June 2, 2023, marked the first day in 93 years that an Irish flag has flown over the Mt. Olive grave of the legendary Irish firebrand Mother Jones, located at the intersection of Mt. Olive Rd. and Reservoir Rd., due to a decision by the Union Miners Cemetery Perpetual Care Committee and Friends of Mother Jones Museum in Mt. Olive.
During an April 30 visit of 12 mid-state Irish Consulate General Kevin Byrne, who participated in the re-enactment of the December 8, 1930, funeral of Jones, sparked the realization that nothing indicates her Irish heritage at her grave. Not only was MJ Irish, but her original eulogy was given by Father John McGuire, an Irishman. During the eulogy, he read a poem that was written by the then-Irish President, Padriac Pearse.
The Shandon area, Cork, Ireland, Maldron Hotel Manager Joe Kennedy, presented the flag to James Goltz, activist and Bunker Hill resident, during his recent stay at the hotel. The hotel hosts the annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, which is steps away from her plaque on Shandon St. and Saint Mary’s Church, where she was baptized.
The flag had been flying in front of the hotel and was taken down and given to Goltz, who had attended a previous MJ festival where he had presented clay from above her grave to the Lord Mayor. Goltz said rumor has it the grave dirt is nearby.
When he returned to the States, this tricolored Irish flag flew for 15 minutes before being replaced by the American flag. Mike Katchmar, treasurer of both the UMC and MJ Museum, said he hopes to find help installing another permanent flag pole so both the American and Irish flags may be flown permanently in her honor at her grave.