Today, May 4, 2018, Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall visited Mother Jones Monument to meet with NIU Professor Rosemary Feurer, director of the Mother Jones Heritage Project.
It was a small gathering, a few supporters that included Judy Simpson and Kate Klimt who are part of the Mother Jones Heritage Project, and Mike Katchmar and Ed Becker, two members of the Union Miner cemetery board took time to greet Brian O’Brien Consul General of Ireland and Ambassador Daniel Mulhall.
Ambassador Mulhull came to Mt. Olive met to learn more about Mother Jones, a fellow Irishwoman originally from Cork. Buried in the Union Miner’s Cemetery in Mt. Olive, Illinois, it is here that 50,000 people came to see the Mother Jones monument dedicated.
Along with the Mother Jones monument, there are also plaques that commemorate “General” Alexander Bradley and the victims of the Battle of Virden along with other miners that died in Labor struggles.
During the visit, Ambassador Mulhall announced that funds have been approved for a Mother Jones marker for the rest stop near Raymond, Illinois on north bound I-55. There is already one on the southbound side. This was the second stop to respect and revere a fellow Irish countryman. His first stop was in New Orleans.
Professor Feurer mentioned that they would like to raise money for a bronze monument of Mother Jones in Chicago. She had been a seamstress in Chicago during the Great Fire and lost her shop during this horrific event. Mother Jones had seen many personal agonies, the greatest, the loss of her husband and children in Memphis during a Yellow Fever epidemic. She said those with money were able to leave, while the poor were left behind. These two tragedies marked her and as Professor Feurer explained to Ambassador Mulhall, “She then became radicalized by the period of injustices.”
”It is hard to contemplate,” Ambassador Mulhall responded.
At the cemetery, in the photo below, the two members of the Union Miners Cemetery Board Mike Katchmar and Ed Becker took time to meet and pose with the Ambassador, Consul General and Professor Feurer.
It was a touching scene that I was glad to be privy to.
Hearing about Mary Harris Jones better known as Mother Jones and her struggles to help laborers and create better conditions for miners struck a chord with Ambassador Mulhall who only a few hours after his visit tweeted, “Visited the impressive memorial to Mother Jones (1837-1930) revered American labor activist who was born in Cork in 1837…”
Ambassador Mulhall also tweeted out a few quotes from Mother Jones as well.
Taking the time to remember the work that others like Mother Jones did that allow the rest of us the liberties we have today like a 40 hour work week, child labor laws and more are important. Thanks to the Mt. Olive community and the Mother Jones Heritage Project that is collaborating with the Cork Mother Jones Festival to build global knowledge of Mary Harris “Mother Jones” who was once known as the “Most dangerous woman in America”.