Plan to rename Shandon footbridge after Mother Jones

Plan to rename Shandon footbridge after Mother Jones
The proposal is to rename the Shandon footbridge the Mother Jones Bridge. Pic Denis Scannell

CALLS are growing for the Shandon pedestrian to be named after Cork-born US labour rights organiser Mother Jones.

Two motions to consider the renaming of the bridge submitted by councillor Fiona Ryan and fellow councillor and city historian Kieran McCarthy will be considered by Cork City Council next week following on from a huge public reaction to the naming of the Harley Street Bridge which is due to open in June.

Councillors Tim Brosnan and Ted Tynan have also previously asked for Mother Jones to be officially recognised by City Hall in the form of a public space.

The name of Mary Harris, known internationally as Mother Jones, was on a shortlist of five names which were considered for the Harley Street Bridge.

However, councillors voted to name the bridge after World War II aid worker Mary Elmes.

Harris, who was born in Shandon, went on to become a hugely influential union and community organiser in the United States in the 1800s and early 1900s. She died in 1930. A festival marking her contribution to labour rights takes place in Shandon each year and is organised by the Cork Mother Jones Committee.

The Shandon pedestrian bridge opened in 2004 but has never been considered for renaming.

Councillor McCarthy believes it would be a fitting tribute to Harris and also to the people in Shandon who work to promote her life’s work and the area where she was born.

“I have met with the Cork Mother Jones Committee and have been at the festival they organise over the years and I had supported the naming of the pedestrian and cycle bridge at Harley Street to be named after Mother Jones," he told The Echo.

“I give historical walking tours around the area and the festivals that are run in that area are run extremely well.

“This could be a thank you for the local committees and groups in Shandon that organise these.

“Mother Jones is an international figure, just like Mary Elmes. Shandon pedestrian bridge doesn’t have a name whereas most of the other bridges in the city have a strong name. A lot of people don’t even know the bridge is simply named Shandon pedestrian bridge.

“Shandon is a quarter in itself and already has a street named 'Shandon Street' so a renaming of the bridge could give the bridge an identity of its own.

“There‘s a huge bank of commemoration for Mother Jones in the United States and there is a huge body of work going on in Shandon to tell her story but it doesn’t seem to get regional or national recognition,” he added.

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