1. Shalom Park

Shalom Park, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

The year 1989 coincided with the naming and establishment of Shalom Park in Cork city. On 28 April 1989, Michael Smith, then Minister of Energy, gifted the park to Cork City Council on behalf of the Cork Gas Company (now Bord Gáis). The idea for the park came from the company’s chairman P J Dineen who wished to put the site of the company’s disused and historic gasometers to better use. The company’s headquarters stand nearby on Gasworks Road, and which date as far back as the mid nineteenth century.

Since the arrival of natural gas in Cork in 1980, the manufacturing process for gas has no longer been necessary and the plant was dismantled and the site lain idle. Rather than selling off the land, it was developed into a park through a social employment scheme at a cost of approximately £150,000.

OSI map section of former gasometers, where Shalom Park now stands
OSI map section, c1910 of former gasometers, where Shalom Park now stands

The Corporation of Cork landscaped the site, planting trees and shrubs, laying footpaths and got Cork Gas to install gas lighting. Assistance was received from the Department of the Environment, the National Lottery, FAS and the ESB.

In March 1984, Shalom Park (‘Shalom’ is Hebrew for ‘peace’) was chosen by the Corporation of Cork – not only to avoid an obvious duplicity (Cork City has another ‘Peace Park’) but also to recognise the Jewish community that once lived in the immediate area, a district known colloquially, affectionately, as ‘Jew Town’.

This was a community that emerged from the settlement of Russian and Lithuanian migrants in the in the 1880s, who arrived in Cork at an apt time as the Hibernian Buildings were being developed by the Cork employer company – the Cork Improved Dwellings Company. They were built by the O’Flynn brothers – and all were part of a wider suite of housing numbering 420 dwellings in all from the Barrack Street area to Rathmore Terrace to Albert Road.

The Jewish community on Albert Road that peaked in the early years of the 20th century with a population of several hundred, complete with library and synagogue. Today, the community barely registers in Cork and lives on in the hands of a few committed individuals.

In 1989 one of the leading representatives of the Jewish community in Cork, Gerald Goldberg, when interviewed, said he was “emotionally moved and thrilled” as he felt the Park would be a memorial to the Jewish people who lived in the area and around it.

Cork Examiner Piece on Opening of Shalom Park, 29 April 1989
Cork Examiner Piece on Opening of Shalom Park, 29 April 1989

In December 2011, three further electric lamps were added to those already existing in Shalom Park, making a total of nine. One lamp stands slightly taller than the others and remains off throughout the day and night but comes on for half an hour every year, at a precise time, on the last night of Hanukkah. It is part of the art work called Evening Echo by artist Maddie Leach.

In December 2021 Shalom Park was awarded a Green Flag in the scheme that aims to encourage the provision of good quality public parks and green spaces that are managed in environmentally sustainable ways.

Read more here on Evening Echo: Maddie Leach | Evening Echo and check out the YouTube video I made below.

Read about Kennedy Park Here: 2. Kennedy Park | Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Kieran McCarthy

Read Kieran’s June 2024 local election manifesto here: 2. Kieran’s Manifesto, Local Elections 2024 | Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Kieran McCarthy