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Visiting Cork City, Ireland, and its City Hall: neo-Classical splendour beside the Lee River

Updated on March 30, 2012
Flag of the Republic of Ireland
Flag of the Republic of Ireland | Source
Cork City Hall
Cork City Hall | Source
Cork City and the Lee River Southern Channel by night
Cork City and the Lee River Southern Channel by night | Source
Map location of Cork City, Ireland
Map location of Cork City, Ireland | Source

Reflecting grace and history

This fine building, housing Cork City Council, was officially opened in 1936.

This neo-Classical structure in Cork City (Irish: Corcáigh ) replaced a previous building burned by British forces in 1920. Executed in limestone, the building is noted for its Doric columns. Particularly when the light is suitable, the lines of the building reflect impressively in the waters of the adjacent Lee River (Irish: An Laoi ).

The building is the headquarters of Cork CIty Council (Irish: Comhairle Cathrach Chorcaí ). The Chairman (Irish: Cathaoirleach ) of the Council has the grand title of Lord Mayor of Cork. If this may be supposed by some people to designate some kind of British Imperial association, it is in fact far from the case that there is any current link with British institutions designated by the term 'Lord Mayor' in this context. Indeed, although the title Lord Mayor of Cork was designated by Queen Victoria in 1900, two particularly famous Lords Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney and Tomás Mac Curtain, were strongly Republican. The first Mayor of Cork was thus designated in the year 1273.

There are three cities in Ireland, the administrative heads of which are entitled to use the term 'Lord Mayor': Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, and Cork City. Cork City is also a regional capital, firstly of the county which also bears its name; at 190,000 inhabitants, it is also the largest city of the historic province of Munster. The fact that the title 'Lord Mayor' may be used by its administrative leader is a tribute to the city's size and historical distinction (2). It is thus fair to say that local identities in Ireland are especially strong; indeed, Ireland's county councils have a formal role in the nomination of candidates to the Presidency of Ireland.

The building's foundation was laid in 1932 by Eamon de Valera, then President of Ireland's Executive Council (1).

The city has been associated with various eminent Irish leaders in the 20th century; Cork City was where the remains of Irish Commander-in-Chief Michael Collins were brought in 1922 after his assassination, and Taoiseach Jack Lynch had close associations with the city.


(1) Under Ireland's 1937 Constitution, this head of government post was renamed Taoiseach .

(2) In very rough terms, the use of the term 'Lord Mayor' for civic dignitaries of major cities in Ireland corresponds very roughly with the use of the term 'Lord Provost' for their opposite numbers in some of the larger cities in Scotland.

Also worth seeing

In Cork City itself, other noted buildings include Shandon Church, with its famous bells, Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral and University College, Cork.

Cobh (distance: 22 kilometres) is noted its ecclesiastical architecture and the Lusitania memorial.


How to get there: Aer Lingus flies from New York and Boston to Dublin Airport, from where car rental is available. Bus Éireann operates bus services to Cork City from Dublin's Busárus (bus station). Irish Rail operates rail services from Dublin Heuston Station to Cork City. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

For your visit, these items may be of interest


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