In Memory of John

Traditionally the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival each year concludes at the plaque on John Redmond Street, where we toast Mother Jones and remember absent friends.

This year was especially poignant as we recalled John Jefferies, who died on February 10th 2020. John was a founding member of the Cork Mother Jones Committee.

John Jefferies

The committee made a special presentation to Monica Ross, John’s sister, as a token of the esteem and affection he was held in by many associated with the festival. The inscription read “In recognition of John Jefferies, Friend of Mother Jones” from the Cork Mother Jones Committee 2022. 

John spoke at the 2015 festival about a hero of his, Jack (Sean) Dowling, who was one of the leaders of the Limerick Soviet in April 1919. 

Monica thanked everyone and, in tribute to her brother, read a poem, ‘Thoughts on a beach‘, which John had composed. 

Monica reading “Thoughts on a beach.”

The thoughts of the large gathering also were with labour historians Liam Cahill and Manus O’Riordan, both of whom had participated in the 2019 Spirit of Mother Jones festival.   

Thoughts on a beach

I walk on the beach and wonder
Who has passed this way before me?
What joyous child looked awestruck at the scene?
Or picked a periwinkle from a rock
Curious at the sight.
What brave explorer chanced upon this way?
And sat upon that rock
Resting for a while
Letting cares abate.

Did some ancient beast waddle from the sea
And linger where I stand?
Looking for its prey
Or frolicking in the waves.

We are all but travelers on our way
Leaving footprints in the sand
There a fleeting moment
‘Til tide marks have their say.

I was here today
And marvelled at the sight
Danced in the waves
Drew pictures in the sand.
I dreamed I was a sailor
Or the first to set foot here
Carefree and inquisitive
I left a sign right there – 
A footprint on the shoreline
And now I am elsewhere.
The imprint it has faded
Much time has passed since then
My shadow in the ripples
My laughter in the wind.

I will be here always
As long as daylight breaks
Aeons will pass
Humanity will fade
But it cant take away
The fact that I was here
Someday, some time
And I’m still here today.

Saturday 30th July 2022

After two action packed days of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Shandon, the final day of the 2022 Festival contains many walks, talks and presentations.

10:00 a.m. Liam O’ hUigín, a short stroll in the historic birthplace of Mary Harris in Shandon of 1830-1850. Meet at Maldron Hotel, Shandon.

11:30 a.m.  Luke Dineen, “The General Strike in Cork in 1923”  Maldron Hotel, Shandon.

1.00 p.m.   Presentation of the 2022 Spirit of Mother Jones Award to Don O’Leary and the Cork Life Centre. All are welcome. Maldron Hotel Shandon.

2:30 p.m.   Dr Angela Flynn, School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC.

What would our health system be like now had Dr Noel Browne’s Mother and Child Scheme been successfully implemented?                                                    

Maldron Hotel, Shandon.

3.45 p.m.    Professor Maggie O’Neill in collaboration with Traveller Pride.  Launch of Feminism Walking Tour website, followed by a walk. Meet at Maldron Hotel, Shandon.

4:00 p.m. Frank Connolly Book Launch, “United Nation – The Case for Integrating Ireland”.

Maldron Hotel, Shandon.

5:30 p.m. Toast to Mother Jones and songs at the Mother Jones Plaque on John Redmond Street. We plan to remember friends such as John Jefferies, a founding member of the Cork Mother Jones Committee.     

Can’t make the festival? Can’t get to Shandon? You can connect to Mother Jones. Cork Community TV is showing a series of talks from the Mother Jones Festival Archives all weekend. Check out or Virgin Media Channel 803.

Events Taking Place on Friday 29th July 2022

After a fantastic opening day, the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2022 continues.

Cork’s Northside at Night (Dylan Fitzgerald).

11:00 a.m.  A visit to the historic Cork’s North Cathedral where Mary Harris was baptised on 1st August. This includes a brief talk by historian Anne Twomey, Meet at the North Cathedral.

11.30 a.m. Christy Mc Quillan and Mick Halpenny of “Trade Unionists for a New United Ireland” (TUNUI) Following their presentation there will be a discussion and Q&A. Maldron Hotel, Shandon.

1:00 p.m.  Jimmy Crowley accompanied by Eve Telford. Maldron Hotel Shandon.

3:00 p.m. Antoinette Keegan talks about the Stardust Tragedy. This will be followed by the presentation of the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Award to Antoinette. Please come along and hear her story. Dance Cork Firkin Crane.

7:30 p.m. Ordinary Women In Extraordinary Times. Premiere of a new Documentary from Frameworks Films and Shandon Area History Group.

9:30p.m. John & Gearoid Nyhan and friends. The life and songs of Woody Guthrie. Maldron Hotel Shandon.

Can’t make the festival? Cork Community TV is showing a series of talks from the Mother Jones Festival Archives all weekend. Check out or Virgin Media Channel 803.

Mother Jones visits University College Cork. (UCC)

The launch of the 2021 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival took place among the autumnal crimson and carefree covered walls of the Quad at UCC, during the recent Community Week. The surrounding College wings were constructed during the Irish Famine in the late 1840s. So we wondered if young Mary Harris ever visited the site!

Some of the Cork Mother Jones Committee with Joan Goggin and Shannon Smith at UCC.

Cork’s own Mother Jones, Joan Goggin looking resplendent, arrived accompanied  by her daughter Eadaoin and granddaughter Aoife adding to the atmosphere of this unique occasion.

Joan Goggin as Mother Jones arriving at the UCC Quad.

Following a welcome from J.P. Quinn of the UCC Visitors Centre, and with William Hammond performing a Gene Autry song about Mother Jones and a recital “And the Bells went Hallelujah!” from Richard T Cooke, the formal launch of the tenth Spirit of Mother Jones festival took place.

John Barimo thanked the Department of Civic and Community Engagement for cooperating on the opening event, an interview with Mona Polacca a Native American elder.  Shannon M.D. Smith from the New York based Centre For Earth Ethics in New York attended the launch and spoke of her interest in the natural environment.

On several occasions during the launch, the Alex Pentek monument Kindred Spirits at Midleton to the Choctaw Native American tribe was mentioned and the efforts of people in Ireland and the Native Americans to assist each other since the Irish Famine, The Trail of Tears and the Great Hunger are connected forever in the fight against injustice.        

Later the zoom event with Mona Polacca proved highly successful and her innate wisdom and knowledge in relation to the threats to the natural environment shone through the discussion. 

Among those who participated was Karenna Gore, founder and director of Center for Earth Ethics. Karenna is the daughter of former US  Vice President Al Gore.  Claire Young and Austin Dean, American post graduate students at UCC also contributed.  A repeat of the presentation will be shown at the forthcoming Spirit of Mother Jones festival. 

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2021 will take place from Thursday 25th November 2021 to Sunday 28th November 2021, mostly on Cork Community TV.

Mother Jones and her Army of Mill Children

This book for Children tells the story of the March of the Mill Children led by Mother Jones during July 1903 from Philadelphia to President Roosevelt’s summer mansion in Long Island, New York.

Using many quotes from Mother Jones herself, author Winter  describes it as a “true story that will excite budding young activists and pint-sized agitators alike” to fight for social justice.

  • Words by Jonah Winter.
  • Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. 
  • Published by Schwartz & Wade Books. New York 2020

Mother Jones speaks directly to children in an outraged tone, when describing the exploitative conditions of young children in the mines, mills and factories of the American Industrial revolution at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The language is blunt, forceful and engage with children’s natural empathy with their oppressed predecessors who were unable to go to school as they worked long hours in terrible conditions.

The illustrations by Nancy Carpenter are first class, with Mother Jones standing out in her dark attire presenting a striking impact in many of the books colourful pages.

“ In her own way, Mother Jones is as important as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. By law, American children must now go to school and are barred from working in factories – thanks in large part to Mother Jones.”

Jonah Winter

Yet there remain countries where children still work in factories, an estimated 150 – 200 million children, instead of receiving an education, many are still in factories producing clothes for America and Europe in unacceptable conditions. Mother Jones would remain very active today.   

“A Conspiracy of Lies” – Cork Launch of Frank Connolly’s new book

A Conspiracy of Lies

By Frank Connolly

Published by Mercier Press.

Cork Book Launch at the Maldron Hotel at 2pm on Saturday 3rd August 2019.

Frank Connolly’s latest book is political thriller and love story and has as its dark background the horrific car bombings in Dublin on the evening 17th May 1974. Over forty five years have passed since 27 civilians were killed in a series of three bombs which exploded within five minutes of each other during evening rush hour at Talbot Street, Parnell Street and South Leinster Street in Dublin. A further seven  people were killed in Monaghan later that same day. The Ulster Volunteer Force eventually claimed responsibility. No one has been charged with the murders.

The efforts of Angie Whelan and Joe Heney, the latter just released from Mountjoy Jail and thrown together by their  traumatic experiences of the events of that day form the story of this taunt fast paced thriller to find those responsible for the explosions and the real truth behind these bombs.

The unlikely couple follow the evidence as to who and what was behind this mass murder on the streets of Dublin and Monaghan. Joe and Angie uncover and explore the layers of a frightening conspiracy which goes to the heart of the Irish and British States and may ensure silence forever. Meanwhile the victims and their relatives wait for justice.

What transpires is stranger than fiction…………. but is it fiction or the real truth?

Music and Poetry Events at the 2019 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

Music at the Maldron takes place at 1pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the Maldron Hotel. Organised by Richard T Cooke, author, musician and song writer, these Maldron sessions feature Richard along with the Shandon Shawlies, Joan Goggin and family and many others.

Wednesday 31st July at 9.30pm at the Maldron.

The Cork Singers’ Club.

John Nyhan and Richard T. Cooke

Singers and musicians Richard T Cooke and John Nyhan,

Established in 1993, the Cork Singers’ Club has uniquely featured in every Mother Jones festival since the opening night on 31st July 2012. Eagerly awaited each year, the Cork Singers’ Club will present an evening of songs. It has ensured that the tradition of singing remains alive in Cork, no instruments are allowed. For locals and visitors this is an opportunity to hear songs being sung in a pure manner in front of an attentive audience. Club members also gather each Sunday night at An Spailpín Fánach to hone their remarkable art. Go along!





Thursday 1st August at 1pm at the Maldron. 

William Hammond.

Linda and William

Linda Quinlan and William Hammond provided lunchtime Music at the Maldron Hotel

William Hammond “Ham” is the joint organiser (with Jim Walsh) of the Cork Folk Festival for almost four decades. The 40th Cork Folk Festival will take place later this year from 2nd to the 6th October.  This festival has ensured the the maintenance and preservation  of Folk singing, music and dance as a living and vital element of local culture and tradition in Cork City and surrounds. William is also an accomplished musician.


Thursday 1st August at 8pm at Myo Cafe

Fili Na Reabhloide (Poets of the Revolution) Readings from poets of social change. Phone 083 0425942 for further details.

Thursday 1st August at 9.30pm at the Maldron.

Club Ceoil Ballyphehane Ballad Group

Club Ceoil Ballyphehane Ballad Group

The group led by Stephen O Dea and Abbey Ní Loingsigh began playing together in 2015 and have featured at many events in the Ballyphehane area including the Multicultural Day at the People’s Park. Club Ceoil Ballyphehane is a non profit community organisation, voluntary run traditional music and set-dancing group open to all at affordable prices.

The final of the Song for Mother Jones Competition will also take place tonight.

Friday 2nd August at 1pm at the Maldron.

Jimmy Crowley.

Jimmy Crowley

Jimmy Crowley in full song at the Maldron

Jimmy’s songs have a special place at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and form one of the highlights of this festival. This concert should not be missed. Writing in the Evening Echo in 2018, Jimmy explains his concert  ‘I love the kind of people who attend that lunchtime concert that I give each year; I feel honoured to be part of the celebration of the local woman who went on to be, as the capitalists called her, “the most dangerous woman in America” ‘


Friday 2nd August at 9.30pm at the Maldron.

John Nyhan and Mick Treacy present the songs of Pete Seeger (See our recent tribute to Pete here:

John Nyhan and Mick Treacy

John Nyhan (left) and Mick Treacy


Also appearing will be Pat Kelleher and his five string banjo. Born and reared in Dripsey, Co. Cork, he was weaned on primarily Irish folk music, but also international folk, bluegrass, rock and country.His musical influences are diverse and include The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, The Dubliners especially Luke Kelly, Christy Moore, Bobby Clancy,  Pete Seeger, Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Gordon Lightfoot, Stan Rogers, Eric Bogle, Doc Watson, Woodie Guthrie and many others.

Pat Kelleher with the late, great Pete Seeger

Pat counts himself lucky have met and performed with some of his idols including Luke Kelly, Tommy Makem, Bobby Clancy, Pete Seeger  & The Kruger Brothers. His live performances are not to be missed and his ability to read the audience and generate a rapport is a natural art at this stage.Pat has toured in Ireland, UK, USA, Germany, Switzerland as well as performing Irish music on cruise ships in his more than thirty year career.

Along with his son Ricky Pat was lucky to get to meet Pete at his house in Beacon, New York on 21st July 2009 just after his 90th birthday through a mutual American friend from New York.

He was as gracious as I expected and we ended up singing some of Oró Sé Do Bheatha ‘Bhaile with him that he was learning from Irish folksinger Tommy Sands.”

Saturday 3rd August at 5.30pm at Maureen’s Bar, Mulgrave Road. 

Conal Creedon

Conal Creedon reads from his new novel Begotten Not Made


Saturday 3rd August at 7.30 at the Mother Jones plaque (John Redmond St.)

The Toast

Toasting Mother Jones at the Mother Jones plaque at Shandon, Cork City

Traditional toast to Mother Jones and songs with Rory McCarthy. Rory sings unaccompanied and his striking voice captures instant attention. His rendering of James Connolly, written by Patrick Galvin and the  Jarama Valley (Woodie Guthrie version) should not be missed.

Rory McCarthy singing outside the birth home of Michael O’Riordan in 2017










Saturday 3rd August at 9pm at the Maldron.



After a memorable performance at the Spirit of Mother Jones in 2018, what better way to finish up the 2019 festival? The Vocalic line up is as follows:

Deirdre Moriarty. A Kerry native, graduated from Waterford Institute of Technology with a Bachelor (Hons.) Degree in Music in 1999. She regularly performs with group ensembles and teaches vocal performance. She conducted two community choirs in Cork City – Cork Rokk Choir and, currently, the Marina Melodics. Deirdre loves to arrange music and performing with Vocalic.

Norah Connell. Began her musical journey at an early age. Involved in choirs and bands over the years, singing all genres. An accomplished performer having taken part in many competitions. Studied with renowned contralto Aine Nic Gabhann. Loves harmonising and adding different layers. Currently involved with an amazing choir called The Marina Melodics and of course the fabulous and upcoming group called Vocalic.

Alf Wade. A native of Cork, taught himself to play guitar at an early age. Enjoys a wide range of musical genres with a particular love for Folk, Blues and some American Country. Having played in several groups  as well as playing solo gigs over the years his time, musically, is now divided between the Marina Melodics Choir and Vocalic. Vocalic is developing its own style through its unique interpretation of many popular standards and classics ranging from the 50’s to the present day.

Sunday 4th August 8.30 pm at Maureen’s

In the Round with Stan Notte. Music and the Spoken Word. All welcome.

Note: All these events are free of charge but please be on time to guarantee entry.