Clay from Mother Jones grave to be transported from America

Clay from the grave of a Corkwoman who survived the Famine to become one of America’s most famous trade-union activists will be removed in a special ceremony today for transportation to her native city.

A portion of soil will be removed from the resting-place of Mother Jones (née Mary Harris) at the Union Miner’s Cemetery at Mount Olive in Illinois, today.

It will be placed in a sealed container for presentation to the organisers of the Spirit of Mother Jones Summer School and festival, beginning in Shandon on August 1.

The container will be placed alongside a special plaque already erected to commemorate the birth of Mary Harris in Shandon on August 1, 1837.

She lived through the famine in Cork City before emigrating to Canada in 1852. She worked as a teacher before losing her entire family in 1869 to a yellow fever epidemic.

Harris subsequently joined the growing US trade-union movement, becoming one of its most passionate and courageous defenders of the rights of workers and children in America.

She became an organiser for the United Mine Workers of America and was known as Mother Jones to the thousands of miners she represented prior to her death in 1930.

Her legacy is increasingly acknowledged — a museum about her life was recently opened near Mount Olive Cemetery while August 1 has been designated as Mother Jones Day in Cork City.

“We wish to congratulate the Friends of Mother Jones in Illinois for their thoughtfulness with their symbolic act of generosity and solidarity,” said James Nolan, spokesman for the Cork Mother Jones Committee.

It was hoped, he said, the sealed container would, with the permission of Cork Cork City Council, be placed permanently alongside the memorial plaque to Mother Jones in Shandon.

“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,” he said.

The festival and summer school take place in the Shandon Historic Quarter on August 1-5.

Hundreds of visitors are expected from all over Ireland, the UK, and US for what is one of the largest public history festivals in Ireland, featuring over 30 separate events.


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