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)

New “Spirit of Mother Jones” badge

Once again this year the Cork Mother Jones Committee has produced commemorative lapel badges to coincide with the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School.  These badges are 20mm in diameter and will be available at the festival which takes place in the Shandon area of Cork city from 1st to 4th August.

2018 badges
2018 Spirit of Mother Jones badges

Mother Jones featured in “Rebel Irish Women” talk in Dublin’s GPO

Prof Rosemary Feurer
Prof. Rosemary Feurer speaking at Dublin’s GPO 19th July 2018.

Cork born Mother Jones was featured in an important lecture by Professor Rosemary Feurer at Dublin’s General Post Office (GPO) last night.  The GPO is an iconic building in the centre of Dublin which was the seized by independence forces as their headquarters during the 1916 Easter Rising.

The series of talks coincides with the centenary of 1918, a pivotal year in modern Irish history.  Last night’s lecture was given by Professor Rosemary Feurer of Northern Illinois University, USA.  Rosemary is an authority on Mother Jones and has spoken at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork on a number of occasions.

A number of members of the Cork Mother Jones Committee travelled to Dublin last night in order to attend the lecture.   The lectures on other important women of the era will continue.  For futher information visit

Prof. Rosemary Feurer

134th Annual Durham Miner’s Gala, 14th July

A word from our friends in Durham, England:—

Durham Gala
Durham Gala parade of banners pass the reviewing platform at the old County Hotel, Durham

The 134th Annual Durham Miners Gala takes place on Saturday 14th July 2018. Starting at 8 am, the colourful parade of banners and bands passes through the ancient town towards the picturesque Racecourse on the banks of the Wear where the annual Big Meeting is held. Meanwhile the blessing of the new banners takes place at the imposing Durham Cathedral overlooking the town.

Among the speakers this year will include Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, making his fourth appearance. He will be joined by Emily Thornberry MP, the shadow foreign secretary. Francis O’Grady, the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress will also appear.

Dave Hopper with Lord Mayor
The late Dave Hopper of the Durham Miner’s Association visiting Lord Mayor Chris O’Leary during Mother Jones festival in 2014

Estimates of the massive crowds which attend this unique event vary from one hundred thousand to two hundred thousand.

With its mixture of music, politics, and community spirit and pride, the event has been growing in strength and has been increasingly attracting world wide interest and now represents a very important public display of trade union and community solidarity.


2018 Festival Brochure now available

We are delighted to announce the finalised programme events for the 2018 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival which will be held in the Shandon area of Cork City from Wednesday, 1st August to Saturday, 4th August.

This year’s festival once again covers a broad range of topics to be covered in a selection of daily lectures and talks and documentary films in addition to our ever popular music events.

The brochure can be downloaded in PDF by clicking on the following link – > Mother Jones Programme 2018

Mother Jones Programme 2018-1
Mother Jones Programme 2018-2

Cork honours Mother Jones’ “American birthday”

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

Members and friends of the Cork Mother Jones Committee last night (30th April) gathered at the Mother Jones plaque on John Redmond Street in the Shandon area of Cork to mark Mother Jones “American Birthday” which is traditionally celebrated on May Day.

While Mary “Mother Jones” was born in Cork and baptised on 1st August 1837, she always celebrated her birthday on May Day. In collaboration with the Mother Jones Museum in Mount Olive, Illinois the Cork Mother Jones committee held a special toast to Mother Jones at the commemorative plaque which was unveiled in 2012 to mark the 175th anniversary of her birth (as Mary Harris) in Cork.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee wishes to take this opportunity to extend May Day greetings to all our friends in Cork, the United States and Worldwide.

US events on or about May Day to honour Mother Jones

The Mother Jones Museum (USA) events committee in Mt. Olive Illinois, announced United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts will be laying wreaths at the graves of the Irish born labor agitator Mother Jones, former UMWA Secretary Treasurer John Banovic and Sam Yurkovitch, an immigrant coal miner who enlisted in WWI and died at the second battle of the Argonne in 1918. Mother Jones rests in Union Miners’ Cemetery in Mt. Olive IL. The event, April 28 at 11AM, is to celebrate May 1, Mother Jones’s selected birthday (She was actually born in Cork, Ireland in July 1837 and baptised on August 1st of that year).  This is the only union owned cemetery in the USA.


Brother Roberts will move to the Mother Jones Museum. He is well known for his fiery and inspirational speeches. Music, additional speeches, tours of the museum and other events are planned.

The Mother Jones Museum is part of the city of Mt. Olive. Donations may be sent to: Mother Jones Museum, Mt. Olive City Hall, 215 E Main St, Mt Olive, IL 62069. Checks will be made out to the city with the note/tagline stating it is for the 2018 May Day event. Donations are tax deductible.

Nearby lodging may be found in Litchfield and Staunton.

For further information, contact Joann Condellone <>


For additional details contact Joann Condellone at or phone at 618 659-8759

2017 Cork Spirit of Mother Jones Award

Ken Fleming
Ken Fleming

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is proud to announce that Ken Fleming of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and SIPTU is the recipient of the 2017 Spirit of Mother Jones Award.

Ken has been an inspector in the ITF since 2006 and the ITF Co-coordinator for Britain and Ireland since 2012 and has sought over the past decade to prevent the exploitation of seafarers on some vessels operating under Flags of Convenience visiting various ports including Cork.  Ken has recouped millions of euro in unpaid wages for foreign seafarers in Irish ports, has had several vessels detained and has ensured their crews are repatriated home.

He has tenaciously and passionately fought for the rights of seafarers and fishers on the seas and has become one of the best known and respected trade union officials in the world.

More recently, Mr. Fleming has been engaged in an international campaign to ensure decent working conditions, employment rights, proper wages and legal protection to the migrant fishers who work in the Irish and the UK fishing fleets. He called for a major overhaul of the Irish fishing industry, claiming in a submission to an Oireachtas Committee that the current regulatory permit scheme for migrant fishers has not worked and instead has led to legalised slavery for many hundreds of migrant fishers.

According to James Nolan, spokesperson for the Cork Mother Jones Committee, which presents this annual award:

“Ken Fleming has been willing to challenge the official silence on the blatant exploitation of many seafarers and migrant fishers in ships operating under Flags of Convenience in Ireland and the UK. He is a fearless, passionate and a determined defender of the workers who have been denied their rights and continually he exposes and challenges a system which treats many of them as virtual slaves”

“Ken has bravely exposed the exploitative working practices in sections of the marine and fishing industries and he has sought to organise the migrant fishers. He has repeatedly called on the relevant State agencies to enforce a recent permit system which would allow these fishers the right to protect themselves against exploitation. We should not allow our fish to be caught or our goods to be transported or our passengers to be carried on the back of slave labour!  Ken Fleming is a worthy recipient of the 2017 Cork Spirit of Mother Jones Award.”

James Nolan – Cork Mother Jones Committee

Responding,  Ken Fleming stated,

“I am deeply touched by the belief the Mother Jones committee have shown in my work, by selecting me for this very special award. It has been a very long and hard road, but this award has electrified me. The knowledge that a fully independent group not only recognise the work we have done, but fully support the determination to stamp out the scandalous abuse of workers completely, is inspiring. This award represents the most satisfying moment of my career.”

“It places the work of the ITF amongst a very special group of people that have devoted a great part of their working lives to see justice done. And it’s been a team effort – my fellow UK Inspectors, Liam Wilson and Darren Proctor, have faced the aggression with me head-on in most ports in Ireland.”

“We can now look to the Spirit of Mother Jones for inspiration as I have a sense that she is now aware of our struggle, and my hunch is she will find a way to lend a hand.”

Ken Fleming
Video above shows Ken Fleming addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on 4th July 2017

Ken Fleming is a native of Dublin. He started work as a bus driver and worked his way through the SIPTU organisation until he was seconded from SIPTU to succeed the late Tony Ayton in the International Transport Workers’ Federation in 2006.

Ken attended the 2013 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival where in an unforgettable speech he spoke movingly and with empathy of the exploitation endured by many seafarers and fishers.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is privileged that Ken has accepted this award which is presented to people who act and work in the Spirit of Mother Jones. We are satisfied that our selection of Ken Fleming for the 2017 award is very true to this spirit.

The 2017 Award was presented to Mr. Fleming by the Cork Mother Jones Committee on today (Thursday) afternoon August 3rd at the Firkin Theatre, in the Shandon Historic Quarter of Cork.


The Cork Spirit of Mother Jones Awards to date have been,

  • 2013, Margaret Aspinall and Sue Roberts (Hillsborough Family Support Group)
  • 2014, Gareth Peirce, solicitor.
  • 2015 Fr Peter McVerry. Campaigner for the homeless.
  • 2016 Mr Dave Hopper (RIP) General Secretary, Durham Miners’ Association.

Mother Jones – tourist attraction!

Tourist Office Cork
Cork Tourist Office

It’s that time of the year again and members of the Cork Mother Jones Committee have been busy preparing for this year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School.  Once again this year we are privileged to have permission to showcase the event with a fabulous window display in the main Cork City tourist office at Grand Parade.

This year’s display focuses on Mother Jones’ links to mining, especially coal-mining and a colourful display it is indeed.  Our sincere thanks to Diana and the staff at the tourist office and to Fáilte Ireland, Ireland’s official tourism authority.  Thanks also to our own committee members Ann Piggott and Dominic O’Callaghan for creating the dazzling display.

300 years of Cork Migration to North America – Lecture

Emigrants on Cork city quays during the Great Famine

The Heritage Unit of Cork County Council’s are holding a talk on 300 years of migration from County Cork to North America which might be of interest to people.  The lecture will be held on Tuesday, 14th March in the Council Chamber of Cork County Hall, Carrigrohane Road, Cork.
Event: : Sources of Hope? Cork Emigrants in North America – An illustrated talk

Date: Tuesday, 14th March 2017, starting at 16.00hrs. (4pm)
Location: Council Chamber, Floor 2, County Hall, Co. Cork

Cork County Council
Cork County Council

Additional Information: For 300 years, Cork people have been migrating to North America. By exploring some of their stories, Martin Millerick of Cork County Council’s Heritage Unit explores their motivations in leaving, their legacies and the common thread(s) that may be found in their journeys. Martin will discuss many household names, including Tip O’ Neill, John Saul and Mother Jones. All welcome.