Trade union officials from the US are descending on Cork today in honor of the 175th anniversary of the birth of ‘Mother Jones,’ the Cork-born workers’ rights activist, according to organizers of the commemoration.
A three-day festival seeks to commemorate the life of the activist, well-known in the US but overlooked in her birthplace until now, according to festival organizers.
A memorial plaque to Jones will be unveiled tomorrow, while a film outlining her life premieres today. The festivities today and tomorrow will include musical performances related to Jones’ life. The commemoration concludes with a ‘Mother Jones tour’ on Thursday, according to organizers.
‘Mother Jones’ was born in Shandon St on the northside of Cork, and emigrated to the US after surviving the Famine.
Jones lost her husband and children to yellow fever, and her startup business to the Great Fire of 1871. She turned to the Knights of Labor and then rose to become a union organizer for the United Mine Workers’ Union of America, and marched in Coxey’s unemployed army in 1894.
Jones gained wide attention in 1903 by organizing the Mill Children’s march from Pennsylvania to President Roosevelt’s summer home. Hers was the only female presence at the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905, according to organizers.
Although called ‘Mother Jones’ by the miners in the union, a West Virginia District attorney named her “the most dangerous woman in America” at one of her many trials, speaking of her power over the unions. "She crooks her finger—twenty thousand contented men lay down.”
Jones was arrested and imprisoned for her union activities many times. She was also a supporter of the Mexican revolution, organizers wrote.