President Michael D. Higgins will give the keynote speech at the Cork Chamber Annual Dinner in early February as the organisation celebrates it 200th anniversary.
In his first address to a business audience since his second term inauguration, the President will address attendees at the dinner in Cork City Hall, where 1,000 of the city’s business leaders will gather on Friday, February 1.
President Higgins has played an active part in the promotion of Ireland's trade links during his tenure, and will join the Cork business community in celebration of one of the oldest institutions on the island of Ireland.
It is the first event of a year long programme celebrating the Chamber’s milestone.
“Founded 200 years ago, by a group of businesspeople committed to promoting and supporting the best of Cork business, Cork Chamber has remained one of the greatest champions of the region’s business community ever since,” President of Cork Chamber, Bill O’Connell said. “This year is not just about reflecting on the successes of the past; more importantly, it is about looking at how the Chamber can support businesses to tackle some of the challenges of the present and about being ambitious for the future of the region, which is going through a very exciting period of growth at the moment.”
Cork Chamber was founded in November 1819, in what is now the Victoria Hotel on St. Patrick Street, against a backdrop of economic decline and high unemployment. From that initial committee of 11 businessmen, the Chamber grew and now represents the interests of 1,200 businesses employing over 100,000 people in the region.
“Two hundred years ago, the population of Cork city was around 80,000, while current projections for the region estimate that with the right investment and infrastructure, Cork’s metropolitan area could grow to 500,000 by 2050,” Mr O’Connell said.”Facilitating that growth and supporting our members will be a key feature of the Chamber’s work in the coming years.”
The 200 year celebrations will include a Schools Art initiative, in association with the Glucksman Gallery in UCC. ‘Future Forms’ will see Cork schools, third-level students and community groups working with artists to create artworks that imagine what the city and urban environment will look like in 200 years’ time.