A ROW has broken out at City Hall over the naming of the Victorian Quarter with one councillor calling it an “insult” to the memory and family of Tomás MacCurtain.
The Lord Mayor John Sheehan has set up a steering committee to devise plans for the centenary of Cork City Council next year.
A special meeting of the council will be held on January 30 to commemorate the first-ever meeting of the majority Republican Cork City Council in 1920.
However, this announcement sparked a war of words between councillors in the City Hall chamber last night.
At the first meeting of the council in 1920, MacCurtain was named as Lord Mayor.
He was later shot dead by the Royal Irish Constabulary during the War of Independence.
The thriving city street named after him now lies in the so-called Victorian Quarter following a marketing initiative in recent years, involving local traders, who were attempting to regenerate the area - which spans the neighbourhood from Kent Station to St Patrick’s Bridge, Coburg Street to Carroll’s Quay, St. Patrick’s Hill and surrounding areas.
The area is named after Queen Victoria who ruled Ireland and Britain during the Famine.
Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Gould described this as an insult to MacCurtain’s memory as the centenary of his death approaches: “I personally believe that this is a fierce insult to Tomás MacCurtain and the MacCurtain family for what they contributed to Republicanism.
"The memory of the former Lord Mayor is being diminished and diluted.
"It’s a shocking indictment. The current Lord Mayor must stand up for Tomás MacCurtain and his family,” he added.
Fianna Fáil’s Colm Kelleher responded that he was a Republican himself but doesn’t agree with all the fuss around the naming of the quarter.
“What are Sinn Féin shouting about? The Victorian Quarter is bigger than MacCurtain Street. It goes all the way down to Kent Station. It was done [the naming of the quarter] to entice tourists.
“I remember when it was desolate. The businesses came together and named it that and now it is booming. The Victorian Quarter is to do with architecture. Thomas Gould is looking for headlines."
Fine Gael´s Joe Kavanagh pointed out that there are “dozens” of streets named after English generals, kings and brothers of kings.
“MacCurtain Street was a kip, it was in darkness but traders were doing the best they could.
"The traders of the street have done a wonderful job.
"It has become a forward-thinking eating and drinking centre. A marketing company came up with the idea. It was a marketing tool and all the traders bought into it.
"The officials at City Hall bought into it. Our history will always be our history, whether we like it or not,” he added.