Category Archives: International

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 20 September 2018

964a. Irish Heart, Coventry Home exhibition at Herbert Gallery, Coventry in March 2018


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 20 September 2018

Irish Heart, Coventry Home


    Irish Heart, Coventry Home is an exhibition, which is currently being exhibited in the new building foyer of Cork City Hall for the next three weeks. It is a project I have been involved with the last year in a small way offering heritage management support and advice on behalf of Cork City Council. The exhibition is curated by Ciaran Davis at the Coventry Irish Society. It is about Irish people who made Coventry their home between 1940 and 1970. It is based on the experiences of Irish people who have lived and worked in the city.

   Many Irish people emigrated to Coventry from Cork and they have contributed richly to the culture, economy and character of the city. These links were celebrated in 1958, when Cork and Coventry were twinned with each other. The exhibition has travelled to Cork to celebrate the enduring relationship that exists between the two cities. During the Second World War, many Irish men and women came to work in Coventry’s factories and hospitals. After the war, Irish migrants were among those who came to help with the city’s reconstruction following the devastation caused by air raids. Their labour was vital, not just in construction and industry but in education, civic life and the newly established National Health Service. By 1961 there were 19,416 Irish-born people in Coventry and they formed 6% of the city’s population, which made them the largest ethnic minority in the city.

   The majority of Irish people who migrated to Coventry after the Second World War were usually young people who came from Roman Catholic, working class, rural backgrounds and the majority were women. They often stayed with family members already in Coventry who paid for their ticket and helped them find employment. Men usually arrived alone and found work by applying to adverts in newspapers or through speaking to fellow Irish people. Irish people were employed in a variety of jobs, working on the buses and in hospitals, factories and schools. They were involved in the building of the ring road, housing estates and the new cathedral, supporting the city’s post-war recovery and contributing to its economy. The money that Irish migrants sent home was relied on by families who remained in Ireland. Between 1939 and 1969 the Irish economy received almost £3 billion in remittances from Irish workers.

   As people settled in the city, they opened social clubs and pubs, which became vital community spaces. Irish people arriving in Coventry often headed straight to the clubs where they learnt where to find work or accommodation. A few venues even had their own lodgings. Some landlords promoted Irish welfare and held charity nights or lent money to people who were struggling. Many of the clubs were established in the 1950s, which coincided with the rise of the Irish showbands, who were renowned for their high-energy performances. In the 1960s, singers such as Joe Dolan and Brendan Bowyer toured Coventry and were popular with the Coventry-Irish community. By 1967, the Banba Club had a membership of over 1000 and on a Saturday night, an average of 650 people would come through the club’s doors.  There were also people in the community who vowed never to drink alcohol. In 1964 some of them set up the Coventry branch of the Pioneer Association, an organisation originally set up in Ireland. They held dances, sporting events and dinners at the Pioneer Hall in Coventry. Few of the Irish clubs remain in the city, but their legacy endures because many Irish people met their future spouses at the dances

   A number of Irish sports clubs were established in Coventry, offering sports such as hurling, Gaelic football and camogie – a sport similar to hurling played by women. Priests and other members of the community helped to set up these teams because they were concerned that young people were forgetting their Irish roots. There was sometimes competition between the clubs to recruit the best Irish sportspeople in Coventry. Gradually, the teams expanded and some purchased clubhouses where they could socialise after matches. Players often brought their families to watch the games and their children sometimes went on to represent the same team. The clubs held exhibition games featuring Irish teams. In 1966 St Finbarr’s Sports and Social Club held a hurling match between Galway and Meath, which was watched by around 10,000 spectators. The clubs initially ran male-only teams, but in 1971 a group of women established their own camogie team in Coventry.

   Most Irish people who came to Coventry belonged to the Roman Catholic faith. A smaller number of Protestants also migrated, and for both groups religion played an integral role in their lives. Irish Protestants often joined pre-existing parishes, but the higher number of Irish Catholics meant that new churches needed to be built. In 1913 there were two Catholic churches in Coventry. By 1983 this had grown to 17, many supported by donations from the community. In the 1950s and 1960s a number of Catholic schools were also built to accommodate the expanding Irish Catholic population. For many Irish migrants it was important that church attendance was continued by the next generation. Couples got married in local churches and their children received their first sacraments in the same parishes.

   To learn more (and to contribute to the project) Irish Heart, Coventry Home is currently on display in the foyer of the new building in Cork City Hall. The curator Ciaran Davis from Coventry Irish Society will be present at the space for Cork Culture Night, Friday 21 September.



964a. Irish Heart, Coventry Home exhibition at Herbert Gallery, Coventry in March 2018 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

964b. Coventry Irish Society stalwarts Simon McCarthy and Kay Forrest with Cllr Kieran McCarthy at the launch of Irish Heart, Coventry Home last March 2018 (source: Coventry Irish Society)

964c. Irish Emigrant Travel Permit Card between Britain and Ireland, 1946 (source: Coventry Irish Society)


964b. Covenry Irish Society stalwarts Simon McCarthy and Kay Forrest with Cllr Kieran McCarthy at the launch of Irish Heart Coventry Home last March 2018

964c. Irish Emigrant Travel Permit Card between Britain and Ireland, 1946

Cllr McCarthy: EU Urban Agenda Action Plans Crucial For Europe

Press Release:

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has called for the need a long-term political commitment and resources to cater to the needs of EU cities of all sizes from regional hubs such as Cork to the metropolises of Paris or Athens.

   The strengths and weaknesses of the implementation of the Urban Agenda for the EU was the subject of an adopted during the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 4 July in Brussels. Member of the CoR, Rapporteur/ Opinion writer and Cork City Councillor Kieran McCarthy (IE/EA) calls on the EU institutions to reaffirm their commitment to urban matters and place the process on a formal footing. He welcomes the early signs in this direction proposed in the framework for regional development and cohesion policy beyond 2020.

  The Urban Agenda for the EU seeks to mobilise the experience and expertise of local authorities and enable them to contribute to the development and implementation of EU policies and instruments which most impact cities. It is based on a multi-level governance working method across twelve key urban themes. Cork City Council has a voice on the sustainable land use partnerships and action plan. In November 2017, the European Commission presented its initial assessment of progress and results arising from the first year of the implementation. The local and regional representatives in the CoR are pushing to go a step further.

The Urban Agenda offers too much potential to improve the way in which our cities will work in future to be restricted to a mere high-quality networking exercise. It must instead be recognised as a binding political commitment, with tangible investments and outcomes, which have real legitimacy and an impact on legislation. The European Commission’s move to dedicate 6% of the European Regional Development Fund to investments in sustainable urban development proposed in the framework for cohesion policy beyond 2020 presented on 29 May is a step in the right direction. The same is true for the European Urban Initiative, a new instrument for city-to-city cooperation, innovation and capacity-building across all the thematic priorities of the Urban Agenda for the EU“, said Cork city Councillor Kieran McCarthy, CoR rapporteur on the Implementation assessment of the Urban Assessment of the Urban Agenda for the EU.

  The main concerns so far have been the lack of resources, particularly to cover the costs of smaller cities participating in the twelve partnerships, the lack of ownership due to the voluntary profile of the governance structure and the passiveness of certain Member States due to a lack of rules on distributing tasks. The rapporteur also points out that a key aspect of the Urban Agenda for the EU was to establish the link with better regulation in the EU and to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.

“In the progress reports so far it is hard to detect whether and in what way the partnerships have contributed to better EU regulations, to improving access to funding and to the exchange of knowledge and best practices for an inclusive and sustainable urban development. Any future assessment needs to focus on these key outcomes and should be accompanied by an own assessment of the partnerships giving feedback and suggesting possible improvements”, said Cllr McCarthy.

   The rapporteur further calls for the Urban Agenda to be featured prominently in future Commission’s annual work programmes and for cities and regions to have access to the European Council working groups and the European Parliament on urban matters. He also advocates for the proposal to set up a steering committee to discuss future developments of the Urban Agenda on key messages and possible new thematic partnerships.

   After many years of discussion, the Urban Agenda for the EU has at last become a reality with the signing of its founding document, the Pact of Amsterdam, on May 2016. It is composed of twelve priority themes essential for the development of urban areas. Each theme has a dedicated partnership and the partnerships are the key delivery mechanism within the Urban Agenda for the EU. The aim of the partnerships is to develop a multi-level (vertical) and multi-dimensional (horizontal) approach involving all relevant bodies at all levels of government. The results of the discussion are supposed to be taken into consideration by the EU institutions and Member States to improve urban-related policies and regulations by eliminating existing overlaps and inconsistencies.

EU Local Event, Cork City with Cllr Kieran McCarthy

A Cork citizen’s dialogue was hosted by City Councillor and Member of the European Committee of the Regions Kieran McCarthy (IE/EA) under EU’s ‘Reflecting on Europe’ campaign

The City of Cork hosted a citizen’s dialogue in St. Peters Church Tuesday 27 March under the title ‘Innovative Minds and Real Capitals – European Regional Cities and the future Europe’.

The event was part of the Reflecting on Europe campaign, an initiative of the European Committee of the Regions launched in March 2016 to give citizens a voice in shaping the political debate on the future of Europe.

    Councillor McCarthy opened the debate calling local and regional authorities to support citizen’s engagement. “Citizens have a key role to play in our cities’ transition towards more sustainable, healthier and inclusive communities. The role of citizenship should not be underestimated but encouraged”, said Councillor McCarthy.

“We have a great responsibility to bring Europe closer to our citizens. Europe has a role to champion social inclusion more, to invest in community building, work on developing people’s skills and make citizens more engaged. There is an ongoing debate on the future of cohesion and social funds in Europe today. These are at risk and we must together ensure its continuity”, added Councillor McCarthy.

    A panel composed of local project leaders (Mad About Cork, Cork Cycling Campaign, Meithal Mara and Red Sandstone Varied Productions) briefly presented some ongoing initiatives such as a campaign to promote daily cycling and a community initiative to connect people through arts projects.

  Attendees debated around some of the issues most discussed in urban areas today such as the appropriateness of banning cars from city centres to give space back to pedestrians.

   Attendees expressed concerns on how the city communicates on new initiatives, as levels of engagement in public consultations remain repeatedly low. On the question, do you think you have a voice in Europe, some recognize local politicians are able to convey their messages at the EU level yet they remain uncertain on its impact.

  The event was the occasion to present some of the results of the Reflecting on Europe survey in Ireland.

  When asked about the main problems their city or region faces, Irish respond mobility and public transport (27%), unemployment (25%), youth policies (25%), environment (10%), integration of migrants (8%) and security (3%).

     Irish believe that the EU is the most suitable level of government to deal with security, terrorist threats and the environment. National is the level of government Irish rely most on (42%), followed by the EU (34%), their city (17%) and region (8%).

   A large majority of Irish (71%) believes there is not enough solidarity between European nations. 27% suggest EU countries should show more solidarity by jointly tackling the negative impact of the economic and financial crisis. 25% believe reducing inequalities between richer and poorer should be subject to more solidarity. 20% think Europe should foster cooperation to jointly face the consequences of migration and the refugee crisis. 20% believe EU member states should show greater acceptance of the diversities amongst them.

  Since March 2016, members of the European Committee of the Regions have organised over 140 citizens’ dialogues in 21 Member States. Local debates have actively involved more than 15 000 citizens. Insights from local events and those of the Reflecting on Europe survey will be gathered in an upcoming opinion to be shared amongst EU institutions after its adoption later this year.

EU Commission to share best practice in Cork

    Officials of the Regional Policy Directorate General of the European Commission are to come to Cork to Cork City Hall for a one-day workshop on EU funding initiatives for cities and towns, on Tuesday 27 March. The invite was sent by Cllr Kieran McCarthy, who is an Irish delegate member of the European Committee of the Regions and is currently working as a rapporteur on an assessment of the EU Urban Agenda. Cork City Council and the Southern Regional Assembly are hosting the event and invites have been sent to each local authority in the Republic. Attendance is free and open to the public. Registration and agenda is online on

   An Urban Development Network Workshop aims to exchange ideas and find solutions to common challenges in implementing sustainable urban development strategies in Ireland and to learn more about the Urban Innovative Actions and what cities in other Member States are doing in addressing these challenges.

   Cllr McCarthy noted: “there is not a meeting goes by in Cork City Council whereby the need for funding for larger projects is discussed. The meeting aims to share EU funding initiatives and share practice especially from the Urban Innovative Actions.

“The workshop is open to the cities and towns in Ireland implementing sustainable urban development and cities/towns with an interest in the Urban Innovative Actions. Organisations active in urban development as well as ERDF/ESF Managing Authorities are also welcome to attend. I wish to also reach out to Chambers of Commerce and Colleges”.

  All participants will have the possibility to be actively involved in the discussion and solve technical questions on potential projects with experts.

   The workshop will be closed with an Urban Conversation framed within the Committee of the Regions’ initiative entitled “Reflecting on Europe”. Citizens will have the opportunity to dialogue with European institutional representatives on the current challenges that the EU face.

“Regions such as Cork cannot afford to underestimate the effects of Brexit on the local and regional economy. many sectors are affected such as tourism, cross-Channel transport, UK residents settled in adjacent countries, trade exchange with the UK in fishing industry, agriculture and agribusiness. The list of effects is long. This day long workshop is also an opportunity to lay the challenges of smaller cities such as Cork and smaller towns on the table of the Regional Policy unit of the European Union, and to make sure we are not forgotten about as talks begin on the EU budget beyond 2019 and 2020”, noted Cllr Kieran McCarthy.


Irish Heart, Coventry Home Exhibition set to launch, Friday 9 March 2018

     To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Cork City’s twinning with Coventry, Cork City Council has part funded a new exhibition telling some of the experiences of Cork and Irish people in Coventry over many decades. ‘Irish Heart, Coventry Home’ will be held at the Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry for one month from Friday 9 March 2018 when the exhibition launches at 8pm, after 12 months of research from the Coventry Irish Society. This evening event is open to the public and will include well-known Irish musicians, actors, activities and storytelling in the medieval undercroft. It is hoped to bring the Exhibition to Cork at some point this year.

    Cllr Kieran McCarthy, represented Cork’s involvement in the project and helped with overseeing the creation of the project in its early stages. He noted that telling the story of Ireland’s diaspora is very important; “The narrative of Irish history and emigration sometimes stops at our ports and airports. There is a continuing and large job of work to continue to document l the story of what happened to Irish people abroad, and then incorporate it into our school curriculum and the popular narrative stream on Irish history”.

“The new exhibition tells the true experience of Irish families settling in Coventry over three decades from their point of view. Sixty-five people were interviewed as part of the project, including many who moved between 1940 and 1970. These interviewees will feature in a 30-minute documentary put together by the society, who spent hundreds of hours with interviewees to understand their journey to Coventry. It will also see a diverse collection of photographs and personal items which will go up on display to form what should be an enlightening and entertaining exhibition”.

   The ‘Irish Heart, Coventry Home’ project has been supported by the UK Heritage Lottery Fund as well as Cork City Council, the Deeley Group and Coventry City Council with a four-strong steering group helping bring the exhibition together alongside Project Officer Ciaran Davis.

   Simon McCarthy, Manager of the Coventry Irish Society, said: “We are incredibly excited to be able to tell the fascinating story of so many people who have contributed massively to the culture, infrastructure and history of Coventry after moving from Ireland”.

“The most successful element of the project has been the breadth of our interviewees. We have spoken to a wide variety of people including poets, builders, teachers, musicians and more. Furthermore, we are pleased to have involved so many female interviewees. Women are sometimes left out of narratives of Irish migration, even though they came to England in significant numbers”.

   Francis Ranford, Cultural and Creative Director at Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, said “We are passionate about showing exhibitions which reflect the vibrant and diverse history of Coventry”.

For more information about the Irish Heart, Coventry Home exhibition visit

For more information about the Coventry Irish Society visit or

McCarthy: Huge Opportunities for European Data Economy


   Last week the European Committee of the Regions adopted with unanimity their member Cllr Kieran McCarthy’s opinion on the European Commission’s Communication “Building a European Data Economy”. 2884/2016


   The Data Economy is an important element of the Digital Single Market (DSM). It involves generation, collection, storage, processing, distribution, analysis, elaboration, delivery and exploitation of data enabled by digital technologies. This data enables market players to create applications with a great potential to improve daily life. Cllr McCarthy focussed on the collation of machine read data as opposed to personal data. Local and regional authorities are keys in developing DSM via their roles in providing digital services, which represent the engine of economic growth at local and regional level offering opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.

   Cllr McCarthy describes; “local and regional authorities have a key role in creating a database of public information on aspects such as transport movement, climate change, energy demand, providing data security, developing necessary digital and entrepreneurial skills, and securing and facilitating funding for broadband networks. I call on the European Commission to support local and regional authorities in their financing activities by continuing to authorise priority deployment of the European Structural and Investment Funds towards digital infrastructure in all European cities and regions including small cities and regions such as Cork and similar size”.

   In the opinion, Cllr. McCarthy proposed four lines of action to build a European data economy: Firstly, that a clear and adapted policy and legal framework be adopted for the data economy, removing remaining barriers and risks to the movement of data and addressing legal uncertainties created by new data technologies. Secondly that potential virtual criminality be combated against through effective and coherent preventative cybercrime strategies, which includes training for local and regional authorities. Thirdly that interoperability be improved – to make existing clouds or clouds under development at national, regional and possibly local level interconnectable and interoperable or intertransferable, exploring the potential for standardisation.

     Representatives of the European Commission welcomed Cllr McCarthy’s opinion as a clear and important message, that local and regional authorities need and want to play a key role in the sustainable roll-out of the EU’s Digital Agenda and the building of the EU data economy.

The European Committee of the Regions, the EU’s assembly for democratically elected local and regional politicians and public representatives, has a consultative role in EU policymaking.

Cllr Kieran McCarthy, speaking at the recent plenary of the European Committee of the Regions in the European Commission, Brussels, October 2017


UNESCO Conference – Cork Learning City 2017

   Cork has been successful in its bid to host the third UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities Conference in Sept. 2017. The two previous conferences were held in Beijing 2013 and Mexico 2015, each involved over 600 delegates from countries worldwide. The conference will be presented by UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning, held in Cork City Hall, from Sept 18th -20th 2017, supported by Cork City Council and Cork ETB hosted with its Learning City Project partners, UCC, CIT, and other agencies in the city.

Sept 20th Learning Festival Showcase Programme

This is a first for Ireland and for Europe:

    Cork is the only Irish city currently recognized by UNESCO for its excellence in the field of Learning, and was one of just 12 cities globally, and 3 in Europe, presented with inaugural UNESCO Learning City Awards in 2015. A case study of the city was published by UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning (UIL) in Unlocking the Potential of Urban Communities, Case Studies of Twelve Learning Cities also in 2015. The other two European cities are Espoo (Finland) and Swansea.

   Cork successfully bid against 3 other European cities to host the conference because of its track record. The international conference presents Ireland with a unique opportunity to further cement the reputation of the country and the city as a centre of excellence in education and learning. The UIL Directorate team visited Cork during the Lifelong Learning Festivals of 2015 and 2016 and selected the city following a strong bid prepared with the assistance of the Cork Convention Bureau who have recognised experience of hosting international conferences of this scale in the city previously.

A Stroll in the South Parish, Wednesday 20 September 2017

    As part of the UNESCO International City of Learning Conference in Cork and the showcase day of lifelong learning in the city, a walk through the South Parish will take place on Wednesday morning, 20 September. It is hosted by Cllr Kieran McCarthy, Cork Healthy Cities and Cork Food Policy Council.  The tour encompasses the historic origins of Cork as well as a showcase of emerging projects in the South Parish area. Starting at Ellizabeth Fort at 11am, it proceeds to St Stephen’s Sustainable Food Laboratory, the site of the c1700 St Stephen’s Hospital for lepers & lazars and the nineteenth century Anabaptist Burial Ground. The site, which was formerly a basketball court up to recently is now a collective, member-led, self-funded, urban agriculture project focused on growing food organically for its members. The walk continues to the Summerhill South Seventeenth Century Quaker Burial site. This is an opportunity to see behind the walls of the Burial Ground of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) & discover the richness of the plant & animal life in this urban green area.

    The final site visited is St Finbarr’s Hospital, originally the Workhouse for Cork, constructed by the Poor Law Guardians in late 1841, and now a Healthy Campus Health Service site with a therapeutic garden for patients. Whilst hearing about the historic richness of the area, see the first signs of autumn, as nature prepares for hibernation. You will learn about the importance of preserving biodiversity & how we can all contribute to this. You might get a feeling for the peaceful stillness of these green oases in the middle of Cork City.

    Meet at the entrance of Elizabeth Fort, Barrack Street at 11am. Tour is free; please wear suitable clothes & shoes. All welcome. Cork Food Policy Council advocates for innovative community food initiatives that seek improvements to the food system to increase equitable access to quality food. Cork is a WHO Healthy City. The aim of Healthy Cities is to improve and promote population health through health policy, inter-sectoral collaboration & community participation.