique mixture of evangelical rhetoric and militant industrial unionism. He enlisted the help of many party comrades, including Mother Jones.
Biographer Peter H. Buckingham points out that Hickey failed to deliver his people into the Promised Land. Violence, poll taxes, voter suppression, and other forces made voting for socialist candidates problematic; the Democratic Party soon co-opted the more appealing elements of socialism into watered-down, reformist planks for the Texan voter. By the time Hickey died of throat cancer in the mid-1920s, his moment in the spotlight had passed.
“Red Tom” Hickey is an important contribution to Irish, Texas and American history, capturing a time that Buckingham argues was the second sustained crisis in American history: a democratic society wrestling with the effects of industrial capitalism.
After presenting an overview of the life and times of Thomas Aloysius Joseph Hickey, Buckingham will examine the special bond that developed between Mother Jones and Red Tom. When no one else would dare to cross Party Secretary, Mahlon Barnes, she revealed his sexism and greed as only Mother could, thereby saving Hickey from scandal and expulsion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PETER H. BUCKINGHAM is Professor of History Emeritus at Linfield University in McMinnville, Oregon, USA, and the author of several books, including Rebel against Injustice: The Life of Frank P. O’Hare and America Sees Red: Anti-Communism in America, 1870s to 1980s. He resides in McMinnville.
The Rebel Newspaper.
University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UT San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
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The great appear great to us only because we are on our knees
The annual Durham Gala will take place on Saturday 9th July 2022 following a break of two years due to Covid-19. The Gala this year is “dedicated to the key workers”, who provided essential services in the UK during the recent pandemic.
The Cork Mother Jones Committee extend warm congratulations and solidarity to the Durham Miners Association and wish the DMA well for a fantastic parade and Big Meeting.
The parade itself features thousands of people of all ages from former mining communities across the north of England marching behind their colourful banners and colliery bands.
Dave Hopper, a former General Secretary of the DMA along with his committee were regular attenders at the Spirit of Mother Festivals. Dave spoke at the 2014 and 2015 Festivals, and he provided a first hand account of events at the battle of Orgreave as well as contributing to the general discussions.
He was awarded the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Award posthumously after his sudden death a few weeks before the festival in 2016.
The Durham Miner’s Association is based at Red Hills in Durham, which was opened in 1915.
The Red Hills contains the Miners Parliament where representatives of each of the lodges of county Durham once met to decide on union matters.
Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the RMT Union will speak at the Big Meeting on Saturday 9th July 2022. Mick, whose father was from Cork has led the recent rail strikes in Britain.
It is a huge honour to speak at the Big Meeting. This year is the 75th Anniversary of the death of Irish trade union leader, Jim Larkin, a founder of the ITGWU, (now SIPTU) and the Irish Citizen Army. In 1914, a few months after the end of the Dublin Lockout, Jim Larkin spoke at the Durham Gala and on the day argued for one union,
” if one section is out, you should be ready to bring out everyone of you”
As the miners’ banners were carried from the field in Durham on that day in July 1914, they were not to return for five years………….. just ten days later Britain was at war with Germany.
It is with very great sadness that we learned of the sudden death of Liam Cahill, journalist, author, civil servant and trade unionist.
Liam attended the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in 2019 and spoke on the 100th anniversary celebrating the Limerick Soviet.
He appeared on Thursday Aug 1st along with his great friend Limerick Union man Mike McNamara, following a screening of the 2015 documentary, The Limerick Soviet in which he had participated.
His 2019 publication “Forgotten Revolution: The Limerick Soviet 1919, a threat to British Power in Ireland”, which was an updated, revised and enlarged edition of his original 1990 book on the soviet, formed the basis of Liam’s talk.
This important book unearthed the incredible story of revolutionary events in Limerick which lay almost undisturbed for almost 70 years and it quickly sold out its print run.
Liam claimed he wrote it originally to try to answer an important and still relevant question, “why were our grandmothers and grandfathers – even our great grandparents – more radical in their politics than my generation?” It is unclear if he found the answer but the Limerick Soviet is no longer forgotten.
Liam was extremely generous with his time and his advice to members of our committee and during his Cork talk he praised the role of Cobhman and trade union leader Jack Dowling, (long championed by Cork Mother Jones Committee member John Jefferies) who played a key role in the organisation of the Limerick Soviet.
Liam was a political correspondent with RTE and during 1990 worked in Brussels as Government press spokesperson for the Irish Presidency of the European Union. However his contribution to the Irish Trade Union movement was enormous. Apart from being a full-time official of the Federated Workers Union of Ireland, he spent time on the executive councils of the NUJ and the PSEU as well as chairperson of the RTE Trade Union Group. He wrote widely on Irish Labour history. He had a huge interest in sport, especially the Gaelic Athletic Association. His internet forum, An Fear Rua was legendary and original in the early 2000s before twitter and WhatsApp with wide ranging and often heated discussions taking place on the many issues around Gaelic games under the paternal hand of Liam. The trade union and Labour movement has lost a great friend in Liam.
The Cork Mother Jones Committee and friends wish to extend our deepest sympathy to Liam’s children, Susan and Eoin.
The May Day Party for Mother Jones will take place at the Irish American Heritage Centre at 4626 North Knox Avenue in Chicago from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
Among those participating are:
Kevin Byrne, Ireland’s Consul General to Chicago and the Midwest.
Sara Nelson President of the Association of Flight Attendants CWA, AFLCIO.
Don Villar, Secretary Treasurer Chicago Federation of Labour.
Also participating are singers and artists such as Paddy Homan, Kathy Cowan and the SAG-AFTRA singers while artist Lindsay Hand will sign posters.
All proceeds will go towards the Chicago Statue Campaign.
There are very few monuments which commemorate women in Chicago and as with most cities everywhere none of working class women.
Why not assist the Chicago campaign to ensure that a beautiful statue is erected to honour Cork born Mary Harris who as Mother Jones worked ceaselessly to help immigrants of many nationalities to organise for decent wages and safe working conditions by joining the American trade union movement!.
A broad based fundraising committee in the City has been active in fundraising to bring the dream of the Mother Jones statue to reality.
With the help of the American trade unions and many others, the committee is close to achieving this ambition. Let’s put this iconic Irish immigrant refugee and a founder of the American Labour Movement–the Mother of the working class–on a statue in the city she called home.
The following films associated with Mother Jones and the labour movement in Ireland and America will be shown as part of the 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival. The Cork Mother Jones Committee wishes to thank our friends. Lamprini Thoma, Mari-Lynn Evans, Randal MacLowry, Rosemary Feurer and everyone at Frameworks Films for their kindness towards ensuring access to these films.
Friday 26th November at 7:00 pm.
“Tadhg Barry Remembered.” A film produced by Frameworks Films in collaboration with the Cork Council of Trade Unions for Cork Community Television.Release Date: 2013. Runtime: 60 minutes.
This documentary tells the story of Tadhg Barry (1880-1921), a native of Cork city, who has largely been forgotten. It seems hard to believe that a man whose funeral, one of the largest ever in Ireland, and which closed shops and factories from Co Down to Cork city could be relegated to a footnote in history. And yet this is what has happened to a man who was one of the last people to be killed by British forces during the War of Independence on 15th November 1921, just weeks prior to the signing of the Treaty.
Active in numerous organisations such as the G.A.A and the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, Barry was a committed socialist, was a union organizer and had organized meetings for James Connolly in Cork as well as being involved with Sinn Fein. He was later elected as an Alderman to Cork City Council.
The documentary was funded under the Sound & Vision scheme, an initiative of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. www.frameworksfilms.com.
Saturday 27th November at 2:00 pm.
“Blood On The Mountain.” A film produced by Mari-Lynn Evans, Deborah Wallace and Jordan Freeman. Release date: 18th November 2016. Runtime: 93 minutes.
The film is an honest investigation into the economic and environmental injustices that have resulted from industrial control in West Virginia. The documentary details the struggles of a hard‐working, often misunderstood people, who have historically faced limited choices and have never benefited fairly from the rich, natural resources of their land.
Blood on the Mountain delivers a striking portrait of a fractured population, exploited and besieged by corporate interests, and abandoned by those elected to represent them. The beauty of the oldest mountain range in North America, with lush, old growth forests, small towns and isolated communities, is contrasted with the long‐term poverty, migration, lack of health care, inadequate educational systems, and political corruption. The coal, timber, oil, and gas industries have generated billions of dollars, but these huge profits went to companies in other states, leaving the region impoverished. Appalachia is a wonderful place, a home to a resilient people but is a mass of contradictions.
Many Appalachian counties are left with little or no tax base to help fund schools, health care, or job creation. Entrenched, corrupt local governments and lagging public policy have not generated sustainable economic alternatives in the region. It is a cruel irony that a region so rich in natural resources is home to many of the poorest and exploited people in the United States.
“Palikari…….Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre” a film from Greece by Lamprini Thoma and Nickos Ventouras. Release Date: 2014. Runtime: 92 minutes.
The Ludlow Massacre and the assassination of Greek immigrant and labour leader Louis Tikas (Elias Spantidakis) is one of the decisive moments of the American labour movement, an event that connects, a century later, the United States of 1914 to the labour and immigrant demands of Greece.
Louis Tikas and union organisers, mainly Greek miners had established a tent colony at Ludlow. However as tension and attacks on the union village escalated, Tikas was murdered along with two other union men by Lieutenant Karl Linderfelt of the Colorado National Guard on 19th/20th April 1914. Later the tented village was attacked and burned to the ground by elements of the Colorado National Guard. (led by Sligo born Patrick Hamrock!)
After this attack, the charred bodies of two women and eleven children were located in the pits. Patria Valdez and four of her children including Elvira, just three months old died, along with the Costa family Cerdelina and Charlie and two children aged 4 and 6 years. An eleven year old boy, Frank Snyder was killed by a bullet through the head. It led to open warfare between thousands of miners and mines guards in which many were killed.
Lamprini Thoma and Nikolaos Ventouras examined the memories, the history and the legacy of Louis Tikas and the Ludlow massacre in Colorado, talked with prominent historians, artists and descendants of Ludlow miners, and documented the scars left by this tragedy on the body of working America. http://www.palikari.org/
Saturday 27th November at 6:00 pm.
“Mother Jones, America’s Most Dangerous Woman” a film by Rosemary Feurer and Laura Vazquez.Release Date: 2007 (Canada). Runtime: 24 min.
Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman is a documentary about the amazing labor heroine, Mary Harris Jones, known as Mother Jones. Mother Jones’ organising career influenced the history of early 20th century United States. She overcame class and gender limitations to shape an identity that allowed her to become an effective labor organiser in the early 20th century. Mother Jones transformed personal and political grief and rage about class injustices into an effective persona that led workers into battles that changed the course of history. The terrible conditions and labor oppression of the time motivated her to traverse the country, in order to organise against injustices. It also examines the human tragedy of the Ludlow Massacre.#
“The Mine Wars” a film produced and directed by Randal MacLowry.Release Date: 2016. Runtime: 120 min
A production of the Film Possee for American Experience (WGBH-Boston).
The Mine Wars explores the largely forgotten story of the epic struggle between Capital and Labour over the recognition of the United Mine workers of America union in the coalfields of South West Virginia. These culminated in the largest civil insurrection in America since the Civil War at Blair Mountain where thousands of miners took up arms and were even bombed from the air.
Between 1890 and 1912, miners in West Virginia endured the highest death rate in America. Mother Jones was active in 1902 and again in the period 1912-1913 when Paint Creek and Cabin Creek featured. Later Mingo County, Logan County, the Matewan Massacre and the Battle of Blair Mountain where at least 50 people were killed are highlighted. This film concentrates on a UMWA leader and former miner Frank Keeney, who inspired by Mother Jones went to organise the union in West Virginia.
Mother Jones, herself incarcerated for three months in West Virginia, described the state as “Medieval West Virginia with its tent colonies on the bleak hills! With its grim men and women! When I get to the other side, I shall tell God almighty about West Virginia.”
The Mine Wars tells the story on this side! See The Film Possee Facebook. www.pbs.org
Thanks to Randall.
Sunday November 28th at 4:00 pm
“Mother Jones and her Children” afilm by Frameworks Films and the Cork Mother Jones Committee.Release Date: July 2014. Runtime: 52 min.
This film tells the story of Mary Harris (1837 – 1930) from Cork who went on to become “the most dangerous woman in America”. Starting with her early years in Cork, this documentary goes on to detail her life in America following the famine, her marriage to George Jones and the birth of her four children. It details the tragedies which befell her. Her growing involvement in the labour movement in America, defending the rights of children and workers is documented. Through interviews with leading experts on Mother Jones, we learn of her fearless and tireless campaign to organise workers at a time of severe labour strife and her international legacy today. www.frameworksfilm.com
The 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones festival will include an interview with Donal Ō Drisceoil, author of Utter Disloyalist: Tadhg Barry and the Irish Revolution. This will be shown on Cork Community Television (www.corkcommunitytv.ie) on Friday evening 26th November beginning at 7:00 pm.
Tadhg Barry…….”always keeps in the background”.
RIC Intelligence report
On Tuesday 15th November 1921, at Ballykinlar internment prison, known by some as the “World’s End Camp” close to the Co Down coast, a rifle shot suddenly split the afternoon silence. A man standing near the prison fence, waving farewell to departing friends fell backwards, mortally wounded near the heart. Unarmed, of no threat to anyone, Tadhg Barry lay dead.
Young sentry, Barrett’s single bullet ended in a shocking manner the life of man who had been 20 years in the engine room of the Irish revolution. He was the final IRA fatality of the brutal regime in this camp, in which at least eight internees died (three shot, and five from malnutrition) during 1921. These included Patrick Sloan and Joe Tormey, two friends from Moate, Co Westmeath both killed on 17th January by the same bullet.
Barry was older than most of the two thousand or so internees, a father figure in the transition of Cork from a Union Jack bedecked city at the turn of the 20th century, towards the ungovernable rebel cockpit of the War of Independence by 1921. From the strategic framework of constructing a revolution beginning with Gaelic culture and language to Gaelic games, from secret brotherhoods to Sinn Fēin, from journalism to socialist ideas, from trade union organisation and negotiation to developing the military hardware and intelligence around the dirty business of fighting a war in the streets and laneways of his native city, his fingerprints were obvious to those who knew.
Historian and author Donal Ō Drisceoil, who has constantly shone a light on Tadhg Barry describes him as “a doer”.
To observers he seemed to have been around forever, always smiling, low key, unassuming yet possessing the razor sharp wit of his native streets, his progress through the myriad groups and local activist alliances in the political ferment always gathering momentum.
The Royal Irish Constabulary intelligence reports were very uncomplimentary and vindictive; Barry was variously described as “a leading Cork City extremist”, “notorious Sinn Feiner”, “in touch with all the leaders prior to the (1916) rebellion”, “mischievous, socialist, bolshevist……generally of the Napper Tandy type”. And most of all, Barry “always keeps in the background”. Tadhg Barry was a marked man!
Born in 54 Blarney Street on 25th Feb 1880 into a working class family, Barry was educated at the local Blarney Street school and the nearby North Monastery. Afterwards he worked at various jobs and then in 1903, he emigrated to London for a while.
Soon after his return, he became very active in the Gaelic Athletic Association (G.A.A.). He engaged in reorganising the GAA County Board and helping to establish the various playing competitions as well as the infrastructure of the main playing ground along the Marina known as the Cork Athletic grounds, now the home of the impressive Pāirc Uí Chaoimh stadium!
His efforts to promote hurling at his rugby playing alma mater resulted in the North Mon School becoming by 1916 established as a vital hurling nursery for the game for the future decades. He also encouraged the playing of camogie in the city and even found the time to manage a ladies team. Tadhg was especially associated with encouraging hurling in the Sundays Well, and Blarney Street areas, and was involved with the original Sundays Well/St. Vincent’s GAA Club in Cork.
A voracious reader, he worked as a journalist writing as “An Ciotóg” (a left-handed person!) for the Cork Free Press, the newspaper of the All For Ireland League (AFIL), which dominated Cork politics at the time.
Although deeply embroiled in the local rivalry in Cork between the Irish Party led by John Redmond and All For Ireland League (AFIL), led by William O’Brien who had a strong labour base in Cork, Tadhg Barry later abandoned O’Brien who had supported the British recruitment efforts at the outbreak of the First World War.
Barry spent much time strategically subverting this recruitment for the Great War effort from 1914 onwards. He had been among the first in Cork to join the Irish Volunteers and worked alongside Terence MacSwiney, Tomas MacCurtain and Sean Hegarty who were active following the split of the Volunteers from John Redmond.
As the political ferment in the city increased, his contribution to the separatist organisations along with his pleasant demeanour and approach engendered a better collective and cooperative spirit among the various activists. Following the failure of the Cork volunteers to rise in 1916, Barry refused to give up his gun and, although dismayed at events, he simply continued working for the revolution in practical ways. He openly advocated military options and his “seditious” speeches resulted in jail terms yet he kept working to reactivate a “new” Sinn Fein and organise the companies of volunteers into a fighting force.
He began to realise more and more that organised Labour provided the key element to the coming revolution. Barry had helped to arrange meetings for socialist trade union leaders such as James Larkin and James Connolly in Cork back in 1914 – 16. Now one leader had been executed after the 1916 Rising and the other was in America. Having returned to journalism, he wrote weekly for the Southern Star, newspaper under the pen name of “Neath Shandon’s Steeple”.
Tadhg’s increasingly radical left wing analytical articles for the Irish Transport & General Workers Union (ITGWU) Voice of Labour along with his urgings for independent Irish led trade unions combined with workers growing militancy across the country suggests that he was more and more exploring this avenue of potential for revolution. The effective general strike of 23rd April 1918 against conscription organised by the Labour Congress, even if that particular bus carried many passengers, clearly pointed to the latent power of organised Irish workers.
As a full time trade union organiser from 1919 in the rapidly growing ITGWU, he concentrated on organising rural and town workers and travelled throughout the county of Cork as the One Big Union enjoyed a huge growth in membership and challenged the power of the traditionally unionist business community to set wages for a once subservient and cowed workforce. Barry’s left wing views developed and he openly wrote of the day when the workers would govern Ireland in “the interests of Irish workers” but managed to reconcile this with his Catholic beliefs.
The Catholic Church actively opposed socialism and god-less communism, and Barry as a union negotiator seems to have identified with an element of the Church’s social teachings, which justified the payment of fair wages by responsible employers. However this approach by the Union and the Church sought to reduce the potential growth of awareness of class conflict and the analysis of the fundamental basis of capitalism. Whether Barry’s revolutionary language and actions would have developed or indeed survived in the new state is unclear?
In the local elections of January 1920, Barry was elected on a Sinn Fein/ITGWU slate as an Alderman to the Cork Corporation for the north west of the city, where he lived. He carried out his many work roles through 1920 as his comrades, MacCurtain and MacSwiney and others died in the bitter war between the Crown forces and Republicans in Cork. (Barry and MacSwiney were both 40 years old when they died, Barry lived just over 50 days more than his comrade.)
Tadhg Barry was arrested for the final time on 31st January 1921 and was detained at Ballykinlar Camp on the north east coast of Ireland. Each of his three extended periods in jail after 1916 were spent in appalling prison conditions. He missed out on the final months of the War of independence and was shot dead only twenty four days before all prisoners were released after the signing of the Treaty on 6th December of that year.
Following his death, the entire Sinn Fein/IRA/Trade Union/GAA/ Gaelic societies and Catholic Church united for what turned out to be the last time to provide Tadhg Barry with arguably the largest Irish funeral ever seen as his remains were transported from Co Down, through the many towns on the way and the streets of Dublin and Cork to St Finbarr’s cemetery in Cork. Photographs of the enormous funeral march from Dublin and Cork show densely packed streets everywhere.
He was then largely forgotten, except by his own family and close friends!
Tadhg was the main earner in the Blarney Street household which contained his deceased sister’s three children and he also supported his brother Patrick who had health issues. While some monies were paid out to the family following Tadhg’s death, the official military correspondence about military medals and pension penny pinching reflects poorly on the new Irish State. Tadhg’s active invisibility to those who did not know and his more vocal public socialist views were perhaps a convenient excuse for deliberate bureaucratic inertia!
The tragedy is that Tadhg’s voice was never heard in the independent Ireland taking shape when voices advocating social justice were so badly needed!
Dr Donal Ō Drisceoil has recently penned ‘Utter Disloyalist: Tadhg Barry and the Irish Revolution’ published by the Mercier Press which tells the full story of the life of Tadhg Barry. In 2011 he had also produced an excellent booklet Tadhg Barry (1880-1921) The Story of an Irish Revolutionary.
The Cork Mother Jones Committee will commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the death of Tadhg Barry in November 1921. Donal has provided an extended interview with committee member Ann Piggott about Tadhg Barry which will be broadcast during the 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival. In addition we will show the documentary Tadhg Barry Remembered, produced in 2013 by Frameworks Films in collaboration with the Cork Council of Trade Unions.
Both films will be shown on Cork Community TV on Friday evening 26th November commencing at 7:00 pm.
It will be followed by a Q&A with Donal Ō Drisceoil for those attending at the Maldron Hotel. (subject to existing Covid-19 regulations at that date).