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15 Mar 2017

McCarthy: Diplomacy must prevail in Brexit Debate

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    Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy was recently part of a five-person delegation from the European Committee of the Regions to the UK’s Local Government Association and to the Mayor’s Office London to explore the impact Brexit will have on UK towns, cities and regions. The delegation also met British Secretary of State, David Jones, and stressed that it will continue to cooperate with the UK’s local and regional government throughout the Brexit negotiations and beyond. The meeting was also attended by political representatives of the UK’s devolved administrations and local authorities from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

   Cllr Kieran McCarthy at the meeting commented: “Brexit will have a huge impact on local and regional governments in both the UK and the EU, which is why we will continue to work closely together to understand the local economic, political and social consequences. There is much historic goodwill on both sides, the UK’s and the EU’s. Positive diplomacy is required and not the ‘taking pot shots’ mentality, which has prevailed in certain camps around the Brexit debate todate”. Cllr McCarthy also expressed the impact of a hard Brexit on Ireland and has called for the Committee of the Regions that Ireland’s case to be a priority in the Brexit negotiations.

   The delegation visit follows a meeting between the Committee’s leaders and its UK delegation in mid-January with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, who confirmed his wish to open a channel of dialogue and communication to allow local and regional stakeholders to be informed and heard throughout the process.

   The European Committee of the Regions, the EU’s assembly for democratically elected local and regional politicians, has a consultative role in EU policymaking. Of its 700 members and alternates, 48 come from the United Kingdom. President Markkula and the Committee’s delegation which was composed of leaders from its political groups namely: Markus Töns (DE/PES) Member of the North Rhine-Westphalia Regional Parliament; Kieran McCarthy (IE/EA), Member of Cork City Council; Kate Feeney (IE/ALDE), Member of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council; and Rob Jonkman (NL/ECR), Member of the Executive Council of Opsterland.

14 Mar 2017

McCarthy: Gaps in Marina Tree Line to be Replaced, March 2017

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Press Release:

   Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed the Cork City Council’s plan to replace trees in the Marina tree line as part of the upcoming Marina Park plan starting later this year. Raising the issue at a recent Council meeting, Cllr McCarthy noted; “The Marina treeline is one of the most significant in the city and is a vital resource which enhances the visual character of Cork City and its natural heritage. I have had numerous emails by local people concerned about the several gaps in the treeline, which have not been replaced over many years now. Cutbacks to the Council’s environment services have greatly reduced its ability to keep up with its urban forestry programme”.

Commenting further, Cllr McCarthy highlighted that a number of substantial trees have also fallen on the perimeter of the Atlantic pond in the last 2-3 years; “Some of these are manifest in the form of a few stumps; some are as a result of a fall during storms of recent years – especially several big trees. Concreting over fallen trees roots is a poor policy. I would urge that the fine Marina tree line is maintained and protected as part of the finances required for future Marina Park Plans”.

14 Mar 2017

Kieran’s Question to the CE, Cork City Council Meeting, 13 March 2017

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Question to the CE:

To ask the CE on an update on the Penrose Quay hoarding? Whilst acknowledging, the recent creation of a smaller hoarding space, it is now eight years since my initial asking of when this remnant of the Cork Main Drainage Project will be completed and the site levelled off (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

That the City Council create a new historic city centre action plan for North Main Street?

9 Mar 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 9 March 2017

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885a. Approaching Cape Clear, present day

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 9 March 2017

The Wheels of 1917: The Eye of the Lifeboat

  On Saturday evening, 10 March 1917 in the Lifeboat House, Baltimore, silver medals were awarded by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to Con Cadogan, Michael Cadogan, Tim Cadogan, John Daly, and Michael Daly all from Cape Clear for their rescue of crew from the sunken ship, the SS Nestorian.

    Both the Southern Star and the Cork Examiner describes that the Bishop of Ross, Dr Kelly addressed the large crowd present and related the brave exploits of the medal receivers. On 2 January 1917, in the pitch darkness the Royal Mail Steamship Nestorian entered a thick fog went on the rocks near Cape Clear. Con Cadogan, described by the Bishop as a “patriarch of the Island, with the trained ear of the old Sea dog”, recognised the gun’s fire in distress. He awoke his boys and awoke their neighbours, the Dalys. All went out on Con Cadogan’s fishing boat, and in tow they had a small punt. As they got to the scene of the wreck, the Nestorian was already breaking up, and the sea was strewn with spars and wreckage of all kinds. The fishing boat could not approach the wreck, and the two Cadogans and the two Dalys got into the little punt, and rowed into the high waves to rescue ten of the crew. In time a naval boat arrived to rescue others.

  The SS Nestorian was built in 1911 by Leslie Hawthord & Co Ltd of Newcastle upon Tyne and was owned F Leyland. She was powered by a four cylinder quadruple expansion steam engine which generated 510 hp. She was en route from Galveston, USA for Liverpool with a cargo of cotton & steel ingots and empty shell heads when she hit rocks off Cape Clear. Fifty-two of her crew were rescued and one died when he fell from the rigging.

     Reference at the medal ceremony of the Cadogans and Dalys was also made of their pursuits in helping the crew off the passenger and cargo ship Alondra. It ran aground on 29 December 1916 on Kedge Rock, an island off Baltimore with sheer rock cliffs. Sixteen of her crew were able to get aboard one of the ship′s lifeboats, but they drowned before they could reach safety. Another man died on board. Meanwhile, Archdeacon John Richard Hedges Becher, who was serving as the honorary secretary of the Baltimore Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), set out with a rescue lifeboat. He failed to reach Alondra on the first try and again on the second. When the sun rose, he and his lifeboat crew set out a third time using a rocket apparatus and managed to reach the vessel. While the lifeboat worked from one position, the crews of Royal Navy trawlers worked from the tops of the cliffs to lift other surviving crew members out of Alondra. In total, 23 men were rescued from the ship. The RNLI awarded silver medals for gallantry to Archdeacon Becher and to Lieutenant Sanderson for assisting with the rescue. In 1913, the RNLI had established a lifeboat base in Baltimore, which could have been of assistance in rescuing the crew of the Alondra. Unfortunately, World War I delayed the official opening of the base until 1919. In 2013, a professional film crew sponsored by the Arts Council England created a film based on the events surrounding the Alondra shipwreck of 1916. The film was made in collaboration with the RNLI and the Baltimore Drama Group. Wreck diving is popular in Baltimore at sites such as the Alondra wreck.

   The RNLI was established in 1824 and its local lifeboat centres have a great history of recording their stories and their importance through books and websites. Two of the first lifeboat stations in Cork were established in Courtmacsherry and Kinsale respectively in 1825. Both were also one of the first in Ireland. The first record of a lifeboat in Cork Harbour also dates back as far back as 1825. A boat was built in Passage West and sailed to Liverpool in an unsuccessful attempt to get the Institution to adopt the design. The Ballycotton Station was established by the Institution in 1858 to afford protection to the shipping frequenting the port of Cork and, together with the new stations at Youghal and Ardmore (closed 1895) and others, created to guard the English and Irish channels. The Queenstown Lifeboat Station was established by the Institution in 1866 following several wrecks with loss of life off Cork Harbour.

   During World War I, RNLI lifeboat crews launched 1,808 times, rescuing 5,332 people. With many younger men on active service, the average age of a lifeboatman was over 50. Many launches were to ships that had been torpedoed or struck mines, including naval or merchant vessels on war duty and many were in non-motor propelled boats. The Lusitania on route to New York on 7 May 1915 was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat south of Courtmacsherry Bay, with the loss of 1201 lives. The Courtmacsherry Lifeboat crew was alerted to the tragedy and, because of very fine weather that day the sails were of no use so they rowed the Kezia Gwilt lifeboat 15 miles to the scene of the sinking. Today there are 45 Lifeboat stations in Ireland and 237 in total run by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Check out the small museum on island and coastal community life in the old national school on Cape Clear island plus the ferry times are on www.calinoir.com

Cork 1916, A Year Examined (2016) by Kieran McCarthy & Suzanne Kirwan is now available in Cork bookshops.

Cork City History Tour (2016) by Kieran McCarthy is also available in Cork bookshops.


885a. Approaching Cape Clear, present day, on a sunny summer’s day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

885b. Cape Clear, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)


885b. Cape Clear, present day

7 Mar 2017

Award Ceremonies for Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project 2017 to take place

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     The Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project 2016-17 will come to its conclusion over two evenings in March. The award ceremony for County Cork schools takes place on Wednesday 15 March whilst the ceremony for City schools is on Monday 20 March (7pm start both evenings, Silversprings Convention Centre). Founded by Cllr Kieran McCarthy, the year 2017 marks the fourteenth year of the award ceremonies for best local history projects submitted into the project. The Project is open to schools in Cork; at primary level to the pupils of fourth, fifth and sixth class and at post-primary from first to sixth years. A total of 20 schools in Cork City and 18 in Cork County took part in the 2017 Project. Approx 150 projects were submitted on all aspects of Cork’s history with 900 students participating between individuals, group and class entries. The project in the city is kindly funded by Cork Civic Trust, Cork City Council and the Heritage Council. In the 2017 season prizes will also be provided by Learnit Lego Education, Sean Kelly of Lucky Meadows Equestrian Centre Watergrasshill, and the Lifetime Lab.  The project in the County is funded by students and Cllr Kieran McCarthy.

    Commenting, co-ordinator of the project, Cllr Kieran McCarthy noted that one of the key aims of the project is to allow students to explore, investigate and debate their local heritage in a constructive, active and fun way. “Every year we get really creative projects, which take on the many complex stories of Cork and its region. The Project is all about building awareness on the many sides of development of an ancient port city region such as Cork. The project attempts to provide the student with a hands-on and interactive activity that is all about learning not only about your local area but also about the process of learning by participating students”.

   Continuing Cllr McCarthy highlighted that the Schools’ Heritage Project also focuses on motivating and inspiring young people. “Every year as well many teachers, parents and extended family are involved in assisting students in their work – by offering their own story or helping with fieldwork and creative methods such as model and short film making. It is estimated that apart from the 800 students involved directly with projects, a further 4,000-5,000 people every year are also involved indirectly with the projects that are taken on”. A list of winning projects can be viewed at Kieran’s heritage website www.corkheritage.ie.

7 Mar 2017

Cork: Towards an Atlantic Maritime Hub of Innovation

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Speech given to Jim MacKinnon, City-County Expansion/ Merger advisory group under Jim MacKinnon,

February 2017

Cork: Towards an Atlantic Maritime Hub of Innovation
Cllr Kieran McCarthy

Mr MacKinnon you are very welcome to this chamber – it’s great to meet another geographer – where you took the planning route in Scotland, I took the cultural geography route to explore memory, narrative making and identity within case studies within this city – attempting to champion its history, heritage and its ambition. Both the planning and cultural are important branches of geography and embody principles of exploring space and place and the concept that place matters. We need to pursue sustainable place making and not only as elements of economic efficiency – we need to create places as part of society, integrated into society, and with a strong narrative, great story and persistent identity structure such as Cork possesses.

For the past two years, I have been fortunate to be an Irish member of the EU Committee of the Regions and am fortunate to have colleagues from Edinburgh and Glasgow and as far as Lerwick on the Shetland Islands. I have always appreciated the Scottish appreciation of the idea of place matters especially those which are marginalised and geographically disconnected from the heart of macro decision making. Indeed, there is much Scotland and Ireland have in common in cultural but also in believing in the power of place.

Being on the COR I am also a member of the Europe 2020 Strategic Monitoring Committee and Territorial Cohesion and EU Budget committee, both of which look at European Spatial planning frameworks and challenges within them. So, I get to regularly read, explore and critique policy and macro pictures and case studies of the importance of second tier cities such as Cork – and how to survive they need to tweak, brand and reposition themselves strategically in a very competitive European and global market of commerce. One gets to see that it is not a time for second tier cities to stay still or be diluted but an exciting time to explore their assets and to scale-up. I make this statement not only being involved in the European Capital of Innovation alumni project but also in the light of Cork City and the need not be diluted or scale down but the need to scale up. We need to reposition and capture its energy and expertise not only as a strategic gateway in the south of Ireland but also as a key hub in maritime north-west Europe.

Small Cities and Opportunities:

Cities, large and small, in the European Union are now more than ever before focussed on the idea they are becoming the representatives of member states.

Cities are the powerhouses of economic growth, innovation and employment opportunities.

Cities are the living environment for 72% of all Europeans. This percentage is expected to rise to 80% by 2050. The developments in the cities are increasingly indicative for the quality of human life.

Cities are facing ever greater social challenges in respect of the environment, transport and social cohesion. The Urban Agenda for the EU aims to address those challenges.

Cities ever before are seen as the glue that keep the EU together – regions alone cannot function without a central ambitious heart driving them.

Vast sums of structural funds are now being invested in cities and the public interest – to address poverty, housing, innovation, waste management, climate change measures and urban mobility.

Much of Cork City’s key infrastructure the last twenty years has been, for a large part, been funded by the EU – our new streetscapes, waste management, transport mobility, mechanisms and our larger public parks and amenities. We secure funds because we are an ambitious and strategic city with a vision for its future within a bigger picture – the city’s DNA is rooted in vision in its historical development in its past.

In the macro picture, cities are seen as stronger mechanisms that have population capacity, which can create better funding models. With cross-sectoral financial instruments, they can simplify use of funds, and combine funds to more possibilities – the larger the city the more funding it attracts.

Indeed, in the bigger picture towns in surrounding regions are seen as satellite hubs for developments of cities.
More and more collaboration is happening.

City-smart EU policies are sensitive to the needs of our urban areas, will enable and empower cities to deliver results that benefit all.
Well-performing cities benefit their surrounding areas, driving growth & innovation in our regions as well as Europe’s overall competitiveness.

This is apparent in projects such as Eurocities.

The eminent Eurocites project of 130 European cities marks that 3 out of 4 people in Europe live in urban areas.

Cities are drivers of Europe’s economy, frontline managers of social inclusion and key players in climate action – check out Cork City’s work on lifelong learning and the promotion of social inclusion. Cities are the key to Europe’s objectives for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth – that if we don’t get it right in our cities, we won’t get it right at all.

Last November, Cork was able to host an international entrepreneurial network and win kudos at international level for it.

At this moment in time, a city must have a population of 250,000 to be a member and to become a key player within urban strategy – so Cork City is behind.

A Time to Scale Up:

Cork City has the opportunity to scale up and become an Atlantic Maritime Hub of strategic planning in areas such as enterprise innovation and education and skill building; that is the crossroads that Cork has the potential not only to scale up from Ireland’s southern capital – the opportunities for Cork City is to capitalise on historic good will and enhance its reputation as Europe’s oldest and leading port city, which has ideas and can compete with the best of them.

This ambition is clear as well in the smaller Atlantic Area European projects, we are currently pursuing under the guidance of our EU funding co-ordinator:

Atlantic Social Hub- Atlantic cooperation for the promotion of social innovation  (S.O. 1.1. Enhancing innovation capacity through corporation to foster Competitiveness), Ayuntamiento de Aviles

Atlantic Food Export-Business Cooperation to Increase Atlantic Food Products Exports Innovation  (S.O.1.2 Strengthening the transfer of innovation results to facilitate the emergence of new products, services and processes), Chamber of Agriculture of Dordogne

A4RES – Atlantic Area for renewable energies and energy storage systems, Fostering resource efficiency  (S.O. 2.1: Fostering Renewable Energies & Energy Efficiency)

AREAM – Agência Regional da Energia e Ambiente da Região Autónoma da Madeira

MMIAH – Recovery and valorization of maritime, military and industrial heritage of the aa coast, Biodiversity, Natural & Cultural Assets, (S.O. 4.2 Enhancing natural and cultural assets to stimulate economic development), Ayuntamiento de Ferrol

ODYSSEA ECO MOVEA – Ecomobility and Green Growth model based on eco-innovation triple helix, Resource Efficiency  (S.O. 2.2 Fostering green growth, eco-innovation and environmental efficiency), Public Ports Agency of Andalucia

Energy Bank – Energy bank: an efficient tool of alleviating energy poverty Resource Efficiency (S.O. 2.1: Fostering Renewable Energies & Energy Efficiency), Andalucian Institute of Technology

ADSA – Atlantic Digital Start Up Academy Innovation,  (Specific Objective 1.1 Enhancing innovation capacity through corporation to foster competitiveness), Technopôle Brest-Iroise


The potential for this city is enormous. It has the potential to be a really important player in the development of this country but also a trusted player in the Atlantic Region of the European Union. Such ambition should not be thrown onto the fire of efficiency but should be allowed grow with the proper and most effective framework in place.

Many thanks for coming here this afternoon.


2 Mar 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 2 March 2017

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Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 2 March 2017

The Wheels of 1917: Wilson’s War of Words


    When President Woodrow Wilson of the United States of America addressed a joint session of Congress on 26 February 1917, it was only days before the inauguration of his second term as President. At the Congress Session, he asked for special powers over the army and navy for upholding the rights of the United States and to establish a state of armed neutrality.

    In his address to Congress President Wilson alluded to the sinking of the wheat-laden American sailing vessel, the William P Frye, which was first American merchant vessel lost to a German submarine during the war on 28 January 1915 off Brasil. He also displayed his outrage with the sinking of the United States ships, the Housatonic, which was sunk off the Scilly Isles at the southwest tip of Britain (3 February 1917) and the ship Lyman M Law, which was torpedoed (12 February 1917) in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Cagliari. Wilson noted the dangers attached to American shipping and that the situation was rapidly growing more serious with each passing day. As it only being a few hours after the torpedoing of the Cunard Liner Laconia (see last week’s article) by a German submarine (25 February 1917) Wilson was not aware of its full list of casualties and that three American citizens – two of whom, were women – had lost their lives.

    The President’s remarks regarding German submarine warfare were largely historical, but suggested that the holding up of American shipping “might presently accomplish what the new German submarine orders were meant to accomplish as far as America was concerned”. The President added that the “overt act” of killing American citizens, which he had hoped the German commanders would avoid had not occurred. He asked Congress for special powers, so that American commerce and American lives may be defended should the occasion arise, as it has proved impossible to safeguard neutral rights by diplomatic means. He spoke of a possibility of armed neutrality, but declared that no course of his action would lead to war. His speech was remarkable for its restraint and showed President’s determination to avoid war if such a course of mediation could by any “honourable means be pursued”.

    As a result of President Wilson’s address, it was decided that a Bill should be immediately introduced granting the President legislative power to arm ships. On hearing upon the torpedoing of the Laconia it had the effect of speeding up matters, and subsequently another special session of Congress was called. The Senate and Foreign Relations Committee had already agreed to a Bill authorising the arming of American merchantmen for defence, and the appropriating of two hundred million dollars—and judging by the comments of the American Press, American opinion has been seriously perturbed by the Laconia outrage. In a historic speech, he reiterated the severance of diplomatic relations with Germany. Mr Wilson stated that he could not bring himself to believe that the German Government “would destroy American ships and take the lives of American citizens in wilful prosecution of the ruthless naval programme they had announced their intention to adopt”.

   Throughout the United States the question was asked in their press how far further was the German submarine campaign to be allowed progress before America would have to intervene to protect the lives of her citizens. The eyes of the world were turned towards the United States, and developments were awaited with the most intense interest. In his inauguration address on 5 March 1917, Wilson alluded to the fact that the American nation might have to take stronger action, and he was clearly worried that some event would push the nation into war.

    However, the German campaign did not cease as the German submarines in March sank more merchant ships. The typical German U-boat was a formidable enemy, 214 feet long, carried 35 men and 12 torpedoes, and could travel underwater for two hours at a time. On 6 March 1917, the British vessel and Sunderland based SS Westwick struck a German mine off Cork Harbour. The crew abandoned ship, but it did not sink, and drifted ashore at Fish Point near Ringabella. There were no casualties but the wreck was scrapped on the spot. Four U.S. ships were sunk in March. One of those was the American passenger steamer SS City of Memphis, a large cargo ship, which was on a voyage from Cardiff to New York in ballast. On 17 March 1917, it was sunk by the German submarine UC-66, 33 miles south of Fastnet Rock. There were no casualties. Fastnet Rock was the first landfall for many ships crossing the Atlantic (second structure, established 1904).

   On 2 April, 1917, President Woodrow asked Congress for a declaration of war. Before a joint session of the two houses he read the words, “The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind. It is a war against all nations…We are accepting this challenge…The world must be made safe for democracy”. On 6 April, Congress declared war. In the ensuing eighteen months, the United States built an army of four million men by conscription, sent two million men overseas to France, and united an American population behind the war effort.

Indices of and links to previous Our City, Our Town columns can be viewed at www.corkheritage.ie

Cork 1916, A Year Examined (2016) by Kieran McCarthy & Suzanne Kirwan is now available in Cork bookshops.

Cork City History Tour (2016) by Kieran McCarthy is also available in Cork bookshops.


884a. President Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, c.1917 (source: West Cork Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen)

884b. Fastnet Rock. c.1910 (source: Cork City Library)


884b. Fastnet Rock. c.1910

27 Feb 2017

Kieran’s Speech, Blackrock Community Association AGM, February 2017

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The Entanglement of Place

Cllr Kieran McCarthy

Madame chairperson, colleagues, committee members, ladies and gentlemen,

Thanks for the invite this evening to this my eighth AGM; time flies.

It is great and frustrating to meet adjacent a building site – a half finished but ongoing project with lots of complexities to complete, entanglements to disentangle and lots of odds and ends to tie up, which we can discuss at length later this evening.

But it is clear that the DNA of the village is transforming once again and its public face is being redrawn and renewed,
– where the element of what makes up a place gets unpacked and repacked,
– where mixed emotions and questions move and are fluid,
– where childhood and family spaces are turned over,
– where the everyday movements of people get muddled and turned upside down,
– where routine is broken and remade,
– where an assembly of old stones get taken down and become re assembled as new structures,
– where old transport routes and rails re-appear,
– where stones become cobbled spaces,
– where no through signs become obstacle courses, where the past haunts the future,
– where phone calls and email boxes to public reps like myself become full with queries and suggestions,
and what should a living heritage quarter of a city look like,

It’s all one big entanglement for this old fishing village, which is clearly passing through a significant phase of development, which will be spoken about and remembered for years to come. It shows clearly the power of place in this quadrant of the world and how the powers of place are multiple in nature. In essence, place matters. In a world where globalisation reigns, more than ever place matters.

This is also apparent in the proud DNA of Rockies and those who wish to be one!

With Blackrock, we are dealing with immense scenic perspectives.

We are dealing with gorgeous, original and well invested architectural, and rich stories.

We are dealing with historical DNA is rooted in ancient Cork from the sixteenth century.
We are dealing with an area that really emerged in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries where the city was branding itself as one of the Venices of the North and the Athens of Ireland in terms of cultural output.
People wished to live here and be inspired here; they built big houses and estates here; but their culture though was filtered down by the strong hardworking fishing village present here, which was part of a necklace of fishing villages in Cork Harbour. One by one great institutions from the Marina, the Ursuline convent, the churches, the railway line, the pier, the tram lines were all added to provide services but also built in a way to enhance the sense of place.

And of course, the most important historical element from one hundred years, which is getting a lot of press recently is the centenary of the construction of the Ford Plant.

In November 1916, Fords made an offer to purchase the freehold of the Cork Park Grounds and considerable land adjoining the river near the Marina. Fords, Cork Corporation and the Harbour Commissioners entered into formal negotiations. In January 1917, it was decided to obtain parliamentary powers to permit the sale of the necessary land, which would enable the Company to erect buildings of a size demanded by the extent of the proposed output.

Under the agreements drawn up between parties involved, the Company acquired approximately 130 acres of land, having a river frontage of approximately 1,700 feet, the company agreeing to erect the buildings to cost at least £200,000 to give employment to at least 2,000 adult males, and to pay a minimum wage of one shilling per hour to them when employed in the factory after completion.

And of course, the new factory brought its own building site in November 1917 when the foundations were laid.

The plant being laid down by the company was specially designed for the manufacture of an Agricultural Motor Tractor, well known as the “fordson”, a 22 horse power, four cylinder tractor, working with kerosene or paraffin, adaptable either for ploughing or as a portable engine arranged for driving machinery by belt drive.

The demand for such tractors was universal and great. Large areas could be brought under food production with the minimum of expense and labour. The Cork factory was to provide ‘fordsons’ to local, regional and national farmers and further afield on the European Continent.

And culturally transformed this corner of the city – industry came to Blackrock, and a steady wage – as well as opportunities to join Fordson Soccer team, build new housing estates paid for by workers as well the creation of new public houses.
Of course the list goes in exploring the rich heritage of this area; we are lucky to have such heritage here, which offers so much thought and complex levels of thinking about place and home.


I would also like to thank the people of Blackrock for their interest and support in my own community projects over the last eight years now.

-  The Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage or Local history project, got some nice work this school season from 50 schools of which Beaumont BNS and GNS have pursued some great work on the history of this locality and some really great what I would deem lost family histories are re-emerging.

- The local history column in the Cork Independent, in the books I have been lucky to publish – two last year in terms of Cork City Centre Tour and Cork 1916, Examining everyday life.

- McCarthy’s Community Talent Competition is in its ninth year.

- McCarthy’s Make a Model Boat Project on the Atlantic Pond, also in its ninth year.

- and the walking tours through this ward; there are now ten of these – developed over the last number of years – and are ongoing and attract many interested people – people are interested in community, their roots, their identity and sense of place and the Blackrock Tour attracts many new residents who have many questions and are delighted to find a home in this quarter of the city or corner of the world

- With Cork City Musical Society, I directed Crazy for You in the Firkin Crane in Shandon.

- The appointment by the Minister for the Environment as an Irish delegate to the EU’s Committee of the Regions, is a busy one every three weeks of so. The 350 member committee gives advice to the European Parliament on local authority issues. I have shared the importance of small but significant projects such as yours from outings to get togethers. I have had the opportunity to see many new place and encounter situations from the Atlantic to the EU’s eastern borders in eastern Bulgaria– and ultimately everyone I have met is looking to live in places with opportunities and to be able to live or raise a family in safety. The importance of education, lifelong learning and building community capacity are consistently themes I encounter, even in the most impoverished places I have been sent to. At the end of last year, I was sent to a camp on innovation to Gabrovo in Central Bulgaria, where they earn on average e5,000 a year and where a average cost of a house is e35,000. And those I spoke with appreciated the Irish sense of community and believed in social innovation. I still firmly believe that communities and community groups such as yourself should have a stronger voice in driving and dictating social policy.

- Thank you for your continued courtesy towards myself. You always learn something new about yourself in Blackrock, indeed here is a place where you get stopped on the road for a chat, are challenged, encouraged, supported, helped and always pushed!

- Best of luck in the year ahead as you refocus the lens of this community space in the finished village renewal scheme. In these AGMs, there should always be the sense of thanks and renewal of spirit. Thank You.

23 Feb 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 23 February 2017

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883a. Picture of Laconia, c.1912

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 23 February 2017

The Wheels of 1917: The Sinking of the Laconia

      One hundred years ago, World War I was raging just outside the entrance to Cork Harbour. German U-Boats patrolled the south coast of Ireland targeting British merchant vessels. Many were torpedoed and sunk. One such ship which met with two torpedoes, one hundred years ago this week, was the Cunard Ocean Liner Laconia. The seven-deck liner, complete with officers’ cabins on the top deck was launched in 1911. It was en route from New York to Liverpool when on on Sunday night, 25 February 1917 it was attacked with the loss of 13 passengers, including three Americans. The death of the Americans influenced the course of the war. A graphic account of the sinking by an American journalist Floyd Gibbons aboard was credited as one of the catalysts in pushing the United States into joining the war after it was read to both Houses of Congress.

    Both the Gibbons account and the Cork Examiner on 28 February 1917 highlighted the plight of the Laconia, which was torpedoed about (11 km) northwest by west of Fasnet Rock. The first torpedo struck the liner on the starboard side on the stern side the engine room, but did not sink her. The effect of the torpedo explosion caused the big Cunarder to list to starboard, causing some difficulty in lowering the port lifeboats. She soon returned almost to an even keel before starting to settle, and all the boats—eleven in number got clear. By now the submarine had got into position for the firing of her second torpedo. Amongst the last to leave the ship and to jump into the water and swim to the boats were Captain William Robert Duncan Irvine and the chief engineer. The wireless operator, Mr O’Donovan. a native of Kinsale, sent out the SOS call. The ship’s surgeon, Dr Kennedy, a native of County Tipperary made sure that frail passengers were in lifeboats before he took to his own boat.

   When all the boats were clear and the fate of the Laconia was no longer in doubt the German submarine came up alongside, and the commander opened conversation with a number of queries. His attitude, according to the press, appeared to have been one of cynicism and indifference to the fate of the boats, as when asked if he was aware that he was torpedoing a ship carrying women and children he is reputed to have replied, “Oh, they will be all right; keep on and a patrol will pick you up in a few hours. Good night”. Afterwards the submarine moved off into the darkness. The patrol boat that rescued the boats of the Laconia also rescued the crews of the steamers Falcon and Eires which had been sunk earlier on the Sunday. The patrol sloop drew alongside the deep water quay at Queenstown and the people of the town received 277 survivors. Motor cars and ambulances conveyed the survivors to temporary accommodation in the town’s various hotels.

   A number of survivors, after leaving the torpedoed vessel, spent nine hours in a waterlogged lifeboat, until picked up by a mine-sweeper and taken to Bantry. Such was the impact to the exposure of the elements that out of 21 on the boat as many as seven died, and those included two American ladies, Mrs Mary Hoy and Miss Elizabeth Hoy. Rev V D Sargend, OP, who was travelling from the West Indies to England via New York, to take up an appointment as army chaplain noted that this boat was immediately launched after the torpedoing. There was no superintendence of the lowering of their boat and it hit the stern of the steamer while she was being lowered. Several of the side planks were burst open and it took sea water as it hit the water. From 10pm until 8am the boat drifted without oar or steering gear in this boat with rising water levels. They were not picked up until 3 o’clock that day. Everybody on board had crowded into the bows and stern. The big waves washed those who were in a weakened condition overboard. Mrs Hoy and her daughter, Miss Hoy of Chicago were two of the drowning casualties.

    There were in all 23 American citizens on the ship and of this 17 were members of the crew. Two of the four surviving American passengers included Rev Father Waring of St Joseph’s Seminary, Baltimore, USA and Mr Floyd Gibbons of the Chicago Tribune. In Floyd account of the sinking of the Laconia he noted; “It was 10.30pm. Then came the five blasts on the whistle. [Gibbons gets into one of 10 lifeboats.] The ship sank rapidly at the stern until at last its nose stood straight in the air. Then it slid silently down and out of sight”.

   In March 2009, it was announced that the wreck of the Laconia was located and claimed by Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc, a commercial archaeology company in Tampa, Florida. Britain claimed it is the legitimate owner of the wrecks because, under a wartime insurance scheme, it paid the owners of the vessels when they sank, in effect making the remains the property of the British taxpayer.

Indices of and links to previous Our City, Our Town columns can be viewed at www.corkheritage.ie

Cork 1916, A Year Examined (2016) by Kieran McCarthy & Suzanne Kirwan is now available in Cork bookshops.

Cork City History Tour (2016) by Kieran McCarthy is also available in Cork bookshops.


883a. Picture of Laconia, c.1912 (source: Cork City Library)

883b. Queenstown, now Cobh & the deep water quay, c.1917 (source: Cork Harbour Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen)

883b. Queenstown, now Cobh & the deep water quay, c.1917

17 Feb 2017

Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan comes to Cork

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    Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan comes to Cork in July and with it 15,000 visitors over the week-long event. Following a successful bid by Douglas Comhaltas Éireann, Cork City will be hosting the Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan in July 2017. Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy noted that in recent years Cork City Council has successfully championed the city as a venue for traditional music; “Cork City Council is actively engaged with Douglas Comhaltas in the development of their business plan around the event and the finalisation of a programme of events. Great credit is due to those who bid and won this event. The hosting of this event represents an important exercise of learning for the stakeholders that are key to the running of a Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann event. This will be the first time that the Fleadh Cheoil na Mumhan has been staged in a city centre. The awarding of the Munster Fleadh to Cork represents a fantastic opportunity to showcase traditional Irish music, song, and dance in Cork, enhancing the cultural experience for the people of Cork and its many visitors. It is going to be a great week”.