Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Kieran McCarthy,
Echo Notes, 16 September 2023
School Visits & the Safe Harbour for Ships:
The annual tradition of visiting the 115 Cork City schools have begun. At this point I am several mornings into the 24-morning itinerary across September and early October. My general messages revolve around story of the City’s coat of arms and that the translation of the latin inscription, Statio Bene Fida Carinis translated as Safe Harbour for Ships idea is one that refers to all of us being on a journey of discovery in our life ship and to always be curious in what interests you. Connected to that my gift to each of the over 40,000 students is a bookmark telling the story of the coat of arms.
Indeed, always creative and always beautiful is one way to sum up the various Cork Coat of Arms creations – from etchings on old maps to the Lord Mayor’s chain to appearing on City Hall flag motifs, to Waterworks, to the Port of Cork boardroom, to the City Library, Fire Engines to Cork GAA jerseys.
It is unknown when the present-day Coat of arms was first used. However, an arms with two towers and ship appears on the side of Munster Plantation President George Carew’s 1601 map of Cork. It is reputed that the towers are a reference to Watergate, which comprised a large portcullis gate that opened to allow ships into a small, unnamed quay located within the walled town. On either side of this gate, two large mural towers, known as King’s Castle and Queen’s Castle, controlled its mechanics. Little evidence remains of the gate, but on the basis that it had to allow access by ships with full masts, Watergate possibly divided in two and opened like a door, rather than being wound up and down by means of a stout chain on a pulley system.
In 1996, when new sewage pipes were being laid on Castle Street, archaeologists found two portions of rubble that indicated the site of the rectangular foundations of Queen’s Castle. A further section was discovered in 1997. During these excavations, sections of the medieval quay wall were also recovered on Castle Street.
A new Mayor’s gold chain was placed on the shoulders of Mayor of Cork Samuel Rowland in 1787. It was voted on by the court of D’Oyer Hundred – or the city’s assembly of freemen. The sum of £500 was given as a bond by the then Mayor who needed to be paid back, and the money sent onto the London goldsmith. The highlighted medallion has the coat of arms and the Latin inscription Statio Bene Fida Carinis, which means a safe harbour for ships.
In 1825 a pen and ink Sketch by nineteenth century Cork artist Daniel Maclise of the Cork Arms from a stone from the old Customs House, North Main Street, shows a ship between two towers or castles with a sailor, in Elizabethan period dress, and a bird on the rigging. The sketch can be seen in the Cork Public Museum.
The Arms of Cork City were officially registered by the Chief Herald on 23rd August 1949.
“Órdha ar thonntracha mara long trí-chrann fá lántseol dualdaite idir dhá thúr dhearg ar charraigeacha dualdaite ar gach túr bratach airgid maisithe le sailtír dheirg” Leis an Rosc “Statio Bene Fide Carinis.”
“Or, on waves of the sea a ship three masts in full sail proper between two towers gules upon rocks also proper each tower surmounted by a flag argent charged with a saltire of the third” with the Motto “Statio Bene Fida Carinis”.
Nine years later after the official registration in 1957, one of the most striking pieces were created above the entrance to the Cork Harbour Commissioners. The Cork Harbour Board, with a certain amount of ceremony, inaugurated a new symbol in front of their offices to take the place of an old one which was supposed to be a relic of British domination, usually described as the Royal coat of arms. On 8 April 1957, Alderman Seán Casey, TD, Lord Mayor of Cork, unveiled the Cork Coat of Arms over the entrance to the office of the Cork Harbour Board at Custom House Quay.
In Kilkenny limestone, the heraldic design depicts the ancient arms of the city. In the speeches tribute was made to Mr Marshal Hutson, the Cork sculptor, who designed the Coat of Arms, and to Messrs. Thomas McCarthy and Sons, Copley Street, Cork, monumental sculptors, who executed the work. Its erection marks the conclusion of a total reconstruction of the South Jetties, and the completion of the first two stages of the long river wall on the northern side.
Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project:
Coinciding with the school visits I am launching 22nd year of the Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project. It is funded by Cork City Council and 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 2023/24 school season – is “Why stories matter”.
The project is led by myself and schools for this year will be provided with a 30-minute YouTube tutorial and further questions may be complied and asked during my visits to schools. The break from the tradition of physical workshops is due to my limited time this year due to his mayoralty duties.
The fourth-class level is open to fourth class students. The primary senior level is open to students of fifth and sixth class. Post primary entrant/s will be placed in Junior Certificate or Leaving Certificate levels. The post primary level is open to any year from first to sixth year. A student may enter as an individual or as part of a group or as part of a class project.
Research and creativity are encouraged in an effort to create relevancy, awareness and appreciation of our local past amongst young people. There are prizes for best projects – trophies, book tokens, digital cameras and school workshops to be won. Certificates will be given to all entrants. More information can be got on my heritage website, www.corkheritage.ie.
Check out as well the upcoming Cork Culture Night on Friday 22 September 2023 at wwwculturenight.ie/location/cork-city.