Monthly Archives: March 2024

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 28 March 2024

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 28 March 2024

Leo Murphy’s Shaving Kit 1921

Recently Cork Public Museum marked the return to Cork of a small shaving kit used by Commandant Leo Murphy who died at the hands of Crown Forces during the War of Independence in 1921. 

Leo Murphy had been targeted by Crown Forces for his role as Commander of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Cork Brigade and his involvement in numerous notable IRA activities in the area, including the killing of British intelligence officer Captain Joseph Thompson in November 1920. He was shot and killed by soldiers from the Manchester Regiment during a surprise raid on a secret IRA meeting at O’Donovan’s Pub (now O’Shea’s) in Waterfall, on the outskirts of the city, on 27 June 1921. As Murphy lay dead at the side of the road, his pockets were searched, and the contents kept as ‘souvenirs of war’.

One of the items removed was a small personal shaving kit used by Leo Murphy while on the run. It ended up in display in the Manchester Regiment Museum in the town hall of Ashton-under-Lyne, in Tameside, Greater Manchester. The museum recently closed, and the Manchester Regiment Collection passed to the care of the Portland Basin Museum in Tameside.

Last year, Cork Public Museum Curator Dan Breen contacted his counterpart in the Portland Basin Museum, Rachel Crnes to enquire about the possibility of arranging the loan of the shaving kit for display in Cork. 

The descendants of Walter ‘Leo’ Murphy came to the museum for a private viewing of the shaving kit before it goes on public display. The shaving kit will be displayed in the museum’s War of Independence exhibition, By Every Means at Our Command, alongside one of Leo Murphy’s hats, which was previously donated to Cork Public Museum.

  Leo Murphy was born in his family’s The White Horse public house in Ballincollig in 1901. In 1917, he joined the Irish Republican movement and became a youth member in Fianna Éireann. In 1920 Cork Volunteer Headquarters sent Leo as a quartermaster, organiser and military trainer to the 3rd Battalion. The training consisted mostly of drill at first for the purpose of discipline and as the Company gradually increased in strength by twos and threes from the original six it was able to be organised on a proper basis.

Tim Herlihy in a witness statement (W810) for the Bureau of Military History, describes that he was a former founder members of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Cork Brigade. Tim outlines that in the autumn of 1920, after Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, had died on hunger strike in Brixon Prison in London, the 3rd Battalion in force attended his funeral in Cork. It was reckoned that the Battalion paraded over 500 strong.

At this time after nightfall shots were fired occasionally about 200 yards from the Military Barracks at Ballincollig just to keep the military guessing. Tim further explains that the usual patrols followed, but there was an Intelligence System in operation in the Barracks, carried out by the local Volunteers. They sent out word to the Volunteers prior to the military moving out of the Barracks.

Tim highlights that there was a Captain Thompson, Intelligent Officer Manchester Regiment, who used to go into shops and houses in Ballincollig village brandishing a revolver and saying that if anything happened to him “the village would go up”. In November 1920, Thompson was seized at Carrigrohane on his motor bike and shot dead, his arms and bike being taken”. No reprisals took place but there was tension for a while. Captain Thompson was shot dead by Leo Murphy and two other Volunteers on the Model Farm Road. Thompson had previously violently raided Leo Murphy’s mother’s house.

Thompson was succeeded as Intelligence Officer by Captain Vining. It was he who shot Leo Murphy on 27 June 1921, just a fortnight before the Truce. Leo Murphy was then Officer-in- Command, 3rd Battalion, having succeeded Tim Herlihy, who was taken prisoner by the British.

On acting on information supplied to him on Leo Murphy’s movements, he and approx five other British Officers drove up in a car to Donovan’s public house at Waterfall one evening and surrounded the house. Tim Herlihy in his statements relates: “There were about forty-four in all in the pub, the great majority of whom were elderly men who had been attending a bowling match in the locality. Of all the crowd there were only a few Volunteers. Two of them escaped, but Leo Murphy, who tried to shoot his way out, was shot dead. Another Volunteer, Charlie Daly, who was unarmed, was taken away by Captain Vining and his party and his dead body was found at Douglas the next morning. He had been shot. Daly belonged to the 2nd Battalion (Cork City)”.

In mid-January this year, as Lord Mayor, I travelled with Dan Breen to Tameside to officially receive the shaving kit taken by Captain Vinning and the Manchester Regiment and to bring it home to Cork. I visited Dukinfield Town Hall and was greeted by Dublin-born Deputy Mayor of Tameside, Cllr. Betty Affleck, and executive leader, Cllr. Gerald Cooney (also of Irish descent).

Cork Public Museum Curator, Dan Breen on the occasion noted: “Cork City Council and Cork Public Museum would like to acknowledge the help and support given to the handover by their colleagues in Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council and the Portland Basin Museum. The return of the shaving kit to Cork brings closure to one chapter of Irish War of Independence but it highlights the complex history shared by the cities of Cork and Manchester and acknowledges the potential for future collaborations to better understand it”

From his early days in Fianna Éireann, Leo Murphy’s story was one of courage and resilience. His promotion to quarter master of the 3rd Battalion by the age of nineteen in 1920, is an indication of his leadership qualities and the high esteem in which he was held by all within the Cork IRA. The commemoration of his life and times in our time shines a spotlight on his leadership and sacrifice. It also, through the Tameside Museum side, showcases why we need to keep searching for objects and documents associated with our War of Independence to make sure the full story is told.

My sincere thanks to Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council for their courtesy and co-operation and to Cork Public Museum for their consistent guardianship of Cork’s past. The shaving kit can be viewed by the public at Cork Public Museum.


1246. Shaving kit of Leo Murphy, 1921 (picture: Cork Public Museum).

Lord Mayor Cllr McCarthy Launches his Local Election Campaign, 23 March 2024

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy, Independent, has confirmed his attention to run in the forthcoming local elections on Friday 7 June. He has once again chosen to run in the south east local electoral area of Cork City which includes the Douglas area. The south east area extended from Albert Road through Ballinlough, Ballintemple, Blackrock, Mahon and takes in Douglas Village, Donnybrook, Rochestown and Mount Oval districts. 

First elected in 2009 Cllr McCarthy has won three terms of office in Cork City Hall on an Independent platform. In launching his manifesto this week Cllr McCarthy outlined his vision across five policy areas – developing more recreational and amenity sites, moving Cork to become net zero in Carbon emissions, marketing the City Centre and village renewal, local government reform and financial accountability, and continuing his suite of community and history projects. 

At the launch of his campaign Cllr McCarthy noted his broad range of interests from community development, city planning, culture and history, village renewal environmental issues and regional development. “Over the past fifteen years I have gained much experience in local government and in particular during my year as Lord Mayor. In City Hall, I continue to fight the corner of my constituents . My website and social media sites showcase my work pursued and achieved over the past decade. It also sets out my stall of interests and what an Independent strong voice can offer local government plus a vision for Cork City’s future in working with local communities. Collaboration with local people is very important to me”.

“Over the past fifteen years I have created and curated several community projects including local history programmes in local schools, a youth community talent competition, a youth Make a Model Boat project. I also founded Cork City Musical Society for adults. I also run free historical walking tours regularly across over 25 Cork City suburban sites.  Against the backdrop of very busy Lord Mayor’s schedule I look forward to meeting people again at the doors over the next few weeks, and if anyone would like to help with my campaign in any shape of form, it would be greatly appreciated”, concluded Lord Mayor Cllr McCarthy.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 21 March 2024

1245a. Cork Milling Company's Marina Mills, 1936 (source: Cork City Library).
1245a. Cork Milling Company’s Marina Mills, 1936 (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 21 March 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – Grain Silos at South Docks

It is the end of an era as the iconic grain silos are currently being demolished on Cork’s South Docks. The site has a rich history and heritage dating back over 200 years.

By 1810 Cork had become a big market for flour especially with brewers and distillers. The milling trade has passed through a complete revolution in the process of manufacture during the previous forty years. Up to the years 1875 to 1880 the only method of manufacturing flour was grinding by millstones, the wheat being ground between two flat circular stones.

Cork National Flour Mills: Between 1875 and 1880 Cork became one of the first milling centres in Ireland to adopt the roller process. A number of well-equipped mills in the City and County were constructed, in which some 70,000 tons of wheat were milled annually, and in addition, close on 90,000 tons of maize were ground. A large and landmark mill and warehouse complex known as the Cork National Flour Mills on Cork’s South Docks was built in 1892. The building was revamped, c.1935.

Cork Milling Company: By the time of the Irish Free State government, the Cork Milling Company was formed and took over the Cork National Flour Mills site. It was greatly influenced by the imposition of tariffs on foreign-milled flour, and the Government’s invitation to put up mills within the emerging Free State. The Cork Milling Company, Ltd. comprised John Furlong & Sons (1920) Ltd., Marina Mills, Cork, J. and R Webb, Ltd., Mallow Mills, Mallow and Glandalane Mills, Fermoy; T Hallinan & Sons (1932) Ltd, Avoncore Mills, Midleton; and J W MacMullen & Sons, Ltd., Cork.

New Offices: In September 1932, in order to accommodate adequately their staff, the Cork Milling Company opened new offices on Victoria Quay. The building was erected on an almost triangular site with two street frontages, and the main entrance was placed on the more important Victoria Road. Externally the building has modern tendencies which are accentuated by the shape of the site and the treatment of the first floor. Internally the ground floor was designed to accommodate a very large staff in the general office, which has a floor area of 1,700 sq. feet, with three directors’ rooms in addition.

New Plant: The work of preparing the plans for a building capable of housing a modern flour-milling plant was entrusted to the noted Cork architects, Messrs Chillingworth and Levie, and in September 1933 work began on the erection and completed in July 1934. The contractors for the building were Messrs. John Sisk and Son. According to the Cork Examiner, although there was an original building on the present site, the work entailed a large amount of engineering skill, and, thanks to the Consulting Engineer Mr J L O’Connell, the reusability of adapting the older premises as a mill, was accomplished. The original walls were supported on timber piles. These walls were raised considerably and the original floor area was doubled. In order to ensure a thoroughly substantial job, a complete framework of steel was raised up within the main walls, each stanchion of which was supported by a concrete pile, the idea being to save the original fabric from damage by vibration.

New Grain Silo: In 1934, the Cork Examiner reported that the construction of a twelve thousand five hundred tons Grain Silo was finished at the Marina Mills, Victoria Quay for The Cork Milling Company.

The Company engaged the services of English engineer Mr William Littlejohn Philip, O.B.E., a consulting engineer, whose very extensive knowledge and experience in storing grain in bulk in deep bins was well-known. He was a world expert in the bulk-handling of grain and coal and designed silos in many parts of the world, including Ireland. The imposing structure on Victoria Quay, built to his designs was an outstanding landmark in Cork for its day.

The huge mass of 600 tons of internal steel structure was completed by Messrs. Smith & Pearson, Ltd. of Dublin. A large number of additional and local hands were employed by the concreting contractors to assist and expedite the process of erection.

The foundations and the entire concrete work on the building, to the designs of the consulting engineer, were carried out by Messrs Peter Lind & Company, Ltd., of London.

The method of concreting entails the pouring in of liquid cement simultaneously over the whole area, so that every twenty-four hours the mass rose four feet, and so on, every day, to the top. Sand came from local pits. Four thousand tons of Granite chips were brought by Steamer from Browhead, Goleen. These chips were mixed with several thousand tons of cement and sand, and this concrete was knitted, into one solid mass by thousands of intermingling re-enforcing rods throughout the whole area of the structure.

Second New Mill and Screenhouse: Constructed of the latest type of re-inforced concrete in 1936, the second mill and screenhouse were both five storeys high. The block of buildings were erected by Messrs. P. J. Hegarty and Sons, Builders and Contractors, Upper John Street. The mill  proper had a slated and glass roof and the screenhouse, where the wheat was prepared for the mill, had a flat roof.

Read more on the history of South Docks at my Cork website under history trails.


1245a. Cork Milling Company’s Marina Mills, 1936 (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article, 14 March 2024

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 14 March 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – Progress at the Victoria Hospital

On 18 March 1924, the 46th annual general meeting report was read at the Victoria Hospital and published in the Cork Examiner. It summarises a period of difficulty in operation during the First World War, War of Independence and Irish Civil War and looks towards the future.

The hospital was originally founded as “The County and City of Cork Hospital for the Diseases of Women and Children” which was opened on Union Quay on 4 September 1874. It moved to 46 Pope’s Quay on 31 October 1876 and to its present site on Infirmary Road on 16 September 1885. In 1901 its name was changed to “The Victoria Hospital for Women and Children”. The first male patients were first admitted in 1914. On 17 August 1914 the Hospital was registered under the Companies Acts, 1908 and 1913 under the name of “The Victoria Hospital, Cork (Incorporated)”.  

On 18 March 1924, when the 46th annual report was read, a reflection was given on the journey travelled since 1914. It was noted: “In our case the period of difficulty was further protracted as at a time when in Great Britain the end of hostilities signalled the prospect of improving conditions, the unsettled of our own country, becoming gradually more acute, left us still facing many of the same troubles that the war had brought to us, and, with the consequent departure of so many of our people, added the unforeseen trial of a seriously depleted subscription list. The difficulties were met, and the gaps filled up by the efforts of the members of our ladies’ committee”.  

The report of the ladies’ committee outlined that every endeavour had been made to keep the housekeeping expenses as low as possible, consistent with giving the patients nourishing food, and so helping their treatment and “restoration to health”; The matron, Miss Hyndman, is noted as always diligent to do all she can for the welfare of the hospital. Mrs Hill continued the working of the Tabitha Guild but with great difficulty, as several members had left Ireland. Only twelve garments had been sent into the hospital compared to 56 in 1921. Quilts for the children’s ward were provided out of the cash raised by the committee. Nods of thanks were given to Mrs Ludlow Beamish, Mrs Babington and Mrs Penrose-Fitzgerald, all of whom had long associations with the hospital. 

The report from the medical and surgical staff was well detailed. The number of admissions to the hospital during 1923 was 428 which was an increase of 96 in the number of admissions since the previous year. The number of outpatients attending the external department increased 2,014 as compared with 1907 during the preceding 12 months. The number of operations performed was 357. This also shows an increase of 66 over the number in 1922. During the year there were 14 deaths occurred in the hospital. Of this number 9 patients at the time of admission were suffering from ailments, which from their nature offered little or no hope of ultimate recovery. 

The medical staff suffered a great loss during the year through the death of their esteemed and valued colleague doctor William Edward Ashley Cummins who for forty years worked in the Victoria Hospital. He died at his home Woodville, Glanmire on 18 October 1923, aged 65. He was also Professor of Medicine University College Cork. Born at Blackrock, Cork in 1858, William was educated in Cork, Belfast and Dublin. His work led him to be President of the Cork Medical and Surgical Society and a member of the British Medical Association; He was also a Senior Surgeon with the County and City of Cork Hospital for Women and Children, a Senior Medical Officer Cork District Hospital, Consulting Physician Lying-in Hospital, Cork, and a Consulting Physician Cork Eye and Ear and Throat Hospital.

In December 1924 in memory of the Professor Ashley Cummins, a cot was endowed in the children’s ward at Victoria Hospital by his friends. The cot bore a brass-plate with the following inscription: “A lasting tribute to the memory of the late Prof. W. E. Ashley Cummins, honorary physician to this hospital for a period of years died 18th Oct. 1923.  This bed was endowed in perpetuity by his many friends and grateful patients”. Mrs Jane Cummins also kindly offered to present a photograph of her husband to be hung on the wall of the children’s ward. 

The doctor with his wife Jane had over ten children. One of the children Iris Ashley Cummins (1894-1968) was born on 6 June 1894 in Woodville, Glanmire. On 22 February 2022, the Iris Ashley Cummins Building (formerly Civil Engineering Building) at UCC was named in her honour. In 1915, she was the first female graduate in Engineering at UCC. In 1924 she began private practice in Cork, continuing until 1927. It is speculated that she was the first woman land surveyor employed by the Irish Land Commission. She was the first female Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland (Assoc. M.Inst.CEI). In addition, she an Irish hockey international player.

In March 1928 the annual general meeting report of the Victoria Hospital, as published in the Cork Examiner, showcased figures taken from the annual reports covering a period of ten years. It showed that there has been remarkably little variation in the number of patients.

Most noticeably by the late 1920s are references to philanthropic funding given for new innovative technologies. The 1928 AGM repots highlights a Mr Leycester’s generous help in enabling the hospital to purchase and commence ultra-violet rays treatment. During the early 20th century a violet ray was a medical appliance used to discharge in electrotherapy. In general, their structure had a disruptive discharge coil with an interrupter to apply a high voltage, high frequency, low current to the human body for therapeutic purposes.

On 1 January 1927, a light-therapy department opened with one lamp working. Phototherapy (light therapy) is used in the treatment of skin conditions. Later in the year it was found necessary to purchase and install a second lamp to cope with the steady increase of patients. 136 individual cases were treated, receiving a total of 1,301 exposures.  

The nature of the cases treated was varied, with use upon cases of tuberculosis of the skin, bones, joints, and glands, rickets, debility, anaemia, and a variety of skin affections. The treatment carried out in this department was deemed similar to departments of much larger institutions in the UK.  


1244a. Victoria Hospital, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 7 March 2024

1243a. Former and now demolished Cork Maternity Hospital, Erinville, Western Road (source: Buildings of Ireland Resource).
1243a. Former and now demolished Cork Maternity Hospital, Erinville, Western Road (source: Buildings of Ireland Resource).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 7 March 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – Cork Child Welfare League

Set up in February 1918 through the brain child of Lord Mayor Thomas C Butterfield, the Cork Child Welfare League was an impressive voluntary charity group comprising prominent male and female Cork citizens ranging from the Lord Mayor to councillors to prominent businessmen to clergy to legal support to representatives of at least sixteen charitable organisations. Several philanthropic women and female doctors were also key players in maternity and child welfare in Cork.

The League was established to “reduce and as far as possible to prevent infant mortality in Cork and to promote a healthy race”. Its committee members were the general public but with the Lord Mayor as chair. The League was funded by public charitable finance.

From the beginning, the League’s work was well structured every year and all the way through the decades of the 1920s, they produced monthly reports and a detailed annual report at their annual general meeting on the poverty conditions affecting mothers and children in the city. The reports were published in the Cork Examiner and some early minute books of the League also survive in Cork City and County Archives.

Practical action included committee members and public health advocates funding specially trained nurses to visit mothers and their children in their home and hospitals to offer support and knowledge and also gain data on the health of children being attended to.

On 11 March 1924, the report of the work pursued for 1923 by specially trained nurses of the Cork Child Welfare League was brought forward for consideration and approval. A total of 1,303 new babies and 255 anti-natal cases had been added to the books of the league. An impressive 13,385 mothers and babies were visited by the nurses, an increase of 3,600 over the attendance the previous year.

The nurses at Cork Maternity Hospital on Batchelors Quay and Lying-in Hospital (became known as the Erinville on Western Road) were inspected at regular intervals by the visiting sub committees. The work of the medical and nursing staff was highly commended. A larger room had been created for a waiting-room at Cork Maternity Hospital, which made the experience more comfortable for those attending from the outside.

The report noted the hospitals as being crowded with mothers seeking advice;“Their popularity may be gauged by the fact that twice a week the extern rooms of these institutions are crowded with mothers who have brought their infants for the valuable advice they receive from the doctors or nurses. The extern hours have had to be extended from the two stipulated for originally to three and a half to four and a half hours each session”.

A total 259 cases of sickness were dealt with during 1923. In March a mild form of influenza was prevalent amongst the children, followed in some cases by pneumonia. Infantile diarrhoea was much in evidence during the summer months, and several deaths occurred from this disease. 58 deaths occurred during the year of babies under 12 months old attended by the league nurses; 10 died of convulsions. 13 of pneumonia and bronchia pneumonia. 3 of bronchitis, 9 of babies delicate from birth, and 1 premature baby, 10 of diarrhoea, 1 of influenza, 2 of gastritis, I of kidney trouble, and 10 of causes unknown.

In spite of the great poverty in the city during the year there was less anaemia amongst the children attended by the health visitors of the league. Large quantities of milk were supplied in needy cases and the amount of virol made available by the league for the children was also quite high. Nearly one third of the cases visited received help. An impressive 50,703 quarts of milk and 5054 pairs of bread were distributed in 1923.

Over 96% of the babies visited by the League were breast fed. The nurses, in their advice to mothers, insisted on the importance of breastfeeding. The reports notes the advice; “It is proved that infants fed thus thrive better than those who are artificially fed and mothers are realising that this natural feeling is all that a baby requires”.

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Seán French at the 1924 AGM looked on the League as the real foundation of public health. He deemed that it should receive more wholehearted approval than was apparent from the voluntary subscription list and even more press coverage in calling for public funds; “The necessity for financial aid to carry on a work of vital importance should be emphasised by the Press in order to wake the people up to a sense of their duty in the matter”.

In the few schools Seán had visited, his reflections afterward were that the League was making an impact on the public health of children. He highlighted: “Some years ago it was their absolute ill-health which was evident, and there was no organisation more responsible for the great Improvement than the Child Welfare League”.

Fast forward to the 1930 AGM report, which reflected on the work by the League in 1929, and it is clear that the group had had a large impact in a few short years on the public health of mothers and children. The improved conditions of employment in the city were reflected in the annual report, which outlined that there had been a decrease of 5,465 in the number of visitors to mothers in their homes. Seven hundred and fifty needy babies and mothers had still received help, which was a vast drop from the high figures of over 13,000 visits in 1924. This decrease in numbers is also due to the official appointment by central government of specially trained nurses to local authorities, which included Cork Corporation.

With the expansion of Ford’s Works and the general revival in trade, the report pointed out, had been a great boon, and had absorbed the majority of the unemployed. However, the effects of the lean years did unfortunately, he felt would for some years to come appear in children’s health statistics. This is evident in the AGM reports of the League published in the 1930s in the Cork Examiner.

The Cork Child Welfare League remained in operation into the late 1960s and annually published their AGM reports on the health of mothers and children in the city. The history of League for the most part remains unresearched and has an important story on municipal public health provision to bring to public fruition.


1243a. Former and now demolished Cork Maternity Hospital, Erinville, Western Road (source: Buildings of Ireland Resource).

Kieran’s Lord Mayor’s Column, The Echo, 2 March 2024

Celebrating Inclusion, Collaboration and Creativity:

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a civic reception in City Hall for Cork Community Art Link who are celebrating their 30th year of operation.

My first message on the reception evening was that it is truly inspirational that what started as a FAS Community Employment Scheme back in 1993 has evolved and developed over 30 years to become one of the most successful and admired community arts organisations in the country and complete with its own pioneering and persevering adventures so to speak. Their story places an enormous value on the societal, cultural and economic impact of inclusive collaborative creativity within the arts.

The early work of the group focused on hospital arts with key projects developed in psychiatric hospitals in Cork and a long term 10-year programme in Our Lady’s Hospital Cork, which was widely considered as Ireland’s first long term and pioneering hospital arts programme. 

The Dragon of Shandon certainly warrants a special mention.  The Parade, which is a celebration of Samhain (Halloween), is now well established as Cork’s own and each year thousands take to the streets of Shandon to walk with the Dragon – a 36-foot Dragon made by the hands of the Cork citizens.

Dragon of Shandon, 31 October 2023

In addition, the Igloo project, back in 2009, was delivered in partnership with St Mary’s Road Library, Shandon to celebrate the exploits of Antarctic explorer Tom Crean. Northside schools participated in workshops to create an igloo structure made out of more than 2,000 recycled plastic milk containers collected by children. This speaks to Art Link’s ambition to value that communities and individuals are empowered through creative exploratory collaboration.

Commitment and Passion:

Ron Melling Head of Adult Education at Crawford School of Art was the original driving force behind Cork Community Art Link back in 1993. Then in 1998, William Frode de la Foret was appointed Artistic Director and has been instrumental in growing and evolving the organisation. Cork Community Art Link is the organisation it is today because of the commitment of individuals who followed their passions.

The range of projects Cork Community Art Link is involved in now is immense and impressive. It includes work with libraries, youth clubs, disability organisations, accommodation centres and family resource centres. 

Cork Community Art link’s story has been peppered with ups and downs. In otherwords it has not always been a smooth path – there has been frustrations, battleships, dead ends. However, turning those aspects on their head and reflecting on the past thirty years – at the heart of the story of Cork Community Art Link is one of resilience, perseverance, and a belief in the power of the community arts, and empowerment of communities.

My sincere thanks to the staff team, the volunteers, the artists, the participants, and supporters who have taken us all on the adventure over the past thirty years and helped shape the organisation they are today.

Impact and Depth:

My second message on the reception evening was about mining down further into Cork Community Art Link’s story and the actual impact the range and depth of projects that they have been involved in over the years, how Art Link has worked with thousands of people, and hundreds of community, voluntary and statutory agencies in partnership across Cork City.

Deep in the Cork Community Art Link story is the story of thousands of people who have been empowered by their participation in their projects and bringing spectators to their projects. Very much at the heart of their story is one of bringing people together. It is embedded in their story. In a world where there are vast pressures to divide people Cork Community Art Link brings people together in a very tangible and cohesive way.

Culture and community participation has various meanings to people and Cork Community Art Link have through pure listening and engagement with people carved an impressive suite of methodologies to empower people.

Personal and People Orientated:

In essence, Cork Community Art Link motivates people. It moves people forward. Their projects help people develop in personal ways. Their projects create a focus for people, an understanding of sorts for people. Their projects inspire and their projects encourage. Their projects enable people and build tolerance. Their projects breed ideas amongst people, which breed even more ideas amongst people.

Their projects construct democracy and build active citizenship. Their projects build a sense of belonging. When their story is fully chronicled in the years to come, there will be multiple chapters on the how and what works for the empowerment of citizens and belonging.

Respect for the Dragon:

I have long been an admirer of the Dragon of Shandon with its multitude of participants and spectators. For years I have photographed its presence on the streets of Cork and admired how it subtlety gets under the skin of the city.

For all intents and purposes, it might as well be a real dragon – such is the respect for the artwork, the yearning by the crowd to view it – the almost standing back by the crowd, the almost bowing by the crowd as they stand back, as the dragon winds its way through Shandon and into the old historic core of North Main Street, Castle Street and the Coal Quay.

The sense of wonder and awe, cheering and shouting, and that sense of pride imbued on it by the people of Cork, you cannot buy that in one year or ten years, it is the result of many years of hard work and collaboration.

I had the deep honour of being part of the parade this year and I must add one of my lifelong goals. It will become one of my core highlights of my mayoralty.

It is only when one goes behind the scenes of organisation, from their headquarters in the old Lido cinema in the months leading up to the parade to the evening of the parade within the rooms of the North Cathedral and the Firkin Crane that one can see the multitude of moving parts, the element that everybody’s story is important to the mosaic that is the Parade – from volunteers to the stewards to the costume people, to the make-up artists to the float pushers, the dancers, the actors, the multi-cultural element, the crowd control to the vison of the spectacle itself, and much more.

A Great Lighthouse:

In fact, with their open-door policy and willingness to explore all art forms, I doubt there is an organisation in the City that has not benefitted from working with Art Link. Ultimately when you think deeply about the Dragon of Shandon or any other Cork Community Art Link project it is created by the people of Cork for the people of Cork. In a world where aspects such as togetherness is threatened, Cork Community Art Link stands as a great lighthouse where people flock to find shelter and to be inspired and much much more.