Jun 23 • 41M

Welcome to Gleann na Phúca

It's the Northside park undergoing a revival: now, funding is being sought by a group of artists for an ambitious new project to celebrate Cork city’s Glen River Park.

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Click play above for an audio interview with four of the Gleann na Phúca artists.

L-r: Julie Forrester, Tom Doig, Ann Dalton and Brian Leach at Glen River Park. Photo: Ellie O’Byrne

Art in the Park

Sirens and blackbirds, ride-on mowers and collared doves.

If you listen to the audio interview with four of the artists of Gleann na Phúca above, you’ll hear firm evidence both that you’re in a wonderfully secluded nature spot full of wildlife, and that you are in a busy city.

Glen River Park is contradictory in nature, a kind of liminal space: a transit point between more and less built up parts of the Northside, a former zone of industrial pollution as Goulding’s Glen, home to a fertiliser factory until the 1950s but now home to an impressive array of animal and bird life, a park with a bad reputation for antisocial behaviour, but which also used to be home to one of Cork’s most famous cultural figures, the composer Aloys Fleischmann.

Artists Julie Forrester and Tom Doig, writer Ann Dalton and composer Brian Leach are all keenly aware of the park’s idiosyncrasies and the nooks and crannies of its place in Cork history.

Apples growing at the well: formerly the orchard of the “engineer’s house.” Photo: Ellie O’Byrne

Their proposals make up three of six art projects that constitute Gleann na Phúca, an arts project that hopes to celebrate the Glen’s rich history, biodiversity and position as increasingly vital outdoor amenity as the city’s Northside expands.

On the day of our visit, other contributing artists - Eleanor Rivers, animators Annie Maher and Aaron Ross, and textile artists Macken + Magner - couldn’t make it, but you can check out all the proposals on the Gleann na Phúca website.

Fires and felling

The last time Tripe + Drisheen was in the Glen River Park it was to report on concerns about tree-felling in nesting season this past spring.

Tripe + Drisheen
Tree felling in Glen River Park was for "essential Health and Safety grounds"
Tree felling that took place in the Glen River Park between March 7 and March 9, within nesting season, wasn’t illegal because it was on essential health and safety grounds, according to Cork City Council. Locals, including Glen River Park campaigner Isaac Fay, who runs the @glenkingfishe…
Read more

Just a week later, fires - suspected arson - devoured the bracken and gorse on the steep valley walls and fire services didn’t respond to requests for help.

But the night before this visit, another fire, with a different outcome: the fire service did respond and quickly outed the third blaze in a year.

This seems to be, in part, thanks to heightened awareness of the Glen River Park as an amenity and, as you’ll hear in the audio interview, a lot of that came out of the increased respect for our immediate locality that seems to have accompanied the lockdowns of 2020.

In the meantime, a handful of campaigners, Julie Forrester amongst them, as well as Isaac Fey, who runs a Twitter account called The Kingfisher of the Glen, have been highlighting the need for more respect for the park’s burgeoning wildlife.

Piping at the Well: composer Brian Leach plays at the Well in the Glen River Park. Photo: Ellie O’Byrne

Public participation

But wildlife isn’t the only thing that the artists of Gleann na Phúca is interested in: they’re also exploring the rich social and cultural history of the park.

And they’d like your help. All public involvement and feedback is welcome. The launch details are below.

Gleann na Phúca’s project launch is on in the Atrium of Cork City Hall at 3pm on Friday, June 24. All the artists will be present and the public are welcome. Exhibitions are also running in Frank O’Connor Library in Mayfield and Blackpool Library, and all three will be open for public consultation and will run until July 1.

At 11am on Saturday 24, writer and producer Anne Dalton and textile artists Macken+Magner will present their proposals at Frank O’Connor Library in Mayfield.

At 3pm on Saturday 24, composer Brian Leach and artist Tom Doig will present their proposals in Blackpool Library.

Learn more about the project here.

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