Labor Day is an 'Irish' Holiday too - the national day commemorating America’s workers was an Irishman
The true meaning of the forgotten holiday for working men and women
Labor Day is a little like Christmas -- people have forgotten the meaning of it. They just want the presents, the birth of Christ gets lost somewhere in the wrappings.
The significance of Labor Day gets lost too -- in the sandwiches at the beach on the last day of summer. But as you throw another hot dog on the Barbie, spare a thought for McGuire, Maguire, Jones, Quill and Sweeney –- to name just a few of the many great Irish labor leaders.
Mary “Mother” Jones was born Mary Harris in Cork in the early 1800s. She immigrated to Canada, lost her husband and her four children in a yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, all her possessions in the Chicago fire, and as a woman in her 50s went on to become one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World. Her work with the United Mine Workers earned her the title “Angel of the Camp.”
One of the many contributions that Mother Jones is remembered for is the work she did on behalf of the wives and children of strikers, and the 1905 children’s march she led from Kensington, Pennsylvania, to President Theodore Roosevelt’s summer home on Long Island, New York, to protest child labor (children as young as seven worked on the slag heaps in Pennsylvania).
My favorite Mother Jones quotes is “Pray for the dead but fight like hell for the living.”
As for Labor Day itself, depending on the source, the holiday is credited to either Peter McGuire or Matthew Maguire. Either way, it’s safe to say that the national day commemorating America’s workers was first proposed by an Irishman.
Peter McGuire was born to Irish immigrants on the Lower East Side in New York in 1852. He left school at age 11 to become the breadwinner for his family when his father went off to fight for the Union Army. At 17, he was apprenticed to Hanes piano shop. He successfully protested against poor conditions and a wage reduction, but was later harassed out of his job.
Unbowed, Peter took his carpentry skills on the road, hopping freight trains and talking to laborers across the country, and in 1881 he organized a convention in Chicago where the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners was born.
According to most records, McGuire, who was also a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was the first to propose a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”
Other sources credit Matthew Maguire, a machinist and a member of the International Association of Machinists, as the first to propose setting aside a day to honor American workers. Maguire served as a secretary of the Central Labor Union of New York, which organized the first-ever Labor Day parade in 1882.
In 1905, the same year that Mother Jones, who had been called “the most dangerous woman in America,” was marching her children to New York, Mike Quill was born in Kilgarven County Kerry.
At fourteen he fought in Ireland’s War of Independence. In 1926, blacklisted for serving with the “anti-Treaty” forces, he made his way to America at the tender age of 21.
- Irish radio presenter suspended after anti-Isra
- Obama relative gets personal special deal...
- Smithwick inquiry finds Irish police may...
- Married priests could well be Pope Francis'...
- Amazing story of how Choctaw Indians raised...
- Why Ireland needs to give its emigrants a...
- Sarah Jessica Parker opens her heart to grievin
- Most Americans are in favor of immigration...
- Pope Francis calls capitalism “new tyranny”...
- 'Danny Boy' turns 100 and the experts explain...
The Church's sterile argument against artificial birth control flies in the face of logic and reality. Most Catholics, practicing and not, do not beliNotre Dame sues federal government again over birth control
Father Jenkins gave Obama an honorary degree from hallowed Notre Dame. Why then can't he get some reciprocal respect from The Great Hoax upon whom heNotre Dame sues federal government again over birth control
The ACA is working hard to ensure that all Americans have access to healthcare. How can any society think it is advanced if it does not provide healIreland PM - IRA-Garda collusion in murders of RUC officers is 'shocking'
At least Adams owes his allegiance to Ireland and not to a foreign power.