May Day Mother Jones Birthday Party in Chicago.

The May Day Party for Mother Jones will take place at the Irish American Heritage Centre at 4626 North Knox Avenue in Chicago from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Among those participating are: 

  • Kevin Byrne, Ireland’s Consul General to Chicago and the Midwest.
  • Sara Nelson President of the Association of Flight Attendants CWA, AFLCIO.
  • Don Villar, Secretary Treasurer Chicago Federation of Labour.
  • Also participating are singers and artists such as Paddy Homan, Kathy Cowan and the SAG-AFTRA singers while artist Lindsay Hand will sign posters.

All proceeds will go towards the Chicago Statue Campaign.

There are very few monuments which commemorate women in Chicago and as with most cities everywhere none of working class women.

Statue of Mother Jones.

Why not  assist the Chicago campaign to ensure that a beautiful statue is erected to honour Cork born Mary Harris who as Mother Jones worked ceaselessly to help immigrants of many nationalities to organise for decent wages and safe working conditions by joining the American trade union movement!. 

A broad based fundraising committee in the City has been active in fundraising to bring the dream of the Mother Jones statue to reality. 

Image of Proposed Statue of Mother Jones in Wacker, near Michigan Ave, Chicago.

With the help of the American trade unions and many others, the committee is close to achieving this ambition.  Let’s put this iconic Irish immigrant refugee and a founder of the American Labour Movement–the Mother of the working class–on a statue in the city she called home.

Go to the website www.motherjonesmuseum.org to see how you can help.   

https://www.motherjonesmuseum.org/event-details/mother-jones-may-day-birthday-party-may-1-2022-4-6-pm-chicago are hardly any sculptures of women historical figures in the city of Chicago.

https://conta.cc/3DzmU9T

Mount Olive Cemetery to honour the family of Mother Jones.

A commemorative bench honouring the memory of the family of Mother Jones will be unveiled on May Day 2022 at the Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive.

The grave of Mary Harris/Mother Jones lies in this unique cemetery, her memory forever immortalised in the large grave monument erected in 1936 to her memory.

Loretta Williams at the Mother Jones Monument.

During the forthcoming Mt. Olive International Mother Jones Festival 2022, the Union Miners Cemetery Perpetual Care Association along with the Illinois AFL-CIO and the UMWA Local 1613 will dedicate a memorial bench to her often forgotten husband George Jones and her children, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine and Terence who died in Memphis during the Yellow Fever epidemic of September 1867.

Entrance to Mt. Olive Cemetery courtesy of Pat Schmeder.

To hear directly from the Mayor of Mt Olive John Skertich and Nelson Grman, a member of the Union Miners Cemetery Perpetual Care Committee, long-time union activist and promoter of Mother Jones please click on the following link. 

https://youtu.be/6wGmP2e5ZGk

St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago 2022 with Mother Jones.

Congratulations to all involved with bringing Mother Jones to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The Mother Jones inflatable was paraded through the streets of Chicago, on Saturday 12th March and received a great reception from the thousands lining the streets. Brigid Duffy also appeared as the Chicago Mother Jones.

The parade honoured Chicago’s essential workers. After a two year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the parade returned to Columbus Drive on Saturday, where the Chicago River was dyed green, a 60 year tradition. This event is believed to be the largest neighbourhood based St. Patrick’s Day parade outside of Dublin, drawing as many as 150,000 people.

Why did Mother Jones wish to be buried at Mount Olive?

Every wonder why Mother Jones wished to be buried near “her boys”  at the town of Mount Olive, in Southern Illinois in the Union Miners Cemetery, which is located near Route 66 midway between Springfield and St. Louis?


Mother Jones had earlier written to the Miners of Mount Olive on November 12th 1923, seeking 

“a resting place in the same clay that shelters the miners who gave up their lives in the hills of Virden, Illinois on the morning of October 12th 1898, for their heroic sacrifice for their fellow men”.

Extract from Mother Jones and the Union Miners Cemetery Mount Olive, Illinois by the Illinois Labor History Society.

Her request was granted.

Grave of Mother Jones, Mount Olive.

 
The Battle of Virden claimed the lives of four Mount Olive miners and since 1899, October 12th has been celebrated as Miners Day in Illinois at the Union Miners Cemetery.


During the battle, seven miners were killed and forty were wounded. Five mine guards died and four were wounded. The youngest miner killed was Edward Long, just 19 years old from Mount Olive.

Virden Monument. Mother Jones rear centre.

Many activists from the Progressive Miners of America are buried at Mount Olive. Recently the remains of labour singer Anne Feeney, were placed in the cemetery.

To listen to the story of the Battle of Virden, the following is an interesting interview with local resident and historian John Alexander, an Illinois bookstore owner.
https://https://youtu.be/8qcBLQL2beg
www.buzzsprout.com/1856440/

Our thanks to JASE Media Services in Mount Olive for their kind permission to share this podcast.

Mother Jones Portraits Unveiled in Washington and Chicago.

On Saturday May 1st 2021, the Irish Embassy in Washington and the Irish Consulate in Chicago unveiled two beautiful portraits of Mother Jones. Commissioned by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and painted by artist Lindsay Hand, they represent a fitting tribute to this great Cork born woman, trade union and labour activist. This was part of “If Walls Could Talk” initiative by the Irish Consulate.

Irish Ambassador to America, Daniel Mulhall unveiled the portrait at the embassy where it will hang proudly alongside the portrait of the late civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis.

Kevin Byrne, the Irish Consul General in Chicago conducted an interesting discussion with Lindsay Hand, the artist and a series of Illinois based trade union leaders who explained what Mother Jones means to them. The trade union leaders who participated in the discussion included Sheila Gainer, UniteHere union organiser, Pat Meade of the Illinois Nurses Association and Deborah Cosey-Lane of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu2bRaFN2Yg
https://www.motherjonesmuseum.org/post/lindsay-hand-s-art-brings-fannie-sellins-spirit-to-life

To read the media reports of the Mother Jones portraits, click below.

Portraits of Shandon-born woman unveiled in Washington and Chicago (echolive.ie)

Irish born activist Mother Jones remains ‘an inspiration’ (irishtimes.com)

Mother Jones by Lindsay Hand
Mother Jones by Lindsay Hand

The funeral of Mother Jones

90 years ago on Monday 8th December 1930 at 10am, Mother Jones was buried at the Union Cemetery, Mount Olive, Illinois.

Earlier on Sunday afternoon Father John Maguire in his funeral oration at the funeral of Mother Jones.

“Today in gorgeous mahogany furnished and carefully guarded offices in distant capitals, wealthy mine owners and capitalists are breathing sighs of relief. Today among the plains of Illinois, the hillsides and valleys of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, In California, Colorado and British Columbia, strong men and toil worn women are weeping tears of bitter grief. The reason for this contrasting relief and sorrow is the same. Mother Jones is dead!”

Father John Maguire

The photos above from the Illinois Labour History Society give an indication of the impressive burial ceremony .

They show the scene outside St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Washington. Among those included at the casket of Mother Jones is William Doak, US Secretary of Labour.

Other photos show the massed ranks of organised labour honouring Mother Jones at Mount Olive

Mother Jones Historical Marker by The Mother Jones Heritage Project in Illinois

This may be of interest to our friends in the United States and especially in the state of Illinois.

The Mother Jones Heritage Project in Illinois will be unveiling a new permanent marker  at Highway I-55 Northbound, Coalfield Rest area at 12 Noon on Tuesday, 11th December 2018. All are welcome

Among the guest speakers will be Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mineworkers of America and Prof. Elliott Gorn, biographer of Mother Jones.   Mr. Roberts will officially cut the ribbon to unveil the new marker.

The following information on the new marker has been received from our friends at the Mother Jones Heritage Project:-

The large outdoor marker profiles Mother Jones, the Cork-born agitator for labor rights.

The indoor exhibit tells the story of the 10,000 coalfield women who marched to Springfield in 1933 in the Mother Jones tradition.

We will launch two walking tours as part of our Stories series:
1) an interactive tours of the Union Miners Cemetery/Mother Jones Monument in Mt. Olive Illinois
2) a walking tour of Virden Illinois, where the the UMWA waged a defense of unionism in 1898.
These tours will include performances, songs and mapping that will bring this story to a broad audience in the years to come.

We are grateful to our donors and supporters, who boosted these efforts and have done so much to keep this effort going, including the following organizations whose contributions have boosted this effort:

Government of Ireland,  United Mine Workers of America, Mother Jones Foundation, Springfield & Central Illinois Trades & Labor Council, Southwestern Illinois Building Trades Council, Illinois Labor History Society, Illinois State Historical Society, Illinois Humanities, Northern Illinois University, Rick Hargett, Shane Austin (Ironworkers), Barbara Miller, Amy Bromsen, Bill Parker, Laurel Parker, Jeanne Graham, Terry Reed, Jim Dixon.

We thank the following teams who have been working on these projects:

Historical marker design and installation include:  Elliott Gorn, Kate Klimut, Rosemary Feurer, Stephanie Seawell Fortado, Dave Rathke,  Shane Austin of Ironworkers, Witt Sign-Chicago

Team for indoor exhibit: Rosemary Feurer, Elliott Gorn, Stephanie Seawell Fortado, Greg Boozell, Sophia Varcados (NIU creative services), Kate Klimut, Ace Sign-Springfield

Team for tours and stories: Rosemary Feurer, Kate Klimut, Sophia Varcados (NIU creative services), Greg Boozell, Mark Raupp, Vivian Nesbitt, Bill Yund, Bucky Halker

Historic marker to Mother Jones unveiled on Route 66 near her Illinois resting place

The new road marker at I-55 south of Springfield, Illinois. Photo courtesy of Mike Matejka
The new road marker at I-55 south of Springfield, Illinois. Photo courtesy of Mike Matejka

A commemorative road marker in honour of Cork-born Mother Jones was unveiled near Mount Olive, Illinois on Monday (11 December) in the presence of the Honorary Irish Consul in Chicago, Mr. Brian O’Brien. 

Brian O'Brien
Irish Consul General Brian O’Brien (Photo courtesy of Mother Jones Heritage Project MJHP)

The marker itself will be seen by over a million people a year who come to take a break just off the world-famous Route 66.   After the ceremony, Mr O’Brien visited the indoor exhibition area at the location. They the group travelled to Mount Olive where Mr. O’Brien placed a wreath at the grave of Mother Jones in the Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive.

The wreath contained the words of her motto “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living” in both Irish and English. There then followed a toast to Mother Jones at the grave which was celebrated using Red-Breast Whiskey. Congratulations to everyone involved in this amazing project.  

Group at the grave of Mother Jones at Mount Olive. (L-R): Brigid Duffy of Irish American Heritage Center,   Mother Jones Performer Amy Rueff of Illinois American Federation of Labor, Rosemary Feurer of Mother Jones Heritage Project and Consul General Brian O’Brien
Wreath
The Wreath with inscription in English and Irish

Our thanks to Prof. Rosemary Feurer of the Mother Jones Musuem for forwarding photos and other material.

 
 
 

Cork born Mother Jones to get a historic road marker on the famous Route 66 in Illinois

A new Historic Marker to be unveiled to Cork born Mother Jones in Illinois near Route 66.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee welcomes the wonderful news that a new Historic Roadside Marker monument is to be unveiled near the I-55 Southbound Coalfield Roadway in honour of Cork born woman Mother Jones.

The large marker has been placed with the cooperation of the Illinois Department of Transportation and will be unveiled on Monday 11th December next by Mr. Brian O’Brien, Ireland’s Consulate General in Chicago.

“We are delighted to congratulate the Mother Jones Heritage Project committee in Illinois for their enormous work to ensure that Mary Harris/Mother Jones is never forgotten. We especially wish to thank Professor Rosemary Feurer who has brought this project to fruition in Illinois and who has supported and inspired the Spirit of Mother Jones festival over the past 6 years and has spoken at it twice.” stated James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee.

In addition to the Irish Consulate, representatives of the Illinois AFL-CIO, Illinois Labour History Society, the United Mine Workers of America, the Irish American Heritage Centre, the Route 66 Association and many others will attend the historic unveiling of the Mother Jones Marker.

The Coalfield rest area where the Marker is placed receives over 1 million visitors each year. This is the brainchild of the Mother Jones Heritage Project which established a museum near Mount Olive where Mother Jones is buried.

History in the making at the grave of Mother Jones

James Goltz lifts the clay
James Goltz lifting the clay from the grave of Mother Jones. (Photo via James Goltz)

As reported from Mount Olive, Illinois by James Goltz

Unique history in the making in Mt. Olive Illinois,at the Union Miners’ Cemetery involving the legendary labour agitator, Mother Harris Jones (Mother Jones), Friends of Mother Jones and Ireland. Mother Jones is buried in the only union owned cemetery in the country, she is the only immigrant who has a so-named festival in her homeland who became a giant in our labour movement, and soon she will be the first to have bit of clay from above her grave transported to her birthplace, the Shandon district in Cork City, Ireland.

Photo shows Secretary of the Mount Olive Perpetual Care Committee Secretary, Mike Krachmar assisting with the placement of the clay in a temporary container. (Photo via James Goltz)

On June 11, Illinois labor activist James Goltz, along with the Perpetual Care Committee of the cemetery held a formal ceremony at her grave site where a bit of clay was removed above her grave. It was given to James Goltz to transport and formally present to the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival organisers in the Shandon Historic Quarter as part of their festival. In addition at the festival, Goltz will also read and present 3 proclamations heralding Mother Jones and the festival from the AFL-CO, the Illinois AFL-CIO and the United Mine Workers of America.

Mount Olive entrance
The entrance to the Union Miners Cemetery at Mount Olive, Illinois