Pioneering Cork woman honoured

Pioneering Cork woman honoured
Trade union pioneer Mary Harris Jones, who left Cork for Canada with her family in the 1850s. Amongst her exploits was the Children's Crusade in 1903

A ceremony is taking place in Illinois today to remove a portion of earth from the grave of a local hero and return it to her birthplace in Cork.

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, born in Shandon in 1837, is an icon of the Union movement in the US.

She emigrated to Canada with her family when she was a teenager and went on to settle in the States. In 1902 she was described as the "the most dangerous woman in America” for helping organise mine workers to take on the mine owners.

Her philosophy could be best summed up in one particular phrase, ‘Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living’.

Six years ago plans to put a plaque in Shandon to commemorate her birth turned into a festival that has continued to take place annually in Cork.

Now the festival organisers are thrilled that some clay from the grave of Mother Jones will be brought to Cork during the 2017 Festival, which is running from August 1 to 5.

A formal ceremony is taking place today at her final resting place in the Miners Cemetery, Mount Olive in Illinois. A small sample of clay will be removed from the grave, will be permanently sealed and will be given to US union member James Goltz to transport to Cork.

When asked why they were doing this, Mr Goltz said" “We wish to send a piece of her essence home. The Spirit of Mother Jones moves us”.

James Nolan, spokesperson for the Cork Mother Jones Committee said: “This is a unique and historic act linking Mother Jones and her birthplace on the northside of Cork to her grave after some 87 years." (She passed away in 1930).

“We hope the sealed container can be placed permanently alongside the memorial plaque to Mother Jones in Shandon with the permission of the Cork City Council. The act is a further sign of the growing links and bonds which have been developing over the past six years between the friends of Mother Jones on both sides of the Atlantic.”

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