This online interview with Mona Polacca took place at the launch of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2021 at UCC on the 14th October 2021..
The discussion was held as part of UCC Community Week in a collaboration between the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival with the UCC Department of Civic and Community Engagement and the Center for Earth Ethics in New York City.
Our thanks to Dr John Barimo and Shannon Smith for their cooperation in making this interview available.
We imagine if Mother Jones visited Shandon, before Christmas 1920. During this time Ireland’s War of Independence was raging, and much of Patrick’s Street in Cork had been recently burned down by the Auxiliaries. The funeral of Terence McSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, who died after a 74 day hunger strike in Brixton prison had taken place through the streets of Cork, a few weeks earlier. Mother Jones, (Joan Goggin) visits her former home near Shandon and walks around the deserted streets, where she played as a child (Aoife Delaney). She recalls her childhood memories where she, her mother (Eadaoin Delaney) and her family had once been happy prior to the Great Famine and the emigration of her family to Canada.
The Cork Mother Jones Committee will show a short film of Mother Jones visiting Cork 100 years ago in December 1920 at the Spirit of Mother Jones Virtual festival (Friday Nov 27thto Monday Nov 30th).
There is no evidence that Mary Harris/Mother Jones ever did return to Cork city where she was born in 1837 and left after the Great Hunger in the 1840s.
However for the purposes of the imagination, we imagine Mother Jones visiting her childhood home and streets in Shandon just before Christmas 1920 after the burning of Cork City.
Taking the lead role is actress Joan Goggin know to all as Cork’s own Mother Jones. Joan’s family, especially her Dad had an involvement in the labour/trade union movement for many years and the famous union leader Jim Larkin sometimes stayed in their house when visiting Cork.
The film also features a series of flashbacks to the 1840s where Joan is joined by her daughter Eadaoin Delaney who plays the role of Ellen Cotter, Mary Harris’s mother. Joan’s granddaughter Aoife plays a young Mary Harris skipping on the streets of Shandon.
In a remarkable twist of faith, in her soliloquy at Shandon, Mother Jones recalls her only son named Terence who was born in 1865, but who tragically died in the Memphis yellow fever epidemic in October 1867 and acknowledges Cork’s Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney who had died a few weeks earlier in October 1920.
This short film entitled Mother Jones Returns to Shandonwas filmed in andaround the Streets of Shandon by Frameworks Films.
All events will be streamed by Frameworks Films for the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2020 and will be freely available to view by all.
Full programme of events will appear here and the Mother Jones Cork Facebook by mid-November.
Beginning on Saturday 1st August, the Cork Mother Jones Committee in conjunction with Cork Community TV are making available on television, some of the talks and presentations, which have been delivered at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festivals and Summer Schools since 2012.
The original series of Mother Jones annual lectures, will be shown on Saturday next while during the month of August, further talks delivered over the years at the Summer School will be televised. These will feature Margaret Aspinall, Louise O’Keeffe, Fr. Peter McVerry, Chris Mullin, Anne Twomey and many others.
These are free to view, thanks to Frameworks Films and Cork Community TV, for allowing us to celebrate Mother Jones during August.
The 2020 festival will be held in late November 2020. Further talks and speakers, will be televised during the November Festival.
The following video is a brief review of the first four years of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival which has now become part of Cork’s cultural and heritage fabric. From our initial plan in 2012 to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the birth of Mary Harris / Mother Jones the festival has burgeoned into a very popular and well loved festival. The 16 minute film can only hope to show a small sample of the many speakers and performers we have had over the years. It includes two of our contributors who recently passed away, Professor James Green from the United States and Dave Hopper of the Durham Miners’ Association. We are glad to have recorded their presence and longer excerpts have been recorded by Frameworks Films to whom we are so grateful for staying with us and recording those four years. We hope you enjoy it.
The great songwriter of the International Workers of the World – the Wobblies, was executed in Utah 100 years ago today for a crime he did not commit. He never died, say we. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbTMxJSFN3Y
Mother Jones And Her Children is a 52 minute long documentary which outlines the extraordinary life and activities of the most famous Cork woman in America. Produced by Emma Bowell and Eddie Noonan of Cork based Frameworks Films (www.frameworksfilms.com) in cooperation with the Cork Mother Jones Committee. Highly recommended.
DVDs (€10 each) are available from Jim Nolan at 22/23 Shandon Street, Cork.
DVDs incl.package and postage within Ireland are €12 each.
Package and postage to UK, Europe or USA €14 each.
For bulk purchases, contact Jim on 086 1651356.
Send postal order or euro draft or euro cheque payable to Cork Mother Jones Committee to above address.
You can view a short (2 minute) excerpt from the film below.
A number of people have asked if any video footage was available of Anne Scargill and Betty Cook of Women Against Pit Closures singing their anthem from the Miners Strike era – “The Women’s Song”. The song was written by Mal Finch. Our thanks to Frameworks Films for the video. By popular demand here it is – performed during their session at the Firkin Crane on July 31st.
Si Kahn, singer, songwriter, writer, community organiser, union activist and environmental campaigner will play in a joint festival fundraising concert with Anne Feeney at the Firkin Crane Centre on Thursday 31st July at 8.30.
Tickets for the concert are available through www.tickets.ie or from Plugd Records at the Triskel Arts Centre, the Maldron Hotel or phone 086 1651356.
Si will hold a songwriting workshop at the Maldron Hotel on Monday 28th July at 8pm. All singers/songwriters or those interested in songwriting are very welcome to come along and meet Si, where he will hold a practical session.
We can confirm that Si will also speak about his life and his current campaign to protect Bristol Bay in Alaska on Friday afternoon 1st August at 2pm.
Si’s songs of family, community, love, work and freedom have been recorded and performed by hundreds of artists, including Planxty, Patrick Street, Eleanor Shanley, Dolores Keane, the Fureys, the Dublin City Ramblers, Dick Gaughan, June Tabor and the Oyster Band, Alec Campbell, Brian McNeill, Eddi Reader, Peggy Seeger, Renaud, Kathy Mattea, John McCutcheon, the original Red Clay Ramblers, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Blue Rose, Robin and Linda Williams, Hazel Dickens, Laurie Lewis and to Rozum, the Dry Branch Fire Squad, Charles Sawtelle, and Rosalie Sorrels.
A new ballad by Cork musician Pete Duffy, which will be performed publicly for the first time at 1pm on Thursday 31st July 2014 during “Music at the Maldron” session at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon for the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival with Muddy Lee. All are welcome to attend and sing along at this first performance of Children of Mother Jones for Cork’s famous rebel daughter. A Douglas Writers commemorative project for the Spirit of Mother Jones festival 2014.