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About Kieran McCarthy

Kieran McCarthy, 2014

Kieran McCarthy is a born and bred Cork man. Growing up in Ballinlough he developed a great love for his hometown and today remains dedicated to promoting the past, present and future of this city and region.

After attending Colaiste Chríost Rí, Kieran went on to study Archaeology and Geography at University College Cork. On completing his Joint Honours BA degree, he went on to undertake a Masters in Geography. Even after devoting four years to furthering his knowledge of the city, Kieran wasn’t satisfied to leave his love of all things Cork and has completed a PhD on the River Lee Valley and the importance of remembering, identity and protecting our historic landscapes.

    Kieran’s commitment to instilling a sense of pride in the community is demonstrated through his involvement in a well-established school projects currently running in Cork. The ‘Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project’, was founded by Kieran in 2003 and is now annually implemented in 40 schools across the city and county. Other initiatives amongst our youth include his Community Talent Competition, Art Competition, Make a Model Boat Project and his involvement in the foundation of Cork City Musical Society. He also created a new series of walking tours across the south east ward and across the city’s suburbs, extending out from his City Centre tours. These ward walking tours focus on the landscapes and memories within 20 areas, which one can read about on his dedicated Cork heritage website or even better come out on one and participate and share your own memories and thoughts. He was awarded Cork Person of the month for his heritage work in January 2017.

    Kieran has also written 21 books dedicated to Cork and its region and has published a wide range of articles including his well-known weekly column in the Cork Independent ‘Our City Our Town’ which has built a loyal following over the past 19 years. Kieran believes in living life to the full and when he has any spare time he enjoys horse-riding, acting, singing, photography, writing and getting involved in community activities. He is also an avid fan of the arts. His many achievements include receiving the President’s Gold Gaisce medal award, the President’s Cup for singing in the Feis Maitiú, and the Chief Scout Award.

   Kieran was elected to Cork City Council in June 2009 and May 2014 as an Independent City Councillor. He sits on the Housing,  Planning and TEAM (Tourism, Events, Arts and Marketing) functional committees, the TEAM Strategic Policy Committee, the City Council’s Arts Committee and Heritage Forum and the Cork-Coventry twinning sub committee.

     In January 2015, Kieran was appointed by the Minister for the Environment to be an Irish member on the European Committee of the Regions (an opinion body of local authorities and regional assemblies) to the European Parliament. He holds membership of the Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC) and has personal interests in the new Skills Agenda, informal and formal education, lifelong learning, the Digital Single Market, smart specialisation, science and innovation in regions and cities, cities and regions of the future, youth and sport, socio-cultural effects of IoT. He is Rapporteur on the opinions:

- Digitising European Industry,

- Building a European Data Economy, 853/2017

- Opinion on the assessment on the Implementation of the Urban Agenda for the EU (report to follow)

Kieran also sits  on the Commission for Territorial Cohesion and EU Budget (Coter) with personal interests in the EU Urban Agenda, in representing small cities and rural regions in Cohesion Policy, and the dissemination to EU citizens of the work of EU structural funds  He has sat  on the EU 2020 Monitoring Platform, which monitors c.180 EU regions giving a voice to local and regional authorities in the work of the EU Commission and EU Parliament.




  • Primary & Secondary School: Scoil Chriost Ri & Colaiste Chríost Rí, Cork

  • Third Level Education: BA Joint Honours in archaeology and Geography (topics inc. Heritage management, town planning, environment and society); National University of Ireland, Cork.

  • M.Phil in Geography (topic:  Cork City in the eighteenth century – topography, heritage and development); National University of Ireland, Cork.

  • PhD in Geography (topics: Collective memory, remembrance, identiy and cultural landscapes); National University of Ireland, Cork.

School Projects:

  • Founder and leader on Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project, 2003-ongoing;

-  working with 45 schools annually in the city and satellite area, working with primary and secondary schools who undertake a local history project.


Past School Projects:

  • Ireland South Co-ordinator on the National Forum on Europe’s National Public Speaking Competition

- liasing with 40 schools in Munster, working with transition year students who undertake a public speaking programme, which involves researching contemporary debates on the European Union

  • Ireland South Leader on Understanding Europe, a transition year European Studies Programme

-  working with Colm Burke MEP and transition year students in 30 schools across Munster; providing workshops for students who undertake projects on the European Union and the citizen’s voice in Europe.


 Kieran McCarthy, tutor, fieldwork on Cornmarket Street

Kieran’s Publications:


  • Author of 21 books on Cork and its region:

-   Pathways Through Time, Historical Walking Trails of Cork City (2001, self published) 

-   Cork: A Pictorial Journey (co-written, 2001, co-published)

-   Discover Cork (2003, O’Brien Press) 

-   A Dream Unfolding, Portrait of St Patrick’s Hospital and Marymount Hospice (2004, Hospice Publication),

-   Voices of Cork: The Knitting Map Speaks (2005, Nonsuch Publishing)

-   In the Steps of St Finbarre, Voices and Memories of the Lee Valley (2006, Nonsuch Publishing)

-   Generations: Memories of the Lee Hydroelectric Scheme (co-written, 2008, Lilliput Press).

- Inheritance, Heritage and Memory in the Lee Valley, Co. Cork (2010, History Press, Ireland)

- Royal Cork Institution, Pioneer of Education (2011, CIT)

- Munster Agricultural Society, The Story of the Cork Showgrounds (2011, Munster Agricultural Society)

- Cork City Through Time (co-written, 2012, Amberley Publishing )

- Journeys of Faith, Celebrating 75 Years, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Ballinlough (2013, Church Publication)

- West Cork Through Time (2013, Co-written, Amberley Publishing )

- Cork Harbour Through Time (2014, Co-written, Amberley Publishing )

- The Little Book of Cork (2015, History Press, Ireland)

- North Cork Through Time (2015, co-written, Amberley Publishing )

- Ring of Kerry, The Postcard Collection (2015, Amberley Publishing)

- Cork 1916, A Year Examined (2016, co-written, History Press Ireland)

- Cork City History Tour (2016, Amberley Publishing )

- Secret Cork (2017, Amberley Publishing )

- Cork in 50 Buildings (2018, Amberley Publishing)

Columnist since 1999 with Inside Cork / Cork Independent:

-   focus on the past, present and future development of the City and the region with specific focus on the River Lee valley, Cork Harbour, history of education in Cork, Cork 100 years ago (1916, 1917, 1918), Cork’s heritage and people; check out the dedicated website


Kieran’s Community and Civic awareness projects:


  • Walking tours of Cork City for 25 years

-          with general public, school children, university students, business groups & community groups


  • Lectures and workshops to community organisations

-          from ICA groups to Lifelong learning Festivals) and Cork schools (visiting over 100 schools in Cork City and Cork County giving local history talks and workshops) 


  • Developing twinning links with San Francisco Cork branch

-          Summer 2003 programme with the Irish Cultural centre and the Cork Association.


  •  Former member of Ballinlough Pastoral Council

-          Working on various projects with other members including setting up a folk choir, annual carol service, parish social and being a youth representative for the Cork City South Deanery on the Diocese of Cork and Ross Pastoral Plan


  • Former Beaver Scout Leader in Ballinlough for 16 years

-          Former scout involved in Ballinlough’s All Ireland Melvin win in 1992


  • Advisor and investor, Cork Community Radio, 2009

  • Former swimming instructor with Sunday’s Well Swimming Club, Douglas Pool

  • Former lifeguard in Douglas Swimming Pool for 12 years 

  • Actor  – appearing in a number of Cork productions on the Cork Opera House, Everyman Palace,  Cork Arts Theatre and Firkin Crane stages

  • Active member and sponsor of Cork-Kerry branch of Showjumping Association of Ireland -Amateur rider, indoor and outdoor gymkhana participant; 90cm, 1m classes

  • Founder of Cork City Musical Society


  • An Gaisce Gold medal, President’s Award Recipient

  • Chief Scout Award Recipient

  • Government of Ireland Scholar, Recipient of Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Scholarship

  • Feis Maitiu Winner (President’s Cup and Gilbert and Sullivan singing categories)

  • Cork Person of the Month, January 2017