I WOULD like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Cork County for continuing to support our local businesses and producers as we approach the end of another year.
The cold arctic spell has set the scene to celebrate A Real Cork Christmas and I want to encourage you all to explore the magic on our own doorsteps. There is a most wonderful atmosphere in our towns and villages in the run up to Christmas which will continue well into the New Year.
I love travelling throughout the county at this time of the year, each location is unique and has its own take on Christmas decorations. The lights are twinkling brightly throughout the county, erected in many cases by dedicated volunteers and proudly assisted by Cork County Council. I have seen very creative solutions to decorating, elegant matchstick style trees made from pallets lining the grass verge entry to the village to more colourful fun snowmen at village signs made from tyres, painted and festooned with tinsel to bring their characters to life. Even as I write this, there is still time to take in the sights, the lights, the window displays in your local towns and villages, soak up the atmosphere and purchase a last-minute gift.
Christmas is a time for families and friends, for creating memories. Our most precious memories are those spent in the presence of those we love and not the presents.
With that in mind, I’d suggest you wrap up warm and explore some of the trails and walkways near you. Over the past few years, outdoor activities have played a bigger role in our lives, being able to walk, hike or go sea swimming bring us great joy, are an affordable way to spend time, and good for our physical and mental health.
I would caution all the citizens of the county of Cork, regardless of ability, to pay attention to weather warnings over the holiday period. Do not take unnecessary risks and put either your own life or those of our emergency services in danger.
The holidays are the perfect time to reflect on the year that has gone by and look ahead to the future with renewed hope.
I was elected Mayor of the County of Cork on June 27, which is a huge honour for my family and me. I have always been inspired by the communities, businesses and individuals who work so tirelessly to improve all our lives. Meeting those people over the last six months as Mayor of the County has been a privilege.
Every year brings its challenges and much positivity, as I’ve borne witness to over the first half of my term in office.
Housing continues to be one such challenge and I was delighted to turn the sod at Water Rock in September, where there is the long-term potential to deliver 2,500 housing units. The sod turning marks the very beginning of a project which will take time to come to fruition, on the other end of the scale I had the privilege to see first-hand the affordable Housing scheme in Clonmore, Mallow - 38 houses at turn-key stage and completed to a very high standard.
Recent months saw us pay host to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD on more than one occasion, during October to open the Carrigaline Western Relief Road, aptly named Pottery Road, and it has brought a new era of growth, safer more sustainable travel choices for those who live and work in Carrigaline and the surrounding areas. No doubt, the community are enjoying all the benefits it has brought.
And again, in December for the opening of the Macroom bypass. Thanks to the bypass, the volume of traffic will decrease by 40%, leading to improved quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors to Macroom.
Now, the urban renewal of Macroom will begin, where motorists travelling between Cork and Kerry will visit the town and properly experience all that Macroom has to offer without worrying about being stuck in traffic.
2023 will be warmly welcomed by the residents and business of the town.
Those are some of the events that make the national headlines, however there have been hundreds of other events across the county, tourism and sporting highlights like the Ironman in Youghal, some of our libraries becoming ‘My Open Library’ and offering an out of hours service. I’ve opened community gardens, launched art exhibitions, poetry books, calendars and historical tomes.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and spending time with communities across the entire County of Cork. I am excited to see what 2023 will bring and will do my very best to represent the people of County Cork.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone a very peaceful and safe Christmas and all the very best for 2023.