Community Grassroots Matters
The past, present and future of community building is very regular theme in the Lord Mayor’s office. Two events recently reiterated the legacy of community life and the importance of grassroots activities in our city. I gave a civic reception to former Independent Councillor Con O’Leary and met with Cork City FC and Gerry McAnaney, the President of the FAI.
Honouring Con O’Leary:
Whilst Con, like myself, served as an Independent Councillor in Cork City Council, I didn’t share the Council Chamber with him but Con’s family, friends and my colleagues in the Council shared some snippets from Con’s life and contribution to the City with me. Con was born in the Community he has served for most of his life – Gurranabraher, going to Blarney St. Boy’s School. Con and wife Ann lived in Charlemont Terrace, Wellington Road as newlyweds. They moved to Mayfield for a short period before returning back to Con’s roots in Gurranabraher in 1973.
An opportunity arose to purchase ‘Molly’s Shop’ now known as ‘Con’s Shop’ and for over 50 years now Con has served the people of Gurranabraher from that shop. We all know the value of the corner shop. The service they provide goes way beyond a pint of milk, a loaf of bread or a lottery card. These shops are bedrocks of community life. Con, like many shopkeepers – not only kept the shop, but kept an eye on the street, provided shelter from the rain and an open ear when no one else was listening. He knew when people were struggling and pointed them in the direction of help.
It is borne out of the shop as a community service that Con got involved in a whole host of community initiatives – Churchfield/Gurranabraher youth club, St. Anthony’s over 60’s club, Churchfield/Gurranabraher Meals on Wheels, The Legion of Mary Gurranabraher, Ógra Corcaigh, and the North Infirmary Action Group
Perhaps it was that Community involvement then that led Con into local politics in 1991– not only serving as a Councillor but also as a Member of the Southern Health Board, and as a Director of EACD (European Cities against Drugs). A glance at newspapers from 1991-2004 shows important and a myriad of councillor campaigns by Con. It is an honour to celebrate a master crafts person of community, someone who forged carefully community life in our city over many decades.
Honouring Football Legacies:
Football in Cork became a major theme across one of my recent weeks. Cork City FC hosted a breakfast briefing at The Metropole Hotel, which I attended and I also hosted a reception to honour the work of the President of the FAI Gerry McAnaney, who has strong links to College Corinthians, amongst other.
Cork City FC has invited sponsors of the club to gather and hear about the business of running the football club and about how the club is building on the relationships already established with some of Cork’s leading businesses. The club is also hoping to increase its sponsors by establishing and developing relationships with other businesses in the city.
Cork City FC like many of our sporting clubs matters in our city and region and add significantly to the essence of building community values in Cork and grassroots sports initiatives in Cork – the tangible and intangible benefits. This was also one of the themes of Gerry’s speech during his visit to City Hall.
In addition one does not have to look far to see how football clubs are rooted in the life of the city and how proud the city are of them, and how it represents the many legacies of football clubs going back over one hundred years.
Indeed, one just has to go to any match to see the sense of pride, ownership and love for Cork City FC amongst players, management and the supporters who chant, laugh, cry and shout more and then even chant, laugh, cry and shout more the local football team on. And that essence of pride is hard to physically replicate.
There are individuals who have spent decades every week supported the team and there are parents or guardians who proudly bring the next generation on in all kinds of weather, and they wouldn’t miss it for anything. There are incredible special moments of human connection are bound up with football and indeed all of the sports that operate in Cork. One cannot buy that energy or connection but it is so important to have in a city such as Cork whose heart when it comes to social and cultural capital beats very passionately.
Notes from the Lord Mayor’s Office:
September 30: I was delighted to launch the Celebrating Cork Past Exhibition.
September 30: It was great to attend and take part in the Lord Mayor’s Community Heritage Concert.
October 2: It was a great honour to receive Douglas born and reared woman Mary Scanlon, who is celebrating her 100th anniversary early next month.
October 2: I paid a visit to the Elephant Sculpture as part of the Cork Samaritans Elephant in the Room campaign.
October 2: I was delighted to launch the Dragon of Shandon, which is all set for 31 October to re-enter the streets of Cork.
October 4: I was delighted to pay a courtesy visit to Collins Barracks to learn about its history and its role in the future of the Cork region.
October 5: I attended the Cork City FC Breakfast morning whose focus was on sponsorship.
October 5: I attended and presented the centenary event for the Insurance Institute of Cork.
October 6: I hosted a reception with College Corinthians to mark the completion of Gerry McAnaney’s presidency of the FAI.
October 6: I hosted a number of visiting scholars who were presenting the Western Front conference in Cork on aspects of the First World War.