Mother Jones – A True Cork Rebel

Our sincere thanks to Catherine M. Courtney for this professionally produced short video of the unveiling of the Mother Jones plaque on 1st August 2012.  The opening music is the Cork Butter Exchange Band playing “She’ll be coming round the mountain”, a song believed to be about Mother Jones.  The song which follows is “Mother Jones – A True Cork Rebel”, newly composed and sung by Richard. T. Cooke, member of the Cork Mother Jones Commemorative Committee.

A new Cork Song about Mother Jones

On Tuesday evening 31st July at the “gathering” for the Mother Jones Festival at the Maldron Hotel, the Cork Singers Club were singing songs to honour Mary Harris/Mother Jones.
Among the contributors was Teresa Ní Chárthaigh who sang her own composition which she had worked on for some time after reading about the life of Mother Jones.
Teresa received a standing ovation for this very first performance of “The Ballad of Mother Jones”.
Mother Jones had come home to Cork’s northside!
The first 5 verses may be sung to the air of “She  Lived Beside the Anner”; the last verse is sung to the air of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic (aka Glory Hallelujah”
Here are the words of Teresa’s stirring new song:

The Ballad of Mother Jones

In the northside of Cork city, in Blarney Lane was Mary bred,

Of humble folk, who e’er perchance could have foretold or said,

That a workers revolution in America would be

Led by Mary Ellen Harris from the north side of the Lee.

‘Twas in the North Cathedral Mary Harris was baptized,

Two brothers and two sisters, the dread famine they survived.

Survived the coffin ships to Canada as they fled from Ireland’s strife.

Toronto was their destination, where they hoped for a new life.

Mary first trained as a teacher, but a seamstress too was she,

Wed George Jones in 1860, down in Memphis Tennessee,

Catherine, Lizbeth, Terence, Mary, were the children that she bore,

Just two years old the youngest, when from Mary they were torn.

Yellow fever struck in Memphis, her husband died, her children too,

So she set up as a seamstress, there was nothing else to do.

But in the great fire of Chicago Mary’s little shop burned down,

Once again cruel fate had lent a hand, and her destiny laid down.

She set out to change the miners’ lives, so piteous and forlorn,

And thus it was the legend true of Mother Jones was born.

Wherever strife and conflict was, there Mother Jones would be;

First to face the foe, the last to leave the battle field was she.

She said that she was a hell-raiser, no humanitarian she;

But that was not true, for the miners knew, she shared their misery.

Lived among them, ministered to them, gave them all she had to give,

But the greatest gift she gave them was to fight that they might live.

The history she made is not a history approved;

I will tell you of a President whose heart would not be moved

By the children of the mines and mills, she led to Roosevelt’s home.

Those little slaves he would not see in his fine grand summer home.

Why should he hear their grievances and Mother Jones’ tirade?

When it was well known his family’s wealth from mines and mills was made.

And the State’s Militia was the private army of this breed,

Whose brutal ways were meant to bring the starving workers to their knees.

The coal-field war in Colorado, where the workers were all thrown

From their mine-owned houses, had to live in a tent city forlorn;

ON the 20th of April in the year nineteen and four,

The Miliitia did attack those tents, and the workers down were mown.

Two women and nine children perished in a trench that day,

In a fire the Militia made, to make the workers pay.

But this, the Ludlow massacre, set the nation in a rage,

And a truce was made, and the workers rights began on history’s page.

And “Rise up and strike ‘til the last of you

Shall drop into your graves.”

These were the words that Mother Jones repeatedly had said.

“We are going to stand together, ‘no surrender’ you must sing,

For if you don’t have a union, boys,

You ain’t got a damn thing.”

Glory, glory, Mother Jones,

Freedom lies there with her bones;

She fought to give the workers hope and the Unions liberty

Mother Jones, born Mary Harris,

From the northside of the Lee


Teresa Ni Charthaigh

(May be sung to the air of “She Lived beside the Anner”; the last verse is sung to the air of “The Ballad Hymn of the Republic”)

Mother Jones plaque unveiled

The City of Cork, Ireland has finally given recognition to its rebel daughter Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones) with the unveiling of a plaque on the 175th anniversary of her birth / baptism in the historic Shandon area of the city.

The event was the highlight of a three day festival commemorating the Cork woman, once dubbed “the most dangerous woman in America” because of her activities on behalf of workers and the poor and her role in exposing the evils of child labour in the United States and having it declared illegal.

The plaque was unveiled jointly by committee members Councillor Ted Tynan and Jim Nolan on behalf of the committee and in addition to the large attendance were a number of people associated with the histocial and social legacy in the United States.

Mother Jones plaque unveiling in Cork

Mother Jones plaque unveiled in Cork’s historic Shandon area

Rosemary Feurer at Cork Mother Jones plaque unveiling

Prof. Rosemary Feurer, US labor activist,  writer / director and maker of the documentary film “Mother Jones, the Most Dangerous Woman in America”, addresses the crowd after the unveiling of the plaque to Mother Jones. Also in photo (L-R) are committee members Jim Fitzpatrick, Michael Lally (Manager of Maldron Hotel Cork) and Richard Cooke.

A complete set of photos from the event will be uploaded over the next 48 hours and can be viewed on our photo page at Flickr

Big turnout Mother Jones festival opening events

There was a full house at the Maldron Hotel in Cork last night (Tuesday) for the opening events of the Cork Mother Jones Festival.  The meeting room was full to overflowing for the showing of Rosemary Feurer’s film Mother Jones, the Most Dangerous Woman in America, so much so that a second showing had to be held later to ensure that all those who wished to see the film and participate in the discussion could do so.
Mother Jones 1

The festival continues today with a series of events in and around the Shandon area, the highlight will be the unveiling of the commemorative plaque to Mother Jones at John Redmond Street, Cork with events starting at 6.15 this evening. See programme full full details.

Mother Jones Festival starts today

Mother Jones comes home to Cork

The Cork Mother Jones Festival opens in the Shandon area of the city today (Tuesday), marking the 175th anniversary of the birth of Mary Harris who was better known in her adopted home of America as Mother Jones.  The festival will kick off at 7.00pm this evening at the Maldron Hotel, John Redmond Street, with a showing of the Irish premiere of the documentary film Mother Jones, America’s Most Dangerous Woman.  In attendance to present and discuss the film will be Rosemary Feurer, producer and director.   This will be followed, at 9.30pm by an evening of music and songs at the Maldron Hotel to celebrate Mother Jones, with the Cork Singers Club.

Mother Jones was an uncompromising fighter against the appalling conditions in which workers and particularly mine and mill workers toiled.  She played a major role in highlighting the use of child labour in American mines and factories and often clashed with America’s wealthiest industrialists including John D. Rockefeller.  She continued her activity into her 80s and 90s, until her death, aged 93 in 1930.

The Mother Jones Festival 2012 is the very first commemoration of Cork woman, Mary Harris outside of America and the first in Cork. The highlight of the event will be the unveiling of a memorial plaque to Mother Jones in John Redmond Street on Wednesday evening.

All events will take place on the north side of Cork City, in the historic Shandon area, in association with Shandon Street Festival. The locations of events such as the North Cathedral (“North Chapel”), St. Anne’s Church (“Shandon Bells”), the Firkin Crane, and the Maldron Hotel ( formerly the North Infirmary) are all a few minutes walk from each other and about 5 minutes walk from the Christy Ring Bridge over the River Lee.

The Festival’s organisers, the Cork Mother Jones Commemorative Committee, have said that there has been huge interest in the event, particularly from the United States where Mother Jones is a national icon for trade unionists and working people.

The full programme of events can be downloaded in PDF format here

Ken Loach expresses delight at Cork Mother Jones plans

Ken Loach at Cannes in 2006

Ken Loach at Cannes in 2006

In a message to the organisers of the Cork Mother Jones Festival, film director Ken Loach expressed his “delight” that the committee are “planning to celebrate Mother Jones , – what a formidable woman”.

Loach, who won the coveted Palm D’or award at Cannes in 2006 for his film West The Wind that Shakes the Barley,which was set in West Cork during the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, wrote to our committee recently and praised its plans to remember Mother Jones.

He went on to say “So remembering our heroes, and heroines, is very important. I’m sure there are contemporary battles that can be connected to the ones Mother Jones fought”.
He concluded by stating that the festival was “a brilliant idea”.