Mother Jones and her Army of Mill Children

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

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.

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.   

What Did the Women Do Anyway?

This was a dismissive comment originally made to a founder of Cumann na mBan In Cork, Lil Conlon. 

Years later the comment also annoyed members of the Shandon Area History Group. 

The result was Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times published in 2019 by the Shandon Area History Group.

This ground breaking publication reveals some of the hidden pages of the story of eleven Cork women who took part in the War of Independence and Civil War in Cork. Varying from the internationally recognised Mary MacSwiney to the almost invisible Wallace sisters, the stories of these ordinary women remained largely untold until now.

As part of the forthcoming Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, a documentary called “What did the Women do Anyway?” featuring a discussion with historian Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Group about these remarkable women will be shown as part of the festival’s contribution to the Cork Commemoration 1920-1923. 


Filmed by Frameworks Films one can hear of the story of the Wallace Sisters, of the opera singer Kate ‘Birdy’ Conway  the issue of violence against women,  the failure to acknowledge the womens selfless contribution to the War of Independence and the ongoing efforts to ensure the role of other women such as Muriel Murphy and Nora O’Brein are recognised.  


Back in 1949, Tom Barry in his Guerrilla Days in Ireland stated that the women “were a splendid body of young women and their value to the IRA was well appreciated by the enemy” . One may well ask were these women ever really appreciated by the IRA or the leaders of the new Irish State?  

The discussion with Anne Twomey, What Did the Women Do Anyway will be available online during the forthcoming 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival (27th-30th November). Links and the full programme of events will appear on www.motherjonescork.com. and Facebook.


Our thanks to the Shandon Area History group for their assistance and for photos. Check out their Facebook page to obtain a copy of the book, Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times.

The remarkable Wallace sisters.

Documentary on One – The Little Shop of Secrets by Bill Murphy.Saturday July 18th at 1pm on Radio 1
In the early decades of the last century two sisters, Nora and Sheila Wallace, ran a small newsagents in the centre of Cork City. However, their customers were unaware that when they bought their Irish Times or Cork Examiner, that this small shop also traded in military secrets during the Irish War of Independence – from deciphering codes, to keeping the inventory of armaments for the Cork No. 1 Brigade, Irish Republican Army. 


Sheila and Nora Wallace grew up in rural north Cork, before coming to live and work in Cork City in the 1900s where they rented the premises on Brunswick Street (now St Augustine’s Street) in the centre of the city. On the very narrow street in the shadow of the large St Augustine’s Church, the shop sold newspapers, sweets, cigarettes, magazines and religious items such as statues and rosary beads. 


Over the shop the sisters lived in small, meagre quarters. Interested in nationalist and socialist ideals, Sheila and Nora became friendly with figures such and James Connolly and Countess Markievicz. Because of their deep-rooted sense of nationalism, they also came to know prominent local nationalist figures in Cork such as Tomás McCurtain, Terence MacSwiney, Florence O’Donoghue, Seán O’Hegarty, as well as Michael Collins.  
As the nationalist movement gained more popularity throughout Ireland, the Wallace Sisters became deeply involved with the Irish Volunteers. After the shutting down of the Cork Volunteers headquarters in Sheares Street in 1917, the Wallaces’ small shop became more than a meeting place for the leadership of the Cork Volunteers. It was essentially the Brigade headquarters where the intelligence and communications activities in the city and county were co-ordinated during the War of Independence. 


Records show that Sheila became a Staff Officer in the IRA, making her one of the highest female rank holders in the organisation at the time. Meetings of Cork No. 1 Brigade leadership were held in the kitchen at the back of the shop, where raids and ambushes were planned. Dispatches went through the shop for IRA operations. Spies in the Crown forces were recruited and handled by the Wallaces and British Army codes were deciphered by them. They also kept meticulous records of the armaments and equipment held by the Brigade, effectively acting in the role as quartermasters.


In The Little Shop of Secrets, Bill Murphy – grandnephew to Sheila and Nora Wallace – pieces together the remarkable story of two young women who placed their lives in grave danger by running an intelligence centre, safe house and spy network from their little shop in the centre of Cork City during the War of Independence, right under the noses of the Royal Irish Constabulary and British Crown forces. 
Contributors to the documentary include Dr. John Borgonovo and Gabriel Doherty from the History Department in University College Cork, local historians Anne Twomey and Gerry White, Commandant Daniel Ayiotis of the Bureau of Military History, Daniel Breen of Cork Public Museum, Bernadette Wallace – niece to Nora and Sheila Wallace, Ted Murphy – grandnephew to Nora and Sheila Wallace.


Saturday 18th July, 1pm, RTÉ Radio 1Sunday 19th July, 7pm, RTÉ Radio1 Narrated by Bill Murphy Produced by Bill Murphy and Sarah Blake www.rte.ie/doconone


Note:On 30th July 2016, Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Group gave a talk on “The Wallace Sisters” at the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Summer School before a packed audience which included Bernadette Wallace, a niece of the sisters.The remarkable story of the sisters came as a surprise to many who attended, which showed how quietly these two extraordinary women went about their business.  

“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: https://motherjonescork.com/2019/06/09/mother-jones-festival-remembers-pete-seeger-1919-2014/).

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.

Vocalic.

Vocalic

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.

 

 

 

Vote for Cork’s new bridge to be renamed Mother Jones Bridge!

harelystbridge

Artist’s Impression of what the new bridge will look like

Cork City Council is constructing a new bridge across the River Lee.

This bridge will link Merchants Quay to St. Patrick’s Quay close to the existing Harley Street which runs alongside the Metropole Hotel.   The new bridge will provide improved pedestrian and cycle connectivity between the centre “island” of Cork and the Northside of the River Lee.
The City Council is seeking a new name for this bridge and is looking for nominations from all interested persons and groups. One can submit a nomination using the attached nomination form (see link below). Please read the guidelines.

Completed nomination forms should be returned directly to the Cork City Council 

to fiona_dinneen@corkcity.ie (note underscore) or go to https://consult.corkcity.ie.
Also the forms can be posted to Fiona Dinneen, Administrative Officer, Roads and Transportation Directorate, City Hall, Cork,
T12 T997.
All nominations have to be submitted by Thursday 15th November 2018.
 
The Cork Mother Jones Committee intends to nominate Mother Jones as the name for this new bridge and is urging all friends of Mother Jones to consider submitting and supporting her nomination before 15th November.
Mary Harris was born in Cork in 1837, baptised in the North Cathedral and lived through the Great Famine until 1852, when she emigrated with her family to join her father in Canada. In spite of huge personal tragedies in her early life; later as Mother Jones she overcame adversity to fight for social justice, and to defend exploited workers, including women, men and children across the United States of America for the final four decades of her life.
Renowned in song and story, Mother Jones is the most famous Cork woman in the world and she has become an international symbol of hope for people fighting for social justice. She was a proud, brave and passionate Cork woman, a skilled and fiery orator, a brilliant union organiser and a fearless leader of many thousands of men and women.
A true rebel, Mother Jones represents the very best attributes of  Cork people with their proud independent spirit, their passionate support for the underdog and their rebellious yet joyful nature. By now recognising Mother Jones, Cork will finally acknowledge the importance and contribution of countless Irish women who were forced to leave Ireland in Famine times and who by their subsequent actions to support exploited people elsewhere in the world have ensured a positive legacy of honour and pride for their historic achievements back in their own native places and among the wider Irish diaspora.
We ask you to honour the enduring spirit of Mother Jones in her own place by completing and sending a nomination form to call this new bridge, 
The Mother Jones Bridge.   

Great start to Mother Jones 2018

Some photos from the first day of the 7th Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School 2018 which was opened today by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Mick Finn. The event continues until next Saturday evening, 4th August.

 

Mother Jones (Loretta Williams) with one of “her boys” (Dominic O’Callaghan)

 

L to R Joan Goggin, (Cork Mother Jones), Aoife Delaney (young Mother Jones) and Loretta Williams (American Mother Jones) with the Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Mick Finn at the opening of the 2018 Spirit of Mother Jones festival at the Maldron Hotel.

 

Mother Jones 2018 Day 1 019

Richard T. Cooke and some of the Shandon Shawlies performing at today’s launch

 

Mother Jones 2018 Day 1 021

Listening to the music at the Maldron

 

Mother Jones 2018 Day 1 035

Ann Piggott makes a presentation to US speaker Dr. John Barimo on behalf of the Cork Mother Jones committee

 

Film launch

Premiere of “Fords: Memories of the Line” at the Firkin Crane Theatre last night. With (L-R) Bill Daly (Ford ex-workers group), Ann Rea (Cork Mother Jones Committee), Emma Bowell (Frameworks Films) and Eddie Noonan (Frameworks Films)