Monday 15 October 2018

County of Cork holds first Creative Ireland conference

Heritage highlights

Conor Nelligan, County Heritage Officer

Last week, Cork County's first Creative Ireland Conference was held over two days with close to 20 speakers.

There was a wonderful cultural evening on the first night, featuring Cathal Roche on saxophone performing Ian Wilson's 'Thresholds', the local Youghal Comhaltas Group, and an inspiring performance by Peadar Ó Riada.

The Conference delved into many different aspects of culture with the wonderful variety of speakers giving a great overview of cultural activity within the County of Cork.

The Conference also allowed ample time to explore and discuss Creative Ireland as a whole. The talks were most worthwhile, and identified areas requiring greater attention and focus within the county from a community and cultural perspective, but also identified many positive aspects.

What was taken from the conference was a real recognition of the importance of Creative Ireland and a real sense of ambition as to what can be achieved both at the individual level, at community leven and even national level.

The National Creative Ireland Conference/Forum will take placein Dublin Castle on Wednesday, December 13.

With regard to the Creative Ireland Programme, each Local Authority is currently in the process of undertaking a five year Cultural and Creativity Strategy. Cork County Council has held eight workshops around the county to stimulate talk, discussion and ideas, meeting with close to 100 people in the process. Written submissions are also being invited, now with an extended deadline date of Friday December 1st, 2017. To make a submission and to find out more about the Creative Ireland Programme and how you can get involved see or email

Under Creative Ireland, culture and heritage within the country will see a much greater focus over the coming years, particularly with regard to our cultural infrastructure (Strand III of the Creative Ireland Programme). Cultural infrastructure does not just include buildings and sites of cultural significance but also our collections.

In this regard, Minister for Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys has just announced funding of over €2 million for the National Library of Ireland's 'Towards a Republic' cataloguing and digitisation project, marking the second phase of the decade of commemorations from 1917 to 1923. It will see the digitisation of some of the personal papers of the signatories of The Treaty in preparation for the centenary of the foundation of the State. The digitised papers will be made openly available online on a phased basis between 2018 and 2023, and the National Library will publicise each major tranche of papers as they become available.

These rich archives reveal the social, cultural and political context of the period, enabling everyone to explore key moments such as suffrage, the 1918 elections, the first and subsequent Dáils, the Peace Conference, the Anglo-Irish War, the Treaty negotiations, and the Civil War. Personal papers of John Devoy, Arthur Griffith, Rosamond Jacob, Annie O'Farrelly, John Redmond and the Sheehy Skeffingtons (Hannah Sheehy Skeffington being from Kanturk of course), amongst many others, provide complex insights into the events and personalities that shaped the later revolutionary period and Civil War. They go beyond the experience and perspectives of the individuals themselves through their correspondence and interaction with diverse and opposing figures and organisations.

Speaking of the scheme Minister Humphreys noted that there will be a large public appetite for these materials, which will reveal the social, cultural and political context of the period. "The importance of digitisation was really underlined during the 2016 centenary year, when a number of our National Cultural Institutions made a wealth of material available online for the first time," she said.

With regard to upcoming events in Cork County this week, as always there are a few that catch the eye. On Thursday 23rd November, at 8pm in the Parish Centre, Clonakilty, there will be a talk regarding John F. Kennedy and his connection with West Cork. The talk will give a full overview of the different strands of John F. Kennedy's ancestry, and will deal with the previous and little publicised visits that he made to Ireland in 1945 and 1947. The aftermath of JFK's death in 1963 will also be dealt with, including the deeply suspicious circumstances surrounding his shooting. The talk will be given by Fachtna McCarthy, a native of Woodfield, Clonakilty, where one of JFK's ancestors, Mary Sheehy, was born.

On Thursday 30th November there will be a talk in Ballygarvan regarding 'Crime and Punishment in Victorian Cork'. The talk, commencing at 8pm, and taking place in Ballygarvan Community Centre, will be given by Ronnie Herlihy, renowned historian and author. All welcome.

The month of December kicks off with a talk on Cork City before 1916 by Michael Lenihan, another renowned historian and author. Taking place in the Ballincollig Rugby Club at 8pm, the event is being organised by the Muskerry Local History Society and is certain to see a high attendance. Everybody is welcome to attend.

Next week's column will take a look at many of the further heritage events scheduled for the month of December and will also touch on Cork County Council's latest publication 'Heritage Castles of County Cork'.