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2 Jun 2017

McCarthy: Book Twenty Explores Secret Cork

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 Front Cover of Secret Cork by Kieran McCarthy

   Cllr Kieran McCarthy’s 20th book has hit Cork bookshelves and it entitled Secret Cork. Published by Amberley Press, the new publication is a companion volume to Kieran’s Cork City History Tour (2016) and contains sites that Kieran has not had a chance to research and write about in any great detail over the years. Secret Cork takes the viewer on a walking trail of over fifty sites. It starts in the flood plains of the Lee Fields looking at green fields, which once hosted an industrial and agricultural fair, a series of Grand Prix’s, and open-air baths. It then rambles to hidden holy wells, the city’s sculpture park through the lens of Cork’s revolutionary period, onwards to hidden graveyards, dusty library corridors, gazing under old canal culverts, across historic bridges to railway tunnels. Secret Cork is all about showcasing these sites and revealing the city’s lesser-known past and atmospheric urban character.

  Cllr McCarthy notes; “Cork’s story is really enjoyable to research and promote. I still seek to figure out what makes the character of Cork tick. I still read between the lines of historic documents and archives. I get excited by a nugget of information that completes a historical puzzle I might have started years ago. I still look up at the architectural fabric of the city to seek new discoveries, hidden treasures and new secrets. I am still no wiser in teasing out all of Cork’s biggest secrets. But I would like to pitch that its biggest secret is itself, a charming urban landscape, whose greatest secrets have not been told and fully explored”

   Continuing Cllr McCarthy highlighted that we all become blind to our home place and its stories; “we walk streets, which become routine spaces – spaces, which we take for granted – but all have been crafted, assembled and storified by past residents. It is only when we stand still and look around that we can hear the voices of the past and its secrets being told”.

“Cork’s story has been carved over many centuries and all those legacies can be found in its narrow streets and laneways and in its built environment. The legacy echoes from being an old ancient port city where Scandinavian Vikings plied the waters 1,000 years ago – their timber boats beaching on a series of marshy islands – and the wood from the same boats forming the first foundations of houses and defences”.

“Themes of survival, living on the edge, ambition, innovation, branding and internationalisation are etched across the narratives of much of Cork’s built heritage and are among my favourite topics to research. Indeed, I fully believe that these are key narratives that Cork needs to break the silence on more and this is a book constructed on those themes”.

Secret Cork is available in Cork bookshops or online at Amberley Press.

1 Jun 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 1 June 2017

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897a. Murphy's Brewery, Blackpool, 1903


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 1 June 2017

The Wheels of 1917: The Age of Public Houses


   One hundred years ago this month, meetings were held in Cork City to showcase the rationing of beer and stout. The Beer Restrictions Act cut down the manufacture of such products to one-third of the output. A letter to the editor of the Cork Examiner on 2 June 1917 by a representative of the retail traders Mr Michael O’Mullane explains the effects of rationing. Accordiing to Mr Mullane the curtailment had turned to a drastic situation as the one-third was not fairly or evenly divided on a pro rata basis after the product has left the hands of manufacturers.

   Hundreds of licensed traders were complaining that they were not getting anything like the one-third of their normal supply. In almost every town in the country there was a brewer agent, or rather purchasing agent. These purchasing agents were, in nearly all cases, retail vintners themselves, and they appeared to be withholding from their former retail customers the greater part of the one-third supply. The purchasing agents claimed they could distribute barrels of stout as they like, i.e. that they could give two or three-thirds to one customer, and one-sixth, one-twelfth, or none at all to another customer. According to Mr O’Mullane, although the liquor traffic was not State controlled it could be argued to be so virtually, owing to the operations of the Beer Restrictions Act as applied to the manufacturers.

  For the purpose of protesting against the rationing and intentions of the Westminster Government with regard to the Irish brewing and distilling industries, a public meeting was held in Cork City Hall on Friday evening, 1 June 1917. Lord Mayor Thomas C Butterfield presided. The attendance was large drawing interested parties from the city and county. The proceedings were published on 4 June in the Cork Examiner. The Lord Mayor noted that the numbers affected by the rationing were impossible to calculate; “One could enumerate indefinitely the number of people who would be affected by those restrictions, such as the brewers, the brewery workers, the vintners and the assistants. As far as the workers were concerned, it was elementary knowledge that the men employed in breweries and distilleries or maltings were men who had spent most of their lives at their respective businesses, and if they were disemployed, they would be absolutely no use for anything else”.

   The Lord Mayor outlined that vintners, for the most part, lived by the sale of liquor. Many of them had large families, and that it would be a crime if their means of livelihood was taken from them. The taxpayer, too, would be hard hit; “the revenue from the sale of liquor would be reduced, and this, deficit would have to be made up some way”. The farmers, too, would not have a market for their produce. “It the Government were determined to crush out the distilling and brewing trade in Ireland, they had a right to compensate the people for it”.

   The City High Sheriff William O’Connor moved a resolution “calling on the Government to relax, or at least to modify, the restrictions at present in force with regard to the Irish brewing and distilling industries which were causing so much inconvenience, hardship and dissatisfaction to the general public, pointing out that such drastic curtailment, as far as Ireland was concerned, was not absolutely necessary”. Despite revealing himself as a teetotaler, he highlighted that what he wished to speak about at the meeting was “the injustice sought to be perpetrated on Ireland by the Government”. The City Sheriff noted that outside the shipbuilding industry in Belfast, British rule had left Ireland practically no other industry of any importance with the exception of the brewing and distilling industries.

   The City Sheriff continued his concerns about the effects on the circa 520 public houses in Cork city, with its population of about 76,000—that was one public-house for every 150 persons. The Cork breweries employed around 500 men, and he had been informed that as consequence of the regulations of the Government one brewery discharged 70 men and at another brewery 30 men. He questioned the future employment prospects of those made redundant; “What was to become of these men – that was a point that deserved their most serious consideration. The licensed vintner?, the vast majority of whom were respectable men and women, had always contributed in a most generous manner to all charitable objects as well as to every movement for the betterment of the people and the country, and were those traders, after putting all their savings into their promises, to be thrown on the roadside?”. To him, the licensed vintners circulated a large amount of money and gave a good deal of employment, and he held that if they were to be treated in such a manner they should be given adequate and reasonable compensation.

   Cllr Timothy Sheehy said they should demand of their members of Parliament to “strike a decisive blow in their cause”. He argued that for a century England had starved the industries of Ireland, and they were now going to continue that policy. He believed the meeting would have a great effect on the vital question of whether they were going “to allow Lloyd George and the Government crush out those great industries”. After several more passionate speeches, the motion was unanimously passed.


897a. Murphy’s Brewery, Blackpool, 1903 (source: Cork City Library)

897b. Malt house and yard, Murphy’s Brewery, Blackpool, 1903 (source: Cork City Library)


897b. Malt house and yard, Murphy's Brewery, Blackpool, 1903

31 May 2017

McCarthy: EU Structural Funds Retrofitting Cork’s Social Housing

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Press Release


A recent report read at the Housing Strategic Policy Committee of Cork City Council reveals that Cork’s social housing is benefitting from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy, a member of the Council’s housing functional committee, notes that there is a considerable stock of social housing in public ownership, generally in disadvantaged areas, which do not meet the new building requirements in terms of energy efficiency and performance.

“Currently the national social housing stock is comprised of some 130,000 rental properties, most of which are located in the country’s cities and towns. It is estimated that there are some 25,000 older properties with low levels of energy performance, due mainly through heat loss through the fabric of the building. With EU structural funds, targeted measures can be pursued to address improved energy efficiency, carbon savings, and improved comfort levels”, McCarthy highlighted.

“There are also large numbers of owner occupied non-Local Authority homes, which were constructed before 2006, where the energy efficiency and performance is very poor. A further targeted measure to address energy efficiency improvements in these homes, specifically targeting the elderly and vulnerable, making the homes more comfortable, healthier and more cost effective to run will also be rolled out. Ultimately these programmes also create an increase in green jobs in Ireland”.

“The level of ERDF or EU structural funds being invested in Cork and other counties is really significant and sometimes not acknowledge fully in the public realm. Focus is also being places on developing new technologies (ICT), small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) and an increased focus on sustainable urban development such as stronger transport mobility models”.

“A funding package of €500 million from the ERDF and the Irish exchequer is being invested in the region over the programme period 2014-2020. The ERDF aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions”.


30 May 2017

McCarthy: A Larger Marina Park should be Pursued

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 Press Release

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed the site preparation phase for phase one of the Marina Park, which comprises new riverside public sports, adventure and ecology Park – all of which wraps around the new Pairc Ui Chaoimh. “The creation of Marina Park pursues a 170-year-old plan for the area to develop a park worthy of being named City Park, notes Cllr Kieran McCarthy.

Cllr McCarthy is the author of a publication on the history of the Munster Agricultural Society and gives historical walking tours of the Marina and surrounding suburbs.

“A larger municipal park was proposed in the area in the 1840s by Cork Corporation’s Engineering department. The reclamation of land behind the Navigation wall or dock now part of the Marina Walk was accelerated through the provision of the Atlantic Pond in the 1840s, the opening of the City Park racecourse in 1869, the new showgrounds in 1892, shortly followed by a GAA pitch at the turn of the twentieth century and the new ford Factory in 1917. It is now through European funding of e.4m that we can begin to pursue that dream even further and create a super public amenity in the area. In addition, such heritage DNA should also be remembered in the footprint of the park. I welcome that part of the old stands are to become part of Marina park”.

“There are also lessons to be learned from other parks in the city. Despite the circa e30m investment into the nearby 180-acre Tramore Valley park it remains closed due to staffing shortages and funding challenges in the Council. I don’t want to see a brand new Marina Park and then no funding available to staff it, maintain it or open it”.

“There is also the elephant in the room that there may be room to create an expanded Marina Park. With all of the development land of former Howard Holdings in NAMA, it remains to be seen how these lands will be developed. I have advocated that part of the South Docklands plan will have to be revisited and redesigned. It would be great to have an elongated Marina Park through whatever new plan emerges. Public amenity space needs to be at the heart of the emerging Docklands quarter”.


27 May 2017

Final, McCarthy’s Community Talent Competition, May 2017

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Thanks to everyone who took part in 9th year of McCarthy’s Community Talent Competition at the Firkin Crane, May 2017


25 May 2017

Pictures, McCarthy’s Make a Model Boat Project, The Lough 2017

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Thanks to everyone who supported McCarthy’s Make a Model Boat Project 2017 on Cork’s Lough; sincere thanks as well to Meitheal Mara and the Cork Harbour Festival crew, Kmc

McCarthy's Make a Model Boat Project, Cork Lough, 24 May 2017

McCarthy's Make a Model Boat Project, Cork Lough, 24 May 2017

McCarthy's Make a Model Boat Project, Cork Lough, 24 May 2017

McCarthy's Make a Model Boat Project, Cork Lough, 24 May 2017

McCarthy's Make a Model Boat Project, Cork Lough, 24 May 2017

25 May 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 25 May 2017

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896a. Map of site of Fever Hospital from the 1949 ordnance Survey Map

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 25 May 2017

The Wheels of 1917: Atop the Fever Hospital Steps

   One hundred years ago this month the Cork Fever Hospital hosted their annual general meeting. The hospital had a distinguished career caring for Corkonians since 1802 and was located atop the Fever Hospital steps adjacent Our Lady’s Well in Blackpool. It was founded by Corkman Dr Milner Barry who introduced vaccination into Cork in 1800, and was the first to make it known to any Irish city. In 1824, a monument with a long laudatory inscription was erected to his memory in the grounds of the Fever Hospital by Corkonians. The hospital site was sold off in 1962 and the housing estate of Shandon Court stands in its stead.

   The annual general meeting of the President and Assistants of the Cork Fever Hospital and House of Recovery was held on 15 May 1917 in the Crawford Municipal School of Art. The annual report of the Hospital Committee was read by member Sir John Scott. He revealed that on 1 January 1917 there were 37 patients in the hospital and 256 were admitted during 1916. This made a total number of 293 patients treated, compared with 500 during the year 1915. Of the patients treated 253 were discharged and cured whilst 11 remained in hospital on 31 December 1916. There were 24 deaths during the year, and it was noted, with great regret, that many of them were only brought to the hospital in a “hopeless condition”. Deducting these from the number of deaths the mortality showed a low rate namely 6 per cent, which was deemed by the committee as a “satisfactory outcome” with dealing with dangerous life-taking fevers. A regular call was made by the Fever Hospital urging upon Cork citizens the immense importance of prompt isolation and hospital treatment for cases of infectious diseases. Many of the cases treated came from the thickly populated districts the city. Of the cases admitted 108 came from the north side of the city, 54 from the south side, 53 from the centre and 25 from the rural districts.

   A considerable number of military cases were treated. One soldier, having returned to his home in England, wrote a letter to Dr Sutton, the Resident Medical Officer, thanking him and the medical staff for their “excellent treatment” which he had received. He stated that he had been in hospitals in various parts of the world but that he never got better care and attention than he received in the Cork Fever Hospital under Dr Sutton and Miss McCullagh, the Matron.

   The Committee regretted to report that a case of typhus fever was admitted to the hospital from a Cork locality. It was some years since there was a case of typhus fever in Cork, mainly owing to the excellent and watchful eye of the officials of the Public Health Department of Cork Corporation. They were active in their endeavours to promote cleanliness, and to guard against overcrowding in congested areas, and thus prevent the outbreak and spread of any infectious diseases.

   In the report of the Medical Staff, read by Dr O’Callaghan, he called upon parents and guardians of unvaccinated children – a substantial number of whom were in the city – to have them immediately vaccinated, as there was every danger that the disease, small pox, might be brought into the country by some of those returning from the various fronts of the War. It was hoped that that the Board of Guardians, who were responsible for the enforcement of the Vaccination Act, would insist on it being complied with by parents and others in charge of children. Under the amended 1907 Act the parent could escape penalties for the non-vaccination of his child if within four months from the birth he/she made a statutory declaration that confidently believed that vaccination would be prejudicial to the health of the child.

   The high prices of the cost of living added considerable expense of maintaining the Fever Hospital. It was acknowledged that the cost of treating fever patients was heavy. The increase in prices was shown by a comparative return made by the Auditor, who pointed out that in the year 1913, before the war, the cost of food and necessaries amounted to £416 14s 7d. During 1916-17 the cost under the same headings came to the large sum of £850 8s 2d, being a rise of over 101 per cent.

   The treasurer’s report showed a balance due to the bank of £1,466 5s. The cash received from Cork Corporation was £1,500 from the County Council, £100, from subscriptions £101 15s, and from paying patients £556 9s. The committee noted an increase under the head of subscriptions and also of paying patients. The Hospital Aid Society sent £11 and the Hospital Saturday Fund sent £16. Early in 1917 because of the heavy debt, which had accumulated on the Fever Hospital, the Committee made a special appeal to the public with a view to reducing the bank debt. The appeal met with considerable success with a sum of £819 9s 4d being fund-raised. This included £30 3s 0d, an amount realised by the proceeds of a bridge tournament kindly held by the Lady Mayoress, Mrs Butterfield.

  Looking to read more Our City, Our Town articles from over the years, log onto the index at my website www.corkheritage.ie


896a. Map of site of Fever Hospital from the 1949 Ordnance Survey map (source: Cork City Library)

22 May 2017

McCarthy: Brexit to hit Atlantic Regions Hard

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    The Brexit effects on the Atlantic regions of the EU is quite significant according to Cllr Kieran McCarthy. McCarthy who is a member of the European Committee of the Regions noted that nearly 100 staff of the Irish Permanent Representation based in Brussels are working on the different problematic areas connected with Brexit; Cllr McCarthy noted: “there is a public perception that the Irish government is not on the ground to prevent a hard Brexit, On the contrary, large scale preparation work is happening behind the scenes with the EU’s Brexit negotiator Mr Michel Barnier regularly being briefed on Ireland’s Brexit challenges. Mr Barnier has also met us the members of the European Committee of the Regions to outline his strategy for local authorities and regions in the Atlantic region, where there is much worry”.

“With Brexit, it is important that all the problematic parts are put on the negotiating table; many sectors are effected such as tourism, cross-Channel transport, UK residents settled in adjacent countries, trade exchange with the UK in fishing industry, agriculture and agribusiness. The list of effects is long”.

   Cllr McCarthy continued: “Each Member State contributes around 1% of its gross national income to the EU budget. The annual loss as a result of the UK withdrawal is estimated to be between 7 and 10 billion euros out of a total EU budget of 145 billion euros, equivalent to a loss of 4.8% to 6.9%. The UK currently represents 16% of European GDP. The overall reduction in the EU budget linked to Brexit carries the risk of reduced funding for EU flagship policies, notably the cohesion policy or regional structural funds, which accounts for 34% of the EU budget. It’s worryingly to think that structural funds could be cut as they have been of great use to cities and regions such as Cork in terms of constructing infrastructure such as roads, regeneration programmes of our city centre and to innovation start-up hubs”.

   Recently representatives of the EU’s Atlantic Arc Cities, of which Cork is a member, met to discuss to the impact of Brexit. Each city including Cork had a chance to give feedback into the discussion. Cllr McCarthy at the meeting shared the problems arising for the Cork region with French and Spanish counterparts outlining their issues. The group is demanding greater transparency around negotiations for the United Kingdom’s exit to improve preparedness on the part of territories affected; Cllr McCarthy highlighted; “the meeting was very frank with solid support for a strong EU budget, that European policies do not go backwards in their intent. The group is calling for compensation for the structural impact of UK withdrawal on the various sectors effected”.

“The discussion also revolved around the need to continue to pursue cooperation with the UK in the field of training and research, particularly maritime-related, guarantee funding to the fishing sector and to strengthen the role of the Atlantic Strategy and its Action Plan (quality labels, rewards, etc). There is much work and preparation to do not just in Ireland but across the EU’s north west Atlantic sea board. Regions such as Cork cannot afford to underestimate the effects of Brexit on the local and regional economy”.

18 May 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 18 May 2017

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Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 18 May 2017

The Wheels of 1917: Charity at Home

    This month one hundred years ago apart from the American Navy settling into Queenstown and World War I raging, local issues, such as poverty and charity also dominated the media headlines. The flag day for the Cork poor in March 1917 made £300 and was distributed to St Vincent de Paul Society (60). Ladies of Charity Society (£ 60), Sick Poor Society (£60), Police Aided Society £ 60 and the Indigent Room Keepers’ Society (£60).

  Cork has six conferences in the city attached to the St Vincent de Paul Society in 1917. The City president was Francis J Murphy of Shanakiel House, who was also the Chairman of his family’s business J J Murphy’s Brewery in Blackpool. There was also a St Vincent de Paul Ladies Association who tasked themselves in looking after widows and orphans led by Miss K M Murphy of the Bons Secour Convent. The Cork Examiner for May 1917 had a media campaign asking Cork citizens to donate money to the St Vincent do Paul Society. The prices of bread, milk and coal were abnormally high, and if the Society was to continue its work it would require more money. Its average income for the previous thirty years had been £l,780 per annum, but in 1917, owing to the increased cost of food and growing poverty in the city, the society noted that at least £3,500 extra was required. Their entire administration of the Society was carried out by voluntary workers. During 1916, the families relieved numbered 890 comprising 4,372 persons, old and young. This necessitated 7,028 visits by members of the Society to what they deemed the “homes of the distressed”. Nine years previously in 1908, the number of visits paid was lower at 4,540. In 1917, over 80,000 2-lb loaves of bread, 15,555 pecks of coal, and 63,064 pints of milk were distributed. The Society relieved distress wherever found, regardless of class or creed of those requiring assistance.

   In 1833, Frédéric Ozanam, a young French student and six companions, studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, founded the St Vincent De Paul Society. A year later membership had grown to over 100 people. Within a short few years of foundation, conferences (branches) were established throughout Europe and North and South America. By 1853, there were 2,500 conferences throughout the world, each linked to the Council-General in Paris. The first society conferences in Ireland were established in Dublin in 1844 and was introduced to Cork in 1846. Today there are c.1203 conferences in Ireland with 11,000 volunteer members.

   The first annual report of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Cork was read at the general meeting at the Mansion House, now the Mercy Hospital on 8 December 1846. This can be viewed in the Boole Library in UCC and reveals the early development of the first Cork conference. It was formed in March 1846 with ten members. By 15 March, the organization was up and running with their officers, namely—a President, two Vice-Presidents, Treasurer, and Secretary; they waited on the Cork Bishop to examine their regulations and plan and to appoint a spiritual director to the Society. After that the next step was to procure “letters of aggregation” from the Council General in Paris. With letters secured, society members began visiting the poor on 7 April and, on 13 April, issued their first relief of food poverty depot tickets to 26 cases. These were poor families, of which, at the request of the Sisters of Charity, and Sisters of Mercy had added to society’s list.

  By December 1846, the weekly relief extended to 98 families consisting of 470 individuals. For the first three months, the society was accommodated with a room at the Mansion-House, by the Rev Michael O’Sullivan, but from 15th June, they held their meetings in a more central site, at the house no 4, Morrison’s Island, kindly placed at their disposal by the Murphy family. During March and April 1848, the Society of St Vincent de Paul gave relief to 401 families consisting of 1,670 individuals — the food distributed included 16,156 lbs. of Indian meal, 16,758 lbs. of bread, plus bedding-straw, clothes and blankets.

   In 1861, there were three well-established conferences meeting weekly in Cork City. The members of the Society strove to meet the necessities of the time. They set up night schools, when these were required; a boys’ brigade was formed; a Prisoners’ Aid Society worked with no publicity in connection with the Cork Prison; a savings bank was formed; in later years, hostels were established.

  By 1890 the St Vincent de Paul Society in Cork City offered help to 753 families and conducted 3,315 visits were paid per annum. The Ladies Society made nearly 4,000 visits to widows and orphanages per annum. The increasing scale of charity work is also reflected in the early Irish Free State. In 1925, the number of families relieved were 773 with the number of persons in families totaling 12,799; the total number of visits paid was 21,221; the number of 2-lb loaves distributed reached 151,009 with the number of pints of milk distributed at 141,183; the number of pecks of coal distributed reached 21,487 – all paid for through regular fundraising initiatives across the city and from donations from the wills of citizens.


895a. Mercy Hospital, present day – the city’s former Mansion House – the first base for the Cork St Vincent de Paul in 1846 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)


15 May 2017

Second Call: McCarthy’s ‘Make a Model Boat Project’ 2017

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    Cllr Kieran McCarthy invites all Cork young people to participate in the eighth year of McCarthy’s ‘Make a Model Boat Project’. All interested must make a model boat at home from recycled materials and bring it along for judging and floating at Cork’s Lough on Wednesday 24 May 2017, 6.30pm. The event is being run in association with Meitheal Mara and the Cork Harbour Festival. There are three categories, two for primary and one for secondary students. The theme is ‘Cork Harbour Boats from 100 years ago inspired by the 1917 Naval commemorations’, which is open to interpretation. There are prizes for best models and the event is free to enter. There are primary and secondary school categories. Cllr McCarthy, who is heading up the event, noted “I am encouraging creation, innovation and imagination amongst our young people, which are important traits for all of us to develop; places like the Lough are an important part of Cork’s natural and amenity heritage and in the past have seen model boat making and sailing. For further information and to take part, please sign up at www.corkharbourfestival.com.

     The Cork Harbour Festival will bring together the City, County and Harbour agencies and authorities. It connects our city and coastal communities. Combining the Ocean to City Race and Cork Harbour Open Day, there are over 50 different events in the festival for people to enjoy – both on land and on water. The festival begins the June Bank Holiday Saturday, 3 June, and ends with the 10 June 28km flagship race Ocean to City – An Rás Mór. Join thousands of other visitors and watch the hundreds of participants race from Crosshaven to Blackrock to Cork City in a spectacular flotilla. Cllr McCarthy noted: “During the festival week embark on a journey to explore the beautiful Cork Harbour – from Mahon Estuary to Roches Point – and enjoy open days at heritage sites, and lots more; we need to link the city and areas like Blackrock and the Marina and the harbour more through branding and tourism. The geography and history of the second largest natural harbour in the world creates an enormous treasure trove, which we need to harness, celebrate and mind”.