Category Archives: Arts

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 30 September 2021

1119a. Front cover of 2021-2022 brochure for Discover Cork Schools' Heritage Project.
1119a. Front cover of 2021-2022 brochure for Discover Cork Schools’ Heritage Project.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 30 September 2021

Launch of Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project, Year 20

It is great to reach year 20 of the Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project. It is just slightly younger than this column but both this column, the school project and the walking tours are all about popularising more of Cork’s history and story for interested citizens and the next generation.

Over 15,000-16,000 students have participated in the Schools’ Heritage Project through the years with many topics researched and written about – from buildings and monuments to people’s stories and memories.

Covid-19 has brought many challenges to every part of society and never before has our locality and its heritage being so important for recreation and for our peace of mind. In the past eighteenth months, more focus than ever before has been put on places and spaces we know, appreciate, and attain personal comfort from.

The Schools’ Heritage Project is aimed at both primary and post primary level.  Project books may be submitted on any aspect of Cork’s rich past. The theme for this year’s project is “Cork Heritage Treasures”. Funded by Cork City Council, the Project is an initiative of the Cork City Heritage Plan.

The Project is open to schools in Cork City at primary level to the pupils of fourth, fifth and sixth class and at post-primary from first to sixth years. There are two sub categories within the post primary section, Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate. The project is free to enter. A student may enter as an individual or as part of a group or a part of a class entry.

Co-ordinated by myself, one of the key aims of the Project is to encourage students to explore, investigate and debate their local heritage (built, archaeological, cultural and natural) in a constructive, active and fun way. Projects on any aspect of Cork’s rich heritage can be submitted to an adjudication panel. Prizes are awarded for best projects and certificates are given to each participant. A cross-section of projects submitted from the last school season can be gleamed from links on my website, www.corkheritage.ie where there are other resources, former titles and winners and entry information as well.

Students produce a project on their local area using primary and secondary sources. Each participating student within their class receives a free workshop in October 2021. The workshop comprises a guide to how to put a project together. Project material must be gathered in an A4/ A3 size Project book. The project may be as large as the student wishes but minimum 20 pages (text + pictures + sketches).

Projects must also meet five elements. Projects must be colourful, creative, have personal opinion, imagination and gain publicity before submission. These elements form the basis of a student friendly narrative analysis approach where the student explores their project topic in an interactive and task-oriented way. In particular, students are encouraged (whilst respecting social distancing) to attain material through visiting local libraries, engaging with fieldwork, making models, photographing, cartoon creating, and making short snippet films of their area. Re-enacting can also be a feature of several projects.

For over twenty years, the project has evolved in exploring how students pursue local history and how to make it relevant in society. The project attempts to provide the student with a hands-on and interactive activity that is all about learning not only about heritage in your local area (in all its forms) but also about the process of learning by participating students.

The project is about thinking about, understanding, appreciating and making relevant in today’s society the role of our heritage, our landmarks, our oral histories, our environment in our modern world for upcoming citizens. So, the project is about splicing together activity on issues of local history and heritage such as thinking, exploring, observing, discovering, researching, uncovering, revealing, interpreting and resolving.

The project is open to many directions of delivery. Students are encouraged to engage with their topic in order to make sense of it, understand and work with it. Students continue to experiment with the overall design and plan of their work. For example, and in general, students who have entered before might engage with the attaining of primary information through oral histories. The methodologies that the students create provide interesting ways to approach the study of local heritage.

Students are asked to choose one of two extra methods (apart from a booklet) to represent their work. The first option is making a model whilst the second option is making a short film. It is great to see students using modern up todate technology to present their findings. This works in broadening their view of approaching their project.

 This project in the City is free to enter and is kindly funded by Cork City Council (viz the help of Niamh Twomey, Heritage Officer) Prizes are also provided by the Old Cork Waterworks Experience, Lee Road.

Overall, the Schools’ Heritage Project for the past twenty years has attempted to build a new concerned generation of Cork people, pushing them forward, growing their self-development empowering them to connect to their world and their local heritage. Spread the word please with local schools. Details can be found on my dedicated Cork heritage website, www.corkheritage.ie.

Caption:

1119a. Front cover of 2021-2022 brochure for Discover Cork Schools’ Heritage Project.

Second Call-Out, Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project 2021/22

The Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project launches in its 20th year and is open to schools in Cork City. Funded by Cork City Council, the Project is an initiative of the Cork City Heritage Plan. 

The Project (est. 2002/03) is aimed at both primary and post primary level.  Project books may be submitted on any aspect of Cork’s rich past. Suggested topics are over the page. The theme for this year’s project – the 2021/22 school season – is “Cork Heritage Treasures”.

FREE and important project support in the form of funded workshops (socially distanced, virtual or hybrid) led by Cllr Kieran McCarthy in participating schools will be held in October 2021. This is a 45min physical or virtual workshop to give participating students ideas for compilation and resources.

Cllr McCarthy: Culture Night Approaches on this Friday 17 September 2021

Douglas Road Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has warmly welcomed the 2021 Culture Night edition, which takes place this Friday 17 September. Now in its sixteenth year, Culture Night once again presents a rich showcase of Cork as a creative city, with over 70 venues and organisations taking part.

Cllr McCarthy noted: “This year’s theme is ‘Come Together Again’, which represents a moment many of us have looked forward to for a long time. Cork City Culture Night presents a chance for those directly involved in the arts to showcase exactly why this sector is so crucially significant, and so fundamentally linked with our culture”.

“While certain events are to be enjoyed virtually, much of the 2021 programme can be accessed in person, safely in line with new guidelines as they come on stream – which will be welcome news to those craving that tangible cultural experience. But with numbers still very limited, patrons are advised to check booking requirements, and if plans change, to please release the tickets to allow someone else attend”, noted Cllr McCarthy.

Many in-person events this Culture Night will require booking, and some online events require pre-registration. View the full Cork City Culture Night programme on www.culturenightcork.ie in advance, and keeping up with latest news via @corkcityarts on Facebook and Twitter, and on instagram.com/culturenightcorkcity, particularly as new guidelines may lead to changes. Join in the conversation online with #CorkCultureNight and #ComeTogetherAgain.

Cllr McCarthy: Launch of Douglas Main Street Parklet Warmly Welcomed, 3 September 2021

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has warmly welcomed the official launch of the Douglas Main Street parklet in the past week, as well as its other seven companions across the city. In May of this year, Cork City Council announced that it was looking to provide new parklets in the greater metropolitan area.

The parklets, designed by Siobhán Keogh Design and built by Benchspace Cork, are planted and maintained by the “parklet partners”, with funding for their upkeep administered by the City Council. The Douglas Main Street Partners are Okura Japanese Cuisine and Douglas Tidy Towns.

Cllr McCarthy noted: “The parklets have converted several on-street parking spaces into public open space and are a cost-effective way to create more vibrant streets, promote economic vitality, and provide an inviting green space for residents and passers-by to sit, relax, and interact. Providing greening on the urban street and encouraging biodiversity are two key elements of the parklets project. And certainly are very important to main streets like those in Douglas which is completed dominated by car traffic”.

 “The intention is for planting is to be maintained in the parklets at all times, and the majority (if not all) of this planting should be “pollinator friendly”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.

Lord Mayor, Cllr Colm Kelleher emphasised at the launch of the eight parklet launches: “The feedback to date is that there is a huge welcome for the parklets with every indication that they are being used on a daily basis by pedestrians. The success of the parklets is not possible without the dynamism and commitment of the partners”. 

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 12 August 2021

1112a. Upstream view of the south channel of the River from Cork's Parliament Bridge on a recent sunset; Discover the story of the city’s bridges and some of the rich local history on Kieran’s new audio heritage trail on the history trails section at www.corkheritage.ie.
1112a. Upstream view of the south channel of the River from Cork’s Parliament Bridge on a recent sunset; Discover the story of the city’s bridges and some of the rich local history on Kieran’s new audio heritage trail on the history trails section at www.corkheritage.ie.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 12 August 2021

Cork Heritage Open Day and Week Approaches

Cork Heritage Open Day and Heritage Week are looming. Cork Heritage Open Day which is organised by Cork City Council in partnership with the Heritage Council, is a wonderful celebration of the built heritage in the city. To mark the start of National Heritage Week, Cork Heritage Open Day will take place virtually on Saturday August 14.

The website www.corkheritageopenday.ie will go live on Saturday 14 August and will feature virtual guided tours of over 45 historic buildings from all over Cork City. Members of the public are allowed a glimpse of some of Cork’s most fascinating buildings ranging from the medieval to the military. The event showcases the many elements of Cork City’s rich heritage in a fun, family friendly way. The team behind the Open Day do group the buildings into general themes, Steps and Steeples, Customs and Commerce, Medieval to Modern, Saints and Scholars and Life and Learning.

These themes remind the participant to remember how our city spreads from the marsh to the undulating hills surrounding it, how layered the city’s past is, how the city has been blessed to have many scholars contributing to its development and ambition in a variety of ways, and how the way of life in Cork is intertwined with a strong sense of place.

It is always a great opportunity to explore behind some of Cork’s grandest buildings. With the past of a port city, Cork architecture is varied and much is hidden amongst the city’s narrow streets and laneways. Much of its architecture is also inspired by international styles – the British style of artwork pervading in most cases – but it’s always pays to look up in Cork and marvel at the Amsterdamesque-style of our eighteenth century structures on streets such as Oliver Plunkett Street or at the gorgeous tall spires of the city’s nineteenth-century churches.

For my part I am involved in a short film on the history of Cork City Hall. Cork has had a number of City Hall sites through the ages but none as grand as the present one. In the age of the Anglo Norman walled town and eighteenth century, civic business was conducted in King’s Castle. Business was also conducted in Cork City Courthouse for a time in the nineteenth century. In 1883, it was decided by a number of Cork businessmen that the Corn Exchange should be converted into an exhibition centre, a centre, which in 1892 became Cork’s City Hall. In December 1920, the premises were burned down by fires attributed to the Black and Tans as retribution for republican attacks. A new City Hall by architects Jones and Kelly was subsequently built. The limestone like for so many of Cork’s buildings is from nearby Little Island. The foundation stone of Cork City Hall was laid by Éamon de Valera on 9 July 1932.

 Sites that also appear on the online Cork Heritage Open Day are Riverstown House in Glanmire, the Quaker Meeting House and Graveyard, The Maryborough Hotel, Cork Opera House, The Courthouse on Washington Street, Ballincollig Gunpowder Mills, Blarney Castle, Cork City Hall, Cork Savings Bank, St Luke’s Church and the Military Museum in Collins Barracks.

The virtual one stop shop www.corkheritageopenday.ie celebrates various Cork Communities who through interviews, video and imagery tell their story. For example, check out:

  • Memories of a Cork Jewish Childhood, which has been produced by Ruti Lachs and sees former Cork residents remember their childhoods in Ireland, their Jewish upbringing, the synagogue and the characters. Interspersed with photos from the last hundred years of life in Jewish Cork, these stories paint a picture of a time and community gone by.
  • Anne Twomey from the Shandon Area History Group speaks about Emma Hourigan, an extraordinary woman from the Maddens Buildings in Cork who played a central role in the Irish Revolution 1916-1923.
  • Biddy McDonagh and Jean O’Donovan from the Traveller Visibility Group discuss their language Gammon and Cant and the tradition of the Beady Pockets in the Traveller Community.
  • Jim Fahy speaks about the language of the Stone Masons “Bearlager na Saor”.
  • Valerie Power, Breda Scanlon and Suzanne Dineen pay tribute to the Shawlies in Cork.
  • Historian Michael Lenihan uses historic postcards to show how Cork has changed in the past 100 years.

For the first time, Cork Heritage Open Day, celebrates the natural heritage of Cork and members of the public can enjoy a wonderful guided tour of the Mangala in Douglas with William O’Halloran and a fascinating insight into the Glen River Park with Julie Forrester and Gerard O’Brien. For those wishing to test their knowledge of the streets, bridges and buildings in Cork, historian Liam O’hÚigín has created a special quiz for Cork Heritage Open Day!

Heritage Open Day is usually the start of weeklong heritage week events in Cork. For the second year in a row, physical events have been curtailed. My own historical walking tours remain ‘off the road’ at present. I have written up over fifteen of my tours complete with pictures and some very short films and put them in a new section on my website www.corkheritage.ie.

In addition on the website I have partnered with Meitheal Mara and Joya Kuin in putting together two audio heritage trails. The first is on the various historic sites down The Marina and this came out in early June. Our Heritage Week Audio Heritage Trail is on the 31 bridges of Cork. Start at South Gate Bridge and make your way anti-clockwise around the South Channel and North Channel of the River Lee. All you need is a smart phone and a set of head phones!

Captions:

1112a. Upstream view of the south channel of the River from Cork’s Parliament Bridge on a recent sunset; Discover the story of the city’s bridges and some of the rich local history on Kieran’s new audio heritage trail on the history trails section at www.corkheritage.ie.

1112b. Canon from the Siege of Sevastopol, 1854-55 on The Marina, Cork, present day; Discover the story of The Marina and its rich local history on Kieran’s new audio heritage trail on the history trails section at www.corkheritage.ie.

1112b. Canon from the Siege of Sevastopol, 1854-55 on The Marina, Cork, present day; Discover the story of The Marina and its rich local history on Kieran’s new audio heritage trail on the history trails section at www.corkheritage.ie.

Cllr McCarthy to Discuss History of Cork City Hall for Virtual Cork Heritage Open Day

Local historian Cllr Kieran McCarthy will participate in the virtual Cork Heritage Open Day this Saturday 14 August. Cork Heritage Open Day which is organised by Cork City Council in partnership with the Heritage Council. The website www.corkheritageopenday.ie will go live on Saturday 14 August and will feature virtual guided tours of over 45 historic buildings from all over Cork City. Members of the public are allowed a glimpse of some of Cork’s most fascinating buildings ranging from the medieval to the military.

Kieran will participate by showcasing some of the stories connected to Cork City Hall as an important heritage building within the city. Kieran noted: “Cork has had a number of City Hall sites through the ages but none as grand as the present one. In 1883, it was decided by a number of Cork businessmen that the Corn Exchange should be converted into an exhibition centre, a centre, which in 1892 became Cork’s City Hall. In December 1920, the premises were burned down by fires attributed to the Black and Tans as retribution for republican attacks. A new City Hall by architects Jones and Kelly was subsequently built. The limestone like for so many of Cork’s buildings is from nearby Little Island. The foundation stone of Cork City Hall was laid by Éamon de Valera on 9 July 1932”.

Maryborough Hotel will also feature in this year’s Heritage Open Day. For the first time, the Open Day will also celebrate the natural heritage of Cork and members of the public can enjoy a wonderful virtual guided tour of the Mangala in Douglas with William O’Halloran.

In addition, for National Heritage Week, Kieran has partnered with Meitheal Mara and Joya Kuin in putting together two audio heritage trails. The first is on the various historic sites down The Marina and this came out in early June. Their Heritage Week Audio Heritage Trail is on the 31 bridges of Cork. All you need is a smart phone and a set of head phones. The bridges audio trail can be found on Kieran’s www.corkheritage.ie website under history trails from 14 August.

Cork City Reflections (2021, Co-written, Amberley Publishing)

One hundred years ago in Ireland marked a time of change. The continuous rise of an Irish revival, debates over Home Rule and the idea of Irish identity were continuously negotiated by all classes of society. In Cork City Reflections, authors Kieran McCarthy and Daniel Breen focus on the visual changes that have taken place in the port city on Ireland’s south-west coast. Using a collection of historic postcards from Cork Public Museum and merging these with modern images they reveal how the town has changed over the decades. Each of the 180 pictures featured combines a recent colour view with the matching sepia archive scene.

The authors have grouped the images under thematic headings such as main streets, public buildings, transport, and industry. Readers will be able to appreciate how Cork City has evolved and grown over the last century but also how invaluable postcards can be in understanding the past. In an age where digital photography and the internet have made capturing and sharing images so effortless, it is easy to forget that in the decades before the camera became popular and affordable, postcards were the only photographic souvenirs available to ordinary people.

Read an Irish Examiner interview with Kieran: Cork City Reflections: New book merges old postcards with modern images (irishexaminer.com)
Buy the book here: Cork City Reflections – Amberley Publishing (amberley-books.com)
 Cork City Reflections by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen (2021, Amberley Publishing)
Cork City Reflections by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen (2021, Amberley Publishing)

Cllr McCarthy’s Upcoming Cork Harbour Festival Events, June 2021

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy will host three events for the upcoming Cork Harbour Festival. Two of the events focus on the rich history of the city’s bridges and the third focuses in on the history and sense of place on The Marina. The events and dates are as follows:

– Bridges of Cork, Online Talk by Kieran, Tuesday 8 June 2021, 7.30pm-8.30pm, FREE:

This zoom presentation explores the general development of the city’s bridges and why they were historically so important and are still so important in connecting the different parts of Cork City together. Details of the link for the talk are available at www.corkharbourfestival.com

– Bridges of Cork, Heritage Treasure Hunt, hosted by Kieran, Saturday 12 June 2021, 1pm, FREE, self-guided walk:

This treasure hunt is all about looking up and around and exploring the heart of Cork City whilst exploring the stories and place of the city centre’s bridges. Suitable for all ages, approx 2hr, with mixed footpaths on city’s quays.Meet Kieran at National Monument, Grand Parade, Cork, between 1pm-1.15pm on Saturday 12 June, to receive the self-guided treasure hunt pack, no booking required. Bring a pen.

– The Marina, Self Guided Audio Trail with Kieran, 4 June 2021 -14 June, FREE:

A stroll down The Marina is popular by many people. The area is particularly characterized by its location on the River Lee and the start of Cork Harbour. Here scenery, historical monuments and living heritage merge to create a rich sense of place. The audio tour will be available here to stream live on your smartphone from 4-14 June 2021. Details of the link for the audio trail are available at www.corkharbourfestival.com

Cllr McCarthy: Former ESB Sub Station Should be a Major City Cultural Asset, 24 May 2020

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has called on the City Council and the ESB to work on a joint programme of works to return the sub-station on Caroline Street to an art gallery/ cultural space.’

The sub station on Caroline Street is in the ownership of the ESB. Until recently the Sub Station was advertised for Commercial Let. Cllr McCarthy has been informed that Cork City Council does not have sight of the ESB’s plans for the building. And that the wider needs in terms of cultural infrastructure in the city will be reviewed in the context of the forthcoming Arts & Culture Strategy, currently under development.

Cllr McCarthy noted; “there is massive scope to do a joint partnership in re-opening the disused ESB substation as a cultural space. It has a very rich industrial history. It was built in 1931 and was originally used to convert direct current electricity to alternating current. This substation is representative of the design employed by the ESB in the first part of the twentieth century in Ireland.

“In 1932, the ESB could boast cables running from Ardnacrusha Hydro Electric Station to Cork as well as having the old generating station and offices at Albert Road, a Station at Kilbarry, a transformer station at Fords, and the central substation in Caroline Street. The annual consumption of electricity in Cork City was 8 million units by 1934 and 16 million units by 1945”.

“The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage notes of this building: “This functional building is a well-articulated building, with a high level of architectural design. The building retains many interesting original features and materials, such as the metal casement windows and metal folding doors”.

“It is also ten years ago when the Triskel Arts Centre, whilst waiting for the renovation of Christ Church, moved its gallery off site to the ESB substation on Caroline Street and did a great job in utilising the space. In addition, in 2018, Brown Thomas teamed up with Cork City Council and artist Shane O’Driscoll to transform the exterior of the then disused ESB station building which had fallen into disrepair. The City Centre Placemaking Fund from Cork City Council was used to support the project”.

“It is a real shame that such a prominent building remains vacant with so many possibilities for its use. I will be continuing my lobbying of the City Council to partner up with the ESB in finding an appropriate cultural use for the building”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.

Press, 25 May 2021, “The abandoned substation has massive scope for transformation now that Cllr. Kieran McCarthy is urging the city council and ESB to turn it into a new entertainment venue for Leesiders. Originally built in 1931 in the art deco style favoured by ESB at the time, the substation was last used by Triskel Arts ten years ago”, Endless possibilities for this gem of a building on Caroline Street to be transformed as council consider new proposal, Derelict Art-deco substation could become amazing Cork city music and arts space – Cork Beo

Caroline Street Former ESB Sub Station, Cork present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)
Caroline Street Former ESB Sub Station, Cork present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

Cllr McCarthy commissions two new street art murals on Douglas Road, January 2021

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy continues his commissions of street art on Douglas Road. In recent weeks, two new pieces have emerged on traffic switch boxes. The first mural, which is located at Cross Douglas Road, is that of Terence and Muriel MacSwiney who lived at 5 Eldred Terrace in 1917.

Cllr McCarthy highlighted: “There was a commemorative plaque erected on the wall of their former house in June 1980 but unfortunately the plaque was taken down a few months later. There have been calls within the Ballinlough area and Douglas Road by locals to once again mark the story from over hundred years ago of the MacSwineys living within the local community. This mural’s central image is from an old photograph of the couple whist the rose motif is a nod to the always beautiful adjacent flower shop.

Terence and Muriel MacSwiney  by Kevin O'Brien, Commissioned by Cllr Kieran McCarthy
Terence and Muriel MacSwiney by Kevin O’Brien, Commissioned by Cllr Kieran McCarthy

The second mural is opposite the entrance to St Finbarr’s Hospital. Cllr McCarthy noted: “The mural has the theme of “hold firm” and is dedicated to healthcare staff within the hospital who have held firm against COVID-19. The mural adds to the existing street art mural, which was painted Kevin O’Brien outside CUH last year”.

“It has been great to commission artist Kevin O’Brien again. This is my sixth commission with him. He really brings ordinary municipal utility boxes to life with his creativity, imparting uplifting and positives messages. Roads such as Douglas Road are well walked everyday, so it is great to bring his work into heart of suburban communities, concluded Cllr McCarthy.

Artist Kevin O’Brien noted: “Street art is a fantastic way to improve the aesthetic of urban areas and build a sense of character in communities, but beyond that, with cultural spaces currently closed, the availability of street art in public spaces takes on an even greater importance”.

Hold Firm by Kevin O'Brien, Commissioned by Cllr Kieran McCarthy
Hold Firm by Kevin O’Brien, Commissioned by Cllr Kieran McCarthy