Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a civic reception in City Hall for Cork City FC who are celebrating their fortieth birthday this week. It is appropriate that the first event to mark the club’s birthday was held in City Hall, as, in the words of the founding Chairman, Jim Hennebry, “Cork City FC was conceived in the Cork Lord Mayor’s office”. The idea was mooted by the late Hugh Coveney (RIP) with Joe Delaney (RIP) FAI and Pat O’Brien, President of FAI (RIP). Officially the Club was born in Bundoran at the League of Ireland AGM in July 1984.
For the People of Cork:
On 25 September 1984, the Cork Examiner published a write-up of an address of Jim Hennebry to the Cork Rotary Club luncheon on the vision of the club. He noted that Cork City AFC belongs to the people of Cork rather than to the group of individuals who formed the club. Jim further praised the efforts of the individuals who took up the challenge of getting a team into the League of Ireland in serious recessionary times.
Jim highlighted that much of the club’s income is derived from contributions from the private and commercial sectors in Cork business life, and he felt that sponsorship has a major role to play in the future of the game here;
“There is an urgent need for commercial involvement in the club, and having a team in the League of Ireland can only benefit Cork City as a whole. It is important that a city the size of Cork should have a recognised League team. With the support and backing of the people of Cork the team will continue to prosper. A successful team will have great effect would have on the city in terms of community spirit, and the commercial life of the city…The people behind Cork City soccer team hope to bring back top class football to the city, and hopefully it will not be too long before the League championship, or the FAI Cup are back on Leeside”.
From 1984 onwards, a boldness to put football in Cork and Cork itself on the map grew. The connections grew and the ambitions grew. Partnerships, friendships and followers grew.
Whilst many great clubs have been celebrated on Leeside over the years, such as the great Cork United, Cork Athletic, Cork Celtic and Cork Hibernians, the longevity of Cork City FC is unrivalled.
Much credit for the club’s longevity must go to FORAS, who stepped in to ensure the continuation of Cork City FC ahead of the 2010 season. Ten years ago, when the club celebrated its 30th anniversary, it became the first League of Ireland club from the city to do so, so to reach 40 years is yet another precious milestone.
Over the 40 years, the club has enjoyed some great days – the first national trophy, the League Cup, in the 1987-88 season, a first league title in the 1992-93 season and, finally, the first FAI Cup in the 1997-98 season.
The club has won the Premier Division title twice more, in 2005 and again in 2017, when City then lifted the FAI Cup as well to become the first Cork club to win a double since Cork Athletic in the 50’s.
As well as the national stage, the club has proudly represented our City, County and Country on the international stage in European competition for over 30 years. Beginning with a defeat against Torpedo Moscow in 1989, the club has memories such as the famous draw with Bayern Munich, defeating former European Cup finalists Malmo FF and Dutch side NEC Nijmegen in 2004 and Europa League runs in 2016 and 2017.
A Social and Cultural Asset:
Cork City FC is a really important social and cultural asset to the city and region of Cork. It matters in our city and region and how it adds significantly the essence of building community values in Cork and grassroots sports initiatives in Cork – the tangible and intangible benefits.
One does not have to look far to see how Cork City FC is rooted in the life of the city and how proud the city is of it, and how it represents the many legacies of football clubs going back over 100 years.
Indeed one just has to go to any match to see the sense of pride, ownership and love for Cork City FC amongst players, management and the supporters who chant, laugh, cry and shout more and then even chant, laugh, cry and shout more Cork City FC on.
That essence of pride is hard to physically replicate. There are individuals who have spent decades every week supporting the team and there are parents or guardians who proudly bring the next generation on in all kinds of weather, and they wouldn’t miss it for anything. There are incredible special moments of human connection are bound up with Cork City FC.
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.
It is a testament to the impact and reach of the club in the city that so many friends and supporters joined the 40th birthday celebrations in City Hall. You can also see this reach clearly in the range of Cork City FC provides an enormous ripple effect across different layers of Cork City FC from the physical street corner green all the way up to the professional side of the teams – as well as the senior men’s team, there are seven academy teams (boys and girls), an amputee team and a senior women’s team.
As well as their loyal fans, I know the club is very fortunate to have the support of many great sponsors, without whom the club would simply not be able to function. Zeus Packaging are in their second year as the club’s main sponsor, while the club is also fortunate to count University College Cork, the Mardyke Arena, SONAS Bathrooms, EZ Living, Everseen and Audivox among their key sponsors.
How lucky is our city to have a club with such memories and cultural and sporting heritage and which promotes community values and togetherness. Happy 40th birthday Cork City FC!
Honouring Cork People:
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”.
Check out the website of Douglas Community School for more on their fiftieth anniversary, DCS Celebrates 50 Years🎉 — DCS Cork
Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,
Cork Independent, 18 January 2024
Kieran’s Audio Heritage Trails
January generally coincides with some fine and cold cold days where walking the city is lit up by wintry Atlantic light. As someone who enjoys photographing the city, it is a good time of year to capture some of the city’s nuanced layers of its past. I hope to launch my physical walking tours again in April but in the meantime, check out my audio heritage trails, which have been developed with Meitheal Mara – on the Bridges of Cork and The Marina respectively.
Both audio trails are hosted on my website www.corkheritage.ie under the history trails section. All you need is your smartphone and some headphones. The first audio trail provides insights into the histories of the Cork city centre’s bridges, their place in Cork and some of their surrounding histories. The walk around the bridges is just over two hours in duration. The trail is clockwise from South Gate Bridge up the south channel and down the north channel to cross back to the south channel. It ends at Nano Nagle Bridge.
They say the best way to get to know a place is to walk it. Through many centuries Cork has experienced every phase of Irish urban development. It is a city you can get lost in narrow streets, marvel at old cobbled lane ways, photograph old street corners, gaze at clues from the past, engage in the forgotten and the remembered, search and connect for something of oneself, and thirst in the sense of story-telling – in essence feel the DNA of the place. With so many layers of history in Cork, there is much to see on any walk around Cork City and its respective neighbourhoods. The River Lee has had and continues to have a key role in the city’s evolution. Many Corkonians and visitors have crossed over the River Lee’s bridges and have appreciated the river’s tranquil and hypnotic flow.
The audio trail begins at the oldest of the city’s bridges – that of South Gate Bridge. In the time of the Anglo Normans establishing a fortified walled settlement and a trading centre in Cork around 1200 AD, South Gate Drawbridge formed one of the three entrances – North Gate Bridge and Watergate being the others. A document for the year 1620 stated that the mayor, Sheriff and commonality of Cork, commissioned Alderman Dominic Roche to erect two new drawbridges in the city over the river where timber bridges existed at the South Gate Bridge and the other at North Gate.
In May 1711, agreement was reached by the Council of Cork Corporation that North Gate Bridge would be rebuilt in stone in 1712 while in 1713, South Gate Bridge would be replaced with a stone arched structure. South Gate Bridge still stands today in its past form as it did over 300 years ago apart from a small bit of restructuring and strengthening in early 1994.
The second of the new audio trails is on The Marina. 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 historical tapestry of questions of who developed such a place of ideas. Where not all the answers have survived, The Marina is lucky, that archives, newspaper accounts, census records and old maps and other insights have survived to showcase how the area and the wider area has developed. These give an insight into ways of life and ambitions in the past, some of which can help the researcher in the present day in understanding The Marina’s evolution and sense of place going forward.
Cork’s Marina was originally called the Navigation Wall or in essence it was a guidance or tracking wall to bring ships into Cork City’s South Docks area. It was completed in 1761.
Following the constitution of the Cork Harbour Commissioners in 1814 and their introduction of steam dredging, a vigorous programme of river and berth deepening, quay and wharf building commenced. The dredger of the Cork Harbour Commissioners deposited the silt from the river into wooden barges, which were then towed ashore. The silt was re-deposited behind the Navigation Wall.
During the Great Famine, the deepening of the river created jobs for 1,000 men who worked on widening the physical dock of the Navigation Wall. In essence a fine road was constructed, which linked into Cork’s South Docks. To give an aesthetic to the new road, a fine row of elm trees was planted c.1856 by Prof. Edmund Murphy of Queen’s College Cork (now UCC). The elm trees were part of a crop and tree growing experiment.
In 1870, the Gaelic poet and scholar Donncha Ó Floinn put forward to the Improvements Committee of Cork Corporation that the new road of the Navigation wall be named Slí na hAbhann, which means the ‘pathway by the river’. Ó Floinn’s proposal was not accepted. The matter came before the Improvements Committee again in 1872. This time Ó Floinn suggested that the promenade be named ‘The Marina’. He outlined that ‘The Marina’ was the name allocated to a recently reclaimed piece of land near Palermo in Sicily. In July 1872, Cork Corporation formally adopted ‘The Marina’ as the name of the new road or promenade.
Listen to Kieran’s audio heritage trails under history trails at www.corkheritage.ie
1236a. Daly’s Bridge aka Shaky Bridge, present day, which is one of the featured bridges in Kieran’s audio heritage trail of the Bridges of Cork (picture: Kieran McCarthy).