CORK City Hall was packed to the rafters as the Glen Boxing Club commemorated the centenary of the death, of their first President Tomás MacCurtain.
This was a unique occasion as in association with Cork City Council, the club promoted a show, which comprised both a concert and a boxing tournament.
The four-hour extravaganza commenced at 7pm, Corkonians in their droves came to pay a tribute to Ireland's oldest boxing club and to one of Rebel county's greatest patriots, Tomás MacCurtain, who was murdered in his home in Blackpool on March 20, 1920, by crown forces, while holding the office of Lord Mayor of Cork.
The current Lord Mayor Cllr Deidre Forde was the patron of the event while special guests were members of the MacCurtain family led by Fionnuala MacCurtain, who wrote the beautifully detailed book, which recalls the events leading up to, and following that tragic night in March 1920.
The Glen Boxing Club were very conscious that this was more than a sporting occasion commemorating their first president.
Club chairman Antony Connolly said: “It is a night for the people of Cork to remember the sacrifice of Tomás MacCurtain and the immediate pain and suffering sustained by his family in the wake of his brutal assassination."
Having devised a plan with Cork City Council, the club made every effort to insure that all strands of Corkonian society were represented on a night, which could only take place once, due to the uniqueness of the occasion.
Amongst the guests was Tánaiste Micheál Martin, members of the Oireachtas, Cork City and County Council, 23 former Lord Mayors of Cork, members of the Gardaí and the Defence Forces, a delegation from the North Mon where MacCurtain was a pupil, the Cork Business Association, the Cope Foundation group from Glasheen who were welcomed by former Lord Mayor Brian Birmingham, whose father John Birmingham was also a Lord Mayor and secretary of the Glen Boxing Club for many years and was the inspiration behind the Foundation of Cope.
Other groups attending included the Cork Ex-Boxing Association led by president Derry McCarthy, the Blarney Street and Surrounding Area Association with their chairman Tom Coleman, the Cork Penny Dinners led by Caitriona Twoomey still basking in the aftermath of her very meaningfulappearance.
Members from all boxing clubs throughout the city and country, and Dan O’Connell who flew in from Spain on the day, enjoyed the occasion.
Now domiciliated in Spain, Dan is the President of the International Friends of Cork Boxing.
He was welcomed to City Hall by the Lord Mayor Cllr Deidre Forde who prior to the event invited him to sign the visitors' book.
However, Dan is no stranger to the Lord Mayor’s Office as he was there on many occasions during his terms as a former President of the Cork County Boxing Board.
Meanwhile watching live in New York on the Cork City Council TV stream was Donie Carroll who commented on Facebook that it was one of the most outstanding nights in the history of Cork Boxing.
Donie Carroll is Vice President of the International Friends of Cork Boxing, and in that capacity welcomed the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tánaiste Micheál Martin to New York recently, for the St Patrick’s week celebration, a picture of this meeting is featured in the magnificent souvenir programme published for the City Hall event under the theme of ‘A Night To Remember’.
The event co-ordinator Michael O’Brien opened proceedings.
The night began with the Lord Mayor entering the back of the Hall accompanied by the CEO Ann Doherty, both ladies then followed Piper Norman O’Rourke in procession up the Hall to the strains of ‘The Banks of my own lovely Lee’.
The Lord Mayor then very movinly addressed the attendance warmly highlighting the significance of the occasion.
This cued the beginning of an outstanding two-hour concert, which featured the Northside Institution the Butter Exchange Band at their very best, led by conductor Trish Harrington.
They were followed by the Glen Rovers Male Voice Choir, who were inspirational, and according to Jackie Pearson following their performance received messages of goodwill from many countries throughout the world from Corkonians who were watching the show live on the City Council stream UCC historian Gabriel Doherty gave a well-presented insight into the legacy of MacCurtain.
The Leeside voices followed and here Denis Lane, Anne Birmingham and Noel Somers were truly on song. Followed by soloist Michelle Fitzgerald who raised the roof.
A cup commemorating Tomas MacCurtail was then presented to the Glen BC chairman Anthony Connolly by the great-grandson of the Patriot Tomas MacCurtain also.
Michael Martin addressed the attendance and paid tribute to the contribution and sacrifice of the slain Lord Mayor.
Finally Fionnuala MacCurtain in a most gracious speech detailed the events surrounding the death of her grandfather. In a very moving eulogy, she gave a very sad insight into the circumstances, which confronted the family.
She received a prolonged standing ovation.
Part two of the programme featured the Glen BC Boxing Tournament and next Thursdaywill highlight some of the great bouts and results.
If you wish to view the event, you will find it on Cork City Council TV live stream.