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.
Fords – Memories of the Line
Firkin Crane Theatre, Wednesday August 1st 2018 at 7.30pm.
A Documentary by Frameworks Films and Ford Ex-Workers’ Group.
The Fords factory became synonymous with Cork in the sixty seven years in which production was carried on in the Marina plant.
Henry Ford’s father William had left from Ballinascarthy, in West Cork in “Black 1847”, the worst year of the Irish Great Famine, while his mother Mary Litigot (of Belgian extraction?) was the adopted daughter of Patrick Ahern who was born in 1804 at Fair Lane (now Wolfe Tone Street, on the north side of Cork city). Patrick Ahern had worked as a butcher before joining the British Army and eventually wound up in Michigan, USA. Henry was born in 1863, and he was raised by William and Mary in the Ahern household.
Henry Ford returned to Cork in August 1912 and visited Fair Lane. Later in 1917 he announced the construction of his first factory outside America. The old Cork racecourse on the Marina on the south bank of the River Lee was purchased for £21,000 and was levelled and piled. The new 330,000 sq. foot factory was constructed and began the production of the Fordson tractors on 1st July 1919.
By 1922, some 1600 men were employed. Later as Motel Ts were manufactured along with tractors and the final Model T in the world was completed there in December 1928. The payroll quadrupled to 6700 until the impact of the Great Depression in the early 30s when there were mass layoffs. Thousands of former Cork production workers headed for the new Ford truck plant
in Dagenham, Essex in the UK.
The factory worked on through the Second World War, unions were finally fully recognised by Ford’s in Cork in the early 50s, and wages were higher than most other employments. The Cork factory produced all the other main Ford vehicles including the Model A, Model BF and Model Y; Prefect; Anglia; Escort; Cortina; and Sierra.
By then, the production/assembly line originally invented by Ransom E Olds and first implemented by Henry Ford in 1913 used in Cork from the start. “This “brave new world” of automation was inviolable, the throbbing heart of a never ending machine, the smells of different processes, the sounds of industry, yet it had to keep moving, it must never stop, the vehicles, slowly taking shape and shuffling forward in a never ending line until each new vehicle rolled off the production line”
The daily working lives of thousands of men were dictated by the constant movement of the line, repetitive jobs, the systematic deskilling of many men, the daily deadening grind, the original time and motion study. Time was measured by passed hours and the number of jobs completed on the vehicles as they passed through the various work stations in slow motion or with alarming pace depending on one’s job and mind. Work was constant, hum drum, tough, and some jobs on the line were particularly difficult.
However many memories of working relate to the comradeship, the craic, the chat, the banter, the ongoing and never ending Cork slagging. Tea-breaks, lunches, the endless sports discussions, soccer, hurling and the pints with colleagues at week-ends. Ford paid well and the community of workers and work had its own distinctive rhythm.
Fordsons soccer team, (the “Tractor Boys”) popularised association football in Cork in the early 1920s, the team was the first club from Cork to play in the League of Ireland in 1924 and won the Free State Cup in 1926. The club’s pitch was located at Pic Du Jer Park in Ballinlough which was owned by Ford.
Thousands of Corkonians passed through the Marina plant, in its blue and white colours, many families had several members working and the thronged mass of workers walking up and down Centre Park Road at clocking on/off times bore testament to the world of assembly work.
But time caught up with Fords and sentiment, the final impact of closure in 1984 left a deep wound on the people of Cork. Now former workers have come together to tell their own story of working in Fords.
Fords – Memories of the Line provides a fascinating insight into a Cork institution by those who worked on the line and is a must see for those who worked at Ford’s or have family members who worked on the Marina.
Among the most popular musical events at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival each year is the “Music at the Maldron” series of concerts and shows.
The lunch time series take place at the Maldron Hotel bar from 1pm to 2pm approximately each day of the festival and feature some of Cork’s finest musical talent.
Wednesday August 1st. Begins 1pm
Official opening of the seventh annual international Spirit of Mother Jones Festival by the Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Mick Finn. There will be several performances musical, song and theatrical performances featuring Richard T Cooke, Muddy Lee and the Shandon Shawlies, Joan Goggin and family, Cobh Animation and specially all the way from Illinois, America’s own Mother Jones, Loretta Williams.
Thursday August 2nd
William Hammond, Linda Quinlan and guests. 1pm
Friday August 3rd
The Jimmy Crowley concert. 1pm
Wednesday 1st August at 9.30 pm
The Cork Singers’ Club at the Maldron Hotel.
Thursday August 2nd at 9.30 pm.
The Voltronic at the Maldron Hotel.
Friday 3rd August at 9.30 pm
John Nyhan and Mick Treacy sing the songs of Ewan MacColl at 9.30 at the Maldron Hotel.
Saturday 4th August at 7.30 pm.
Songs and music at the Mother Jones Plaque (on John Redmond Street).
A toast will take place in honour of Mother Jones followed by a sing song and the Ukelele group will perform at the Shandon Plaza. (Near the Firkin Theatre)
All are welcome, events are free.
Well known Cork folk singers, John Nyhan and Mick Treacy will present the songs of Ewan MacColl at the Maldron Hotel Bar on Friday night 3rd August at 9.30pm.
John Nyhan was born in Cork City, he now lives in North Cork. He was heavily influenced by the Folk music revival of the 60s and 70s and has been playing and promoting music for over 40 years. In the 1970s he was a founding member of the Shandon Folk Club in Eason’s Hill, within earshot of the Shandon Bells. John worked as a peace campaigner in Northern Ireland in the 70s as a member of Voluntary Services International. He is well known for his involvement in the Bluegrass and Folks concerts which take place at the Village Arts Centre in Kilworth in North Cork.
Along with Mick Treacy he has played at several Mother Jones festivals and his song themes have included the songs of Joe Hill, songs of the mining communities and in 2017, the songs of the Spanish Civil War. Mick Treacy was a familiar figure in the folk clubs across English which resulted from the Folk revival. He was a member of the famous “Munstermen” folk group which played and sang on the UK folk circuits. The Munstermen had their own club known as the “Holy Ground” in the Cambridge Inn. Mick’s knowledge of folk ballads is encyclopaedic and his powerful performances along with his old friend John Nyhan are always memorable at the festival.
Ewan MacColl, born James Henry Miller (Jimmie Miller) in Salford in 1915, became one of the best known and influential folk singers in Britain over many decades. Largely self-educated, MacColl became an active and lifelong Communist and took part in many unemployed worker campaigns during the great depression years.
He was an actor, folk singer, songwriter, song collector and poet. He wrote over 300 songs during his life, many classics and a few of questionable worth. Some of his songs were recorded by Irish folk groups such as the Dubliners, the Clancy Brothers, the Pogues and Luke Kelly. Dick Gaughan also recorded several of his compositions.
Classics include “Dirty Old Town“, which was written in 1948 for a Theatre workshop production, “Landscape with Chimney’s”, a documentary play about Salford in Lancashire. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face“, (1958) “The Shoals of Herring“. (1961) and “Freeborn Man” written in 1966 for a radio ballad entitled The Travelling People.
An avid collector of material, he worked closely with his good friend Alan Lomax, who recorded some of his material, he also worked with A.L. Lloyd (Bert Lloyd), who collected a vast trove of working class and coal mining ballads. MacColl also met up with uilleann piper Seamus Ennis, who himself was a collector of traditional music.
He wandered folk music clubs and singing clubs, a few outstanding and a few in questionable locations (in public houses) and many with dubious atmosphere. MacColl questioned why some trade unions seemed unaware of their cultural responsibilities and urged them to provide a base for the vibrant sub-culture in folk music that was then taking shape in the 50s.
His daughter with his second wife, Jean Newlove, was the late singer Kirsty MacColl. His third wife Peggy Seeger (Half-sister to the American singer Pete Seeger) collaborated in many of his songs and albums.
His gritty and honest autobiography, “Journeyman” (Sidgwick & Jackson) completed just before his death in 1989 is dedicated to Peggy and states “The names of a number of people who appear in this book, especially in the early days, have been changed to avoid hurting feelings”
In her introduction to this book published in 1990, Peggy in turn reflects on the Ewan MacColl she lived with for 25 years and their three children Neill, Calum and Kitty. She laments on how much fascinating material was not included in what were his memoirs. He failed to claim credit for many of his achievements and neglects to mention his connections many of the people he knew and worked with such as Brendan and Dominic Behan, Sean O’Casey, Paul Robeson, George Bernard Shaw and Billie Holiday as well as a host of screen stars.
Ewan MacColl’s influence on the folk music revival was enormous and remains so today.
John Nyhan and Mick Treacy will tell his story and sing some of his songs on Friday night 3rd August at 9.30 pm at the Maldron Hotel Bar.
Emily E.LB Twarog will appear at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school on Friday morning 11am at the Cathedral Visitor Centre.
For many people in Ireland, American politics remain a mystery, we do not understand how Donald J Trump could be elected President of America. Dr Twarog will examine one aspect of the election, why more white women vote Republican and voted for President Donald J Trump.
Emily will address the topic: “The Female Vote: Why Gender Matters in American Politics”
“You don’t need the vote to raise hell”
“Throughout the twentieth century, working and middle-class women struggled to collaborate. For many working-class women, Mother Jones’ declaration that “you don’t need the vote to raise hell” rang true far more than Alice Paul’s persistent call for equality through the vote. This division continues into the twenty-first century as they deepen along multiple identities – racial, class, gender, and educational.
White women repeatedly voted against their own self-interest. Let us run some numbers. In 2004, Republican George W. Bush got 55 percent of the white female vote and Democrat John Kerry got 44 percent in what analysts call a “reverse gender gap” (one working in the GOP’s favor) of 11 points. In 2008, Republican John McCain got 53 percent of the white female vote and Democrat Barack Obama got 46 percent—a gap of 7 points.
Compared with four years earlier, the reverse gender gap remains but decreased by 4 points. Progress? No. In 2012, Republican Mitt Romney got 56 percent of the white female vote compared with President Obama who got just 42 percent. Far from narrowing, the reverse gender gap among white women widened to 14 points.
In 2016, despite the presence of a white woman on the ballot, the gap persisted among white women with a staggering 10-point split. Republican Donald Trump got 53 percent of the white female vote and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton got 43 percent of the white female vote. As a whole, white women still opted to vote for someone who not only did not look like them, but was also heard by the entire nation (and beyond) admitting to sexually harassing women.
In my talk, I will examine the complexities of American electoral politics in more depth”.
Emily E. LB. Twarog, PhD is Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Labor and Employment Relations Labor Education Program
Affiliate faculty, European Union Center
Affiliate faculty, Women & Gender in Global Perspectives
Emily is the author of a recent Politics of the Pantry: Housewives, Food, and Consumer Protest in Twentieth Century America (Oxford University Press) in hardback and e-book. Available Indiebound, Amazon and Powell’s (a union shop).
American actress Loretta Williams will appear at the 2018 Spirit of Mother Jones festival and will give a number of performances including at the formal opening in front of the Lord Mayor, Cllr Mick Finn.
Loretta Williams, a historical reenactor from Illinois, portrays Mother Jones through fiery and original presentations. She has performed in Mt. Olive, Illinois at the Union Cemetery and Mother Jones Museum. She has also taken her presentations to various civic and cultural organizations.
Her re-enactments of diverse historical personalities are presented through Alton Theatre’s Vintage Voices and Living History Tours for the Alton, Illinois Convention and Visitors Bureau. Loretta’s performances bring to life the personalities that helped shape the political and cultural dynamics of the Midwest.
The Mother Jones Museum utilises Loretta’s Mother Jones portrayal to educate children and adults concerning the struggles experienced by miners, labourers and their families. Loretta looks forward to sharing her experiences as Mother Jones with visitors to the Mother Jones Festival in 2018.
Loretta will be staying in Shandon and making appearances at the festival, so let’s ensure a warm Shandon welcome to Mount Olive’s own Mother Jones to the birthplace of Mother Jones in Cork.
Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Croup will speak on Thursday evening 2nd August in the Firkin Crane Theatre at 8pm.
Her topic is “Mary, Annie and Muriel MacSwiney – Extraordinary Women in Extraordinary Times.”
Background general profiles of the MacSwineys.
Mary MacSwiney was born in Surrey, England in 1872. She received her early education at St Angela’s school on St. Patrick’s Hill in Cork city. Later she attended Cambridge University in the UK where she obtained her Higher Diploma and worked as a teacher in Farnborough. Following her mother’s death she returned to Cork around 1904 and looked after her younger siblings. Her father had emigrated to Australia and died there in 1895. Initially she took an active interest in the Suffragist movement and later gradually drifted away and as nationalist fervour grew in Cork, she was one of the founders of a Cork branch of Cumann Na mBan, the founding meeting itself taking place in her parlour.
Following the 1916 Rising, she was sacked from St. Angela’s due to her political activities and proceeded to establish St. Ita’s (Scoil ĺte) which was located at 4 Belgrave Place, off Wellington Road in Cork city. The school opened on 4th September 1916, Mary was the principal of the school and taught there for almost three decades. Following the death of her brother Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney on hunger strike in November 1920, she was elected to the Second Dáil for Cork City in May 1921. Later she was elected to the Third Dáil as an anti-treaty candidate and remained an abstentionist TD until 1927 when she was unseated.
She refused to join De Valera’s Fianna Fáil party and never accepted the authority of the Irish government post 1921. She remained a devout Catholic all her life, and had been a member of Third Order of St Benedict from early on in her life after she had decided not to become a nun. Mary continued teaching until her death on 8th March 1942. She lies in the family grave in St Joseph’s cemetery, Ballyphehane in Cork city.
Her personality was described by Charlotte H. Fallon in a biography of Mary MacSwiney (Soul of Fire, Mercier Press 1986), as “complex and sometimes even contradictory. To those who knew her personally, she was a warm loving woman full of good humour and intelligence”. Yet Ms Fallon also states the Mary’s “actions and responses were comparatively easy and predictable as she saw things in terms of black and white, right and wrong, with no possibility for various shades of colour or interpretation.”
Her niece Maire MacSwiney Brugha in “History’s Daughter”, (O’Brien Press 2006) described her thus “She had a brilliant intellect, absolute integrity and never wavered in her political principles, no matter at what cost to herself”
Annie MacSwiney (Eithne) was younger than Mary, taught English and Maths and had graduated with a degree in Science from Newman College, later University College Dublin (UCD) where she was friendly with Hanna Sheehy Skeffington who also attended the college. She proceeded to teach in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight prior to 1914. Having taught English to mainly German and Dutch students she remained in contact with many of them throughout her life. Annie returned to Ireland and taught at St Ita’s where she was a highly respected teacher and worked there for her entire life.
Annie stayed away from public engagements preferring to concentrate on her teaching however she displayed courage when she went on hunger strike for several days in November 1922 outside the gates of Mountjoy Jail while Mary was on hunger strike inside.
She spoke with an “Oxford accent” (as indeed did Mary), was also a devout Catholic and spent much of her time in and around her home at Belgrave Place on the north side of Cork city. She suffered a heart attack in 1953 and died in 1954. Sadly the school to which she had devoted her life, finally closed in June 1954 with many of the junior pupils going to Scoil Mhuire at nearby 2 Sidney Place.
Muriel Murphy was born on 7th June 1892 at Carrigmore, in Montenotte, Cork city. She was born into the wealthy Catholic Murphy family, owners of Cork Distillery and Brewery which produced Paddy whiskey and Murphy’s Stout. The youngest in the family, she was educated in an English convent in Sussex where she claimed “she learned literally nothing except how to be a lady”.
Described as a rebellious young woman, there appears to have been much internal Murphy family conflict over her growing new nationalist politics. While visiting Tilly Fleischmann’s home in Cork after Christmas 1915 for a recital, she played the piano to the gathering which included Terence MacSwiney. The latter recited some poems he had composed. Thus began their relationship, which experienced significant opposition from the Murphy family.
Muriel and Terence were married on 9th June 1917 at Bromyard, Herefordshire in the UK where Terence had been sent following the post 1916 roundups by the British authorities. Muriel gave birth to a daughter Máire who was born on 23rd June 1918, while Terence was in Belfast Gaol. Nearly one half of the four years of Terence’s life subsequent to 1916 was spent in prison, he was arrested six times between 1916 and 1920 and he was never at home for more than a few days at a time. (Enduring The Most – The Life and Death of Terence MacSwiney by Francis J. Costello, Brandon Press 1995)
The events before, during and following the death from hunger strike after 74 days of Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney on 25th October 1920 were traumatic for Muriel. The international impact of MacSwineys death was enormous and Muriel toured America with Mary MacSwiney soon afterwards where both addressed vast crowds. Muriel received the Freedom of New York City in 1922, the first woman to be honoured. However she returned severely exhausted and began to suffer from bouts of depression.
She left Ireland for Europe with her daughter Máire in 1923. Máire spent much of her childhood in Heidelberg in Germany, where she learned German, attended schools and spent long periods without the presence of Muriel. (See History’s Daughter) Then in 1932 she was assisted by Mary MacSwiney to return to Cork where she lived with her aunts at Belgrave Place. Muriel lost a subsequent court custody battle for Máire and in 1934 she disappeared completely from her daughter’s life. Máire later married Ruairí Brugha, son of Cathal Brugha in 1945.
According to Maire, Muriel spent much of her time in Paris where she became involved in left-wing and communist politics. She formed a relationship with a French intellectual
Pierre Kaan and had a daughter Alix on 5th May 1926 in Germany. Pierre Kaan was a writer and a member of the French Communist Party who later played an active role in the French Resistance and was deputy to Jean Moulin. Kaan was betrayed to the Gestapo, sent to a concentration camp and died later as a result of his treatment on 18th May 1945, aged 43. (See article by Manus O’Riordan, Ballingeary & Inchigeela Historical Society 2016 Journal).
In spite of various efforts over the years to promote a reconciliation between Muriel and the MacSwiney and Murphy families, Muriel refused to reconnect with her daughter or other family relations. Muriel MacSwiney died at Oakwood Hospital, Maidstone on 26th October 1982 at the age of 90, 62 years almost to the day after Terence.
Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Group will tell the extraordinary story of the MacSwiney sisters and their sister-in-law Muriel Murphy MacSwiney at the Firkin Crane Theatre on Thursday 2nd August at 8pm.