On 25 February 1924 the annual general meeting of the shareholders of the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway Company was held. Sir Stanley Harrington, Chairman, presided and read out a detailed report on the challenges facing the company. Annual AGM reports one hundred years ago and published by newspapers such as the Cork Examiner provide rich material to chart the rise and fall of the railway company.
It was in 1835 that the plan for a Cork Passage railway was first proposed by Cork based merchants. By the time it was built it was the third railway line to open in the country and the first in the south of Ireland. The line was opened to the public on Saturday 8 June 1850 and there was a service of ten trains each way at regular intervals.
In 1896, an Act of Parliament enabled the company to extend the line as far as Crosshaven. John Best Leith, Scotland received the contract for the regauging of the line. Works began in 1897. A new double track was laid between Cork and Blackrock, the only example of a double track in Ireland at the time.
At the 25 February 1924 meeting Mr Harrington related that a year on from the Civil War the damage on the span on the Douglas Viaduct had been repaired. Signal cabins at Rochestown, Passage and Monkstown had been rebuilt. The Blackrock cabin was in the course of rebuilding. The six carriages, which were burnt out, were replaced by new ones.
However, Mr Harrington’s core focus was on the difficulties to balance the company’s accounts. For several years the deficit on the account was accelerating. Reference is given that one of the serious reductions to profits was the withdrawal of the British military and naval forces from Cork and district. It was estimated at a loss of at least one million pounds annually to Cork.
From 1 January 1923 to 23 April 1923 closing down for goods and people traffic due to Civil War damage caused financial loss. The general dockers strike in Cork from August to November 1923 also caused a serious cost to the company. Rates and taxation created a large financial loss for the company, which ultimately led the way to the company’s demise a decade later.
At the AGM for February 1925, the financial losses had expanded. Persistent wet weather ruined the 1924 summer excursion traffic and ordinary traffic was disastrously affected by the depression in trade prevailing all over the South of Ireland. Furthermore, the closing down of Haulbowline and the dearth of work at Passage and Rushbrooke Dockyards, which used to bring the railway so much business, had seriously diminished receipts.
Reference is also made that on 13 August 1924, approval of the Great Southern Preliminary Absorption Scheme 1924 took place. Compensation was given to directors who suffered loss by the abolition of their office. Ultimately though, this took away a more localised focus and created a more centralised focus, whereby several railway companies came under the Great Southern Railway Company.
From 1925 to 1932 the Passage railway limped on with financial deficits. It still carried large crowds during the summer months, but the growing ownership of the motorcar ousted the popularity of travelling on the railway.
On 27 May 1932, it was officially announced that on and from 1 June 1932 all trains on the railway line between Crosshaven and Monkstown in both directions would cease to run. The Cork Examiner notes that the news was met with regret and that the train service between these points was up to some years ago “the main artery of holiday traffic at the popular seaside resort which it linked to the city”. The newspaper relates that within recent years the vast increase in the number of privately owned cars was responsible for a gradual but very noticeable falling off in the passenger service, and the advent of the buses was virtually the death blow to the railway.
In early September 1932, Mr Thomas Jones, chairman of the Passage Urban Council wrote a telegram to the Ministry of Industry addressing the concerns of in regard to the closing of the line. The response in a letter, and published by the Cork Examiner, outlined that the Minister had no power to intervene in the matter. The Minister was informed by the Railway Company, however, that their decision to close the line was reached after mature consideration of the fact that a continuous loss of approximate £4,000 per year in keeping it open; “The Company point out that the public have in a very large measure, deserted the railway services on that line for the more mobile, convenient, and attractive omnibus services, and that it is the intention of the Company to provide full and adequate alternative road services”.
In August 1933, one of the final stages in the abandonment of the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway between Cork and Crosshaven was reached when Messrs. Woodward, auctioneers were appointed in charge of the disposal of a number of lots of sleepers and rails from the route.
The old railway’s line’s re-opening in 1984 as a walkway was seen as cutting edge amenity addition in the city. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength in its number usage – its promotion of public health, walking and cycling, connecting the river and the estuary and its strong sense of place makes for an exciting public space in the years that come.
Strong political and public pressure have staved off such aspirations of a rail reboot function in the past decade in favour of Cork City Council developing a widened greenway, significantly improving its access ramps, and planting over 2,000 native species along the former rail route. A conservation programme in recent years restored the old stonework of the old Blackrock Station and replacing a long gone cast iron bridge. Currently there is also an ongoing work programme with local residents on how to bring the greenway from Rochestown to connect up with the Cork County Council section of the railway, which brings the line into the heart of Passage West.
1242a. Cork Terminus at Albert Road, for Cork Blackrock and Passage Railway Line c.1925 (source: Cork City Library).
Not so often are the deeds of Corkonians are celebrated. Cork can be a proud but humble space. However, last week coincided with the 2023 Cork Person of the Year Award. Cork honoured some of Cork’s greatest human beings and their inspiring stories, work and caring DNA.The deeds of several Corkonians in their own way excelled in their special topic ranging from sport, to comedy, to music, to charities, community activism, to cycling, to missionary work to literature.
Cork is truly fortunate to have this year’s range of monthly award winners championing their craft for the public good. A sincere thank you for being you, enormous goodwill, for building communities of people, and your leadership over many years. Thank you for the journey you have brought us on. Long may you do what you do, enjoy it, and keep moving forward with. And that we in Cork are very proud of you.
The Cork Person of the Month and Cork Person of the Year awards scheme was established in 1993 to celebrate Cork’s greatest asset in City and County – our people. Each month a person or persons are selected and at year’s end, the Cork Person of the Year is chosen from these monthly winners. The general public is invited to nominate anyone for these awards by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the website of Cork Person of the Year for more on the awards scheme, Home – Cork Person of the Year
The website outlines that the organisers of the awards do so on a voluntary basis and are proud and honoured to do so. This award scheme not only celebrates Cork people but it also helps to promote Cork as a good place to live, work and play. Over the last thirty years the organisers have honoured some 400 Persons of the Month and 33 Persons of the Year. Some years more than one person receives the monthly and yearly award.
As Ireland does not have a state-backed National Honours Scheme, like most countries do, we have added some extra national awards. The Honorary Cork person award goes to people not from Cork, but to those who may have contributed to Cork and Ireland in some positive way. It has gone to people who Corkonians admire like Broadcaster John Bowman and Rugby Coach Joe Schmidt and to those who promote Cork around the world like entertainers Jeremy Irons and Michael Flatley.
The Frank & Walters Band being crowned as the Cork Persons of the Year for 2023. This esteemed recognition acknowledges the band’s profound impact on Cork’s cultural tapestry and the arts over an illustrious 30-year plus career. The Gala Awards Lunch was held at the Metropole Hotel before an invited audience of 200 guests who represented all sectors of Cork life.
The Frank and Walters are a renowned Cork-based band that have achieved international success with their classic Indie hits, charting both inside and outside Ireland. The Band members are lead vocal & bass Paul Linehan, drums Ashley Keating, lead guitar Rory Murphy and keyboards Cian Corbett. The group’s longevity and the enduring popularity of their music, including the Cork Anthem “After All”, which was voted Cork’s favourite song, showcase their unique position in the music world. The band, known as strong ambassadors for Cork, continue to be a major presence with a vast catalogue of albums and singles that are widely acclaimed and sold globally.
Awards Organiser Manus O’Callaghan commended The Frank & Walters Band, stating, “Their win reflects not only their musical prowess but also their unwavering dedication to Cork’s artistic scene. The Frank & Walters have played a pivotal role in making Cork the cultural hub that it is today”.
The awards ceremony also celebrated Cork’s literary luminary, Alice Taylor, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame by last year’s recipient of the Honorary Cork Person of the Year, broadcaster Mike Murphy. Alice Taylor, celebrated for her ground-breaking contribution, To School Through the Fields, acknowledged as the top-selling Irish published book, persistently captures the spirit of rural Ireland in her prolific literary works.
The Honorary Cork Person Award was presented to broadcaster Dáithí Ó Sé, who co-costs the RTÉ Today Show alongside Maura Derrane from the RTÉ Cork studio for many years.
Honouring Stories of Douglas Community School:
One of the other ideas I keep returning to in Cork is that several of the locations around us possess a strong sense of character, place, and are a source of inspiration. Last week as well coincided with the 50th anniversary of Douglas Community School. Close to 300 people were in attendance including myself. The school’s story from 1974 was retold and its connection its sense of place and character.
As guests arrived, a photographic collage of the five decades of Douglas Community School was playing on the big screen, evoking memories of days gone by – school tour images, team photos, staff versus student soccer matches.
The official ceremony began with the audience led by a blend of speakers and video clips showcasing the development, growth and ethos of the school over the years. Keynote speakers included myself, Tánaiste Micheál Martin, Principal Pat Barry, Chairperson of the Board of Management, Ms Mary Shields, Mr Jim O’Sullivan, representative of the Cork ETB and President of ACS, Mr James Duignan.
A reading about lifelong learning from 5th Year student Michael Morley reminded all those present that “the best thing for being sad… is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails”.
The MC for the afternoon, Deputy Principal, Mr Chris Hickey, introduced a “Video of Time Capsule” which 1st Years had been working on. Several important items featured in the time capsule ranged from a mobile phone to the Douglas Community School’s 50 Year Anniversary publication.
Next up were some oral history chats with retired teachers Mr Jim Maddock, Mr Brian O’Connor and Ms Máire Thomason, past pupil James O’Connor, recipient of Gradam an Phríomhoide and finally Ms Martina Nash, proud parent of five sons who all attended Douglas Community School. James’ closing words on his time in Douglas Community School spoke about equality of opportunity; ”We won’t ever have equality of circumstance but we always have equality of opportunity”.
They say the best way to get to know a city is to walk it – and a new year with crisp early January days is an ideal time. In Cork you can get lost in narrow streets, marvel at old cobbled lane ways, photograph old street corners, look up beyond the modern shopfronts, gaze at clues from the past, be enthused and at the same time disgusted by a view, smile at interested locals, engage in the forgotten and the remembered, search and connect for something of oneself, thirst in the sense of story-telling – in essence feel the DNA of the place.
Giving walking tours for over 30 years has allowed me to bring people on a journey into that soul but also receive feedback on the wider contexts of what visitors and locals have seen elsewhere. Cork is a city packed with historic gems all waiting to be discovered at every street corner.
Cork has a soul, which is packed full of ambition and heart. Cork’s former historic networks and contacts are reflected in its the physical urban fabric – its bricks, street layout and decaying timber wharfs. Inspired by other cities with similar trading partners, it forged its own unique take on port architecture.
So the new Digital Atlas of Cork/ Corcaigh is very welcome. It is one of a series of digital atlases created by the Irish Historic Towns Atlas team (others are Derry, Dungarvan and Galway). The Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh is an initiative of the Digital Working Group of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas research programme. The project has been led by Sarah Gearty (Royal Irish Academy) and Rachel Murphy (University of Limerick), with Mani Morse (Dublin City University) as Digital Manager.
The Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh is a free online interactive map that invites you to discover the built heritage of Cork City in a new way where 6,245 features of the city’s history from AD 623 to 1900 are mapped. The atlas includes descriptions of over 800 streets, including their names in Irish and English as well as historical variants.
Users can browse the digital atlas or search for a specific site in the city. They can also select and view features associated with specific time periods, from medieval times to the present day. Most notably, it maps out Cork’s earlier historical sites especially around South and North Main Street and its Viking age history and Anglo Norman history.
Each historical feature is represented by a coloured symbol, each feature has been categorized into one of eleven different themes such as entertainment, manufacturing, religion and transport. When a user clicks on a feature, key information about it is displayed in a pop-up box.
A specially commissioned historical map depicts each individual house and plot during the mid-nineteenth century (1842). This is just one of a number of layered maps that may be switched on and off to show how the city developed over the centuries.
Other layers include Ordnance Survey maps — a present-day plan of the city, as well as historic maps showing Cork pre-Famine and at the turn of the twentieth century. Additional map layers will be released over the coming months, providing access for the first time to digitised town plans by the Ordnance Survey (1842) and Valuation Office (1852–64).
A downloadable user guide has been created to accompany the resource, to allow anyone to explore the Digital Atlas with further education and project work in mind. The project has been part funded by the Heritage Council Stewardship Fund 2023. It has been supported by partners Cork City Council, the Digital Repository of Ireland, the National Archives of Ireland and Tailte Éireann.
The Digital Atlas is remarkable with over 6,000 entries. It is a tremendous new resource for all the people of Cork and will no doubt instil a sense of pride in local communities, through its use in schools and libraries. In particular, the research and further reading aspect of the atlas will be a great source for anyone with an interest in the history and development of Cork City. This innovative project from the Royal Irish Academy will make the valuable research of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas series available to a wider and more varied audience than heretofore.
The atlas will contribute immensely to the work of Cork City Council and the wider professional community in Cork particularly those working in archives, museums, education, planning, architecture and conservation. Ciara Brett, City Archaeologist, Cork City Council noted of the Digital Atlas:
“The Digital Atlas, when utilised with the forthcoming printed Atlas, will be a great benefit to the study of the changing urban environment and will provide practical assistance in the preparation and implementation of planning policy and development management in the City. The IHTA Cork/Corcaigh volume in digital format will add to the existing corpus of published material and will, I believe, encourage future research and study that will enhance our understanding and appreciation of our city”.
The Digital Atlas of Cork/Corcaigh is based on research carried out for Irish Historic Towns Atlas, no. 31, Cork/Corcaigh by H.B. Clarke and Máire Ní Laoi, which will be published by the Royal Irish Academy in print in May 2024.
Based at the Royal Irish Academy, the Irish Historic Towns Atlas research programme traces the topographical development of towns, cities and suburbs through its atlas and ancillary publications, annual seminars and special exhibitions. It is part of a wider international scheme that covers nineteen countries. The Irish programme is considered a leader in the development of digital atlases of this kind.
Dear Corkonian, as you read this I am at my half way mark in my term as Lord Mayor of Cork. So far it has been a great adventure since my term began in late June this year. As a chronicler of Cork’s history, there is one thing researching Cork, but there is another when one becomes part of its story board, and one gets to wear the 236-year old Mayoralty chain every day and become Cork’s ambassador. The chain has been witness to many stories across time and the urban space of Cork.
My days have been filled with meeting groups across many thematic communities in Cork – from sporting to general community groups to the business community. On average, there are seven to eight events to attend a day – so 35 to 40 events a week is easily the average. So, todate there have been just over 850 events attended in the first six months of my office. The diary is time-managed, curated and packed solid with meetings and opportunities. Days are long but the meeting experiences are very interesting and very enjoyable.
In my first six months, the chain has been witness to all of my key activities, from representing the city in meeting President Michael D Higgins to playing a diplomatic role in hosting Ambassadors from various countries to being head of delegation of the sister city twinning meeting with the Mayor of Shanghai and his various departments from health to culture.
On the ground in Cork it has been important to me to promote local economic development, to highlight the City Council’s work programmes from housing to roads mobility and parks works programmes, to highlighting the history and heritage of our city through the Council’s decade of commemoration programmes, to highlighting arts and culture in the guise of the new urban sculpture trail or through the Community Heritage Concert and Christmas Gala Concert in aid of key charities in our city.
It has been fun and important to actively participate in and showcase festivals such as the Pride Festival and Cork International Film Festival and helping lead this year’s edition of the Dragon of Shandon, platforming the importance of climate action and projects such as community gardens, hosting charities and giving them a space to chat about their work in City Hall. There has been lots of showcasing Cork’s sporting events including honouring our Cork camogie teams. In truth the list of activities is long. And sometimes, there also has been a song along the way.
It has also been an honour to formally open new pedestrian and cycle bridges such as Vernon Mount and mark the completion of public realm works such as MacCurtain Street. To be able to showcase their immediate and surrounding histories and memories has been a privilege.
The 118-school visit programme left me humbled, emotional, and exhausted from a rollercoaster of meeting so many young people on mass but also full of great memories for years to come. To meet the bones of over 35,000 dynamic young people or Cork’s up and coming generation, complete with teachers and principals of city schools, is one of the largest projects on democracy development each Lord Mayor takes on every year. One of my core reflections was that Cork City is very fortunate with a generation coming through that is curious, dynamic, diverse, unique, enthusiastic and ‘up for the match’ to be the next guardians of what we as Corkonians are proud to call home.
I created a social media film series called Voices of Cork, which gives voice to some of the people I have met. My social media encompasses the hashtag Got Cork and WeareCork and ProudofCork, which is also my continued focus on all things positive that Cork people engage and promote.
For me as well, showcasing the voices of different communities matter. Whereas, the daily themes could be diverse from each other, all of the groups I meet are pursuing an aspect of importance to Cork’s DNA and its evolving development. All of the groups are everything that is great about our City – its sense of caring, its sense of place, its sense of pride, its sense of frankness and honesty, its sense of identity, its sense of camaraderie, its sense of life affirmation. Such groups are writing the best version of the city’s evolving story.
All of the groups pack an enormous punch to the heart by bringing people together who volunteer to carve out and create a space for the common good. It is not random that the Latin motto on the city’s coat of arms is Statio Bene Fida Carinis or translated as a Safe Harbour for Ships. However, after the first six months I am of the view that the motto could also be interpreted a safe harbour for people or safe place for people.
Such groups have spent years supporting the city or a specific neighbourhood. They are hard grafters, who are intrinsic to the future of many people’s lives, the important moments in people’s lives. ideas of hope and solidarity, and what I call saving people’s souls. They create incredible special moments of human connection. That tenacity and vision needs to be noted – the holding firm needs to be noted. As a city we need to rejoice and embrace in such a vision.
Such communities of people are genuinely interested in connecting people together, and supporting and helping each other. Building stronger communities brings more opportunities to talk, share, support each other. and to learn.
A more connected community builds a stronger community for everyone in our city. In the world, we find ourselves, supporting each other matters more than ever before. Togetherness matters more so than ever before. What the communities stand for matters more than ever before. These elements of Cork’s DNA need to be minded carefully as the city moves forward into the future.
One cannot buy that energy or connection but it is so important to have in a city such as Cork whose heart when it comes to social and cultural capital beats very passionately.
So, there are lots of moments to reflect upon in the first six months. Sincere thanks to Lady Mayoress Marcelline and Finbarr Archer, Nicola O’Sullivan and Rose Fahy in the Lord Mayor’s office as well as the team in Corporate Affairs ably led by Paul Moynihan, and Chief Executive Anne Doherty, for their partnership, curation of activities, story board creation, support and advice over the past six months.
This week coming is National Heritage Week and it celebrates Ireland’s cultural, built and natural heritage. This week’s theme is Living Heritage and the week brings together volunteers, community groups and heritage enthusiasts to share their experience, knowledge culture and practices.
The tours I have chosen for National Heritage Week this year are all important areas in Cork city’s development plus they all have a unique sense of place and identity. I will host seven tours. There is no booking involved and all are free. My tours are the tip of the iceberg, so to spea,k on the array of events on this week in Cork City. Check out National Heritage Week.ie for more information on talks and walks on the City and its region.
Sunday 13 August 2023, Cork Through the Ages, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork City; meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm (free, two hours, no booking required).
Cork City possesses a unique character derived from a combination of its plan, topography, built fabric and its location on the lowest crossing point of the River Lee as it meets the tidal estuary and the second largest natural harbour in the world. This tour explores the city’s earliest historical phases. In particular there is a focus on the walled town of Cork, which would have dominated the swampy estuary of the River Lee. Imagine an eight to ten-metre high and two-metre-wide rubble wall of limestone and sandstone, creeking drawbridges, mud filled main streets and laneways, as well as timber and stone built dwellings complete with falling roof straw and a smokey atmosphere from lit house fires keeping out the damp.
Monday 14 August 2023, Shandon Historical Walking Tour; explore Cork’s most historic quarter; meet at North Main Street/ Adelaide Street Square, opp Cork Volunteer Centre, 6.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required).
Tradition is one way to sum up the uniqueness of Shandon Street. Despite being a physical street, one can stroll down (or clamber up), the thoroughfare holds a special place in the hearts of many Corkonians. The legacy of by-gone days is rich. The street was established by the Anglo-Normans as a thoroughfare to give access to North Gate Drawbridge and was originally known as Mallow Lane. Different architectural styles reflect not only the street’s long history but also Cork’s past.
The name Shandon comes from the Irish word ‘Sean Dún’, which means old fort and it said to mark the ringfort of the Irish family, MacCárthaigh who lived in the area circa 1,000 A.D. The site of this fort is now marked by the Firkin Crane, Dance Cork centre. Nearby St Anne’s Shandon was built in 1722 to replace the older and local church of St. Mary’s, Shandon, which was destroyed in the siege of Cork in 1690 by English forces. In 1750 the firm of Abel Rudhall in Gloucester cast the famous bells of Shandon. On 7 December 1752, the bells were first used and were rung in celebration and recognition of the marriage of a certain Mr Henry Harding to Miss Catherine Dorman. Inscriptions can be found on the bells, which contain messages of joy and death.
Tuesday 15 August 2023, The City Workhouse and St Finbarr’s Hospital; meet just inside the gates of St Finbarr’s Hospital, Douglas Road, 6.30pm (free, two hours, no booking required).
The Cork workhouse, which opened in December 1841, was an isolated place – built beyond the toll house and toll gates, which gave entry to the city and which stood just below the end of the wall of St. Finbarr’s Hospital in the vicinity of the junction of the Douglas and Ballinlough Roads. The Douglas Road workhouse was also one of the first of over 130 workhouses to be designed by the Poor Law Commissioners’ architect George Wilkinson.
Wednesday 16 August 2023, Cork South Docklands, in association with the Cork Jewish Community and Heritage Team; meet at Kennedy Park, Victoria Road, 6.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required).
Much of the story of Cork’s modern development is represented in Cork South Docklands. The history of the port, transport, technology, modern architecture, agriculture, sport, the urban edge with the river – all provide an exciting cultural debate in teasing out how Cork as a place came into being.
Friday 18 August 2023, The Northern Ridge – St Patrick’s Hill to MacCurtain Street; Historical walking tour; Discover the area around St Patrick’s Hill -Old Youghal Road to McCurtain Street; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 6.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required).
This is a tour that brings the participant from the top of St Patrick’s Hill to the eastern end of McCurtain Street through Wellington Road. The tour will speak about the development of the Collins Barracks ridge and its hidden and interesting architectural heritage.
Saturday 19 August 2023, Douglas and its History, in association with Douglas Tidy Towns; Discover the history of industry and the development of this historic village, meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre, 2pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required, circuit of village, finishes nearby).
The story of Douglas and its environs is in essence a story of experimentation, of industry and of people and social improvement. The story of one of Ireland largest sailcloth factories is a worthwhile topic to explore in terms of its aspiration in its day in the eighteenth century. That coupled with the creation of forty or so seats or mansions and demesnes made it a place where the city’s merchants made their home in. Douglas makes also makes for an interesting place to study as many historical legacies linger in village’s surrounding landscapes.
Sunday 20 August 2023, Views from a Park – The Black Ash and Tramore Valley Park, historical walking tour; meet at Halfmoon Lane gate, 2pm (free, duration: 90 minutes, no booking required).
Historically William Petty’s 1655 map of the city and its environs marks the site of Tramore Valley Park as Spittal Lands, a reference to the original local environment and the backing up of the Trabeg and Tramore tributary rivers as they enter the Douglas River channel. We are lucky that there are also really interesting perspectives on the area recorded through the ages.
After its cancellation in 1922, the Cork Summer Show run by the Munster Agricultural Society came back for its three days, 3-6 July 1923, in the Cork Showgrounds in Ballintemple. The previous year there were difficult logistical issues due to the ongoing Civil War and the near impossibility of transporting livestock in particular across destroyed roads and rail infrastructure. The 1923 edition was an ideal situation to get the show back ‘on the road’, to show the progress and potential of farming in the Irish Free State and to profile the need for improved farming methods.
The principal aim for the 1923 edition was to encourage Irish producers and exporters to adopt the best modern methods and by taking advantage of the expert guidance and instruction insitu at the show as well as becoming more aware of what competition was out there and what approaches to marketing that are taken.
Editorials in the Cork Examiner more than once referred to the idea that the prosperity of the country depended to a very large extent on the ability to place products in the market in such a way that they will hold their own in competition with the products of competing countries. A Cork Examiner editorial on 4 July refers to Denmark’s continuous success in farming exports deserved the serious attention of Irish agriculturalists. Despite, its physical size being smaller than Ireland and that most of its soil was less fertile than the generality of Irish land and considerable areas were marshland, Danish dairy produce and eggs commanded the readiest sale and the best prices in the British market place.
Reference is also made to a successful Danish business model whereby there were close inter-working between producer and distributor, the employment of up to-date methods, and the “rigid elimination of the unfit article from the products intended for export”. Products did not leave Denmark if the quality could not be guaranteed, with the result that their products enjoy an “unenviable reputation for excellence”.
The editorial relates that Ireland derives a considerable portion of her export revenue from eggs. But Irish methods of placing eggs on the market are inferior to those adopted in Denmark. Danish eggs were always clean, which was not always the case in terms of Irish eggs. There was also a lack in appreciation of the importance of packing and display. A marketing section of an education section of the Summer Show illustrated the difference between cases of eggs cleaned and properly packed and others where negligence and glovelines were apparent.
The same thoroughness distinguished the grading of Danish butter. A government mark called the “Lurmark” was affixed to every consignment leaving the country. Its presence was a guarantee that the butter was made in pasteurised cream does not contain more than 16 per cent of water and was all round good quality.
The editorial further relates that the Danish creamery societies pledged themselves to the most stringent rules for the milking, feeding, and general treatment of the cows and permit inspection at any time by an officer of the society. The rules also provided for general cleanliness, especially in regard to the vessels used. The faithful following of the rules rendered possible the production of a commodity of invariable and uniform quality, which was maintained irrespective of the season. Such a brand was a large threat to the diminishing brand of butter at the Cork Butter Market.
The July 1923 Cork Summer Show was well attended. The different railway companies issued tickets at reasonable fares and large numbers from the country districts availed of the travel discounts. There was much to entertain the visitor. The horses and the jumping were, of course, the main feature, but there were also classes for swine, poultry, butter, flowers and vegetables. The display of agricultural implements and machinery was deemed extensive with a nod to the best modern utilised methods. The industrial exhibits of Cork manufacturers were a notable feature of the show and aimed to highlight the progress of such exhibits. Boot making, slate making, candle making, hosiery, Garage and touring, engineering, bicycle sales and farm machinery making companies from Cork and its region, as well as Ford Company car, tractor and truck products, were the core Irish products being celebrated by their display.
The Irish industrial section of the show, organised by the Cork Industrial Development Association, was deemed a large success with almost 50 different lines of Irish manufactured goods on exhibit. Exhibitors came from Dublin, Wexford, Roscommon, West Cork and from the city.
The Cork Examiner deemed that the most interesting exhibit of all was the instructive display made by the Department of Agriculture on the art of packing. The Cork Municipal School of Art had an exhibit showing proficiency in lace, leatherwork, and needlework. There were great music programmes provided by the Greenmount Industrial School, the Butter Exchange, and the Lee Pipers’ bands. There were also Irish competitions, which attracted a great deal of attention. They included story-telling, recitations, dialogues, singing and dancing.
A Cork Examiner editorial on 6 July 1923 expressed the hope that by summer 1924, the agricultural affairs of the county would be so largely improved as to admit and present a better display of cattle and poultry, and that flower, fruit and vegetable show may also be added. There was further commentary that there was a need to improve the processes of cultivation of vegetables – especially those of intensive cultivation – were not as well understood as they ought to be in Cork. A great deal of profitable work for market gardeners remains to be pursued.
1209a. Horse jumping at Cork Summer Show, Cork Showgrounds, Ballintemple, late 1920s (picture: Munster Agricultural Society Archives).
Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy’s upcoming July historical walking tours (all tours free & no booking required):
Wednesday evenings, 12 & 19 July 2023,Cork and the River Lee, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork City; meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm.
Thursday evening 13 July 2023, From Canals to a Mayoralty Chain, The Making of Eighteenth Century Cork, meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm.
Friday evening, 21 July 2023, Shandon & its History; meet at North Main Street/ Adelaide Street Square, opp Cork Volunteer Centre, 6.30pm.
Saturday afternoon, 29 July 2023, Views from a Park – The Black Ash and Tramore Valley Park & Surrounds, meet at Halfmoon Lane gate to Tramore Valley Park, 2pm.
Dear colleagues, [dear TDs, senators], dear Chief Executive, dear family, dear Lady Mayoress, dear Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends;
Cork 1863 – A letter is dispatched to the UK to a young architect letting him know he was successful with his design proposal for a new cathedral.
William Burges, the newly appointed architect of a new St Finbarr’s Cathedral, immediately and proudly remarked in his diary, “Got Cork” and with that embarked on a remarkable piece of building work, a voyage of discovery into the origins of Cork history. He created an iconic structure relevant for his time and forged a structure as it was seen at the time as [quote] “worthy of the name cathedral” [end quote].
And proudly I can write in my diary this evening also “Got Cork”.
Mar sin ar dtús báire, ba mhaith liom mo fíor buiochas do mo mholtóir Comhairleoir Des Cahill agus do mo thaiceoir, Comhairleoir Terry Shannon, an bheirt iar-Ard Mhearaí Chorcaí, agus a chomhghleacaithe daor as do mhuinín a chur ionam, agus as bronntanas dom an noiméad seo “Got Cork”.
Many thanks dear colleagues for your trust in me here this evening.
Such a term “Got Cork” has always stayed with me through many years since my first reading of them.
And this diary entry by William Burges leads to many questions on what it is to “Got Cork”.
William was tasked to be a guardian of a key part of the city’s heritage – to carry out a project, with multiple roles – some of which included remembering and representing a legacy, projecting and re-animating the origins story of the city’s patron Saint Finbarr.
He built upon past legacies of former churches, He assembled striking architectural designs in a historic medieval style. He managed a team, and most interestingly conducted archaeological excavations and move skeletons and burials because the new cathedral was twice the size of the church it was replacing.
Whereas this evening, you are not entrusting me to build a Cathedral or to move graves [I hope not, but I cannot confirm I have read all of the terms and conditions with the role!].
But we are, I feel, in our own political cathedral where “Got Cork” takes on new meanings– we are in a space of guardianship, representation and inheritance.
In our ancient ceremony of handing over the chain at our annual general meeting this evening from Cllr Forde to myself – that strong sense of guardianship is ever present. There is a guardianship over the chain as an object of high symbolism – firstly a gold medallion with the city’s coat of arms and its Latin inscription Statio Bene Fida Carinis or translated A Safe Harbour for Ships,
Secondly a portcullis showcasing the ancient water gate of the medieval walled town of Cork thirdly the SS chain links symbolising sacredness and guardianship, and lastly the medallion inscription where 1787 marks its creation.
There is the guardianship of how this chain links the past to our present, almost seamlessly – that one could argue that the chain links are not just physical links but if it could speak it has seen the highs and lows of Cork history from boom to bust and vice versa. The chain has been a witness to it all in its over 230-year history;
…to the creation of the term of Lord Mayor in 1901 with Daniel Hegarty to the tragedies of office holders such as Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney and then woven into a myriad of personal connections by those who have engaged with office holders.
…and then there is the guardianship on how its essence the chain projects the city into the future as debated during the recent boundary expansion scheme. That of all the elements of those contentious debates, which emerged a few short years ago was that the chain and its societal connection meant much to the people of Cork.
And indeed, when you mix the guardianship elements of the past, present and future, one gets a strong mix of high emotion and a deep attachment to the title of Lord Mayor of Cork.
A Personal Journey:
And for someone like me, it’s not lost on me what this chain means.
I was the child on the annual Lord Mayor school visits who felt a deep attachment to the essence of the chain and its connection to the sense of place and pride in Cork– something that made me feel proud, made me connect to my city, driven by proud parents and teachers of Cork. Thanks Mum and Dad, and to my sister Deirdre and my brother Aidan for everything.
I was someone who likened the Lord Mayor’s visit to a form of Christmas and that they had some sort of super powers and that the medallion of the chain was an actual key to a rich box of stories and papers of my city. I look forward to seeing it later.
I was the child who wanted to be Lord Mayor when I grew up
I was the teenager who pursued civic education projects of former Lord Mayors– someone who began to research and photograph the city – its buildings and public spaces – and someone who consumed history books written about the city.
I became a someone who has studied and written on the high and lows of Cork history across time encountering mayors and Lord Mayors like ghosts walking across my research of historic books and newspapers;
A someone who created walking tours, a someone who wrote books on this historic city, and ultimately an epic voyage that has led me straight into this hallowed political gladiatorial space to meet and work with you good people,
to work with different Lord Mayors of differing political hues and interests, to learn more about how this city ticks and develops,
to work in the European Committee of the Regions and now this journey has come to this enormous moment this evening.
So, what my 11 year old self engaged with 35 years ago has brought me on a voyage of epic personal proportions where “Got Cork” has a very high emotional value.
A House of Democracy:
But perhaps it is my journey since I joined the Council in 2009 that has been the most enriching.
I have had wow factor memories, deeply worrying memories and very proud memories.
I have been very fortunate to work with colleagues who care deeply about Cork’s communities – its essence and people, who represent its people and neighbourhoods, where every meeting is a chance to make a difference. In my time, some evenings we have won incredible things for this city and during other evenings, we remain pushing forward inch by inch, or stuck, or we have gone back to the drawing board, but we have always remained true to a forward-looking path.
Indeed, in the past four years of this Council as a significant house of democracy, we have achieved so much.
In this Council term alone, we have gone through many challenges – the expansion of the city’s boundaries, which feels like years and years ago, brought us many nights of debates.
In 2019 in a special booklet to mark the boundary expansion of the city the Council commissioned poet Theo Dorgan to reflect on the winds of change and the related challenges and visions. He wrote:
“Great changes are coming, the worst of the old ways are dust in the wind and the new energies are crackling with light and variousness of daring thought and music. Go on, said one of my brothers, give us a mad vision of Cork in the coming years. That’s Easy I said, it will be the Athens of a new republic, the dream city where a noble past will give birth to a glorious future. He looked at me and said, would you ever cop yourself on. Fair enough I said – getting a bit carried away…but all the same though. What if”.
Again, a sense of “Got Cork” but little did we know what was ahead of us.
We pushed forward through the significant challenges of Covid. We created an online digital platform to enable us to interact. We created a strong Climate Action team. We established a strong Women’s Caucus. We hosted a strong and rich commemoration programme. We passed an ambitious development plan. We found new ways forward to serve in more ambitious ways our respective local electoral areas or neighbourhoods, to placing a focus on our City of Welcomes paradigm, and much much more.
We kept the Council’s work on the road.
This has been due in no small part to your dedication dear colleagues and our strong Executive led by our CE Ann Doherty.
At this juncture I would like in particular like to thank our former Lord Mayors of this Council Cllr Dr John Sheehan, Cllr Joe Kavanagh, Cllr Colm Kelleher and the outgoing Lord Mayor, Cllr Deirdre Forde for leading us through days ranging from “is this our life now sitting 2 metres away from people” to re-opening the city sprinkling it with hope, positivity and charm, to beginning our journey on the development plan, to championing the rebooting of business and community life” and much much more.
We kept this house of democracy going – the importance of guardianship, democracy and representation never wavered.
I am reminded of the words of Tomás MacCurtain in his Lord Mayoralty speech in late January 1920 where he noted:
[quote]: “I expect from the members of the new Corporation a sacrifice of time and a sacrifice, perhaps, of personal interest…that no self-interest would be put before the interest of the community at large”.
And in our time to each member of this chamber you have made sacrifices to your personal lives to make sure this chamber forges paths forwards through its multitude of its work programmes.
The Hope for Tomorrow:
And so now as we face into the last final 12 months of this Council, there is still much to do. There is much work to finish and much work to start.
And when I say all of that I am very conscious that our citizens and their voices and requests must continue to be listened to, new ideas forged and implemented, and need to be the bedrock of Cork’s DNA building into the future.
In our City, democracy matters. It is renewed every time we have a meeting. It will be renewed with the impending local elections next year.
Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney in his book Principles of Freedom spoke about people gifted with certain powers of soul and body. That it is of vital importance to the individual and the community that one be given a full opportunity to place a value on developing one’s talent, and [quote] “to fill one’s place in the world worthily” [end quote].
He also wrote about the citizen and a hope for tomorrow. As he noted:
“The citizen will fight for that ideal in obscurity, little heeded – in the open, misunderstood; in humble places, still undaunted; in high places, seizing every vantage point, never crushed, never silent, never despairing, cheering a few comrades with hope for tomorrow. And should these few sink in the struggle the greatness of the ideal is proven in the last hour”.
And in a similar vain Eamon de Valera opening this City Hall building and our chamber on 8 September 1936. Addressing the masses, he noted:
“I am sure the people will not shrink from the work that is necessary so that the efforts of the past are not to be in vain. The people of this city have clung tenaciously to their nationality with courage and hope even in the darkest hours. Surely that courage and that hope will not sway them now when the dawn is at hand”.
We will have myriads of meetings ahead of us in our final year where the “hope for tomorrow” can make sure our citizens are the front and centre of our priorities such as reducing homelessness, making sure our construction of our new social housing projects keeps on track, as well as keeping our affordable housing programmes on track, to making sure we are put on a firm footing to be Climate Neutral as part of the EU led Horizon Mission,
We need to keep adding to sustainable mobility plans; we need to keep enhancing the offering of the city centre; we need to make sure we keep creating new amenities, and we need to continue to make sure our communities are future proofed by weaving them with the sustainable development goals and the WHO Healthy Cities project. The list is a long one.
And then we need to sprinkle all those priorities with the energy and ambition that a second city brings or what I call Ireland’s southern capital and one gets an exciting future for our city by the Lee.
Cork City Council is on the frontline in building the future of communities in Cork. The Council is a story builder, a strategy builder, and a capacity builder.
In addition, one would be hard pressed to find a community within the city’s boundaries and in its outliers that doesn’t have a strong sense of place and identity – where building community capacity, family nest building, ambition and creating opportunities matter, and when compiled create a very strong Cork Inc.
Without doubt my Lord Mayoralty will champion these many priorities but in particular I would like to offer a voice to many of our citizens through my theme of Building our Communities Together and through a pet project I will be calling the Voices of Cork. My interests in heritage, history and education will be at the heart of this project.
So, at our Annual Meeting this evening, we continue to carry with hope, with confidence, with passion, with wit, with leadership, and all of that bound to the city’s hopes and dreams, which burn brightly for the future. This great city keeps moving and the tests of our time demand continuous action.
And so this evening I can proudly inscribe in my diary “Got Cork” with its multitude of meanings that we all continue to explore, engage and push forward with.
To conclude, I am also reminded of the words of two famous composers, Rogers and Hammerstein who once penned the most beautiful lyrics.
“Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I got a wonderful feeling, everything is going my way,