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9 Dec 2019

Kieran’s Question to CE and Motions, Cork City Council Meeting, 9 December 2019

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Question to the CE:

To ask the CE about progress on Marina Park? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

 

Motions:

That the City Council paint a yellow box as Boreenmanna Road meets the City inbound and outbound South Link lanes (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

That the City Council repaint the road line junction markings as Blackrock Road meets Victoria Road junctions (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

That the City Council begin to host visible tree planting events that the public can engage with (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

To ask Community, Culture and Place-Making Directorate for a progress and implementation report on the City of Sanctuary Action Plan (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

 

5 Dec 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 5 December 2019

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1026a. Drombeg Stone Circle, Winter Solstice 2018

 

Article 1026

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 5 December 2019

Gems From West Cork

 

My new book, 50 Gems of West Cork (Amberley Publishing, 2019) book explores 50 well-known gems of that beautiful region. Below is an abstract from two of my favourite archaeological sites – Drombeg Stone circle and The Hag of Beara.

Gem 10, A Compass in the Landscape – Drombeg Stone Circle

Drombeg is one of Ireland’s most famous stone circles and is also part of suite of circles and standing stones in West Cork. It is also one of the most publicly accessible. On the winter solstice on 21 December each year, the sun sets over the recumbent stone on the stone circle. If you stand looking between the two portal stones, you will view the sun set in a notch in the opposite hill and over the recumbent stone which is diametrically across from the two portal stones.

Drombeg was one of the earliest ancient sites protected by National Monument Act, 1930. It was added to list of protected structures by the State in 1938. However, a glance through the Archaeological Inventory of West Cork reveals a myriad of ancient standing stones, stone circles and fulacht fia (ancient cooking sites) – all very much present in the heritage DNA of the region.

The Drombeg Stone Circle complex is located on natural rock terrace on the southern slope of a low hill. The circle was excavated 1957 and the nearby fulacht fiadh and hut site was excavated in 1958. The circle comprises seventeen stones; two missing and one fallen. Five pits were uncovered within the circle, sealed beneath compacted gravel floor; one pit contained deposit of cremated human bone, fragments of shale and numerous sherds of coarse fabric pot. Other finds from circle included seven pieces of flint and small convex scraper.

The excavator of the site and archaeologist Edward Fahy literally put Drombeg on the map as the findings drew much media attention and were published in the eminent Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. It was one of Edward’s first excavations. Up to then he had been a student at the Cork School of Art. He worked with Michael J O’Kelly, the curator of Cork Public Museum in Fitzgerald’s Park especially in designing the cases for display when the museum officially opened on 4 April 1945. The building up of the Museum’s collections and displays was a continuing effort and while engaged in that work, he studied for and was awarded with distinction the Diploma of the Museums Association. This required the writing of a dissertation coupled with specialised courses and examinations in England.

Subsequently Edward Fahy pursued a BA degree, which he obtained with first class honours in Archaeology and Geography. He took part in many of Michael J O’Kelly’s excavations at this time and built up his experience in fieldwork and excavation techniques.

Gem 40, The Shaper of the Land – The Hag of Beara

Indented by an exposed coastline and defined by the Slieve Mikish and Caha Mountains, the Beara Peninsula is some 45 kilometres long and 15 kilometres wide at its widest point. The principal point in the Caha Range, Hungry Hill stands 2,251 feet and is well known to tourists not only for its mountain lakes and lofty waterfall, but also for the superb view which it affords.

Prehistoric settlers were attracted to the area as evidenced by standing stones, stone circles, and wedge tombs. Rich folklore embedded into the local landscape survives of giants, Spanish princesses and witch-like creatures.  The geomorphology of Coulagh Bay is attributed to a pair of fighting giants called the formorians According to folklore the name Beara is that of a Spanish princess, the wife of Eoghan Mór (the mythical second century BC King of Munster). Later Christian tradition pitches the presence of a Celtic Goddess of Harvest, Shaper and Protectoress of the Land – An Chaileach Bhearra or translated the Hag of Beara. In truth, she represents many cultural meanings such as mother and fertility Goddess and Divine Hag. She was deemed a goddess of sovereignty, who gave the kings the right to rule their lands

According to the local information sign, the Hag of Beara is associated with Kilcatherine in the northern part of the Peninsula, north of Eyeries, overlooking Coulagh Bay. According to myth, The Hag lived for seven periods of youth one after another – so that every man who co-habited with her came to die of old age. Her grandsons and great grandsons were so many that they were made up of entire tribes and races – hence her legend is woven into folklore across several parts of Ireland and across the west coast of Scotland.

The advent of the arrival of Saint Caitiarin and Christianity was deemed a threat to her powers. Local folklore has it that one day after collecting seawood along the shore of Whiddy Island, the Hag on her return encountered the priest asleep on a local hillock. She drew near to him and quietly took his prayer book and ran off. A cripple who lived nearby on seeing what happened shouted at the saint who awoke startled and the saw the hag running off. The saint caught up with her, re-acquired the prayer book and turned her into a grey pillar stone with her back to the hill and her face to the sea.

Visiting the pillar stone today, the visitor can see offerings of coins and pebbles. The first extant written mention of the hag is in the twelfth century Vision of Mac Conglinne, in which she is named as the “White Nun of Beare”.

The myth of the Hag is harnessed as a construct in forging a national and cultural identity in the early twentieth century. She is mentioned in work by Irish academic, scholar of the Irish language, politician and Douglas Hyde in 1901 and in verse by writer, republican political activist and revolutionary Pádraig Pearse “Mise Éire Siné mé ná an Cailleach Béara”. In most recent years, the myth of the Hag has been spotlighted again by well-known Irish poet Leanne O’Sullivan.

50 Gems of West Cork (Amberly Publishing, 2019) by Kieran McCarthy is available in good Cork bookshop.

Captions:

1026a. Drombeg Stone Circle, Winter Solstice 2018 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

1026b. The Hag of Beara, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

 

1026b. The Hag of Beara, present day

3 Dec 2019

Christmas on the Grand Parade, Cork, December 2019

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2 Dec 2019

A Walk Through Old Court Woods, Garryduff, 1 December 2019

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1 Dec 2019

Ballinlough Christmas Concert, 1 December 2019

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Time to dust off the vocal chords for the Ballinlough Festival Committee’s Christmas Concert!

Ballinlough Christmas Concert, 1 December 2019

28 Nov 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 28 November 2019

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1025a. Front Cover of 50 Gems of West Cork by Kieran McCarthy

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 28 November 2019

Kieran’s New Book, 50 Gems of West Cork

 

    There were two words – raw and epic – which constantly came to mind as my 400cc scooter motorcycle traversed the roads and byways of West Cork whilst researching this new book in the past year. Both words came to mind as I felt almost swallowed up on my small bike disappearing on routeways, which duck and weave through hollowed out rock scarred by glaciation movements 20,000 years ago or parked up on coastal beaches where the folding of the rock can be seen from near the origins of the universe.

     This new book, 50 gems of West Cork, builds on a previous publication called West Cork Through Time (Amberley Publishing 2015), which explored the fascination by post card makers one hundred years ago of West Cork in its scenery, its culture and its people. This new book returns to some of those sites chosen and details new ones exploring how these key sites became the focus of attention and development – and how their stories, memories and the making of new narratives were articulated in an attempt to preserve an identity and/ or communities locally and nationally at sites or to create new identities and communities.

    Several sites in this book came into being in the fledging years of the Irish Free State where tourism and story-telling about the nation’s history were highlighted or some sites were created from the burgeoning boom time of 1960s Ireland, where the focus was on developing industry and recreational amenities. For example, the promotion of areas such as Inchidoney Island for more tourism was driven by the Irish Free State’s Irish Tourist Association (ITA), which was established in 1925 to market the young Irish Free State as a tourist destination internationally. Small resorts along the West Cork coastline were developed simultaneously at sites such as Courtmacsherry, Glandore, Bantry Bay, Glengarriff and Berehaven.

   The title book explores 50 well-known gems of the West Cork region. It brings their stories together in an accessible manner. It is not meant to provide be a full history of a site but perhaps does try to provide new lenses on how heritage is looked at and the power of narrative construction and collective memory in West Cork. The book takes the reader from Bandon to Dursey Island, from Gougane Barra to the Healy Pass.

    Researching West Cork, the visitor discovers that each parish has its own local historian, historical society, village council, sometimes a library, tidy towns group, community group and business community who have inspired the collection of stories, the creation of heritage trails and information panels, and the championing of a strong sense of place and identity. Relics from the past also haunt the landscape with prominent landmarks ranging from Bronze Age standing stones to ivy clad ruined houses and castles, churches and old big houses, to beacons, cable cars and lighthouses. All add to the narrative of the spectacle that is West Cork.

    The origins of the beautiful towns of the West Cork can vary from medieval times to the early twentieth century. On walking around them what is particularly impressive is the nineteenth century fabric, which make for very photogenic spaces to capture. There are old and colourful shopfronts, old narrow laneways and streets, ornate water pumps, cobbled surfaces, historic market places, eye catching churches as well as two hundred year-old bridges and older bridges. These latter traits define the look of and layer with stories much of West Cork’s towns. For example, on a sunny day as the sun sets, the colourful shopfronts of Bandon’s Main Street with its stone-built fabric bridge are illuminated.

    Where much is written down and attempts made at compiling local histories in West Cork, there is a need to compile the macro historical picture of West Cork. Certainly, the work of Fáilte Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way has been key in bringing many threads of stories together, kickstarting long forgotten traditions and empowering communities to present their story to the visitor. In particular, this book draws on the brilliant Irish Newspaper Archive where the past editions of the Cork Examiner and the Southern Star are digitised and provide much information at different points of a site’s evolution. With a building, statue or a view, looking closely at the human detail can reveal nuances about how places are seen and understood and ultimately can be championed going forward into the future.

    In all, this book comprises a myriad of stories of different shapes, patterns and colours just like a painter’s palette of colours. Every site or gem presented is charged with that emotional sense of nostalgia – the past shaping and inspiring present thoughts, ideas and actions. However, this book only scratches the surface of what this region has to offer. West Cork in itself is a way of life where generations, individuals and communities, have etched out their lives. It is a place of discovery, of inspiration, a place of peace and contemplation, and a place to find oneself in the world. What’s the best way to see West Cork – travel through it, sense it and enjoy it!

50 Gems of West Cork by Kieran McCarthy is available in good Cork bookshop.

The book is being launched at a book signing by Kieran in Waterstones, St Patrick’s Street, Saturday 30 November, 3-5pm. All welcome.

Captions:

1025a. Front cover of 50 Gems of West Cork by Kieran McCarthy

1025b. Main Street, Bandon, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

 

1025b. Main Street Bandon, present day

24 Nov 2019

Last of the autumn leaves falling at the Japanese Gardens, Ballinlough, 24 November 2019

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24 Nov 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 21 November 2019

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1024a. Advertisement for Royal Victoria Hotel, 1919

 

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 21 November 2019

Kieran’s New Book, Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019

 

   Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019 is my new book and has been funded and published by the Cork Chamber of Commerce. Following on from last week, below is another snippet from the book– focussing on some aspects of its early history and the creation of its commercial hotel, which became known as Royal Victoria Hotel.

   Circa 1819, the Committee of Directors of the Cork Commercial Buildings Company made a rule banning campaigning on political or religious matters and possibly Catholic Emancipation. This displeased many of the subscribers who left and formed the Cork Chamber of Commerce. On 8 November 1819 a meeting of subscribers of the new chamber met at Mr Shinkwin’s Rooms (later the site of the Victoria Hotel on St Patrick’s Street) to discuss the rules of governance, to be based on “liberal principles”. The meeting was chaired by Mr Murphy while Mr Alex McCarthy presided at the inaugural General Meeting of 13 November.

   A set of rules for the organisation was drawn up and it is significant the word “chamber” was used in the antique sense, it being the intention of the organisation to provide literally a room where merchants, local and visiting could assemble to conduct business. It was also envisaged that the Chamber would act as a repository of commercial intelligence and accordingly newspapers were provided daily.

   The early minute books of the Chamber indicate that the committee members were designated and did not appoint a chairman in the modern context of the word. It appears that the chairmanship alternated between the members, each one taking it in turn to chair meetings. Such was the degree of stability between 1819 to 1831, the same members were returned by ballot at each succeeding annual general meeting, and so not more than nineteen chairmen officiated. These comprised James Daly, Martin Mahony, Richard Ronayne, David Baldwin, Thomas Fitzgibbon, Richard O’Driscoll, Robert Honan, James Hackett, Charles Sugrue, Joshua Hargreaves, George Waters, Daniel Murphy, Denis Mullins, John O’Connell, Dan Meagher, J Barry, Paul McSweeney, Thomas Lyons and Edward Penrose. It should be noted that this list is not in chronological sequence.

   An examination of the occupations of the members reveal that practically all were involved in trade as opposed to the professions and many of their domiciles and/or business premises were situated in the centre of the city. They were glass manufacturers, distillers, butter and tallow chandlers, woollen manufacturers and food processors.

   Policy papers didn’t get published straight away – their first forays into galvanising support was through hosting networking dinners, setting up a reading room where all the weekly newspapers of the day could be read, honouring notable Cork emigrants abroad such as Daniel Florence O’Leary, an aide de Camp in Simon Bolivar’s government in South America, honouring the Catholic Emancipator Daniel O’Connell and his diplomatic work in Westminster, and interviewing prospective candidates for membership of Westminster and asking them what their policies were.

   From the earliest minute book of the Chamber it appears that no president was elected. For several years, the Chair was taken by various members of the committee, who were elected each year. In 1822, Thomas Worthington was President. He had an eminent position in the city as Surveyor-General of Customs of Goods. By 1832 Mr D Meagher generally presided, and from that date until 1838 he is described as president. Then Mr Thomas Lyons was elected president, and he continued in this role until 1850. Thomas Lyons was active in local politics. He became an Alderman in Cork Corporation and became the first Roman Catholic mayor of Cork since 1688 after the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act of 1840 reformed the system of local government. He took a dynamic role in the early 1840s in promoting campaigns by Daniel O’Connell on the ongoing repeal movement of the Act of Union and Fr Theobald Mathew’s Temperance campaign. The firm T Lyons and Co was a major commercial drapery factory located on Cork’s South Main Street.

   In the early 1830s, the Chamber wished to have its own property and on 25 March 1831 two leases of property were taken out. One lease was for 479 years – the premises being described in the lease as containing 35 feet in front, 35 feet in width at the rear and 67 ½ feet from St Patrick’s Street down Cook Street. The other lease was for 649 years and was described as the ground on which the dwelling house of Catherine Anne Barrett stood and also its back yard and back kitchen. From 1834 onwards, the Chamber built a hotel and reading room at the corner of Marlboro Street and 104 St Patrick’s Street under a trust deed led by James Daly, Thomas Lyons, Charles Sugrue and various shareholders.

  The overall Chamber building facing onto St Patrick’s Street was a plain unornamental building, faced with cut limestone. Its reading room was described as a spacious apartment. The lower portion of the building was let into shops, and the rere was occupied as a Hotel.

  In 1838, the Chamber of Commerce Hotel was renamed the Royal Victoria Hotel, on the occasion of the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne by Mr Thomas McCormick, senior. The Royal Victoria was patronised by the Royal Families of England, France, and Prussia, by the Grand Duke and Duchess of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, his Royal Highness Prince Phillippe, the Princesses Amelia and Clotilda, and other Royal personages.

Text Extract from Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019 (2019) by Kieran McCarthy and published by Cork Chamber of Commerce. The book is available from Vibes and Scribes on Lavitt’s Quay or the Nano Nagle Centre Book Shop on Douglas Street or through the Cork Chamber of Commerce, 021 4509044 or info@corkchamber.ie.

 

Captions:

1024a. Advertisement for Royal Victoria Hotel, 1919 (source: Cork City Library).

1024b. Front cover of Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019 by Kieran McCarthy and published by the Cork Chamber of Commerce (2019).

 

1024b. Front Cover of Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerc

 

14 Nov 2019

Cllr Kieran McCarthy’s Comments, Cork City Council Budget Meeting, 14 November 2019

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 Lord Mayor,

Can I thank the CE, the Finance Officer John Hallahan and Cllr Martin, the chair of the Finance Committee for their work on this draft annual budget book.

History is being made this evening as this marks the first budget of the extended city in its current size. We now have to budget for 210,000 people and a city five times more in size with more challenges and more calls for funding.

Reading through the various sections you can see the strengths of our directorates and the ongoing work programmes – the 28 per cent of our income spent on Housing with over 1,000 social housing constructs coming on stream in the next two years – and near 20 per cent on roads with several construction and public realms projects ongoing. The continued investment in community grants, sports grants and arts grants are all very welcome.

I welcome as well the reference in the document of strong financial management and budgetary control and in particular the pulling back of the revenue deficit.

I am happy to support the budget.

I do have a few concerns from reading the document;

Firstly, the increase in expenditure of e.5.8m in homelessness services will help those that need it but I do hope that the increase will actually provide better services to those who need support services to get out of the homelessness trap, and that the funding doesn’t completely disappear into emergency accommodation, with no long term strategy really emerging.

Secondly, from a business perspective, I have an issue that that 43 per cent of the Council’s income is from rates- I feel that’s not sustainable in the long term – But I do welcome the Economic Development Fund and all its moving parts plus the work of the Local Enterprise Office and the cultural festival scheme in Cork– I still think there is a job of work to really promote measures more in the Fund, the enterprise office and the cultural festivals to the general public – all provide very useful tools to help businesses to respond to commercial changes.

Thirdly, I would like to comment on the ongoing issue of the unresolved compensation package to the County Council. It is not positive that it has not been resolved before this evening – and I do think there needs to an appendix in this draft annual budget saying how the compensation figure of e.13.5m was reached plus a little about previous expenditure in our new areas– I would suggest it might go on pages 12 and 13 with its graph showing the expenditure increase showing a breakdown of figures. I say this in light of the County Council narrative as well earlier this week regarding the County suggesting it is losing significant income through the city boundary extension and no reference in their press releases to the compensation package.

Fourthly, it is welcome to see where sections of the LPT will go towards – I do note with unease though in the introduction the allocation of e.176,500 towards “tree cutting”  – I would like to see that for every tree cut we plant two – and that for the most part the tree budget is going towards planting trees – that is this document the words “tree cutting” would be replaced by the words “tree management and tree planting”.

That leads me quickly to my fifth and last point – which is the understating of the narrative around the Council’s investment in environmental and climate change adaptation work plus even in the sustainable development goals –I think all these aspects should come to the fore more and get their own primary paragraphs in the introduction.

–for example, in the introduction there is a huge section on parking regulation but very little on the campaign to get more park and rides, cycling initiatives plus more bus incentives – in terms of transport in this budget document one could argue there is a significant car focussed narrative.

We need to create a more modern urban agenda narrative as much as we can.

I wish to thank John Hallihan and all in the finance department again on this work and I look forward to seeing the implementation of the work programme for 2020.

Many thanks Lord Mayor.

14 Nov 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 14 November 2019

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1023a. Front Cover of Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerc

 

 

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 14 November 2019

Kieran’s New Book, Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019

 

     Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019 is my new book and has been funded and published by the Chamber of Commerce. Established in 1819 the Chamber has consistently led a mission to be the leading business organisation in the Cork region. For two hundred years, it has committed itself to ensure the city and region’s prosperity, vibrancy and competitiveness through sustainable development. Researching the history of the institution through the rich archival material that has survived, every broad period of growth and decline has empowered the institution to carry on to challenge and resolve the issues of the day. The contribution has been immense.

    Circa 1819, the Committee of Directors of the Cork Commercial Buildings Company made a rule banning campaigning on political or religious matters and possibly Catholic Emancipation. This displeased many of the subscribers who left and formed the Cork Chamber of Commerce. On 8 November 1819 a meeting of subscribers of the new chamber met at Mr Shinkwin’s Rooms (later the site of the Victoria Hotel on St Patrick’s Street) to discuss the rules of governance, to be based on “liberal principles”. The meeting was chaired by Mr Murphy while Mr Alex McCarthy presided at the inaugural General Meeting of 13 November.

    Established in an economic decline and as a champion of Catholic Emancipation, the Chamber emerged not only to provide a physical space where its members could come and read the up todate news of the day and plan for the future, but also to challenge the status quo. It grew rapidly from 1819 to the Great Famine years campaigning for more rights for the Catholic merchant middle class and more investment opportunities.

   Post the Irish Great Famine, the economic decline that followed led to the emergence of new forms of party politics being connected with the Chamber. The quest for Home Rule and the Irish National Land League campaign split the membership in the 1880s with the Incorporated Chamber of Commerce and Shipping appearing on the commercial landscape of the city. The city now had two chambers that pursued issues such as the need for better and quicker transport modes and more business education. Both of these core issues led the Chambers to the era of the First World War, where once again economic decline ensued. There was a distinct shortage of labour as many Irish labourers went out to fight the war. Following this the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil war disrupted business. It was only in the late 1920s that the two Chambers reframed their strategies to push the future of the Irish Free State. Growth for over a decade through industries such as Fords and Dunlops and reclamation projects such as Tivoli industrial area were again stifled by the advent of war – this time the Second World War.

    Cork in the decades of the 1950s and 1960s was a regional powerhouse in Ireland as Haulbowline Steel Mills, ESB projects such as the Lee Hydroelectric Scheme and Marina Steam plant came into being followed in quick succession by Verolme Dockyard, Whitegate Oil Refinery, Cork Airport, and a new Regional Technical College. The decade of the 1980s brought economic decline again and the Chamber once again shifted its focus on strengthening the supports for local business into the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. The creation of a full time Chamber executive team with creative thinking capacities provided platforms to think about the future of Cork as Ireland’s southern capital and region.

    This book draws on the Chamber’s archives in Cork City and County Archives and from its press coverage over two hundred years. It highlights the big stories of the chamber’s past but also the subtler elements – the conversations, speeches, the messages, the creativity, the elements of empowerment – the intangible pulses, which drive an institution forward. The book presents six chronological chapters, whose headings are meant to connect with the present-day strategic aims of the Cork Chamber. The chapters help showcase how much lobbying work the Chamber has covered, the topics that have come up over and over again, and the ones, which form the foundation of the ongoing elements of the Chamber’s forward-looking vision.

    Chapters two to seven map out the variety of campaigns across three centuries – from the early nineteenth century to the 21st century. Chapter two, entitled Setting the Scene, outlines the context to the establishment of the organisation and the first sixty years. Chapter three entitled Transforming Cork relates a multitude of campaigns to transform Cork physically especially its infrastructure. Chapter four entitled A Vision of a Region highlights a number of core events, which for the Chamber were a key part in setting out a vision for Cork in the future. Chapter five entitled Empowering You maps out many of the campaigns the Chamber engaged in to enable social change. Chapter six, entitled Supporting Business showcases several of the initiatives to help businesses in Cork City and the wider Region. Chapter Seven, Plans for a New Millennium, details projects completed and ongoing in the early 21st Century City and Region and beyond.

Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019 is available from any good Cork bookshop or through the Cork Chamber of Commerce.

 

Captions:

1023a. Front cover of Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019 by Kieran McCarthy and published by the Cork Chamber of Commerce.

1023b. St Patrick’s Street, during the recent Cork Jazz Festival (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

1023b. St Patrick’s Street, during the recent Cork Jazz Festival