Antoinette Keegan is the Spirit of Mother Jones Award recipient for 2020.

The late Christine Keegan and her daughter Antoinette. Photo courtesy of Sam Boal


The Cork Mother Jones Committee is proud to announce that the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Award will be presented to Antoinette Keegan of the Stardust Victims Committee.

Antoinette and her mother Christine Keegan were due to speak in Cork at this year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Summer school. Sadly, Christine passed away in July after a lifetime of fighting for justice for the Stardust victims.

The Keegan family have been central to the efforts for the past 40 years to investigate the causes of the fire. The recent announcement of a new inquest into the victims of the Stardust Fire is testament to the determination of Antoinette and her family and the Stardust Victims committee to pursue the truth of the night of the 13/14th February in 1981. 

“The Spirit of Mother Jones Award is awarded this year to Ms. Antoinette Keegan of the Stardust Victims Committee for her determination, resilience and longstanding efforts to pursue truth, accountability and justice for the Stardust victims and their families over almost 40 years.  

Antoinette and her late mother Christine and father John have pursued answers to what happened at the Stardust fire on 14th February 1981, where 48 young people lost their lives, including Antoinette’s sisters Mary and Martina.

In spite of her own injuries, the loss of her sisters, and the failure of the Authorities to provide answers, Antoinette has continued to actively campaign to uncover the full truth of the events of that night. She is an inspiration to so many!

For her bravery, courage and commitment, Antoinette Keegan is a very worthy recipient of the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Award.”

The Cork Mother Jones Committee

The award has been presented each year since 2013 by this committee to the person we feel most represents the fighting spirit of Mother Jones, who was born Mary Harris here in Cork in July 1837 and went on to become known throughout the world as Mother Jones. She fought for the rights of workers and the trade union movement and was involved in numerous campaigns

We will arrange to present the award representing The Children of Lir to Antoinette as soon as it becomes safe to do so in view of the current Covid-19 situation. It is hoped Antoinette will be able to come to Cork to speak at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school in 2021. 

For details of the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival which will take place online between the 27th and the 30th Novembersee www.motherjonescork.com. The full programme of events will appear this coming weekend.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/stardust-campaigner-honoured-with-the-spirit-of-mother-jones-award-1.4412466?mode=amp

Previous recipients of this award have been

2013, Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

2014, Gareth Peirce, Solicitor

2015 Fr. Peter McVerry.

2016 Dave Hopper, RIP Durham Miners’ Association

2017 Ken Fleming, International Transport Workers Federation

2018 Mary Manning, (Dunnes Stores Workers)

2019 Louise O’Keeffe.

2020 Antoinette Keegan.

And the World Turns Away!


Peadar King is a journalist and documentary film maker and is well known as the producer of the documentary series for RTE “What in the World”.His latest book published recently by Liffey Press, War, Suffering and the Struggle for Human Rights is a powerful indictment of warandchronicles human rights abuses in times of conflict. Peadar interviews people from war zones whose descriptions of the impact of war and the horrible devastation which follows are heartbreaking.


He states that “all wars are based on lies” and uses the Irish phrase “Chroi Bhriste” to describe the unspeakable horror endured by those who suffer.


The very human accounts in this book of the results of war are taken from interviews with the ordinary people and they paint in graphic detail the indiscriminate destruction of bombs on people and their communities.


Have we become inured to war? We can now watch versions of wars on our TVs and computers, but to many it’s more virtual clickbait with neither the impacts, the questions, context nor explanation sought nor provided.

Yet, Europe, the UK, the USA, Russia and China supply 75% of all weapons used in these wars which are fought over power, resources and oil and in the near future…. fresh water supplies!


“And The World Turns Away” features a discussion with Peadar King and will be shown during the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

Cork Mother Jones Festival 2020 postponed.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee, wishes, to announce the postponement of the ninth Spirit of Mother Jones Festival (2020), from its original date (29th July-1st Aug), to the final weekend in November. (November 27th -30th).

James Nolan, spokesperson for the festival and summer school stated.
“We are postponing the festival in the interests of the safety of those attending, and those taking part, due to the uncertainty as to the conditions under which it could take place.

We feel the November date allows for more certainty and gives us time to ensure the safety of those attending. It also gives us the option of perhaps using online technology to ensure the festival can go ahead.

Mother Jones died on the 30th November 1930, so we will commemorate the 90th Anniversary of her passing at the forthcoming festival in November.

The fact that in the past week the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins invoked the famous quote of Mother Jones, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living” to honour our front line and emergency workers, as an acknowledgement of her role in protecting workers and ensuring decent working conditions for millions of people. Today, thousands around the world still draw inspiration from her work.

Indeed as an indicator or her resilience, it should be remembered that she herself survived three fever pandemics……. the Great Famine here in Cork, the Yellow Fever outbreak in Memphis in 1867, which took her family and the Flu pandemic of 1918/19.” She continued to practice as a nurse in Memphis until the fever outbreak was over.

We also intend to ensure she will be remembered around the period of July/August and closer to the original dates we will see the most practical way to celebrate her birth in Cork.”

The Festival Facebook pages and the website at http://www.motherjonescork.com will continue to update the position.

Picture 1: Mother Jones in 1901.
Picture 2: Joan Goggin, Cork’s own Mother Jones (Courtesy of Andy Jay).
Picture 3: March of the Mill Children, in Shandon, in 2019 (Courtesy of Claire Stack).
Picture 4: Mother Jones, meeting, President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge.

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.