Wednesday 28 September 2016

Meanwhile, another ordinary day passes in the second city, home of our 'real' leader

John Daly

Published 07/05/2016 | 02:30

One Albert Quay, which opened last week in Cork
One Albert Quay, which opened last week in Cork

So there you have it, a new Government with a Corkman pulling the strings, any wonder footsteps have a lot more bounce around the second city this weekend?

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With the interminable recession finally receding, and the endless winter storms drifting out toward Biscay, there's a palpable confidence and pep abroad in the city by the Lee.

"Tis all on the up and up, boy," as they say around these parts.

The opening last week of One Albert Quay, dubbed 'Ireland's smartest building', marked another visible stride in Cork's long-awaited renaissance. A glass and granite behemoth with enough ergonomic technology to tick every environmentalist's fantasy wish list, it bristles with big-buck salaries, office 'think pods' and a panoramic rooftop café.

"It is Ireland's smartest, and I would say, coolest building," said Donal Sullivan, managing director of Tyco, which has taken over the top floors.

Cranes are also once again dotting the Cork cityscape, with major construction projects rumbling into reality around the Brewery Quarter, the Capitol Complex and the Docklands.

Even the constant traffic snarl from dumper trucks and blocked footpaths isn't bothering the sanguine citizens of Leeside.

"Progress all around us, Cha boy, a whole new city with every chippie and brickie on a grand a week!" as the legendary Miah might have commented.

As the mild winds of May blow the cherry blossoms across Grand Parade, enthusiastic clots of German and French tourists clog the footpaths in search of Frank O'Connor and Sean O'Faolain's long gone laneways. "Please can you tell where ist My First Confession church?" they demand. "You have me there, love," we reply kindly. "But you might catch George Hook and Eddie Hobbs in the Imperial bar if you hurry."

Given Cork has no shortage of beautiful boozers to choose from, it seems a glaring oversight that no literary pub crawl is plying the visiting throngs with entertaining tales of author excess and thespian terror.

Storied haunts like the Hi-B, the Long Valley, the Castle Inn and Dennehy's on the Coal Quay could well match anything on offer in Dublin - seasoned with the smooth lies and witty asides of the fabled Cork repartee. There's a big pride in not genuflecting openly to heroes down South, and consequently stars like Roy Keane, Cillian Murphy and Graham Norton can stroll unhampered through the thickest crowd.

"The average Cork fella spots everything, but says nothing," as the late lamented Joe Lynch once told me.

The city may be home to global game-changers like Apple, Microsoft, EMC and Pfizer, but they've yet to invent an app for the Cork slang. A language as impenetrable as advanced Albanian for newcomers, it remains one of the city's enduring characteristics - and an endless puzzle for Silicon Valley heavy-hitters.

"Gildy, right enough, and well worth a flah if he don't get a fifty." Bewildered? "That chap is certainly a snappy dresser, and may well be in receipt of sexual intimacy if his date turns up." Probably the best piece of Cork slang, though, is the simplest: "I will, yeah," always translates as "Not a hope in hell, mate."

Don't dare talk about the second city inferiority complex, especially if you want to find yourself clasped to a Corkonian's bosom. The 'Dublin thing' is a rivalry that stretches back through the mists of time - even beyond the Long Fellow and the Big Fella. But leaving the Civil War aside - and that's no easy job in a city where T-shirts proclaim: 'Another Corkman shot in the back' beneath Collins's iconic image - a relentless spirit of one-upmanship against the capital is an always-on engine pumping this Southern pride.

"Sure look at Her Majesty, the only place that got a laugh out of her was Cork!" is the latest boast levelled against the Big Smoke.

The steadfast belief of the average Corkonian has remained undaunted through centuries of thick and thin - that there's no place in the world to beat it. Tommy Tiernan put it best: "If Neil Armstrong was a Corkman, as he took that first step on the Moon, he'd definitely have said: "Well, tis grand and all, but tis not Cork, like."

Irish Independent

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