‘We owe The Echo a huge debt of gratitude’

As The Echo celebrate its 130th anniversary, leading figures in Cork continue to pay tribute. Today, there’s high praise from those working in arts, culture, and education
‘We owe The Echo a huge debt of gratitude’

Teachers and Pupils of the Cork School of Music protest about their working conditions at the CIT, back in 2003. Picture Maurice O'Mahony

Denis McSweeney, Chair, Everyman Theatre

Echo, Evening Echo, 6 o’clock Echo!!!” The paper boys’ cries rang up and down the streets of our city. The Greens, the Longies, the Muls, all directed by the O’Mahony lads from Fair Lane, brought the news to eager eyes on bus queues, in many hall doors and hostelries.

And who could forget the daily marathon sprints of Johnny Murphy as he danced between the traffic lines at the Coliseum Corner to place the broadsheet paper in the hands of his regular clients as they sped past? He was a local legend. And The Echo is a local legend too.

Denis McSweeney, Chairman of the board, of The Everyman, and Sean Kelly, CEO, The Everyman. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO
Denis McSweeney, Chairman of the board, of The Everyman, and Sean Kelly, CEO, The Everyman. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

I’ve been a reader for more than half my life, which straddles half The Echo’s proud life span. I’ve seen it grow from eight broadsheet pages to larger in good times and subsequently to tabloid dimensions.

Through all, it has never lost its touch with and for the folk of this Rebel city, informing them, reflecting them to themselves, and recording their deeds for posterity.

Involved in theatre in the city since the late ’60s, I, among many, was grateful for the prominence which The Echo gave and still gives to the cultural life of the city in all its guises. The paper was a herald to the citizens of what was currently playing or what delights were yet to raise a curtain across the city. Following nervous first nights, we would wait with a certain trepidation to hear the critique from the brilliant Bobby O’Donoghue, Geraldine Neeson, Larry Lyons or Liam Heylin. The reviews would be passed nervously among the cast backstage at the Opera House or the Everyman or CCYMS. They were always honest but kind, intended to help rather than rebuke.

We are still well served by the considerable talents of Colette Sheridan, who is a most loyal and supportive friend to theatre and culture generally in our region. Your photographers are gifted professionals with the utmost patience and courtesy.

Thank you on behalf of all theatre folk and audiences.

Many congratulations to your great masthead on achieving such a milestone in your journey. May you add another 100 years.

Cork Opera House Chief Executive, Eibhlín Gleeson. Picture: Miki Barlok
Cork Opera House Chief Executive, Eibhlín Gleeson. Picture: Miki Barlok

Eibhlin Gleeson, CEO, Cork Opera House

“It’s amazing to think that between The Echo and Cork Opera House, we have almost 300 years of service to the people of Cork and beyond.

We are so grateful to our friends and colleagues at The Echo, that generations have been able to pick up a copy of this great newspaper and been able to read about myriad shows we have hosted over the years.

We owe them a huge debt of gratitude at Cork Opera House for their excellent coverage and patronage of the arts during their 130 years and wish them every success as we all move into a new era.”

Geoffrey Spratt, retired Director, CIT Cork School of Music, Union Quay, Cork. Picture: Denis Scannell
Geoffrey Spratt, retired Director, CIT Cork School of Music, Union Quay, Cork. Picture: Denis Scannell

Geoffrey Spratt, retired director of Cork School of Music

When those who want and need in the 22nd century to reflect on life in Cork during the 20th and 21st centuries, they will find ample evidence of venerable institutions founded during the second half of the 19th century whose roots pervade the whole of its society.

During the 46 years I have been privileged to live and work in Cork, I am particularly aware of three of them: UCC (founded in 1845, where I lectured in the Music Department for 16 years), the Cork School of Music (founded in 1878, where I was the Director for 24 years), and the Evening Echo (founded in 1892).

The common thread between these three is the way they have woven their existence into every aspect of the fabric of Cork society through sustainable growth, relevance, and commitment to its values.

Through the inspired editorship of Maurice Gubbins since 2001, and his mentoring of talented journalists like Elaine Duggan, will never forget the pivotal role the Evening Echo played in spotlighting the need for the construction of a new building for the Cork School of Music on Union Quay (which was completed in 2007), so that its role as the largest provider of education in music and drama in the State could continue to develop in the 21st century.

From being nurtured by the VEC to being part of Munster Technological University, the Cork School of Music is, like the Evening Echo, very dear to the hearts of the people of Cork; may they both continue to flourish and remain quintessential to the city.

Evelyn Grant and Gerry Kelly of Cork Pops Orchestra. Picture: David Keane.
Evelyn Grant and Gerry Kelly of Cork Pops Orchestra. Picture: David Keane.

Gerry Kelly, Cork Pops Orchestra

My first connection to the Evening Echo was through the journalist Mick Kelly, who was deputy editor of the Cork Examiner at the time.

I remember doing a fundraising concert for the legendary set dancer ‘Timmy the Brit’ McCarthy on Friday, May 22, 1982 in the Cork School of Music and we needed publicity. The late Ted McCarthy took a photo and it got into the paper before the concert and ensured a respectable audience.

Other stand-out memories of how the Evening Echo helped keep the show on the road included the publicity for a series of eight concerts in the Cork School of Music in 1985 as part of the Cork 800 celebrations.

Over the years, I gradually got to know various Evening Echo journalists and photographers to whom I am eternally grateful. Their role in supporting the local campaign for the ‘New School of Music’ filled acres of column inches and kept the morale going.

The Evening Echo were also the media sponsors of the Evelyn Grant Cork Pops Orchestra Schools concerts series, which started in the Everyman Theatre in the ’90s. There was also a memorable Evening Echo fund-raising concert that I was privileged to assist with for journalist Deirdre O’Reilly, which was organised by Brian Lougheed and the Evening Echo crew.

It was also a pleasure to perform in an outdoor concert, with Evelyn Grant and the Cork Pops Orchestra, at the 100 year celebration of the Evening Echo in 1992 in Emmet Place.

It’s been great to have had a 40-year connection to The Echo. The only thing that looks older is my photograph. The Cork Pops Gorilla looks the same!!

Best wishes from Gerry Kelly, Evelyn Grant and the Cork Pops Orchestra.

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