Cllr McCarthy: High Demand must be met at Local Enterprise Office, 23 May 2020

Over the past few weeks, large numbers of SMEs have contacted Cork City’s Local Enterprise Office, which is located at Cork City Hall and works in conjunction with Cork City Council. The LEO has been a central component in the Government’s and Council’s response to the needs of small business in dealing with the repercussions of Covid-19.

At last week’s online City Council Covid-19 briefing Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has praised the efforts of the LEO office and called for even more supports to be put in place to meet the large interest in the Trading Online Voucher Scheme and mentoring programmes. Cllr McCarthy noted: “As the economy moves into restart phase, the local enterprise office is continuing to adapt its training, advice and guidance to respond to the needs of business. The LEO continues to manage its existing and very positive business support programmes to mass interest”.  

Under the Government’s National Digital Strategy, the expanded Trading Online Voucher Scheme helps small businesses with up to 10 employees to trade more online, boost sales and reach new markets. There is up to €2,500 available through the Local Enterprise Offices with co-funding of 10% from the business. Training and further business supports are also provided by Local Enterprise Offices, and businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can now apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required. Funding can be used towards adding payment facilities or booking systems to your website or developing new apps for your customers. The voucher can also be used towards subscriptions to low cost online retail platform solutions, to help companies quickly establish a retailing presence online.

Under the Local Enterprise Office Mentor Programme, clients work with an experienced mentor to identify solutions to areas of exposure within their business. With advice and guidance from their mentor, clients develop strategies that are more robust, which address issues and maximise potential opportunities when the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end. Mentoring services are now free of charge. Weekly free business advice clinics are now being held by telephone or through video conferencing e.g. Skype/Zoom.

The COVID-19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland (MFI), in partnership with Local Enterprise Offices, is a Government-funded initiative to support small businesses through the current period of uncertainty. It is designed for micro-enterprises that are a) having difficulty accessing Bank finance and b) impacted, or may be impacted negatively, by COVID-19 resulting in a reduction of 15% or more in turnover or profit.

The Business Continuity Voucher, available through Local Enterprise Offices, is designed for businesses across every sector that employ up to 50 people. The voucher is worth up to €2,500 in third party consultancy costs and can be used by companies and sole traders to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal is to help companies make informed decisions about what immediate measures and remedial actions should be taken, to protect staff and sales. Further information on the above can be viewed at https://www.localenterprise.ie/CorkCity/

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 21 May 2020

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 21 May 2020

Remembering 1920: The Gathering of Intelligence

The witness statements of the Bureau of Military History offer much insight into the Irish War of Independence. There is much to gleam from the Cork context on IRA activity and the gathering of intelligence by Cork Brigade no.1 across April and May 1920.

Michael Murphy (Commandant, 2nd Battalion Cork No. 1 Brigade, O/C, Cork No. 1 Brigade Active Service Unit/ witness statement 1547) relates that early in the month of April 1920, an order was received from General Head Quarters Dublin, to the effect that all income tax offices should be burned at the same time on a fixed date. This action was to be taken all over the country. The aim was to destroy all records and thereby cause a considerable financial loss to the British Exchequer, as well as completely disrupting the collection administration.

There were two income tax offices in Cork City one at the South Mall, which was in the 1st Battalion area, and one at 33 South Terrace the 2nd Battalion. Michael relates that for days before the operation took place, he placed men on watch near the South Terrace offices to note the number of staff employed, the times of arrival and departure of the staff, and the number and location of the rooms in the building occupied by the income tax authorities. Petrol was commandeered some days prior to the burning.

Shortly before 8pm on 5 April 1920, the petrol was taken in horse carts to the vicinity of the South Terrace offices and Michael with about twelve other men, entered the building. The offices occupied the first and second floors over which were offices used by the British Pensions Board. The first job of Michael’s unit was to get all the record books out on the floors, loosen the pages and spread them out. There was no staff in the building at the time. The building was then set alight and soon gutted. About 50 to 60 men of the 2nd Battalion were engaged on the job that night filling petrol tins and doing armed guard (carrying revolvers) in the area.

Michael V O’Donoghue (Engineer Officer, 2nd Battalion, Cork No.1/ witness statement 1741) notes that during the spring and summer of 1920 the active Volunteers of A-Company did quite a lot of scouting and spotting. They usually performed their intelligence chores in pairs. Michael details in his witness statement: “A regular beat of ours was the Western Road between the Muskerry Station and the Gaol Cross. Two hours was the maximum duty time, but usually the scouting pair were relieved at more frequent intervals. Our main objectives were to note accurately all enemy movements and activities and details of time, direction, number, type, were to be precise…As a result of this intensive work, the regular movements of all enemy forces along the Western Road in daytime was well known to IRA intelligence. Even the off-duty activities of police and soldiers were also quietly noted”.

Another beat of A-Company was the Grand Parade and the South Main Street, which ran parallel to it. On Tuckey Street the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) had a large and strong barracks with a garrison of about thirty. It was A-Company’s job to note as minutely as possible all the activities of police during the day and night. Firearms for A-Company were held in a high room of the college tower of UCC, which continued as a store and dump for arms across 1920 and 1921.

Leo Buckley (Staff Officer, Intelligence, Cork No. 1 Brigade/ witness statement 1714) was a skilled telegraphist in the GPO, Cork. The Cork No.1 Brigade was anxious to obtain copies of all coded telegrams passing through Cork Post Office to and from British Army and RIC sources. The key to the codes used was obtained and accordingly from 1920 onwards, Leo supplied the Brigade with copies of all coded telegrams passing through the Post Office. He made a daily delivery of coded telegrams to Brigade Staff. When they were not available Leo left the copies with Nora Wallace, who then conducted a newsagent’s shop in Brunswick Street (now St Augustine Street). If a priority telegram came through, it was copied and handed over immediately to the Brigade Staff. The British Authorities made frequent changes in the key to the codes, but any changes made were notified in one of the coded telegrams.

Seán Healy, Captain (A-Company, 1st Battalion, Cork I. Brigade/ witness statement 1479) in his witness statement notes that a very strict censorship of letters and parcels was imposed by the British authorities during the years 1920 and 1921 with the result that none could be sent by post. Therefore, other means of communication had to be found. Railwaymen came to the rescue. Special agents were appointed at all the big railway stations who would handle these dispatches. Men employed in Booking Office, Parcels Office and Cloak Room could be trusted.

Robert C Ahern (Intelligence Officer, Cork No. I Brigade/ witness statement 1676) recalls he organised the arrangements for transmitting weekly reports by D-Company men engaged in various occupations. Certain men employed in public houses, hotels, railways, on the docks and in business houses, reported anything, no matter how trivial it might appear, which related to enemy activity or personnel. The intelligence officers of the nine companies comprising the 2nd Battalion met each week and considered these reports and sent them upstream. One result of the extensive system of intelligence developed in the 2nd Battalion was the numerous and successful raids carried out by men of the battalion on the premises of the Cork-Bandon and Cork-Macroom railway in Cork City. To these stations were consigned an enormous quantity of military stores of all kinds – provisions, clothing, boots, bicycles, and general canteen supplies for the large military barracks in Cork and the south west generally.  The military material was taken to a dump prepared in the grounds of the Cork Agricultural Society’s showgrounds at The Marina.

Captions:

1049a. Section of Goad’s insurance plan for Tuckey Street, 1915, which shows the RIC Barracks (source: Cork City Library)

1049b. Former site of Tuckey Street RIC Barracks, now the present day site of the St Vincent de Paul offices (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

Cllr McCarthy: Information Sought on MacCurtain Jury Members of 1920

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy is seeking information from families with connections to the jury on Tomás MacCurtain’s Inquest, who may still live in the Douglas area or in the south east of the city. One hundred years ago, the Tomás MacCurtain inquest was the most significant inquiry of its kind ever held in Cork City. The verdict, which was given on 17 April 1920, was the most startling ever pronounced by a coroner’s jury in the British Empire. Cllr McCarthy noted: “Apart from the verdict there are many voices in the 70,000 word transcript of the inquest, which I recently compiled with news editor John O’Mahony and the Irish Examiner to create the publication Witness to Murder. The voices of the 90 interviewees are a very important part of the inquest but so also was the work of the chair Coroner James McCabe and his jury”.

Cllr McCarthy continued: “Whilst researching the proceedings of the 14 sessions of the inquest you can read how Coroner James McCabe tried to remain calm remain and thorough, in what was a raw and emotional time inside the inquest’s location at the old City Hall and outside in a city, which was unstable with tit for tat attacks by the IRA and the growing swathes of Black and Tan auxiliaries in the city. James McCabe handled all interviews of witnesses, solicitors and police officials alike with calmness, dignity and courtesy. He was always helpful and courteous to the journalists present too and was held in high esteem amongst its members”.

At the conclusion of the Inquest of Tomás MacCurtain on 17 April 1920, Chairman Coroner James McCabe thanked the jury for the great care and attention they had given the various witness interviews. The 14-man jury comprised: William J Barry (foreman), Daniel Barrett, Richard Barrett, Michael J Grace, David Hennessy, Harry Loreton, Patrick McGrath, Melville McWilliams, Florence O’Donoghue, Peter O’Donovan, Jeremiah O’Callaghan, Thomas O’Shaughnessy, Tadgh O’Sullivan and Pádraig O’Sullivan.

With the passing of time, the memory of several of the latter members has disappeared. Through searching through obituaries, I have constructed some biographical information on the jury members. I have some leads that some of whom I am researching once lived in the south east of the city in the Douglas area or in the south east of the city. There may be families who still remember them. In particular I am some seeking information on the following jury members whose memory has been forgotten – the foremanWilliam J Barry, Daniel Barrett , Michael J Grace, David Hennessy, Harry Loreton, Melville McWilliams, Peter O’Donovan, Jeremiah O’Callaghan, and Thomas O’Shaughnessy. I can be contacted at 087 655 33 89 or at info@kieranmccarthy.ie. Witness to Murder, The Inquest of Tomás MacCurtain (2020, Irish Examiner) is also available to purchase at www.irishexaminer.ie.

Horizon 2020 is offering European workplace innovation funding to Irish companies – with the support of Cork City Council

A European competitive open funding call is being targeted at Irish companies who undertake innovative workplace initiatives that improve working conditions or the working environment –  leading to potentially better business competitiveness.   Five companies from across the country can receive € 7,500 in Start at Best funding to support a workplace innovation initiative.  No match funding is required.   

Start at Best, a Horizon 2020 project, is taking applications for initiatives which support and/or improve working conditions and/or the workplace environment.  Any company (subject to T&C) with a new workplace innovation – commencing any time after March 2nd up to August 31st, 2020 – is eligible to apply.   Initiatives which meet key criteria can apply for funding and will be judged on pre-set criteria by an independent judging panel. Reacting to the COVID-19 crisis, the deadline for submission has been extended to June 3rd 2020  to give more time for applicants to prepare proposals.

  Workplace innovation (WPI) refers to practices that enable employees to participate in organisational change to improve the quality of their working life and organisational performance.   Innovation Programme Manager at Cork City Council, Siobhan Finn said: “Workplace innovation has emerged as a key driver for business competitiveness.  During the best of economic times, workplace innovation has become an important consideration; in these Covid-19 times it has the potential to be a key tool for business recovery.  SMEs and micro-business in Ireland are facing uncertain and challenging futures; any support which will help reorient business practices to improve productivity and thus competitiveness should be examined”.

“Research has shown that while there is significant variation in the types of WPI practices in companies, the process of why and how these practices are implemented shows considerable similarity. While the reasons for introducing WPI are mainly related to efficiency, competitiveness and innovation, another positive result seems to be strengthening the working environment of employees and employee representatives. WPI outcomes often lead to enhanced economic performance and a better quality of working life for all,” she added.   Start At Best is a Horizon 2020 project which promotes SME competitiveness through the funding of workplace innovation. Cork City Council is one of four consortium partners for this EU Project.     -ENDS-

– For further information –
Siobhán Finn, Innovation Programme Manager, Cork City Council | E: siobhan.finn@corkcity.ie  – Notes to the Editor –

Cork City Council is one of four consortium partners under Start at Best  – a Horizon 2020 project which promotes SME competitiveness through the funding of workplace innovation practices* (WPI) among the EU SME community.  Start at Best is supported under the Horizon 2020: Programme 2018-2020 for a better innovation support to SMEs and the action Workplace innovation uptake by SMEs (INNOSUP-04-2019).  This action is aimed at regional and national innovation support agencies that design, implement and/or assist innovation support programmes for SMEs and micro-firms.

– Full details of the Start at Best Project – https://startatbest.eu

Cllr McCarthy calls on Regions and Cities to work together to defeat Coronavirus, May 2020


Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has praised the work of frontline staff in Cork and held the City’s Community Response Forum, which covers the Douglas and south east area of Cork City as a best practice example in a pool of many others, which are supporting the rallying against the Coronavirus across the EU. 

Cllr McCarthy raised such sentiments on his regular online European Committee of the Regions meetings. Cllr McCarthy is the President or chair of the European Alliance grouping within the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). The CoR is a 329 person formal EU assembly of councillors, Mayor and Regional Presidents from over 270 regions in the EU.  

On recent video conference calls of the Conference of Presidents meetings, where presidents or chairs of other political groupings sit, Cllr McCarthy has strongly lobbied that local and regional authorities such as Cork City Council, who are on the forefront of the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic must be supported by EU Funds. He also raised the plight of SMEs in smaller European cities such as Cork and that any emergency EU funding released needs to get to the citizen on the actual ground and not be held up at central government level.

Cllr McCarthy also lobbied for the creation of an exchange platform to help local and regional leaders share their needs and solutions and to enhance mutual support between local communities across Europe. The platform, which has been rolled out over the past few week, enables CoR members to give their feedback on the EU actions already put in place, allowing a policy reality check from the ground. The CoR provides regular and practical information about EU measures, with particular focus on the financing opportunities. 

Cllr McCarthy strongly noted that it was vital that Regions and Cities across the EU to work together to ensure that this virus would be defeated and that regions and cities had to have the means at their disposal via EU and National Funding.  He added it was hugely important for citizens to heed the advice of the relevant authorities regarding ‘staying at home’ and ‘social distancing’.

            Cllr McCarthy has also emphasised that the outbreak and rapid spread of COVID-19 is putting public sector organisations through great challenges and great stress with local governments, public administrations, local health services particularly at the forefront of the crisis; “This is a virus with a serious impact on public health, the economy and social and political issues. Different local authorities and different regions within the same country are in different scenarios but knowledge of different interventions can help those on the front line with more information and how to drive the virus back”. Those following developments in other European countries may be interested in the European committee of the Regions knowledge exchange platform, which is available to view at www. cor.europa.eu.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article, 14 May 2020

1048a. Placename plaque for Oliver Plunkett Street, present day but possibly dating to 1920

 

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,
Cork Independent, 14 May 2020
Remembering 1920: The Naming of Oliver Plunkett Street

 

    At the meeting of Council of Cork Corporation on 14 May 1920, Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney presided. On the agenda was a discussion on the beatification of Oliver Plunkett headed up by Sinn Féin councillors. A number of decisions arose out of it. One of the principal ones was the proposal by Cllr Micheal O’Cuill that the name or George’s Street be changed to that of Sráid Olibhéir Phluingcéid (Oliver Plunkett street), and this was seconded by Cllr Seán O’Leary and passed unanimously. This change in name just came within a month of the change from (Robert) King Street to MacCurtain Street.

     Renaming streets was a very symbolic act and another mechanism to breaking bonds with the British Empire. George’s Street, was laid out from 1715 onwards and was named to celebrate the House of Hanover. Its side streets are named after different colonial historical figures. Such names promoted British imperial remembering structures within the city.

     Oliver Plunkett (1625-1681) was linked to martyrdom and suppression and was an idea candidate to commemorate within a street name. Oliver was born at Loughcrew, near Old Castle, Co. Meath in 1625. Up to the age of sixteen he was educated by Dr Patrick Plunkett, Abbot of St Mary’s Dublin. Subsequently he studied for the priesthood at the Irish College, Rome. He was ordained in 1654 and acted as agent in Rome for the Irish Bishops. In 1669 he was appointed to the Archbishopric of Armagh. In 1670 be returned to Ireland and established a Jesuit College in Drogheda in 1670. In 1679 he was arrested on a charge of high treason, which was supported by the evidence of witnesses who came forward to prove a Popish or Roman Catholic plot to kill England’s King Charles II. The King did not believe in the conspiracy and refused to get involved in the case of Oliver, and the law was allowed to take its course.

    Brought to Westminster before an all Protestant jury, during the first trial, Oliver disputed the right of the court to try him in England. He was found to have pursued no crime but was not released. During the second trial, he drew focus on the criminal background of some of the witnesses, but to no avail. Found guilty Oliver was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn on 1 July 1681, aged 55. He was the last Catholic martyr to die in England. His story of a miscarriage of justice was not forgotten about in and was harnessed in many subsequent debates from condemning the Penal Laws to calling for Catholic Emancipation in the early nineteenth century.

   Fast forward to 1920 nationally the story of the miscarriage of justice of Oliver Plunkett was connected to the war for Independence and in a Cork context to the murder of Tomás MacCurtain and his ongoing memorialisation. At the Cork Corporation Council meeting of 14 May 1920 this latter connection is seen through Sinn Féin’s Cllr Professor Alfred O’Rahilly, who proposed: “We, the Corporation of Cork, in Council assembled, hereby record the joy and satisfaction of the people of Ireland at the approaching Beatification of the Venerable Oliver Plunkett, the martyred Archbishop of Armagh, who 239 years ago, as the victim of a bogus plot, was seized and deported by the English Forces then in Ireland, and was legally murdered as a criminal and a traitor. We direct that this resolution be forwarded to the Cardinal Secretary of State, to his Eminence Cardinal Logue, to his Grace Dr Harty, Archbishop of Cashel, and to his Lordship Dr Cohalan, Bishop of Cork”.

   Lord Mayor MacSwiney proposed that a deputation of four be appointed to go to Rome on the occasion of the Beatification. The City Solicitor pointed out that the Corporation could not pay the expense of the deputation. The Lord Mayor expressed his understanding of the financial position. However, the resolution appointing the councillor deputation was passed, and the following were appointed – Lord Mayor, Professor Stockley, Messrs Donal O’Callaghan, and Simon Daly.

   The Lord Mayor further noted he understood that to proceed to Rome they needed passports. He tried to get passports direct from the Italian Government but could not. He also understood that he would have to the nearest police barrack – and in this case that would be King Street. This was not a journey he wished to make especially after the focus placed on it during the inquest of Tomás MacCurtain.

    Cllr O’Callaghan. speaking in Irish, suggested that the four members of the deputation proceed as far as they could go without passports. Alderman Edmund Coughlan seconded, and the suggestion was adopted. The passports though were not received by the proposed delegation nor did they travel some of the way to Rome.

   To mark the Beatification of Oliver Plunkett in Rome on 14 May 1920, Bishop Cohalan celebrated high mass at the North Cathedral where Lord Mayor MacSwiney and councillors were present. In all the churches of the city after Mass at noon the Blessed Sacrament was exposed on the High Altar.

    Twenty-four hours previously, the Lord Mayor sent out a public call to citizens to illuminate their houses and display flags and bunting to commemorate the historic and holy event. On 14 May 1920 rows of houses in whole streets were all lit up. Statues and pictorial representations of the Sacred Heart were erected inside the windows and surrounded by vari-coloured lights, the Papal colours – gold and white – predominated. The Papal Flag was displayed from very many homes. The Sinn Féin flag flew over public buildings, such as the City Hall, the Markets, and was also hoisted over the Courthouse in Washington Street. The latter flag was put up in the morning by some young men with the aid of the fire escape outside the Court House. A demonstration was made in the evening by the members of the Irish Trades and General Workers Union whose hall at Camden Quay was beautifully decorated. Accompanied by the Connolly Memorial Fife and Drum Band, the Union members of well over one thousand left the hall and proceeded to Blackpool Bridge. Here a halt was made to pay tribute to the memory of the late Lord Mayor, Alderman Tomás MacCurtain. The band played outside his residence for some time. All of this happened as Black and Tans loomed more and more in making their presence felt.

Kieran’s new book Witness to Murder, The Inquest of Tomás MacCurtain is now available to purchase online (co-authored with John O’Mahony 2020, Irish Examiner/ www.examiner.ie).

Captions:

1048a. Placename plaque for Oliver Plunkett Street, present day but possibly dating to 1920 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

1048b. Oliver Plunkett Street, May 2020 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

1048b. Oliver Plunkett Street, May 2020

Memory, Martrydom and Making Oliver Plunkett Street, Kieran McCarthy

Oliver Plunkett Street, May 2020


At the meeting of Council of Cork Corporation on 14 May 1920, Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney presided. On the agenda was a discussion on the beatification of Oliver Plunkett headed up by Sinn Féin councillors. A number of decisions arose out of it. One of the principal ones was the proposal by Cllr Micheal O’Cuill that the name or George’s Street be changed to that of Sráid Olibhéir Phluingcéid (Oliver Plunkett street), and this was seconded by Cllr Seán O’Leary and passed unanimously. This change in name just came within a month of the change from (Robert) King Street to (Tomás) MacCurtain Street.

Renaming streets was a very symbolic act and another mechanism to breaking bonds with the British Empire. Cork’s George’s Street was named to celebrate the ascendency of the German Royal House of Hanover to an English royal seat. Its first monarch came to the English throne in 1714. The western part of George’s Street was laid out across Cork’s unreclaimed eastern marshes from 1715 onwards and historic maps such as John Rocque’s in 1759 show that the street and its buildings in its eastern sections were still being developed. In 1760, Mayor Thomas Newenham organised a subscription fund to erect an equestrian statue of George II on a pedestal on a specially constructed arch at the western emtrance to George’s Street on the south side of the eminently arched Tuckey’s Bridge (centre of present day Grand Parade and marked by Berwick Fountain). In late September 1760, it was further decided to enlarge this bridge so that carriages could pass on each side of statue into George’s Street.

Very little survives on the present day street from the early eighteenth century but there are some very fine examples of Georgian architecture from the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. The side streets of Georges Street were named after prominent Protestant merchant figures – John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, Stephen Cook who was Sheriff of Cork in 1681, William Winthrop (Sheriff of Cork in 1741 and Mayor in 1744), Thomas Pembroke (Sheriff of Cork in 1724 and Mayor of Cork in 1733), and Samuel Maylor (Sheriff of Cork in 1766). Caroline Street is named after Queen Caroline of Brunswick, wife of George IV. Such names added to British imperial remembering structures within the city.

The name Oliver Plunkett (1625-1681) is a far cry from the connections with the House of Hanover. Temporally he did not live in the eighteenth century and is linked to martyrdom and suppression. He was an ideal candidate to commemorate during the Irish War of Independence. Oliver was born at Loughcrew, near Old Castle, Co. Meath in 1625. Up to the age of sixteen he was educated by Dr Patrick Plunkett, Abbot of St Mary’s Dublin. Subsequently he studied for the priesthood at the Irish College, Rome. He was ordained in 1654 and acted as agent in Rome for the Irish Bishops. In 1669 he was appointed to the Archbishopric of Armagh. In 1670 be returned to Ireland and established a Jesuit College in Drogheda in 1670. In 1679 he was arrested on a charge of high treason, which was supported by the evidence of witnesses who came forward to prove a Popish or Roman Catholic plot to kill England’s King Charles II. The King did not believe in the conspiracy and refused to get involved in the case of Oliver, and the law was allowed to take its course.

Brought to Westminster before an all Protestant jury, during the first trial, Oliver disputed the right of the court to try him in England. He was found to have pursued no crime but was not released. During the second trial, he drew focus on the criminal background of some of the witnesses, but to no avail. Found guilty Oliver was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn on 1 July 1681, aged 55. He was the last Catholic martyr to die in England. His story of a miscarriage of justice was not forgotten about in and was harnessed in many subsequent debates from condemning the Penal Laws to calling for Catholic Emancipation in the early nineteenth century.

Fast forward to 1920 nationally the story of the miscarriage of justice of Oliver Plunkett was connected to the war for Independence and in a Cork context to the murder of Tomás MacCurtain and his ongoing memorialisation. The Cork Examiner records that at the Cork Corporation Council meeting of 14 May 1920 this latter connection is seen through Sinn Féin’s Cllr Professor Alfred O’Rahilly, who proposed: “We, the Corporation of Cork, in Council assembled, hereby record the joy and satisfaction of the people of Ireland at the approaching Beatification of the Venerable Oliver Plunkett, the martyred Archbishop of Armagh, who 239 years ago, as the victim of a bogus plot, was seized and deported by the English Forces then in Ireland, and was legally murdered as a criminal and a traitor. We direct that this resolution be forwarded to the Cardinal Secretary of State, to his Eminence Cardinal Logue, to his Grace Dr Harty, Archbishop of Cashel, and to his Lordship Dr Cohalan, Bishop of Cork”.

Lord Mayor MacSwiney proposed that a deputation of four be appointed to go to Rome on the occasion of the Beatification. The City Solicitor pointed out that the Corporation could not pay the expense of the deputation. The Lord Mayor expressed his understanding of the financial position. However, the resolution appointing the councillor deputation was passed, and the following were appointed – Lord Mayor, Professor Stockley, Messrs Donal O’Callaghan, and Simon Daly.

Commercial party Councillor Sir John Scott expressed his gratification at the passing of the resolution, and recited instances in which he took the official part as representing the Council of Cork in other such matters.

Alderman Tadgh Barry took issue with Sir Scott and said he was sure that in the days of Oliver Plunkett somebody conniving at those who martyred him spoke in such manner as they had just listened to; “The same Government that martyred Oliver Plunkett killed Tomás MacCurtain, and they did not want to hear any more hypocritical nonsense from those who sympathised by their acts with the murderers of Tomás MacCurtain”. Sir John Scott replied that he did not sympathise with such murders, and it should not be said. He noted that he joined in the resolution as a mark of respect.

The Lord Mayor further noted that it was his understanding that to proceed to Rome they needed passports. He tried to get passports direct from the Italian Government but could not. He also understood that he would have to the nearest police barrack – and in this case that would be King Street. This was not a journey he wished to make especially after the focus placed on it during the inquest of Tomás MacCurtain.

Cllr O’Callaghan. speaking in Irish, suggested that the four members of the deputation proceed as far as they could go without passports. Alderman Edmund Coughlan seconded, and the suggestion was adopted. The passports though were not received by the proposed delegation nor did they travel some of the way to Rome.

During another discussion point the Lord Mayor said he had been specially asked by the Rector of Rome’s Irish College to go to Rome if he could possibly manage it. He suggested they should make special acknowledgment of the Pope’s declaration in connection with the beatification of Oliver Plunkett. He suggested that two or three members of the Council should draw up an address expressive of their gratitude to His Holiness, said address to him in Irish and French.

To mark the Beatification of Oliver Plunkett in Rome on 14 May 1920, Bishop Cohalan celebrated high mass at the North Cathedral where Lord Mayor MacSwiney and councillors were present. In all the churches of the city after Mass at noon the Blessed Sacrament was exposed on the High Altar.

Twenty-four hours previously, the Lord Mayor sent out a public call to citizens to illuminate their houses and display flags and bunting to commemorate the historic and holy event. Mass pageantry ensued. On 14 May 1920 rows of houses in whole streets were all lit up. Statues and pictorial representations of the Sacred Heart were erected inside the windows and surrounded by vari-coloured lights, the Papal colours – gold and white – predominated. The Papal Flag was displayed from very many homes. The Sinn Féin flag flew over public buildings, such as the City Hall, the Markets, and was also hoisted over the Courthouse in Washington Street. The latter flag was put up in the morning by some young men with the aid of the fire escape outside the Court House. A demonstration was made in the evening by the members of the Irish Trades and General Workers Union whose hall at Camden Quay was beautifully decorated. Accompanied by the Connolly Memorial Fife and Drum Band, the Union members of well over one thousand left the hall and proceeded to Blackpool Bridge. Here a halt was made to pay tribute to the memory of the late Lord Mayor, Alderman Tomás MacCurtain. The band played outside his residence for some time.

 The processionists then went to the Cathedral, outside which the band played, and having paid a similar visit to the Church of the Franciscans. Liberty Street, they marched onto the National Monument on the Grand Parade. Here Rev Fr Mathew OFM, said the rosary in Irish with the crowd kneeling and giving responses to the Rosary. The band and members then went on to the Holy Trinity Church, and having halted outside it and played, a return was made to the hall, Camden Quay.

At Cork City Hall the facade over the main entrance was lined with electric bulbs, and in the centre was placed a shamrock, the bulbs being coloured gold and white. At some points of the city tar barrels were set ablaze. The illuminations continued to midnight. All of this happened as Black and Tans loomed more and more in making their presence felt.

Kieran’s new book Witness to Murder, The Inquest of Tomás MacCurtain is now available to purchase online at www.irishexaminer.ie (co-authored with John O’Mahony 2020 and published by the Irish Examiner).

Dr Kieran McCarthy is a Geographer, Cork local historian and an Independent member of Cork City Council. His historical work can be viewed at www.corkheritage.ie.

#EuropeDay 2020 Regions and Cities: Vital for Europe’s Economic Recovery, 9 May 2020


Cllr Kieran McCarthy’s Online Debate Speech, European Committee of the Regions

Dear President Tzitzikostas, Dear Commissioner, Dear Colleagues.

We have heard much this morning of the need to bring EU citizens together more – We have heard much this morning on the benefits of concepts of solidarity and democracy.

It is highly important that words are turned into practical action.

There is an old saying – that there are three types of people in our regions – those people who make it happen, those people who watch it happen and those people who ask what happened.

We all need to need to be on the side of making it happen.

We need to plan to harness the wisdom of our citizens for a better Europe.

We need to keep evolving EU action plans to give regions and cities the resources to be able to act at a level closest to the citizens.

For my part today I have three short messages.

Citizen Dialogues

Firstly, the CoR has been active in citizen dialogues the last few years with hundreds of dialogues taken place across the EU. Such work as a CoR member I am proud of. We have developed methodologies that work and have inspired others desiring to do similar.

Our reports on such work and energy should not gather dust on a shelf – no mind the recent collaborative work pursued on the Cohesion Alliance, the European Social Pillars, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the COR’s exchange platform on the Local and Regional Authority Covid Response.

Permanent Dialogue:

My second message concerns the European Alliance group of which I am the president and its preparing of an opinion on establishing a permanent dialogue with citizens.

It is a member from Galway Cllr Declan McDonnell who is leading for the European Committee of the Regions on this subject and the opinion of the final opinion is now planned for October. Declan is in hospital at present and I wish him well.

In an Irish context we have a lot we can share with Europe from the experience of the Citizens Assembly in Ireland which influenced the upstreaming of a number of changes in the Irish constitution. 

Bringing 100 citizens representing different age groups, working environments, different backgrounds all contributing to the greater good of improving the constitution made by the people and for the people. 

It cannot be a top down process we need to bring on board the grassroots representative bodies.  What is also significant is Dr Catherine Day, former Secretary General of the European Commission is the chair of the Irish Citizens Assembly.

We need to ensure that local and regional government are pivotal to opening the dialogue with the citizens, but we also need to bring on board.

  • Community groups
  • Educational Bodies
  • Culture bodies
  • Sporting bodies

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         In the innovation language of the EU we hear much about the importance of the quadruple helix and you can see clearly the positive effects of people working together under that banner. So why not have a stronger helix when it comes to working with citizens.

On the Ground Projects

My third and last message concerns the point there are also many EU projects, which continue to evolve across the EU’s cities and diverse regions.

Projects such as URBACT, Interreg, H2020, EU Urban Agenda, Erasmus Plus, European Cross border, EIB collaboration projects, Science Meets Regions, Digital Cities etc are networks who are all doing great work. 

 Across the EU we have European Capital programmes such as Culture, Innovation, Green, Volunteering, Sport and youth to name just a few. We are debating the SDGs There is much happening that sometimes are not celebrated enough and not scaled up.

To conclude the latter three messages – EU Citizen dialogues, Citizen assembly concepts and harnessing existing EU projects on the ground – are just three best practice examples that can inform the future of Europe debate.

We need to build relationships with citizens not battleships.

Symmetries not complexities.

Capacity building not hopeful yearning.

And participation not dilapidation.

We need effective engagement plans. The CoR is ready but we cannot do this alone.

Thank you.