Friday 18 January 2019

History of County Hall gives us something to look up to

All About Cork - Heritage Highlights

Conor Nelligan, County Heritage Officer

The month of April is seeing plenty of activity with regard to heritage throughout the County. One day of note is April 16th, the 50th anniversary of the official opening of Cork County Council's HQ - the County Hall.

Designed by Cork County Architect Patrick McSweeney, Cork County Hall was at the time of its completion in 1968 the tallest building in Ireland at 64.3 metres, retaining this status up to 2008 when surpassed by The Elysian.

In recognition of the occasion, an exhibition will go on display on April 16th at 1pm in the foyer telling the story of County Hall, from inception to completion. Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Declan Hurley together with Chief Executive of Cork County Council will also unveil a commemorative plaque.

Another day this April to take note of is Wednesday 18th, which is the International Day for Monuments and Sites, established under the 22nd UNESCO General Conference in 1983. This international date is organised by ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), who work for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places. It is the only global non-government organisation of this kind, which is dedicated to promoting the application of theory, methodology, and scientific techniques to the conservation of the architectural and archaeological heritage.

The 2018 theme for the ICOMOS International Day for Monuments and Sites is Heritage for Generations, recognising that sharing stories and the transfer of knowledge between generations is a crucial step in cultural development, characterising the human experience since time immemorial. For more information on the day itself and/or the work of ICOMOS visit

Here in the County of Cork there are over 19,000 recorded monuments and sites included in the national Archaeological Inventory, which is called the Sites and Monuments Record or SMR for short. The SMR contains details of all monuments and places where it is believed there is a known monument pre-dating AD 1700, from the earliest monuments in existence right up to the turn of the 18th century. In Cork, our earliest archaeological sites date back over 9,000 years extending into the 19th century, including prehistoric tombs, mines, ritual sites, Early Christian Ringforts and monasteries, medieval castles, churches, and abbeys.

Across Ireland there are in excess of 150,800 records in the SMR database. Every one of these monuments and sites has a story to tell and it is important to pass these stories on to the next generation. For further information on archaeology and to see the archaeology that exists in one's own locality visit

Storytelling, and using our country's heritage as the muse is very much part and parcel of Irish culture. Indeed, Irish culture consists of a plethora of different activities and undertakings, values and means of expression. In order to encourage creative endeavour through the medium of culture, during mid-April 2018 Cork County Council is set to announce the Creative Ireland County Cork Grant Scheme 2018. This grant scheme will seek to encourage individuals and groups throughout the County to really embrace the County's culture and to support their many undertakings, projects, events and initiatives.

Culture within the County of Cork is already faring very well with thanks to so many different groups and it is hoped that this scheme will add even greater value to the cultural output and indeed values within the County.

The Scheme will be guided by the key five themes of the National Creative Ireland Programme and will support many of the main priorities and actions set out in the County Cork Culture and Creativity five-year Strategy. These five-year strategies will set out the values and vision for culture within each of Ireland's Counties and will include a number of key actions. Plans to launch these strategies at the national level will be announced shortly.

With regard to heritage events scheduled for the coming weeks, there are certainly a few to take note of. On Thursday 12th April in Blarney a wonderful talk organised by Blarney & District Historical Society will take place in Blarney Secondary School, titled 'J.C. Fitzmaurice and the Flight of the Bremen'. On 15th June 1919, Alcock and Brown made the first successful non-stop crossing of the Atlantic, West to East, by aeroplane, making land near Clifden, Co. Galway. On the 12th April 1928, exactly 90 years ago this month, an Irishman, Commandant J.C. Fitzmaurice, an Irish aviation pioneer, along with two German aviators, Captain Hermann Koehl and Baron Gunther von Huenefeld, became the first airmen to make the much more difficult East to West trans-Atlantic crossing from Baldonnel Aerodrome to Greenly Island, Newfoundland.

After a series of hair-raising events, the trio eventually arrived in New York, to be greeted by dignitaries, vast crowds and ticker-tape parades. They received many awards and accolades in America and Germany, including Fitzmaurice being promoted to Major by the Irish Government. On the 12th of April at 8pm, historian Liam O'Brien will tell the fascinating story of this famous flight and what became of the now almost forgotten heroes. All welcome.

On Wednesday 18th April the annual County lecture of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society will take place at 8pm in the Independence Museum, Kilmurry. The talk is titled 'Mapping the Irish Revolution' and will be given by Donal Ó Drisceoil.

Donal was one of the Editors of the Award-winning publication 'Atlas of the Irish Revolution'; a 984 page tome that provides an overwhelming insight into the Irish Revolution from many different perspectives, published by Cork University Press in 2017. The talk is set to be a fascinating one and both prior to and after same, from 19:30 to 20:00 and again from 21:00 to 21:30, the museum exhibits of the Independence Museum will also be open and available to see.

Towards the end of the month there is a very useful day taking place for those around the country, including County Cork, who would like to get involved in Heritage Week 2018 (August 18th to 26th) by organising their own local event(s). Taking place in the National Museum, Collins Barracks, Dublin, on Friday April 27th, the Heritage Council has organised a day of training for Heritage Week organisers/local community groups. The day, which runs from 10:00 to 16:00, will include talks and workshops, with practical event planning advice, and the opportunity to share experiences with other organisers and the Heritage Council. Spaces at the event are limited and places can be booked by visiting