Lord Mayor’s Column, The Echo, 22 July 2023

Rediscover Cork!

Summer in Cork brings holidays and many visitors to Cork historic core. The multitude of different languages is amplified as one strolls down the always busy Oliver Plunkett Street. Indeed, in my strolls through the city centre to different events the past few weeks, there have been days that the city has been rocking with laughter, chats, concerts, and many people sitting out enjoying the atmosphere in the myriad of different restaurants and cafes.

And yes the City has many challenges – which we are taking on – but we also have many days where Cork’s charming heart is very much on show. Those days we need to talk about much more in order to keep the city centre a positive space and to enhance its sense of place.

 Not only is the summer an important opportunity for tourists to discover our city, it is also an important opportunity for locals to rediscover the City and its wider region. Sometimes I feel as Corkonians we can take for granted what is front of us. For me in the past few summers, I have used the time to create new walking tours in different neighbourhoods of the city. The City has its challenges but it has very rich historical layers to rediscover.

Walk the streets, sit on a park bench, support the cultural activities, spend a few minutes or an hour at one of the city’s park festivals, and shop local.

Where to start? Google the Pure Cork website or check out my history trails on my heritage website, www.corkheritage.ie or take a walking tour!

Bláithin the Lizard is Back!

One City Centre related summer project, which is firmly aimed at families, local and tourist is the city’s annual Playful Culture Trail, which focuses on a trail around a colourful character called Bláithín the Lizard. The trail has proven a great success in encouraging families and children to explore Cork’s museums, galleries and historic sites – all of whom have collaborated on the trail.

The Playful Culture Trail was first established in Cork in 2021 as part of an ongoing commitment towards making Cork a ‘Playful City’ and to make cultural and heritage spaces more accessible and fun for children. The idea proved hugely popular with locals and visitors to the city alike and opened a new way of thinking about attractions in the city.

The trail is about finding new ways for families and children to rediscover the city’s many cultural attractions and greenspaces. This year’s theme encourages kids to get creative and use environmentally friendly ways to play and engage with our city’s rich heritage.

Meeting Notes from the Lord Mayor’s Desk:

My social media at present is filled with short interviews with people I am meeting. It is a personal pet project I call #VoicesofCork, which over the next few weeks and months will build into not only a mapping of the diversity of the work of the Lord Mayor but most importantly also to give a voice to a cross-section of those I meet.

3 July 2023, I was honoured to be able to launch the 2023 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival today and to sing with Danny Boy with Cork’s Ukrainian Choir. The festival will occur from Thursday, 27 July, over three days and nights until Saturday, 29 July.  It will be based at the Shandon Maldron Hotel, and the events will all be held in and around the old historic community of Shandon. Read more on the festival’s website.

5 July 2023, It was a very short trip as a member to the EU Committee of the Regions in Brussels for its plenary session, and to conduct a short interview with Vasco Cordeiro, President, European Committee of the Regions on how Cork connects to the EU. 

7 July 2023, The Cork Lions Club made their annual visit to City Hall. They have served Cork since 1957 and one of 100 Lions Clubs in District 133 Ireland part of Lions International. Cork Lions Club have supported local and international charities for over six decades.

10 July 2023, It was great to attend the Mardyke arena gym. Sporting performance in UCC has been taken to another level with the official opening of a high-performance team gym at the Mardyke Arena. Almost 100 people attended the official opening ceremony of the new University College Cork Mardyke Arena Elite Athlete/ Team high-performance strength conditioning gym, with the new facility coming as a major boost for Cork’s elite athletes and teams competing at national, international and Olympic levels.

10 July 2023, It was my first chairing of a Cork City Council meeting! My thanks to my colleagues for their patience and support. It was a long five hour meeting where everything from bridge naming to greenways to the Council’s social and affordable housing projects, were discussed.

12 July 2023, To celebrate Frederick Douglass Week, I joined Dr Adrian Mulligan on the Cork Abolitionist Trail with members of the public. We met at the impressive mural designed by Cork artist Kevin O’Brien on the Grand Parade. American Abolitionist Douglass visited Cork in the winter of 1845 where he met a number of prominent Corkonians including Fr Theobald Mathew.

12 July 2023, It was great to visit Cork County Hall and to chat to Mayor of County Cork Cllr Frank O’Flynn and to explore further collaborations across topics & policies such as housing, transport, heritage & sport. 

12 & 13 July 2023, Thanks to everyone who attended the first of my Lord Mayor historical walking tours. More to come for National Heritage Week in mid-August.

13 July 2023, Cork City Council launched its Community Recognition fund amongst several of the city’s community projects. The €50 million central government fund is a major initiative designed to support local authorities such as Cork City Council specifically support communities across the country that are hosting people from Ukraine and other countries.

14 July 2023, Major congrats to the five new officer of Cadet Class 61 who were commissioned as officers in Haulbowline this week. Great to chat with senior officers of the Defence Forces; my thanks to Flag Officer Commodore Michael Malone & Commander of the Naval College Caoimhín Mac Unfraidh for their courtesy.