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Dockers working on a coal boat at Cork quays 22/02/1957.
Dockers working on a coal boat at Cork quays 22/02/1957.

Calls to remember Cork's dockers in regeneration plans

A PERMANENT reminder of Cork’s dockers and docking industry is being sought as part of the area’s regeneration.

Councillor Thomas Gould has asked Cork City Council to invite submissions from the public on how the history of the trade, which has disappeared since the final rationalisation of the Port of Cork, can be remembered as part of plans to expand the city centre into brownfield sites along the quays.

The last 100 dockers in the city collected their redundancy packages in February 2009. Some had worked in the trade for almost 50 years.

A recent play on the subject of the dockers by Marion Wyatt ran to rave reviews in Cork over the summer and a second run finished this month.

Workers on Cork docks in 1939.
Workers on Cork docks in 1939.

Mr Gould said UK cities such as Salford and Liverpool have incorporated their shipping industry histories into docklands redevelopment and Cork must do the same.

“The families of former dockers want to commemorate the history of the docks in Cork,” said Mr Gould.

“We are a harbour city and with that in mind, we need to engage with the families on this.

“There seems to be a renewed interest from the families and children of dockers. I would like the council to invite people in, either the dockers themselves or families of dockers, and business communities that were involved in the industry and the harbour.

“I have a huge family history in it. My grandfather and uncles were dockers and it’s the same for many people. It’s synonymous with Cork. I’ve often heard the stories and they are of great historic significance - some of them quite sad.

A busy scene at Cork docks 11/03/1932.
A busy scene at Cork docks 11/03/1932.

“I think it’s something that would be very good for schoolchildren to learn and would be of interest to tourists. With the regeneration of the docklands, it would be nice to have the historic context incorporated into it, whether that be statues, place names or other commemorations.

“Cork city’s docks were once one of the busiest in the world. Other cities have done wonderful things to mark their docking industries, but we have been slow off the mark,” Mr Gould added.

The matter will be considered by the community, culture and placemaking strategic policy committee of Cork City Council next month.