Andy Irvine to play in Cork’s Shandon steeple

Andy Irvine is a truly legendary figure in Irish folk music. Born in London in 1942, he recently celebrated his 70th birthday. Andy has been ‘on the road” for almost 50 years.   He was one of the original folkies associated with O’Donoghue’s Pub in Dublin and an early devotee of the music and songs of Woody Guthrie, the centenary of whose birth falls on the 14th July.

In 1966, he and his friends Joe Dolan and Johnny Moynihan came together to form Sweeney’s Men and a unique sound involving the interplay of bouzouki and mandolin worked itself into Irish folk music consciousness. “Waxie’s Dargle, Old Man in the Garret and Sullivan John” came from that wild period.

Always traveling, always meeting other musicians, always learning, Andy explored the folk traditions of Eastern Europe, Romania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, all behind the iron curtain through the 60s and 70s. His trips to County Clare inspired him further! He has traveled extensively in the USA and Australia picking up songs and tunes as he goes.

The recording of the Christy Moore album Prosperous in 1971 brought together Christy Moore, Andy, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn, who afterwards formed Planxty in 1972.    Their first album, known as the Black Album remains another milestone recording in Irish Folk music. Classics such as “Sweet Thames flow softly”, “The West Coast of Clare” by Andy himself and “Only our Rivers run Free” remain as landmarks in Irish folk tradition.

Albums such as “The Well Below the Valley” and “Cold Blow and Rainy Night” soon followed in a later period by “After the Break” and “The Woman I loved so Well” are  remembered with affection by Irish folk music lovers.

Andy has toured extensively with many Irish folk musicians over the years such as Paul Brady, Mick Hanly, Donal and Kevin Burke, Arty McGlynn, Jackie Daly. Later still in the 80s Andy played with a group Mosaic along with Hans Theesink and others. Later still he was a member of Patrick Street. This was followed by Mozack with Donal Lunny and with Bruce Molsky adding Appalachian tunes.

Performance at the Mother Jones Festival & Ticket Information

His solo 2010 album Abocurragh, produced by Donal Lunny, contains the track “The Spirit of Mother Jones” inspired by his visit to the grave of Mother Jones in the union Miners Cemetery near Mount Olive in Illinois.  His visit to Cork to play a fundraising concert during the Mother Jones Festival in the famous Shandon Bells Church (St. Anne’s Shandon) on the evening of Wednesday August 1st after the unveiling of the Mother Jones plaque around the corner on John Redmond Street, will be an eagerly highlight of this event. Tickets are 10 euro from the Maldron Hotel, St.Anne’s Shandon or phone 086 3196063 or from from week beginning 9th July.

The making of a monument

The creation of the Mother Jones Commemorative Plaque by sculptor Mick Wilkins.

These photos show the creation of the Mother Jones plaque from a simple slab of limestone to the finished memorial complete with bronze image of Mother Jones.    The plaque is the work of talented sculptor Mick Wilkins who is based at the National Sculpture Factory on Albert Road in Cork (formerly the Cork Tramway company offices).

You can see more of Mick’s inspiring work on his website at

You will have to wait for the unveiling on August 1st 2012 to see the completed image in situ at John Redmond Street.  We will of course put a photo and photos of the unveiling ceremony on the site when that takes place.

sawing Mick Wilkins starts work by sawing the limestone slab to the correct size Continue reading

Mother Jones in the Irish Times today

Following on from yesterday’s marvellous item on RTÉ’s Sunday Miscellany, Mother Jones is again in the national spotlight with an excellent article in today’s Irish Times by the paper’s Southern Correspondent, Barry Roche.   This has resulted in a huge jump in the number of visits to this website and enquiries about the event to our committee and at various other sites where the event is featured.  It’s all coming together for what looks to be one of the best festivals of its type in Ireland this year!

Mother Jones featured on Sunday Miscellany

Mother Jones was featured on the long-running RTÉ Radio 1 programme Sunday Miscellany this Sunday (July 1st) with an excellent summary of her life by local writer / journalist Colette Sheridan who also mentioned the Cork Mother Jones Festival which takes place from July 31 to 2nd August in the Shandon area of Cork City.  It also included Andy Irvine singing his ballad “The Spirit of Mother Jones”

Sunday Miscellany is one of Irish radio’s longest running and most popular weekly programmes which features a collection of essays, poems and other short items contributed by listeners, interspersed with appropriate music.   You can listen to or download the programme by clicking on the link below.   The item on Mother Jones begins at 00:29.15 minutes.

Our thanks and appreciation to Collette Sheridan, Andy Irvine and Sunday Miscellany series producer Cliodhna Ní Anluain.

Support from America

Letter from Illinois Labor History Society

Letter from Illinois Labor History Society in solidarity with the Cork Mother Jones Festival

There has been a phenomenal growth of interest in Mother Jones in her native Cork and throughout Ireland since we first announced we would be commemorating her with the Cork Mother Jones festival which takes place from 31st July to 2nd August. There has also been growing interest in the event and in Mother Jones’ Irish roots across the Atlantic and we have had plenty of traffic on this site from the United States and Canada.

We have been heartened by the level of support and particularly by the latest letter we received this week from the Illinois Labor History Society. Below is the text of their message of support which was sent by email earlier this week:-

To the people of Cork from the Illinois Labor History Society

Dear brothers and sisters of working people,
We are most honored to lend our name and support, as the City of Cork honors a trail-blazing, pioneer of the American Labor Movement, Mary “Mother” Jones. Your city has bequeathed not only a leader, but a leader who has become an inspiring legend to the world labor movement.
Mary Jones knew oppression growing up. She knew the oppression of foreign rule; she knew the oppressions of hunger and poverty. Rather than allowing oppression to grind her and her family down, she learned that creative response sustains the human spirit and ignites the flame to light the way for hope.

Coming to America, she watched her father and brothers labor at low wages building railroads and canals. As a young mother, she watched her husband and children die from yellow fever in 1867 in Memphis, while the wealthy escaped from the river bottoms to higher ground. A widow, she came to Chicago watched a city destroyed by fire, even as working people suffered low wages, inadequate housing and a political system that denied their rights.
She finally said, “enough.” Her “enough” echoed across the American landscape for the next forty years. She became “Mother” Jones, the Mother who stood against child labor and for education. As an older woman, she traveled the nation, daring to go where few men were brave enough to tread. Her forthright stand and fiery speech awakened the ember of resistance, kindling bravery in working families as they stood up for their rights.

She faced gun barrels and prison cells, yet she never backed down. She knew the uplift of the working class would be the uplift of families like her own, moving them from the darkness of poverty to the light of possibility. Today she lies beneath the sod in Mount Olive, Illinois, with what she called her “brave boys,” miners gunned down as they defended their rights.

Thank you, Cork. Thank you for giving the world a woman of nerve, who never backed down and always stood up. We salute you as you salute her.
In solidarity,

Larry Spivack
Illinois Labor History Society
United States of America

Mother Jones Commemorative Coin

“Mother Jones Commemorative coin now in production! The Cork Mother Jones committee has decided to order a very limited number of specially designed coins for the Mother Jones 175th anniversary. As far as we know, this is the only such coin in existence so they should prove a collectors piece.They will be 50mm in dimension and it is hoped to sell them at a very reasonable price of €10 (plus post and packaging for orders by post); they will be on sale during the festival but if anyone wants to order one in advance ( at the moment we can only sell one per customer), they can do so by contacting Jim ( with customer’s name, address and  contact telephone number) at  – please put the word “coin” in the subject field of your email.