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🔅The Friday View 06/10
The little things that make Cork, Cork. Fancy being Cork County Council's writer in residence? Plus our round-up of news and events for the week ahead.
It’s all in a name, or a letter
One of the things I like about journalism, especially with a good story, is that you'll find it spreads, and people will add to it (and correct it!). Essentially, it begets a conversation. That's how it was this week when Kilian McCann started a post on Tripe's Instagram with half a dozen photos of city centre pubs, all featuring distinctive lettering on the fascia, where the pub’s name is displayed. Plenty of people had plenty to say about the particular signage and its origins. Subsequently, Tom Spalding, a historian who has studied the lettering on pubs such as Callanan’s, The Constellation, and The Vicarstown Bar, dropped me a line with a paper on the very subject
As Tom outlines in his paper, “When We Were Modern; Corporate Identity in Cork Pubs 1960–69” Murphy’s Brewery once “owned over 200 pubs in Cork city and county; the largest chain of pubs then or since.”
“In 1961, Cork was estimated to have one pub per 200 citizens.Whilst it is recognised that many drinkers at the time were male, what is less well known is that from at least 1900 the bulk of Cork publicans were women (Ó Drisceoil and Ó Drisceoil, 1997: 121). Female drinkers however, were accommodated in ‘snugs’—small rooms separated from the main public bar.”
So how did that distinctive lettering - the so-called Italic ‘Egyptian’ - end up over the doors of so many pubs in the city? In the 1960s, British brewer Watney Mann took a 30% stake in Murphy’s and with the tie-up came the influence of Watney Mann’s design sensibilities. Tom has written at length on this subject, and indeed he will go into more detail on it in his forthcoming book on design in 20th Century Cork from Cork University Press (something to look forward to).
While the Watney Mann relationship with Murphy’s eventually turned sour - the British brewer went on to sell Guinness in its pubs in the UK - the impact of its branding and design via its House Identity Manual was a hit in Cork, especially as pubs that were not tied to Murphy's started to replicate, or imitate the Egyptian font, in the lettering over the door. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it also makes for a good social history of that time period when pubs in the city centre were being modernised. To this day that lettering still stands out, especially in an age when so much design is flattened, bland and frankly boring. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from the past, and maybe even imitate, or update it?
News in brief
The National Oversight and Audit Commission released its Local Authority Performance Indicator Report for 2022 at the end of September and, as you would expect from a body like that, it doesn’t hold back on the numbers. So here’s a quick look at some of those stats for Cork city and county:
As of the end of 2022, Cork City Council had 10,418 dwellings under its ownership having added 64 new properties to its portfolio for 2022, demolishing 28 and selling 20. For the County Council, the total number of dwellings for the end of 2022 stood at 8,004 with 422 added in that same year. 81 properties were sold and none were demolished.
On vacancy, 3.7% of Cork City Council owned property was vacant as of the end of last year, while over in the County it was higher at at 4.82%
Both local authorities take nearly a full year to get tenants into their own properties after they have been vacated (for Cork City Council it was an average of 58 weeks and for Cork County Council it was 49 weeks). However, when it comes to cost of rehousing, on average Cork City Council spent €14,617 while their counterparts in the County spent €35,601, the thirds largest amount of any local authority in Ireland.
There’s a lot, lor more in that NOAC report which we will return to in due course.
Green heroes: Nominations are now open for Cork Environmental Forum’s Annual Environment Awards. The awards recognise individuals, groups and businesses making an effort protect the environment, to restore it or to have a greater commitment to sustainability. Past winners have included Liberty Grill in Cork city centre, ornithologist Pat Smiddy and Liam Casey, director of Parks and recreation with Cork City Council. Nominations can be made here and the closing date is October 27.
Writer in residence: Applications are now open for Cork County Council’s writer in residence programme. The 10-month long residency starts in December and is open to all writers, poets, journalists, script writers and playwrights. Applicants don’t have to be based in Cork, but ideally they should be according to the Council. Worth €15,000, the successful applicant will stage writing workshops in the county’s five libraries so it will involve travelling, and a good deal of creativity. Full details here. Closing date for applications is October 21.
Tom Durkan Meats Limited has an application to open a “bespoke take away/restaurant” at 18 MacCurtain Street, in the former taxi base operated by Amer Cabs and Cara Cabs. A decision on that one is expected at the end of November. MacCurtain Street was back in local news this week as Michael Wall of Salvagem complained about the effect the upgrade is having on his business. From the outset the City Council said the construction work would be finished in final quarter of 2023, and they’re still on target according to local media reports. Tripe + Drisheen asked for an update from the lead engineer at the City Council, but didn’t get a response. Post construction the bigger issue will be how the “transformed” street will be used, and whether old habits of parking at will along the street will also be transformed?
Elsewhere, The High House on Blarney Street will live on only in memory as Cork-based property developers Bielsa House Limited have applied for planning permission to turn the vacant property into apartments.
Stat of the week: Cork city has 31 councillors - it would make an interesting vox pox to see how many people on Pana could name one, two…or all of them. Aodh Quinlivan writing this week in T+D on local government, shared this stat:
The council elected in May 2019 in Cork city had a ratio of one councillor per 6,800 citizens. This is a massive number in comparison to 1:120 in France, 1:210 in Austria and 1:350 in Germany.
🖼 Artist Matthew Sexton’s “My Stories” opens on October 12 in Bishopstown Library. From Kerry and living part of the week in Cork, Matthew has an intellectual disability and Autistic Syndrome Disorder and is supported by The Brothers of Charity Services Ireland Southern Region in Cork who provide him with residential and day services. A hugely talented and accomplished artist, My Stories is Matthew’s fourth solo exhibition. He has also taken part in a number of group exhibitions, most recently at the Connecting Artists exhibition, at the Royal College of Surgeons.
Time, date, place: 12-25 October, Bishopstown Library, Wilton, Cork
🎻The leaves are falling, the temperatures are dropping, and the sky is getting grey. Autumn is definitely here. Through the autumn and winter, the Crawford Art Gallery is hosting Music At Midday on the first Sunday of each month, at 12pm, in collaboration with MTU Cork School of Music. Harpist Anne-Marie Papin Labazordière and cellist Sokol Koka welcome the autumn with performances of three specially selected pieces of music: Chants d’arrière saison by Bernard Andrès, Nocturne by Fermo Bellini and Promenade à l’automne by Marcel Tournier. More information here. Meanwhile, also in the Crawford, the famous Harry Clarke room returns with the stained glass images Saint Mel, Bishop of Longford by Saint Patrick and The Meeting of Saint Brendan with the Unhappy Judas, which can be visited until November 18.
Time, date, place: 12pm, Sunday October 8, Crawford Art Gallery, Emmet Place, Cork.
🖼To Ashes is a two part installation by Russian artist Evgeniya Martirosyan currently being exhibited at the Laneway Gallery until November 18th. Based around current events in Russia, it was first started in 2021, with the principal body of work being a meditation based on mortality, impermanence and loss. Most recently, the artist added a piece built upon visuals inspired by Vladimir Putin's 2023 New Year's address to the nation, based around manipulated footage.
Time, date, place: October 5-November 18, Laneway Gallery, Shandon Street, Cork.
🎶Traditional Irish singer and lead of the Hothouse Flowers Liam Ó Maonlaí is in the rebel county tonight, where he plays an intimate solo show at Saint George’s Arts and Heritage Centre, Mitchelstown. Although the Hothouse Flowers are largely seen as a rock band with some soul influences, Ó Maonlaí’s solo work is largely based around sean nós, blues and folk.Tickets and information here.
Time, date, place: 8pm, Friday October 6, Saint George’s Arts and Heritage Centre, Church Street, Mitchelstown.
🎨Art Source, the country’s biggest art fair, takes place at City Hall over the weekend. Over forty artists will be exhibiting and selling their work, with many at an affordable price. This is a ticketed event, but it could be worth a nose over the weekend. Tickets and information here.
Time, date, place: 11am-9pm, Friday October 6-Sunday October 8, City Hall, Cork.
🚀It’s Space Week. Running from October 4-10, the week-long festival of all things astral features professional astrophysicists, artists, hobby astronomers, and space scientists coming together to tell us more about the universe. As part of it, there will be a Space Open Day at MTU, in the Cork School of Music, with a night sky tour with astronomer Danielle Wilcox. If you have a kid who’s mad about outer space and astronauts, pop in! More information here.
Time, date, place: 11am, Saturday October 7, Cork School of Music, Union Quay, Cork.
🤣Comedian Katie Boyle performs at Coughlan's Comedy Cavern tonight, with her show ‘Terapy’. Originally from Kildare, Boyle has been living in New York for the past eight years, and is beginning to make waves in the stand up scene there. Tickets and information here.
Time, date, place: 8:30pm, Friday October 6, Coughlan’s, Douglas Street, Cork.
🎨The Hideout Café has been establishing itself as a place to see art, and hosted an exhibition by Ukrainian artist Oksana Lebedeva a couple of months ago. It is currently Showcasing Polish Artists, until the beginning of December. The cafe itself is a hidden gem, with panoramic views over the city.
Time, date, place: October 1-December 7, The Hideout Café, Wellington Road, Cork.
This week on T+D:
On Tuesday, we published Kilian McCann’s long read from The Constellation with photos by Seán O'Mahony. The pair spent a good few hours with publicans Geraldine Buckley and Dave Finn as they recounted the long history of the intimate pub. Kilian will be visiting more bars in the city as part of our series of Cork’s historic pubs, and likely he’ll be sampling their stout too.
On Thursday, we had our first guest essay from Dr. Aodh Quinlivan who looked at the state of local government in Cork and Ireland. Aodh is well placed to write about this topic, as he studies and writes about it and also worked in local government. I firmly believe that more people want to know more about how local government works, at a granular and macro level, so it’s great to have academics such as Aodh contribute to this topic on T+D. You can read that piece below. Also, T+D welcomes op-ed or guest essays so please drop us a line if you’d like to write about a topic that’s dear to you. Contact info below.
That’s it for this week’s Friday View.
Any tips, news or events you’d like to share with Tripe+Drisheen, you can contact us via at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity. Get in touch. Have a lovely weekend.