A history of Cork's strong Dutch links

A history of Cork's strong Dutch links
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands at City Hall where they were welcomed by the Lord Mayor Cllr John Sheehan, the Lady Mayoress Aedamar and Chief Executive of Cork City Council Ann Doherty.

Cork City Council welcomed King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of The Netherlands in City Hall. 

The royal couple paid a courtesy visit to the Lord Mayor of Cork City, Cllr John Sheehan as part of their three-day state visit to Ireland.

Cork City has many links with The Netherlands, both historically, educationally and culturally. Here are some examples of the city's links.

  • Cork Harbour was a “safe harbour” for the Dutch West India Company fleet, which frequently accessed the port for trade, as well as shelter and re-supplying their fleets for voyages between Europe, North America and the West Indies.
  • The Dutch influence in Cork City is still evident in the architecture of the city. After the 1690 Siege of Cork by Williamite forces, there was an influx of Dutch builders, architects and tradesmen such as carpenters, masons and tilers into Cork City. The reclamation of Cork’s marshlands and construction of new stone buildings, quays and waterways was influenced in no small way by the expertise of Dutch civil engineers, who were greatly admired for their expertise in reclaiming and developing marshy environments. Engravings of the period, such as John Butt’s View of Cork show Cork as a water-based city with gable-fronted houses called “Dutch Billies”, similar to the houses that line the quaysides of Amsterdam and Utrecht.
  • The Crawford Art Gallery on Emmet Place, Civic Trust House on Pope’s Quay and Queen Anne’s House (now Starbucks) on Emmet Place are examples of Dutch style architecture, and 73-74 South Mall is reputed to have been built using Dutch red brick that arrived in the City as ship’s ballast.
  • The Mardyke, this year celebrating its 300th anniversary, was designed by Edward Webber, who himself was of Dutch descent. Webber’s fashionable new area of the city was named in honour of Meer Dyke, an area in Amsterdam with which he was familiar.
  • In the present day, Cork City still enjoys strong links to The Netherlands. Both CIT and UCC between them have partnerships with 14 Dutch third level institutions under the EU ERASMUS student exchange programme and last year sent a combined 70 students and staff to study at these institutions under the programme. CIT’s Media Communications Department has been working with Hogeschool Utrecht for the last three years on the development of two documentary film festivals, this partnership enabling the launch in March 2018 of CIT’s own film festival, FilmCraftCork.
  • Cork Airport operates a twice-daily service from Cork to Amsterdam which carries up to 16,000 passengers per week.
  • According to the 2016 census, 159 Dutch nationals were living in Cork City at that time.

Arriving this morning at 10.15am, the King and Queen were greeted at City Hall by the Lord Mayor, Lady Mayoress Aedamar and Chief Executive of Cork City Council Ann Doherty.

The royal couple were shown a warm Cork “welkom” in the Lord Mayor’s Chamber, where the Lord Mayor presented the King with a framed copy of a poem entitled “In Cork, Waiting for the Dutch” by Cork poet Thomas McCarthy. 

The poem, commissioned especially for the visit, was inspired by McCarthy’s experience in a flash-flood in east Cork which made him think of Cork’s urban history, the watery landscape transformed by bridges, culverts and waterways built by descendants of Dutch settlers here.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima then departed for Cobh, where they continued their state visit.

The Lord Mayor said: “I am delighted to welcome His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, King of The Netherlands and Her Majesty Queen Máxima of The Netherlands to Cork today. There are many links between Cork City and the Netherlands through trade and culture. Indeed the Dutch influence on Cork can be seen through much of the city's architecture.” 

 “Those links continue today through education, business and trade and I look forward to the continued strong relationship between Cork and the Netherlands.”

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