Friday 14 December 2018

Bring out the cúpla focal for Seachtain na Gaeilge

All About Cork - Heritage Highlights

Conor Nelligan, County Heritage Officer

The start of the month of March coincides with Seachtain na Gaeilge and National Tree Week. Whether planned this way or not, the connection really is a fascinating one as we look back some 2,000 years to the origins of the Ogham Alphabet.

Ogham is the earliest known form of writing in the Irish language, and the Ogham alphabet itself is widely known as the language of trees; largely based on individual letters signifying specific trees native to Ireland. Take for example the first letter of the alphabet which is Beithe (for Birch) and the fourth letter, Sail, which stands for willow (commonly known in Ireland as 'sally'.

Trees at this time occupied a very important part of life, recognized no more so than in the early Law Tracts or Brehon Law, which imposed harsh penalties on anyone found to damage or interfere with a tree. Indeed, many of Ireland's placenames are based on the letters (or trees) of Ogham, take for example Doire or Derry, derived from Ogham's fourth letter Dair, meaning Oak. Therefore, in learning about our trees, we are learning about the very language that defines us as an Irish people.

The Irish language is a language is to be proud of, and 2018 is a great year to celebrate the language and what it means to us. 2018, Bliain na Gaeilge, 125 years on since the Irish Revival of the late 19th Century, provides a wonderful opportunity to really connect with our language. If everyone learned 10 new sayings in Irish, whether for the first time, or in addition to an already healthy Irish vocabulary, and used them in conversion regularly, the year would undoubtedly have already been a success. 'Please', 'thank you' and 'how are you' are phrases that the majority of people know in Irish, yet how often do we even hear these terms in daily life? By introducing such phrases into our daily comhrá with one another and while out and about it will remind us all of our common heritage - nothing to lose and all to gain from a cultural perspective.

One of the highlights of Bliain na Gaeilge this year is undoubtedly be Seachtain na Gaeilge, running from March 1st to 17th, Saint Patrick's Day. For full details of all that is happening in the County of Cork and elsewhere visit and/or Given the connection between the Irish language and our native Irish trees, participation in National Tree Week is also very much encouraged.

With thanks to Ted Cook, a number of Tree Week events will take place in the Mid Cork area over the week. On Sunday, 4th March, from 13:00 to 15:30, there will be a tree week planting event taking place on a dedicated two-acre site in Macroom's Castlegrounds, across the way from the Macroom Golf Clubhouse.

Attendees are asked to meet at the Macroom Castle Entrance Arch at 1pm and during the event Ted will also give an introduction to Veteran Tree Care in Historic Landscapes.

Two days later sees another event by Ted Cook in Macroom, this time commencing in Macroom Library at 12 noon. In recognition of Tree Week Ted will give a talk on Ascendancy Landscapes, and this will be followed from 13:00 to 15:30 by tree planting at the Castlegrounds site.

A few days later again, on Sunday 11th March, Ted will lead a walk in St. Gobnait's Woods, Baile Mhúirne. Attendees are to meet at 2pm at the Entrance carpark to the woodland (just over the bridge across the way from the Mills Pub). At the event Ted will give a talk on habitat continuity and pressures at St. Gobnait's Wood, and the event will also include the planting of trees.

It is hoped that all Tree Week events will be well attended and for full information on National Tree Week itself visit visit or Cork County Council's Heritage website -

National Tree Week aside, the upcoming week will see a further range of heritage events taking place. Thursday 1st March sees a talk on the life and times of Terence McSwiney, former Lord Mayor of Cork City, who died on hunger strike on October 25th 1920 in Brixton Prison. The talk, which has been organised by the Blarney and District Historical Society, takes place in Blarney Secondary School at 8pm and will be given by historian Liam Ó hÚigín. For further information, visit

The following evening, Friday 2nd March, sees an evening of art at the Independence Museum in Kilmurry, commencing at 8pm. Organised by the Kilmurry Historical and Archaeological Association, the evening will see an exhibition of some wonderful paintings, the majority of which are from the Richard Wood Collection at Fota House, depicting images of the Irish Landscape in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Music and refreshments will be provided on the night and the cost is €10. For further information, visit

2018 is a year that will see a number of commemorations, with one of the main ones being the Centenary of Universal Suffrage, where in 1918, women over the age of 30 were permitted by Government to vote for the first time.

In recognition of International Women's Day and as part of the Creative Ireland Programme in the County of Cork, on Thursday 8th March, a wonderful panel discussion will take place at County Hall, hosted and organised by Cork County Council's Library Service. The discussion, which is titled '100 Years On - How Far Have We Come', commences at 12:30 and will be chaired by author Denyse Woods, with panelists including Colette Sheridan, Rola Abu Zeid O'Neill, Liz Maddox and Fiona Finn. The event is free and all welcome, however advance booking is required by emailing or phoning 021 4546499