Daily Archives: July 8, 2023

Lord Mayor’s Column, The Echo, 8 July 2023

Got Cork!

In Cork 1863, a letter is dispatched to the UK to a young architect letting him know he was successful with his design proposal for a new cathedral.

William Burges, the newly appointed architect of a new St Finbarr’s Cathedral, immediately and proudly remarked in his diary, “Got Cork” and with that embarked on a remarkable piece of building work, a voyage of discovery into the origins of Cork history. He created an iconic structure relevant for his time and forged a structure as it was seen at the time as [quote] “worthy of the name cathedral”.

Proudly as Cork’s newest Lord Mayor I can write in my own diary “Got Cork”. Such a term “Got Cork” has always stayed with me through many years since my first reading of them.

William was tasked to be a guardian of a key part of the city’s heritage – to carry out a project, with multiple roles – some of which included remembering and representing a legacy, projecting and re-animating the origins story of the city’s patron Saint Finbarr.

William built upon past legacies of former churches, He assembled striking architectural designs in a historic medieval style. He managed a team, and most interestingly conducted archaeological excavations and move skeletons and burials because the new cathedral was twice the size of the church it was replacing.

Whereas I have not been entrusted to build a Cathedral or to move graves (!), I do feel, that City Hall is Cork’s in our own political cathedral where “Got Cork” takes on new meanings– it is a space of guardianship, representation and inheritance.

A Chain of Symbols:

In the recent ancient ceremony of handing over the chain to myself, that strong sense of guardianship is ever present. There is a guardianship over the chain as an object of high symbolism – firstly a gold medallion with the city’s coat of arms and its Latin inscription Statio Bene Fida Carinis or translated A Safe Harbour for Ships.

Secondly there is a portcullis showcasing the ancient water gate of the medieval walled town of Cork thirdly the SS chain links symbolising sacredness and guardianship, and lastly the medallion inscription where 1787 marks its creation.

Then there is the guardianship of how this chain links the past to our present, almost seamlessly – that one could argue that the chain links are not just physical links but if it could speak it has seen the highs and lows of Cork history from boom to bust and vice versa. The chain has been a witness to it all in its over 230-year history…to the creation of the term of Lord Mayor in 1901 with Daniel Hegarty to the tragedies of office holders such as Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney and then woven into a myriad of personal connections by those who have engaged with office holders.

 There is the guardianship on how its essence the chain projects the city into the future as debated during the recent boundary expansion scheme. That of all the elements of those contentious debates, which emerged a few short years ago was that the chain and its societal connection meant much to the people of Cork.

Indeed, when you mix the guardianship elements of the past, present and future, one gets a strong mix of high emotion and a deep attachment to the title of Lord Mayor of Cork, and one that is not lost on me as someone is passionate Cork history and all things Cork.

So dear readers I hope you go on the journey with me over the next year plus if you want to follow me on social media, check out Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Some highlights from week one:

24 June, It was really great to meet Erguestine Andria who organised a celebration for Madagascar Independence Day in Fitzgerald’s Park – lots of celebration of diversity and multiculturalism on the afternoon.

24 June, Great to meet Prof Maggie O’Neill, Department of Sociology and Criminology, UCC at the Festival of Belonging, which explored the global refugee crisis and the challenges facing Cork and Ireland in the years ahead.

26 June, The annual formal visit by the Lord Mayor to the historic English Market.

29 June, The first of the five exciting contemporary public art works has been launched. The project is funded by Fáilte Ireland under the Urban Animation Scheme.

30 June, University College continues its contribution to thinking & implementation of best practices to meet Climate action; its new holistic Sustainability & Climate action plan furthers their green campus. Great methodologies as well for businesses & public bodies to pursue.

30 June, Remembering the legacy of Canon Donal Linehan at Newbury House in Mayfield, where a building is now dedicated to his work, ideas and writings.

1 July, An afternoon of prize giving and fun at the Vibes & Scribes Lee Swim. Very well done to all the swimmers, the lead sponsor Joan Lucey, organisers, volunteers, and supporters of the swimmers!! It was also my first time “DJ-ing” for an hour! The Lord Mayor’s job contract is very diverse ! Thanks to Anthony Fleming for helping me with the tunes! 

2 July, An afternoon with Inclusive Dance Cork, which is a pilot training programme that began in Sept 2022, open to individuals interested in learning inclusive dance methods. The programme was conceived out of an absence of formal inclusive dance training in the country.