Mother Jones….. US National Mining Hall of Fame Inductee 248.

Mother Jones…..National Mining Hall of Fame Inductee 248.

Mary “Mother Jones” photographed in 1901

On September 14, 2019 Mother Jones was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame in Leadville, Colorado.

According to its website….

“The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum is a monument to the memory of the men and women who pioneered the discovery, development, and processing of our nation’s natural resources. Our mission is to “tell the story of mining, its people, its importance to the American public, and to society’s sustainability.”  Known as the “Smithsonian of the Rockies” and the “Premier Showcase of American Mining” the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum houses 25,000 square feet of interactive and informative exhibits sharing the evolving narrative of mining and its relationship to our everyday lives.”

Mother Jones is Inductee 248.

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum at Leadville, Colorado, USA

Her induction citation read as follows;

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones is one of the most famous labor activists in the cause of economic justice. Her battle cry, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” truly said it all.  Her powerful speeches and knack for theatrics encouraged many to form unions and strike for fair wages and safe working conditions. Known as the “Miner’s Angel” for her advocacy on their behalf, Mother Jones’s activism set the stage for the labor and safety laws we all benefit from today. A champion of the working class, she organized numerous miners’ strikes against low pay, 12-hour days, 7-day work weeks, extreme mortality rates, and child labor, and railed against the servitude of company stores and company housing.  When she began organizing for the United Mine Workers Union in the 1890s, it had 10,000 members; within a few years, 300,000 men had joined.  Hearing Jones speak, you discovered the secret of her influence – she had force, she had wit, and above all she had the fire of indignation. Mother Jones’s impassioned work is recognized in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, U.S. Department of Labor’s Hall of Honors, and the Irish American Hall of Fame. 

The historian and sociologist James Loewen (Author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your High School History Textbook Got Wrong) criticised the National Mining Hall of Fame a few years ago for inducting mostly white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant men, who were disproportionately engineers, executives and wealthy mine owners. Where were the miners, Loewen asked, where the immigrants and workers of colour, the labour organisers, the women.  Why was there no commemoration to the thousands who died in the mines?

Mother Jones biographer Prof Elliot Gorn at last year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork, Ireland

Elliott Gorn, author of Mother Jones – The Most Dangerous Woman in America, who spoke at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork in 2019 stated

 

The Mining Hall of Fame has become a bit more inclusive in recent years, a little more attuned to worker exploitation, safety and environmental issues.  Hopefully, the inclusion of Mother Jones signals that the Hall of Fame will continue to pay more attention to the issues she long agitated about.”

Preliminary announcement for Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2020

The Cork Mother Jones Committee has announced that the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School will take place in and around Shandon over four days from Wednesday 29th July to Saturday 1st August 2020.
 
It will again feature talks, discussions, films, songs, stories and music associated with the “Spirit of Mother Jones”. 
These will relate to labour and trade union matters, the history and heritage of the lives and contributions of working people, along with social justice, environmental and human rights issues.
 
The Committee welcomes relevant, interesting and challenging ideas, proposals and suggestions for topics or events for the 2020 festival and summer school from the public. Please forward outline details as soon as possible to motherjonescork@gmail.com for consideration. 
Each year we present the prestigious Spirit of Mother Jones award to honour an individual (or group) who has made a difference to the pursuit of justice.
 
The Spirit of Mother Jones is a community based festival which is coordinated by a voluntary committee. We try to make a contribution to the expenses of those participating although most of those participating do so on a voluntary basis. In return, the events are informal, free and open to all to attend as we do not impose a charge on those who come along. We rely entirely on the goodwill, expertise and work of those participating, on the generosity of the local community in Cork, on fundraising and donations as well as sponsorship from the Cork City Council and the Trade Union movement.           

March of the Mill Children re-enacted in Shandon, Cork

A re-creation of March of the Mill Children was held on 31st July 2019 and was staged by Cork Community Art Link. It was directed by Beibhinn O’ Callaghan and Elisa Gallo Rossi.
 The event took place on the historic streets of Shandon in Cork city in conjunction with the Cork Mother Jones Committee as part of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2019. Ms Joan Goggin was Mother Jones. The Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. John Sheehan attended.
We thank everyone who participated in what was is a historic event which commemorated the original event led by Mary Harris\Mother Jones from Philadelphia to New York during three weeks in July 1903.
For more information on the background of the original March of the Mill Children see our previous article here:https://motherjonescork.com/2019/06/25/mother-jones-and-the-march-of-the-mill-children/

Day 4 of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School 2019

The 8th annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School continues today (Saturday, 3rd August) and the main events finish tonight, However there will also be an evening with the talented Stan Notte on Sunday night at Maureen’s Bar, John Redmond Street.

Spirit of Mother Jones festival and summer school events for Saturday 3rd August.

 

10:30 a.m.   L       Briege Voyle

Ballymurphy August 1971” 

F        Includes a screening of the Channel 4 documentary “The Ballymurphy Precedent”

Directed by Callum Macrae

Firkin Crane Theatre.

2:00 p m.             A Conspiracy of Lies

Author and journalist Frank Connolly launches his novel (Mercier Press.)

Maldron Hotel.

3:00 p.m      L       Prof. Elliott Gorn

The Lynching of Emmet Till. ……………A Civil Rights Movement is born!”

Firkin Crane Theatre.

5:30 p m               Conal Creedon reads from his new novel Begotten Not Made

7:30 p.m    M       Annual toast and songs to Mother Jones at the plaque on John Redmond Street.

Maureen’s

9:00 p.m    M      Vocalic   (Dance and celebrate the end of the 2019 festival.)

Maldron Hotel.

 

Sunday 4th August. 

In the round with Stan Notte. Music and Spoken Word.

Maureen’s, John Redmond Street at 8.30pm,

All welcome.

 

 

 

Day 3 of the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School, Cork

The 8th annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School continues today (Friday, 2nd August) and until tomorrow night.  Below you will find today’s programme.

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School events on Friday 2nd August.  

Friday 2nd August

11:00 a.m.  L     Luke Dineen 

                           “Craftsmen and the Irish revolution, 1920-23” .

Cathedral Visitor Centre

 

1:00 p.m.    M     Music at the Maldron.

                            Jimmy Crowley.

  

2:30 p.m.    L       Dr. John Barimo.

Social Justice, Inequality and Climate Change”. Cathedral Visitor Centre

 

3:30 p.m     F      Remembering the Cork Climate Change March 2019

                   L      Micah Neilson.    Fridays for Future Cork.

                   L      Alicia O’Sullivan.  Irish Ambassador for the Worlds Oceans. 

 

5:00 p.m     F      Fords – Memories of the Line.

A film documentary produced by the Ford Ex-workers Group and Frameworks Films.

Maldron Hotel.

 

7:30 p.m.   L      Michael Kingston, Tom McSweeney.

                         The Whiddy disaster

                          Statement by Madame Ginette Ravaleu, President of the

French-Irish Association of Relatives and Friends of the Betelgeuse                         

                           Firkin Crane Theatre.

 

9:30 p.m  M     John Nyhan and Mick Treacy present the songs of Pete Seeger (1919- 2014)

Maldron Hotel.

 

 

 

Day 2 of Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School

The 8th annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School continues today and until next Saturday night.  Below you will find today’s programme.

Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School on Thursday 1st August.

The Radical Irish Diaspora

11:00 a.m.       Lorraine Starsky

        “In the Footsteps of Mother Jones – The Life and Legacy of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn         1890- 1964”                

Cathedral Visitor Centre

1.00 p.m.         Music at the Maldron.

William Hammond

2.30 p.m.         Dr Kieran Groeger.

                        “The Extraordinary Life of John Swiney, the United Irishman from Shandon.”

Cathedral Visitor Centre

 

5.00 p.m          The Limerick Soviet

A collaborative documentary between the Limerick Council of Trade Unions and                  Frameworks Films. We celebrate the 100th Anniversary of The Limerick Soviet. Author Liam Cahill will introduce the documentary. An exhibition on the Limerick Soviet courtesy of Cork City Library will be on site.

Maldron Hotel, Shandon

7.30 p.m.         Anne Twomey Shandon Area History Group.

“Mary Elmes …………An Irish Heroine”   

                          Firkin Crane Theatre 

 

8:00 p m         Fili Na Reabhloide (Poets of the Revolution)

                        Myo Café, Popes Quay.

Readings  from your favourite poets of revolution and social change.

(Tel. 083 0425942)

9.30 p.m        Club Ceoil Ballyphehane Ballad Group.

Evening includes the Song for Mother Jones.    

Maldron Hotel

 

Mother Jones: her background, life and legacy

Mother Jones………her background, her life and her legacy.

Firkin Crane Theatre, Shandon.

Wednesday 31st July 2019 at 7pm.

Mary “Mother” Jones

On Wednesday 31st July, Elliott J Gorn, US historian and author and Joe Creedon, historian from Inchigeelagh, will discuss the background, life and times of Mother Jones and what is known of her mother’s life in Inchigeelagh. This will represent the most comprehensive account of Mary Harris/Mother Jones yet seen in Cork.

In her autobiography published in 1925, Mother Jones writes just a few lines on her Cork roots.

“I was born in the City of Cork, Ireland in 1830. My people were poor. For generations they had fought for Ireland’s freedom. Many of my folks died in that struggle. My father Richard Harris came to America in 1835 and as soon as he became an American citizen he sent for his family.”

Elliott J. Gorn

Mother Jones was 88 years old when this autobiography was published. Her dates above are incorrect in that she was actually born around 31st July 1837 (baptised by Fr John O’Mahony on 1st August 1837 at the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne). Also her father and brother left for Canada in 1847, not 1835.

However her failure in this autobiography to mention her mother Ellen Cotter is strange but then she spends just a few pages on her early life as Mary Harris, the remaining 200 pages concentrate on Mother Jones.

On February 9th 1834, Richard Harris and Ellen Cotter were married in the old church in Inchigeelagh, this was then located in the centre of Inchigeelagh Village towards the rear of the present day Creedons Hotel. The village was quite small at the time comprising about a dozen buildings in all.

Their first son Richard was born in 1835 and was baptised also in Inchigeelagh, however the family had moved to live in Cork City as Mary and her later siblings Catherine 1840, Ellen in 1845 and William in 1846 were all baptised in the Cathedral.

Rural Ireland was then a place of agrarian conflict and poverty in the early 1800s as the growing population was very dependent on tiny holdings and the potato as a food source. Throughout Munster, the Whiteboys led by Captain Rock were in constant conflict with the authorities and outrages, reprisals and retaliation were common.

In 1822, the Battle of Keimaneigh took place near Inchigeelagh and involved hundreds of Whiteboys. The subsequent fall out from this would have reverberated around the local rural area as State repression forced people into insurrection. Thousands crowded into the towns and cities adding to the widespread destitution.

Once the potato blight was found in potatoes in rural Cork in the summer of 1845, it signalled the beginning of the Great Famine, which devastated Ireland and impacted on millions of Irish lives and left a mark on the emotional psyche of the Irish people ever since. The Harris family were just one of hundreds of thousands of families who fled Ireland seeking a better life.

 

Young Mary Harris left Cork, and her subsequent story and how she overcame personal tragedy has become an inspiration to millions of immigrants. Yet she found the will and determination to fight the economic and political injustice which she had first experienced in Ireland and later in the USA.

Joe Creedon

Joe Creedon lives in Inchigeelagh in Uibh Laoire. He is deeply immersed in the history, heritage and folk memory of this beautiful part of Muskerry. His vivid accounts of the people of his village are told with a vibrancy and passion. Listening to Joe takes one directly to the ancient world of his ancestors and the countryside of his native place. His story becomes a living portrait of the era described. Joe will tell of Ellen Cotter and early 19th Century Inchigeelagh.

Elliott Gorn attended the very first Mother Jones Festival in Shandon in 2012 and described the life and impact of Mother Jones. Elliott made the original discovery in relation to the baptism of Mary Harris at the North Cathedral in 1837, which was published in his classic account of Mother Jones (Mother Jones – The Most Dangerous Woman in America, published 2001, Hill and Wang). This book remains a very comprehensive account of the life of Mary Harris and the union/labour activities of Mother Jones.

In his conclusion Elliott stated,

“She was expected to go silently through life, for she was a mere worker in a country that worshipped success, an immigrant in a nativist land, a woman in a male-dominated society, and an elderly person in a nation that cherished youth. Hers was a voice that American’s were not supposed to hear. That was her final legacy – out of nothing but courage, passion, and commitment, she created a unique voice, a prophetic voice, and raised it in the cause of renewing America’s democratic promise.”

Elliot Gorn’s book on Mother Jones

Elliott has just completed The Story of Emmett Till – Let the People See, published by Oxford University Press. He will speak about Emmett Till on Saturday 3rd August next at 3pm at the Firkin Crane Theatre.

 

 

Social Justice, Inequality and Climate Change.

Social Justice, Inequality and Climate Change.

By Dr. John Barimo.

Cathedral Visitor Centre, Friday afternoon, 2nd August at 2.30.

Fridays for Future Cork

This lecture will explore issues of environmental and climate justice from local and regional levels to the planetary scale.  The conversation will be grounded in ecological and environmental sciences with pertinent background information provided with the intention of moving the discourse beyond established dogmas.

John Barimo

Dr. John Barimo

The talk will include experiential insights into traditional Native American cultures with regards to land use practices and ecological awareness.  Representative historical events will be explored to gain insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the environmental movement.

The concept of NIMBY will be considered with local and regional environmental issues with attention focused on case studies where inequalities can be generally detected along socio-economic lines. Finally, concepts will be scaled up to planetary level to consider the linked issues of carbon emissions, ocean acidification and climate change, and their disproportionate impacts on developing countries and small island nations.

 

This lecture will be immediately followed by a short film Remembering the Cork Climate Change March 2019. (Frameworks Films). This impressive, colourful and vocal march of students protesting about the failure to tackle Climate Change took place on 15th March 2019 beginning at Emmet Place in Cork and finishing at City Hall Cork. Over 5000 students participated. 

 

Micah Nelson

Micah Neilson is a member of Fridays For Future Cork which helped to organise the Cork Climate Change march. She will then discuss the role of the grassroots movement Fridays For Future Cork has played in the recent student strikes in Ireland and how they have propelled the impact of Climate Change to the very top of the political and social agenda.

 

 

 

Alicia O’Sullivan

Alicia O’Sullivan is from Skibbereen in West Cork and is Ireland’s Youth Ambassador for the Oceans. She admitted recently that the impact of Climate Charge has made her afraid of the future. An activist on social issues she will also discuss the role of the youth of the world in saving the planet from extinction. She has recently campaigned against the planning permission for a plastics factory in her native town.

 

The meeting will conclude with a full panel Questions and Answers.

All are welcome to attend.

 

 

Fords:- Memories of the Line

Fords – Memories of the Line

Maldron Hotel, Friday August 2nd 2019 at 5.00 pm.

A Documentary by Frameworks Films and Ford Ex-Workers’ Group.

Fords production line at Cork’s Marina plant – Photo courtesy of Bill Daly

This documentary was shown at the festival in 2018. Unfortunately many people were unable to gain access last year. Following many requests it will be repeated.    

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”, 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 Park 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 Model 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.

Group of Cork workers at Fords Marina. Photo courtesy of Bill Daly

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 and used in Cork. This brave new world was sacrosanct, like a vein running through living organisms, the constant noise, the smells of the different processes, yet it had to keep moving, it must not stop, the vehicles, slowly taking shape shuffle forward in a never ending line and then continue their journey out of sight.

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.

Emma Bowell (2nd from right) with Eddie Noonan of Frameworks Films with Ann Rea and Bill Daly (left) at last year’s festival

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. Over 30 years former workers have come together to tell their own story of working in Fords. It is a story of life, work, the fun, the friends and the bonds which maintain the links between groups of workers who shared their lives at a Cork institution.

It is a workers film of working life…….a rare and priceless documentary.

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 for anyone with family members or friends who worked below on the Marina. Even now in 2019 ironically comes news that Fords is set to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in developing new facilities at Corktown in Detroit as the Marina site transforms slowly into the Cork Docklands development.