The Workers’ Party has marked International Women’s Day with a call from Cllr. Ted Tynan for the dedication of memorial plaque to a pioneering Cork woman who devoted her entire life to the struggle for women’s rights and better conditions for workers in the United States and internationally.
Mary Harris Jones, better known as “Mother Jones” was born in
Blarney Street, Cork in 1837. To this day she remains an iconic figure in the history of the US trade union and women’s movements. Cllr. Tynan said that it was incredible that Mary Harris’s native city has never commemorated her and he said he will be putting down a motion to Cork City Council calling for a memorial plaque to be placed on Blarney Street to mark the street where Mother Jones was born.
“There are many memorials, street-names and plaques in Cork commemorating famous men who were born in the city, but apart from the Nano Nagle Bridge, there is hardly anything to remember the city’s famous women. Mary Harris Jones is an internationally renowned woman who spent her life working for the betterment of working people and women in particular. It is time that we remembered her here in the city where she was born”, said Cllr. Tynan
Key points in the life of Mary Harris Jones (“Mother Jones”)-
- 1837 (August) – Born Mary Harris in Blarney Street, Cork.
- c1851- Emigrated with her family to Canada and later the USA
- 1861 – Married George Jones, metal worker and trade unionist
- 1867 – husband George and 4 young children died in Great Fire of Chicago and Yellow fever outbreak
- 1870s – began working with the wives and families of striking mine workers, joined Miner’s Union
- became an unpaid union organiser
- 1880 onwards – organised many strikes and looked after welfare of strikers wives and children
- 1902 – West Virginia District Attorney brands her “the most dangerous woman in America”
- 1903 – organised the Children’s Crusade against child labour, especially in the mines.
- 1913 – arrested and charged with conspiracy (with other union leaders) to commit murder, a charge later withdrawn without evidence
- public outrage against her arrest led to intervention of the Governor who ordered an investigation into working conditions in the mines and exposed methods of the mine owners.
- organised workers after the Ludlow Mine Massacre in which miners and their families were gunned down and killed by police agents – led to a major climb-down by the mine owners
- 1924 – jailed again and charged with sedition
- 1930 – died Nov 30th, buried in Mount Olive, Illinois beside miners killed in another attack on striking workers by employer’s hirelings.
- the popular folk song “She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain” is a song about Mother Jones.