The Friday View 30/09
It's festival season once more as IndieCork Film Festival and Cork Folk Festival take over. We have a few recommendations for both. And BusConnects looms large.
Thirty days had September. And now they’re all gone. Time is also ticking down at the submissions portal on BusConnects, the radical plan to improve public transport in Cork city. The deadline for public submissions is October 3 and you can do so online here.
As of writing this there are more than 820 submissions regarding the plans for the 12 new Sustainable Transport Corridors. Taken individually and all together the submissions provide granular detail about the concerns from locals, residents, bus users and many others too. For example, Green Spaces Cork in their submission, highlighted the need for ‘green’ bus shelters, which would have a “green roof to support biodiversity and clean air.” As they point out these exist elsewhere, and why not in Cork? They even offer to help on the design.
The vast majority of submissions however are focused elsewhere, and that elsewhere is given over to cars and how new lanes or extensions will change land use. BusConnects was never going to have an easy ride. Public transport in Ireland has been underfunded for generations and in that time car ownership has skyrocketed. For example, the number of licensed vehicles in Ireland increased by 179%, from an average of 960,000 in 1985-1989 to 2.7 million in 2017. The car is king in Cork, just as it is in every other Irish city. We have a car dependency problem as much as we have public transport problem. Stand outside any primary school gate any morning of the week if you have any doubt about this.
Essentially, what BusConnects and to a lesser extent improving cycling infrastructure are trying to do is get people out of cars and onto public transport (or active travel). But, you can’t make a better bus network without breaking eggs, to mix up a proverb.
Reading through the submissions a pattern develops. Firstly, most of those who have submitted are doing so to object, although there are a minority who voice full support for the proposals. The objectors (uniformly they nearly all commence with “I object”) preface their objections by stating they are for public transport but not with the changes coming down the road, or their road.
Some objections clearly exhibit a failure of imagination; for example that businesses would never survive without cars being able to park outside their front door. This same line of reasoning was also used to block pedestrianisation of streets ad nauseam. Anti-social behaviour is also another reason deployed in objections on the NTA portal.
Certainly, there are many who are concerned about how their property or their environs will be affected by proposed changes, but I think we also have to consider how public space is used, or how it should be used?
BusConnects is long overdue in many regards, and some of the proposed routes and extended links are long overdue. It’s also wrong in areas (such as the proposal for a bridge over the Mangala on the southside of the city). Full disclosure, I live near the Mangala and use the path almost daily on the school walk and while I can see what planners were attempting - creating a bus route that does not go through Douglas Village - I’m not sure any of them ever actually visited the Mangala first.
Changes are coming, the biggest one of all being climate change. We have to decide what sacrifices we need to make for the greater good, and for the generations to come. Collectively we’re a bridge to future generations. What type of public transport system we build or don’t matters. Greatly.
News in brief:
Douglas Street’s car-free day of fun at Autumn Fest 2022 last Sunday, September 25, saw the street thronged with happy people enjoying themselves. A large programme of events included Pitch’d Circus Festival, a silent disco, historical walking tours and everything else the street’s vibrant small business community could muster. A very impressive turn-out on the day, with the street closed to traffic from 8am to 7pm.
The Kanturk Castle Walkway was officially opened this week in the North Cork town. According to a press release from Cork County Council the 332-metre walkway, funded by the Council and the Department of Rural and Community Development, cost €212,900. The walkway runs parallel with the main road and forms part of “Jacko’s Loop,” a 5km route in the town.
Sirens: A new fire station was opened this week in Macroom, near to the new Garda Station on the Gurteenroe Road. The two stations are located close to the new bypass which is slated to open fully in early 2024. The new fire station will be staffed by a crew of 10, which includes a station officer, sub-station officer, driver/mechanic and seven firefighters. According to the County Council there are 20 fire stations located across the county, staffed by 200 firefighters.
Sod turning: Ground work has begun at Water Rock, close to Carrigtwohill in East Cork. The 160 hectare site will eventually have a mix of 2,500 houses and apartments, three schools, a neighbourhood centre, a railway station and parks. Construction will take place in three phases. Construction firm BAM have started work on the first phase estimated to cost €8.5m and which will see access roads built across the site.
Mummy on campus: Over on CorkBeo Gavin O’Callaghan followed up on a picture of a mummy spotted at UCC which had been doing the rounds on Twitter. The Egyptian sarcophagus is believed to be in the possession of UCC for at least 100 years. Exactly how it ended up at UCC is contested. Ralph Riegel, writing in The Independent in 2010, reported that an Egyptian Embassy official visited UCC to resolve the dispute over ownership of the mummy. The mummy is that of an adult male who lived around 300BC, while the coffin is from Thebes and dates back to between 600BC and 700BC. The mummy hit the headlines a good few decades ago when “one academic decided to store it under the floorboards of a lecture theatre.” UCC confirmed to CorkBeo that they're in possession of the sarcophagus, and that it's routinely looked at and maintained.
In this week’s budget the government introduced a new Vacant Homes Tax which campaigners have been calling for, for years. However, the version that’s been drafted and approved has been roundly criticised. For starters, it doesn’t include derelict properties. Instead it will be targeted at homes that are occupied for fewer than 30 days in a 12-month period.
The Irish Times estimated that the self-assessed tax is likely to bring in as little as €3 million a year, a small amount given that there are an estimated 90,000 vacant homes across the country.
Photo of the week
Out + About
📕Paul Brady will be at the City Library next Wednesday where he’ll be in conversation with PJ Coogan about his new book, aptly titled Crazy Dreams. Brady has been composing and touring for more than 60 years. The former Planxty member won’t be playing in Cork anytime soon. Free entry.
Time, date, place: 6.30pm, Wednesday October 6, Cork City Library.
🎭Extraordinary, Ordinary Women, written and performed by Karen Minihan, will be staged tonight at the Independence Museum in Kilmurray. First up on the night is Home Rules, a short play performed by Pauline O’Driscoll. Tickets €10.
Time, date, place: 8pm, Friday October 30, Independence Museum, Kilmurray
🎬Don’t miss this dark horse: Myles O’Reilly’s extraordinary and beautiful documentary about the life of balladeer Liam Weldon knits together archive footage, interviews with Wheldon’s family and performances from Damien Dempsey, Radie Peat of Lankum, Lisa O'Neill and others to paint a portrait of a singular figure who trod his own path and whose legacy should not be lost in the mists of time.
“It didn’t matter if it was Pavarotti who was singing or the woman next door. It didn’t matter who. It all stems from the one thing: whether heart is in it or not,” Weldon says in the film, and there is certainly heart in this documentary. It’s being presented by both IndieCork Film Festival and Cork Folk Festival, so you get to say you’ve been attending both festivals at once: multitasking at its most enjoyable.
Time, date, place: 4pm, Sunday October 2 at The Gate Cinema. Tickets at ticket office but IndieCork have a season ticket that’s very reasonable if you’re planning on seeing a lot.
🖼Desire Lines: Artists Debbie Dawson and Helle Helsner will be in conversation with Róísín Foley about their show Desire Lines which is currently showing at The Lavit Gallery on Wandesford Quay. This week the Office of Public Works purchased a piece each from Dawson, a painter and lecturer at the Crawford Art College, and sculptor Helsner. More information here.
Time, date, place: 12pm, Saturday October 1, Lavit Gallery.
🎬IndieCork Film Festival: The film fest kicks off this weekend. The main venue is the Gate Cinema and there’ll also be some screenings at The Roundy on Daunt Square. There is, as you would expect, lots in show, but it’s not just film.
Man-about-town Ronan Leonard will be taking a look back at the year in music videos made in Cork at The Roundy on October 5 at 7:30pm, while Boa Morte will be playing the same venue on Friday October 7 at 7:30pm along with a screening of a film from Max le Caine, video art from Breda Lynch and poetry from Billy Ramsell and Fergal Gaynor.
Sticking with film here’s one fans of Pat Ingoldsby will defeintely be interested in - a new documentary on the Dublin poet and writer.
“DUBLIN IS THE ONLY CITY I KNOW WHERE AN OLD MAN WILL QUITE NATURALLY INVOLVE HIMSELF IN A CONVERSATION BETWEEN YOU AND A TOURIST MAP.”
-Pat Ingoldsby, lunchtime on Nassau Street, June 10 1997
Ingoldsby is a singular talent and his life and writings are celebrated in The Peculiar Sensation of Being Pat Ingoldsby by Seamus Murphy. It screens on October 6 at 6:30pm the Gate Cinema. Full programme for the IndieCork here.
Time, date, place: September 29 - October 9 in person at The Gate Cinema and The Roundy, online screenings for a further week until October 16.
⚾️Bowling anyone? Proving that anything can come from an art exhibition, Mockism (Micheál O’Connell), currently exhibiting at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen, has teamed up with Carberry Road Bowling to offer an introduction to the ball game which is still flourishing in West Cork. It’s all going on over at the Showground. The meeting point is Uillinn, where you can check out System Interference. Free, but booking essential. More information here.
Time, date, place: 2pm, Saturday October 1, Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre
🎶That’s the sound of folk: The 43rd Cork Folk Festival kicked off last night and runs across the weekend in venues all over Cork city. If you’re unsure where to start, An Spailpín Fánach on South Main Street is as good as anywhere. There are workshops galore and concerts from some of the best trad and folk musicians from across Cork and the country.
One highlight is tonight’s (October 30) gig featuring Caitlín Nic Gabhann, Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, Seamie O’Dowd and Leonard Barry at An Spailpín Fánach. Barry is one of the best pipers in Ireland and he’s in stellar company with fiddler Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, concertina player Caitlín Nic Gabhann and guitarist Seamie O’Dowd. If you’re in Fitzgerald’s Park on Sunday October 2, from 2pm the musicians of Torcán, Douglas Comhaltas will be bringing their trad to the Park for a celebration of Irish music.
Time, date, place: various venues across the city until October 2. Full programme here.
This week on T +D
On Tuesday Ellie reported that Cork County Council voted to freeze Local Property Tax for two years amidst voter backlash fears. The Council's executive pushed for a doubling of Local Property Tax because they say services including libraries and housing repairs will be hit hard by a €27 million budget deficit in 2023….but a €15 million increase in the council’s own wage bill is largely responsible for the €16 million funding gap for 2023. You can read that story here.
On Wednesday Ellie was at the launch of the IndieCork Film Festival at The Roundy to get the low down on the 10th roll of the dice for the film festival. Full story here.
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