A new book Championing Cork chronicles the history of city region and that of the Cork Chamber of Commerce, which was founded 200 years ago on 8 November 1819.
Early last year, Douglas Road local historian Cllr Kieran McCarthy was commissioned to research the history of the Chamber, and the book was launched at a dinner to celebrate the Chamber’s anniversary last week.
This book draws on the Chamber’s records in Cork City and County Archives and from its press coverage over two hundred years. It highlights the big stories of the Chamber’s past but also the subtler elements – the conversations, speeches, the messages, the creativity, the elements of empowerment – the intangible pulses, which drive an institution forward.
Speaking at the launch of the history book at The Metropole Hotel Cork, Chamber President Paula Cogan said, “This book brings together 200 years of history of the region. It gives a wonderful flavour of the Chamber’s activities through the decades, describing them in relation to the socio-political and economic context at the time. Kieran took on the responsibility of bringing together 200 years of history with great enthusiasm and with an appreciation of both the importance and impossibility of such a task!”
Cork Chamber has lobbied on behalf of its members on key projects that have transformed the Cork over 200 years. Some of the early campaigns included the first railway services in Cork and supporting the establishment of the further education institutions.
Over the years the Chamber has been a strong advocate for infrastructure developments, such as the growth of Cork Airport, the Port of Cork and the docklands. Working to raise the profile of the region nationally and internationally has been a key part of the Chamber’s mandate and this continues to be a core activity.
Commenting on the book, author and historian Cllr Kieran McCarthy said: “Two hundred years ago a small group of gentlemen met at Shinkwin’s Rooms on St Patrick’s Street – a small two storey building not overly developed. Minutes were kept, a chair appointed, and the rules of the new organisation were set out as their winter meetings progressed.
As the years passed, the new Chamber etched out its own vision and pursued development, across themes such as docklands development, the need to harness new technologies, the need for enhanced commuter belt transport, the need to mind and enhance the City’s appearance, the role of Cork Harbour in the city’s economic development, Cork’s relationship with the UK, diplomatic opportunity building, branding the city – to name just a few. In essence, this new book explores the Chamber’s journey and lobbying work into these themes over two hundred years and much more”.
Speaking at the launch, CEO Conor Healy said: “While some things change over time, the core of the Chamber’s remit of supporting our members through good and more challenging times remains unchanged. The Chamber values of being dynamic, purposeful, inspiring and above all responsible, underpin our vision and purpose, and we look to the next chapter of our history with confidence”.