The Friday View 25/11
The NTA is redrawing its BusConnects plan, the VQ, a city centre lobby group has a business plan, and Quiet Lights music festival returns.
The bridge over the Mangala in Douglas that nobody wanted will officially not go ahead. The National Transport Authority (NTA) released a brief statement this week confirming what most people expected. Some Cork City Councillors celebrated the people power in convincing the NTA to walk away from the traffic bridge, and it’s true that people did turn out at meetings in the Mangala and voice their concerns in the submissions process, but whatever hope the NTA had of getting the public on side for their 12 Sustainable Transport Corridors would surely have been lost if they ploughed through the Mangala with a bridge. Ciarán Meers, chairperson of Cork Commuter Coalition, told Tripe+Drisheen that the decision to scrap the bridge means that “green space is being protected, a misstep is being avoided, and most importantly Cork citizens are absolutely being listened to.”
Interestingly, Cork County Council breathed new life into the Mangala when they put a new path through the area a number of years ago, making it possible to get to Douglas by not taking the car.
But, victory here doesn’t solve the larger problem, which boils down to how we move around. It’s likely that whoever modeled the bridge over the Mangala saw it as a means of not driving traffic through the centre of Douglas. From a modeling point of view, that made sense. From every other point of view it made no sense. The problem in Douglas is replicated throughout Cork city, and you could sum it up as carmageddon.
The City Council is not unaware of this, as per this pronouncement in the introductory part of the MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme: “Cork City is heavily reliant on the car as a mode of transport. The high car dependency puts immense pressure on our current infrastructure with delays and congestion commonly experienced throughout our network.”
The most recent example from the City Council was a statement they issued the day after the Munster vs South Africa Game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, in which the people of Cork city were mostly at either one of two places: at the game or in their car (for hours on end). The tone of the City Council statement was nigh on despair: “The existing City street network does not have further capacity to accommodate increasing private car usage.”
It stopped short of saying give up your cars, but instead pointed to the upgrades in MacCurtain Street (see below) which it said are “needed to give people a viable, efficient bus service.” It did not elaborate.
BusConnects was never going to be a fixed plan, and we’ve seen already how it’s been changed. A small nature reserve rightly won out on this occasion, but the NTA still has some 3,000 submissions to go through. In the spring of 2023 there will be another round of public consultations. It’s a slow process, and the only constant will be traffic.
Manchester Mill, we salute you
We don’t often write about non-Cork stories on Tripe+Drisheen, in fact our remit is to stay focused on local issues in Cork. However, in setting up T+D we did talk with two local news publications based in the U.K. and both publishing on Substack. (FYI, Substack is a newsletter publishing platform, it’s pretty paired down, but it’s what gets the news we publish to you via email). As far as we know, Tripe+Drisheen is the only consistent local news publisher on Substack in Ireland.
To return to Manchester, Joshi Herrmann, the editor of The Mill, announced this week that they have become profitable, which is quite the achievement. They have surpassed 27,000 subscribers which includes 1,600 paying subscribers. We talked with Joshi right at the beginning of setting up T+D in early 2021. The Mill was about six to eight months or so ahead of us and and it now has a small team of full-time reporters and also added two new titles, the Liverpool Post and Sheffield Tribune.
Likewise, Natalie Bloomer and Sarah Ward of NN Journal in Northamptonshire were also very generous in their time with us when we were setting up Tripe + Drisheen. The two veteran journalists cover local news, especially local politics with a magnifying lens. For anyone from Manchester or Northamptonshire living in Cork, I recommend reading (and subscribing to) both of these publications. One difference, however, between our respective publications is that we have stayed away from erecting a paywall. Everything we publish on Tripe+Drisheen remains free for everyone in Cork (and beyond) to read. We’re extremely grateful to our paying subscribers who help fund Tripe+Drisheen. There is a model for independent, ad-free and in-depth local journalism. Your support helps.
News in brief
The VQ has a plan, and it’s sticking with that name
The VQ, a paid membership organisation based around MacCurtain Street, launched its business plan this week which covers the next few years. In short, it aims to make the area the “liveliest, most sustainable and cultured, best-connected neighbourhood in Ireland”. Lofty goals indeed. Local man Shane Clarke is the new director of operations at the VQ, having moved on from the Nano Nagle Place this summer. MacCurtain Street, the main thoroughfare in the area, is set for a major upgrade as the street will be converted back to two-way, the footpaths will be widened, two new bus stops will be added and the temporary footpaths will be taken up (they were installed in 2021 at a cost of €407,000). As well as MacCurtain Street, Coburg Street, Leitrim Street, St Patrick’s Quay and St Patrick’s Hill are all getting upgrades in a bid to give more room to pedestrians and cyclists. What’s interesting though is the model being adopted by the VQ, essentially getting together to create a lobby group to promote the area. Rates to join run from €250 up to €5,000 per year depending on the size of the business. The area covered by the VQ stretches down to the Horgan’s Quay where Apple have installed some of their employees. On the southside of the city Douglas Street has a business group and they are responsible for organising the annual street festival.
Out + About
🦆The migrant birds of Cork
Harper’s Island Wetlands, a 30 hectare low-lying island in the Glounthaune Estuary/Slatty Water complex, is an important feeding and roosting refuge for many species of wintering waterbirds including the Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, Shelduck, Teal, Little Grebe, Golden Plover, Dunlin and Redshank. Located just off the N25, the nature reserve is supported by a team of voluntary organisations including Bird Watch Ireland, local groups in Glounthane and Cork County Council. Starting this Saturday, and continuing each month, there will be a guided nature walk through Harper’s Island. The nature walk is a great way to learn more about the flocks of wintering birds that decamp there en route to points all over the globe. All are welcome, but strictly no dogs. Meeting at the main gate.
Time, date, place: 11am, Saturday November 26, Harper’s Island Wetlands, Glounthane
🎶Quiet Lights, sound bath
Readers of Tripe + Drisheen might be familiar with musician and filmmaker Myles O’Reilly as Ellie interviewed him earlier this month for our Arts+Culture newsletter. Fresh from having his film A City Under Quiet Lights screen at the Cork International Film Festival, Myles will be back on Leeside as part of the Quiet Lights music festival which kicked off on Thursday this week. Myles will be playing a free gig at St. Peter’s on North Main Street this Sunday, performing a three-hour piece called Ambient Pharmacy alongside Gareth Redmond and Simon O’Reilly. As Ellie wrote, it’s billed as a “sound bath,” but the improvised performance is free for audience members to leave and enter at will. For the full line-up of concerts and events for Quiet Lights which kicked off yesterday and runs until Sunday, check the program here.
Time, date, place: 2pm, Sunday November 27, St Peter’s, North Main Street
🖼Radical Institutes comes to Fitzgerlald’s Park
Catarina Araújo, Neo Gilson, Seiko Hayase, Jerome Jefferson Kiyemba all members of the Radical Institute are taking part in a new Sample-Studios exhibition at the Pavillion in Fitzgerald’s Park. We featured Japanese artist Seiko Hayase recently on T+D, and she’ll be joined by the other three artists who were all born outside Ireland and have been supported by the Radical Institute at Studios of Sanctuary and Sample-Studios. The four artists work in mediums that are as different as their backgrounds.
Time, date, place: 11am - 4pm, Tuesday - Sunday until December 3, The Lord Mayor’s Pavillion, Fitzgerald’s Park
✍️Fiction at the Friary
The monthly meeting of writers and readers takes place this Sunday when poet and author James Harpur will be in conversation with writer Fiona Whyte at the Friary Bar. Originally from the UK, James taught in Crete and worked a number of jobs there. Along the way he’s written eight collections of poetry but turned his hand to fiction with his debut novel, The Pathless Country, set in the years leading up to the 1916 Rising. The Pathless Country was shortlisted for the John McGahern Prize. James lives near Clonakilty and is a member of Aosdána. More information here.
Time, date, place: 3pm to 6pm, Sunday November 27, The Friary Bar, 62 Shandon Street
This week on T +D
On Monday Ellie wrote about how City Council allocated funding for the renovation of the Butter Exchange in Shandon could result in work starting as early as next year. The historic building is set to be turned into a tech hub with co-working office spaces. Full story here.
On Tuesday we published a news story about the plans to restore Leap’s “rainforest”. The initiative, spearheaded by local activists, is inviting volunteers on a “meitheal” this weekend to plant native trees. Full story here.
On Thursday Ellie wrote about West Cork singer-songwriter Molly O'Mahony who performed at Coughlan’s as part of the opening night of Quiet Lights. Molly launched her album The House of David on the night. You can also catch Molly launching the album closer to her home at Levis’ Corner House, Ballydehob on Saturday, November 26. Tickets here.
That’s it for this week’s Friday View. Be sure to stop by tomorrow for our weekly Arts+Culture newsletter. Any tips, news or events you’d like to share with Tripe+Drisheen, contact Ellie at email@example.com. 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.