Cork City Mayor column: From the film festival to this great year of commemoration

Cork City Mayor column: From the film festival to this great year of commemoration

Stephanie Kavanagh, Lady Mayoress, Professor Chris Williams, Head of College of Arts Celtic Studies and Social Science, UCC, and Lord Mayor Cllr Joe Kavanagh launch the history conference, ‘Terence MacSwiney, Cork Men’s Gaol, and the Political Hunger Strike, 1920-2020’ at UCC. Picture: Tomas Tyner

Phase 2, possibly Phase 5 then Phase 3!!!

I’m certainly somewhat dizzy from all the speculation, the various phases, the various permutations and what we can or can’t do in the coming weeks. The confusion, the speculation and the eventual disappointment and frustration of being “demoted” into Phase 3 from Phase 2 has certainly ignited many vibrant discussions across society both locally and nationally.

Many sectors have been adversely affected by these new restrictions and particularly the hospitality sector. Pubs, restarants and hotels have been badly affected. While some may be able to offer a very limited service, many have closed their doors and some may not re-open again.

These are indeed very tragic circumstances that we find ourselves in but as I wrote on this column in recent weeks, given the significant increase in new case numbers every day both locally and nationally there was always a danger that this would happen. Now, we are where we are, and we have all got to work together to get ourselves back on track.

Many people have made many sacrifices over the past seven months and meticulously followed the guidelines as recommended by NPHET and the Government. Unfortunately, a small minority of the population have failed to comply with these recommended guidelines which will of course present an avenue for the Virus to spread rapidly through our society. Unless we ALL comply with the recommended guidelines in the coming weeks we will surely find ourselves being placed in a Phase 5 Lockdown situation which is something we certainly don’t want.

Please, please try to comply with the following recommended guidelines in the coming weeks for the good of yourselves, your families and society as a whole.

As you can appreciate, many of my daily meetings are now held virtually with Zoom being a much used word these days. I was delighted to participate in a Zoom call this week in relation to the Cork International Film Festival . Of course this will be held virtually this year with a number of restricted live showings. It is great to see local businesses supporting this festival and particularly the Gate Cinema who are a valued supporter and sponsor of this iconic Annual Cork Festival. Wishing all the organisers of this event the very best of luck.

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Joe Kavanagh, with Stephanie Kavanagh Lady Mayoress of Cork, and See Change Ambassador Holly Fehily, at the launch of the Annual Green Ribbon Campaign.	Picture: Gerard McCarthy
Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Joe Kavanagh, with Stephanie Kavanagh Lady Mayoress of Cork, and See Change Ambassador Holly Fehily, at the launch of the Annual Green Ribbon Campaign. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

The Lady Mayoress, Stephanie and I were delighted to attend a Photocall to launch the Shine A Light Green Ribbon Day Event outside City Hall. This is a fantastic event highlighting the importance of our mental health and organised superbly by Barbara Brennan of See Change. Great to see Martin Ryan of the HSE involved and various other sponsors. The importance of positive mental health and being able to talk and share problems is a key factor in this campaign.

Cork City as a Learning City is fast developing strong links with the City of Lowell which is just outside Boston in the US. Lowell is the first US city to come on board as a Learning City and it is great that we in Cork are developing such strong links with them. Last week, the Lady Mayoress, Stephanie and I were delighted to attend a recording in The Triskel Arts Centre for our new friends in Lowell. It was also great to launch the publication “Atlantic Currents” in Triskell which brings together no less than 65 writers from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean with many stories, poems, essays, songs and portions of novels brilliantly illustrated in this book. A magnificent project between Cork Learning Cities and Lowell Learning Cities and hopefully the first of many more to come.

The launch of the MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme was last week and I was delighted to be there. I have personally spent many years working with the fantastic traders in MacCurtain Street trying to get the regeneration of this area off the ground and it is wonderful to see all our efforts over the years finally coming to fruition. The finished product will be fantastic and will provide a revitalised pedestrian friendly streetscape, improved cycle lanes and bus corridor.

Huge credit should be given to the very resourceful traders in MacCurtain Street who have come together to develop and enhance the MacCurtain Street.

In this year of commemoration, there are so many projects under way and in planning and all within the restrictions guidelines of course. I am continually attending meetings in relation to these projects and of course Cork City Council is providing limited funding for many of these projects. It is wonderful to see so many organisations, including schools, contributing with so many innovative projects in relation to the commemoration and the many significant events surrounding this.

Significant events being marked are The Burning of Cork, The Death of Terence MacSwiney, commemorating the Cork Hunger Strikers and of course the planned but very much scaled-down National Commemoration event. I look forward to contributing and participating in all of these commemorative events as they happen in the coming months and well done to everyone involved in the organisation of all of these significant historical events.

I was delighted to launch the Three Faiths Forum Leaflet last week in City Hall. The Cork Three Faiths Forum is an initiative that brings together representatives from the three Abrahamic Faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This strives to enhance an understanding of each other’s faith and to work together to enhance tolerance, co-operation and friendship in our society.

A photocall at Gaol Cross with the backdrop of the daunting Gaol on a wet afternoon was the venue for the launch of the Virtual History Conference to mark the Centenery of the Terence MacSwiney and indeed the Cork Mens Gaol Hunger Strikes. The public is being invited to log onto a three-day online centenary conference exploring the events leading up to the death of patriot Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney and the Cork Men’s Gaol Hunger Strike.

Hosted by UCC, and funded by Cork City Council and the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the virtual event has been organised to mark the centenary of the hunger strike of Irish republicans in Brixton Prison and Cork Men’s Gaol. Over three days, 30 historians from across Irish universities, the UK, US and India will explore various aspects of the 1920 hunger strike which aroused intense international attention. The UCC campus includes the site of the old Cork Men’s Gaol.

The conference, which is being held virtually on Zoom due to Covid-19 restrictions, is taking place from 12.45-6pm, Thursday, October 8, and continues on Friday and Saturday, June 9 and 10, from 12-6pm.

This conference explores various aspects of the 1920 Cork/Brixton hunger strike including the perils of force feeding, the medical and legal ethics of hunger strikes, cultural, spiritual, and international responses to the strike, and various aspects of Terence MacSwiney and the other Cork strikers.

For futher information, contact:

Dr John Borgonovo j.borgonovo@ucc.ie

To register for the conference and to see further details on the lectures:

https://conference.ucc.ie/terence-macswiney%2c-cork-mens-gaol%2c-and-the-political-hunger- strike%2c-1920-2020/terence-macswiney/Site/Register.

Stay safe, stay healthy and mind each other.

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