Park life in Cork: A look back at Fitzgerald's Park down through the years

Park life in Cork: A look back at Fitzgerald's Park down through the years
Fitzgerald Park, The Mardyke, Cork. The Park is named after Edward Fitzgerald who was Lord Mayor of Cork 1901 - 1903. The 18 acre site and Georgian House were presented in 1907 to Cork Corporation by the Incorporated Cork International Exhibition Association, the body responsible for the International Art and Industrial Exhibition held on the grounds in 1902/03.

Fitzgerald's Park was once the site of the International Exhibition, an elaborate showcase of industry and art, held in Cork in 1852, 1883, and 1902.

The triumphant exhibition of that year featured kiosks, ornamental walks, tea houses, and perhaps most impressively, an enormous water chute. 

Following the exhibition, the site was then turned into a public park, named after Edward Fitzgerald who was Lord Mayor of Cork from 1901 until 1903. 

The 18-acre site and Georgian House were presented in 1907 to Cork Corporation by the Incorporated Cork International Exhibition Association, the body responsible for the International Art and Industrial Exhibition.

Fitzgerald's Park, Cork in July 1936. 
Fitzgerald's Park, Cork in July 1936. 

Two decades later, just outside Fitzgerald's Park, one of Cork's best-loved bridges was officially opened.

Daly's Bridge, more commonly known as the 'Shakey Bridge' was officially opened in 1927 and has recently been renovated. 

Official opening of Daly's Bridge, Sunday's Well, Cork 09/04/1927. 
Official opening of Daly's Bridge, Sunday's Well, Cork 09/04/1927. 

Speaking to The Echo when the Bridge was reinstalled in March, Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy, who has been a long term advocate of the repair, lauded Cork City Council and the contractors who worked on the Bridge for their efforts. 

"The Bridge looks super. It has been a long process in lobbying for funding for nearly a decade. 

"It looks fresh but retains its nostalgic look. Hats off to Cork City Council and the contractors for a really great job,” he said.

Daly’s Bridge is well-loved for its iconic shake and has become a treasured landmark in Cork over the decades. 

"Of all the bridges in the city, the Shakey Bridge is one, which has a strong connection with people. 

"This connection has grown beyond the original investor- James Daly - and his idea for the bridge- he wanted a physical connection from Sunday's Well to the Mardyke. 

"What we have today is a bridge, which offers everything from personal memories for Corkonians, to a symbol of the connection to the river, to a tourist icon, to being a TV star. 

"I look forward to the official opening in the months ahead," Mr McCarthy continued.

As well as investment in the Shakey Bridge, the Park was allocated an enormous €2.3 million for regeneration back in 2012.

Spanish performers at Cork International Choral Festival relaxing at Fitzgerald's Park, 1956.
Spanish performers at Cork International Choral Festival relaxing at Fitzgerald's Park, 1956.

The upgrade saw the installation of Diarmuid Gavin’s controversial 'Sky Garden' and the restoration of the Fr Mathew Fountain.

A couple of years later, the Park was installed with a new €600,000 disability-friendly playground.

Summer events recently held in Fitzgerald's Park including outdoor movie screening and the Swing in the Park live gigs series organised by songstress Marguerite O’Connor have proved major successes.

Children playing on slide April 1980.
Children playing on slide April 1980.

Despite this year's speed bump, no doubt many more exciting gatherings will happen over the coming years.

But for now, those that live nearby Fitzgerald's Park are more appreciative than ever of its beauty and serenity. 

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