Nostalgia: Looking back at the celebrations of 1985 to mark Cork city's 800th birthday 

The year 1985 was a significant one for Leesiders as the city marked eight centuries since it was granted a charter by Prince John in 1185.
Nostalgia: Looking back at the celebrations of 1985 to mark Cork city's 800th birthday 

Lord Mayor of Cork, Ald Liam Burke, pictured with President, Dr Patrick Hillery, after the unveiling of the memorial stone to celebrate Cork 800. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Around this time 37 years ago, the celebrations to mark Cork's 800th birthday as a chartered city were in full swing.

The year 1985 was a significant one for Leesiders as the city marked eight centuries since it was granted a charter by Prince John in 1185.

A multitude of celebratory events took place throughout the year, commencing on New Year's Day when Dr Patrick Hillery, the sixth President of Ireland, was in Cork to unveil a memorial stone outside Cork City Hall. 

Some special moments to celebrate Cork 800 also occurred in April.

The sixth President of Ireland, Dr Patrick Hillery was in Cork in 1985 to unveil a memorial stone outside Cork City Hall. 
The sixth President of Ireland, Dr Patrick Hillery was in Cork in 1985 to unveil a memorial stone outside Cork City Hall. 

The Echo's front page on April 23, 1985 gave details of a special presentation made to the then Lord Mayor of Cork, Liam Burke.

The article stated that the then Governor of the Bank of Ireland, a Mr D. S. A. Carroll, congratulated the Lord Mayor and the city fathers for the initiative they had shown in mounting Cork 800. 

Following the bank's board meeting in the City Hall, Mr Carroll told the Lord Mayor that, in common with others, Cork was facing considerable economic difficulty in the turbulent world of the 1980s.

"But you are showing initiative of a high order in promoting the interests of your city and its considerable natural resources, and these' efforts deserve to succeed. 

"As we have done in the past, we will stand with you and support you and your city in the future in every way open to us," Mr Carroll declared. 

 Anthony Crowley, Dillons Cross, giving an exhibition of break-dancing to the children of the Lower Road, during the Cork 800 Pageant at Grattan Hill in July, 1985.
Anthony Crowley, Dillons Cross, giving an exhibition of break-dancing to the children of the Lower Road, during the Cork 800 Pageant at Grattan Hill in July, 1985.

He said that because the city's 800th anniversary was such a unique occasion, the bank wanted to present the Lord Mayor with something related to the city's history. 

"We have, I believe, found something entirely suitable. It is a silver freedom box made about 1760 by William Reynolds, one of your great craftsmen. 

"It was presented to the Right Honourable William Crosbie, Lord Baron Brenden. 

"Particularly pleasing is the fact that it is accompanied by the original freedom scroll and seal of this city," Mr Carroll said. 

The article stated that Bank of Ireland had purchased the two centuries old box from a private collector in order to present it to the city on the occasion of the board meeting in the City Hall. 

The Cork 800 celebrations were said to have given a boost to the fourth Adidas Cork City Marathon which took place on April 8 and attracted 1,100 runners.
The Cork 800 celebrations were said to have given a boost to the fourth Adidas Cork City Marathon which took place on April 8 and attracted 1,100 runners.

Earlier in April, the Cork 800 celebrations were said to have given a boost to the fourth Adidas Cork City Marathon which took place on April 8 and attracted 1,100 runners.

"Back in 1985, the Cork 800 celebrations proved to be a blessing for the increasing number of races then taking place. 

"The once-off ‘Cork 800’ logo on the finishers’ plaque attracted participants," John Walshe noted in an Echo article from 2020 reflecting on the event.

"The organisers wanted the race to be a value-for-money event, with every participant being rewarded with a special Cork 800 t-shirt, while all finishers received the marathon medallion, all for an entry fee of £6," he noted.

Steeplejack Angela Collins O'Mahony was invited to climb County Hall as part of the Cork 800 celebrations. 
Steeplejack Angela Collins O'Mahony was invited to climb County Hall as part of the Cork 800 celebrations. 

In the summer of 1985, celebrations continued with unique and wonderful events.

Ireland's first and only female steeplejack, Angela Collins O'Mahony, was invited to climb County Hall, which she later described as a highlight of her career.

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