Sunday 16 June 2019

Cork to commemorate 150th anniversary of Fenian Rising

Conor Nelligan, County Heritage Officer

2016 was a truly memorable year from a commemorative perspective, with over 500 events organised by more than 200 community groups within the County of Cork. 2017, too will also be a busy year from a commemorative perspective, as indeed will be the next number of years.

The commemorative focus in Cork for 2017 will be the 150th anniversary of the Fenian Rising and in November of this year, the 150th anniversary of the Manchester Martyrs. The Manchester Martyrs were three men - Michael Larkin, Michael O'Brien and William Allen (the latter two both from Cork; Ballymacoda and Bandon, respectively) - who were hanged in Manchester for their part in the Fenian resistance against the English.

2017 too, will be busy come the month of May, when the County of Cork remembers the arrival of the US Navy (May 4th, 1917) and their presence in the County of Cork - namely Cork Harbour and Beara - during World War One, having joined the War less than one month previously, on April 6th 1917.

A number of significant events on Ireland's journey to independence also took place during 1917, including the death of Thomas Ashe in September 1917 and the reorganisation of the Irish Republican Army in October, which saw Eamon De Valera elected as president and Michael Collins as Director for Organisation. Rest assured then that the commemorative spirit shown in the county during 2016, is likely to continue for many years to come.

One manner in which this energy will be channelled will be through the recent initiative launched by the Government - Creative Ireland. This is a 2016 legacy project which sets out to harness the country's culture and heritage over the coming years. The document sets out that due to the centenary commemorations in 2016 "we rediscovered the power of cultural creativity to bring communities together, and to strengthen our sense of identity. That is why it became obvious that we should build a legacy of 2016 around our cultural heritage". The document furthermore sets out that: "Promoting creativity provides us with a strategy for individual wellbeing, social cohesion and economic success" and that, "the Creative Ireland Programme is an invitation to the entire country to get involved in something truly inspirational". Further information on this exciting initiative will be mentioned in the coming weeks.

Speaking of the coming weeks, the end of the month will see the commencement of a very beneficial Museums Course in County Cork. The course, which is geared towards museums and local groups is entitled 'Museum Basics' and was devised by the Irish Museums Association and the Heritage Council. It is aimed at smaller and voluntary-run museums, over a four-week period. Those attending will be trained on the nature, context and operation of museums including management; conservation; display; collection care; documentation; external relations; and education & access. The County of Cork is very lucky to possess a number of important artefacts and this course will work towards ensuring that they receive the appropriate care, protection and promotion.

This course, which incurs a nominal fee, will be held in Cobh in 2017, commencing at the end of January and running for four consecutive Saturdays (January 28th and February 4th, 11th and 18th). Places are very limited and for further information contact the Heritage Unit of Cork County Council by emailing

From a natural heritage perspective ,now is a very important time with regard to inputting into how biodiversity will be shaped and managed in Ireland over the next number of years. The Draft National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021 is available for public consultation, with submissions invited up until 20th January 2017. This will be a very important document and to see and comment on same visit the National Parks and Wildlife Service by visiting

In relation to upcoming events there are a few of interest on the horizon for this week. Thursday 12th January at 8pm in Blarney Secondary School, Blarney, will see a talk by Kieran Wyse entitled 'Revolution on the Airwaves'- 1966: How the Broadcasting Media celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising'.

In 1966 the broadcast media were at the forefront in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Those celebrations were not unlike those that took place last year but had to be choreographed rather differently because of the large number of participants who were still alive 50 years on. Kieran Wyse will tell how Radio and Telefís Éireann rose to that challenge by relaying not only scholarly lectures and reflections but also exciting television drama and some very popular rebel songs.

On Tuesday 17th January there is a further talk which should be of interest to many. This will take place in the Social Services Centre in Mallow at 8pm and will examine the years of the Irish Revolution following 1916, with a focus on Munster. The event has been organised by the Mallow Field Club and the guest speaker on the night is Dr. John Borgonovo, lecturer and author. All are welcome to attend and admission is €3 to cover costs on the night.

On Monday 23rd January the County Hall will host an evening of reflection regarding the commemorations of 2016. More on this once-off event will be mentioned in next week's article.