Cork City

Services and Programmes

Between the 9 and 14 March a number of well-known Cork people shared their favourite books with other Constant Readers. This was a series of very special lunchtimes at the Central Library.

On Monday 9, February The Lord Mayor, Councillor Brian Birmingham, read a stunning extract from Cracking Cases: the story of Jim Donovan, a book by Niamh O’Connor. Mindful of the fast-approaching thirtieth anniversary of the tragic event, the Lord Mayor chose a chapter of the book that dealt with the investigation into the IRA murder of Lord Mountbatten. This is an extraordinary story of tireless forensic research and analysis. The Lord Mayor was followed by Mr. Ted Crosbie of the Irish Examiner who held his audience enthralled as he read a stirring chapter from The Two Chiefs of Dunboy by J.A.Froude, an historical novel first published in 1889. The chapter read by Mr. Crosbie describes a fast-paced duel between an English frigate, the Aeolus, out of Cork and the privateer, Doutelle, commanded by Morty O’Sullivan, in the waters of the Fastnett, Cape Clear and Crookhaven. The ebb and flow of the battle, the descriptions of seamanship and the sea, were all wonderfully communicated by someone with an obviously deep knowledge of Cork sail and sea-charts.

Lord Mayor at Cork People Read
Lord Mayor Cllr Brian Bermingham speaking at the Cork People Read event

On Tuesday 10 Councillor Tony Fitzgerald read extracts from two books by the much-loved Northsider and popular member of the Blarney Toastmasters Club, Pat McCarthy. Pat’s first book was Stories for All Ages; and his second volume, Cranking Up the Motor (Choice Publishing), continued the wonderful tradition of Cork story-telling and memoir. Councillor Fitzgerald interpreted these stories superbly. Thomas McCarthy, a member of the Library staff, read extracts from two much-neglected books by Daniel Corkery: The Threshold of Quiet and A Munster Twilight.

On Wednesday 11 Declan Hassett, the playwright, autobiographer and former Arts Editor of the Irish Examiner,  read a powerful extract from History’s Daughter, a memoir of Maire MacSwiney Brugha, the daughter of Terence MacSwiney. As author of the hugely successful memoirs, All Our Yesterdays, The Way We Were and Passing Through, Declan Hassett also recalled the much-maligned 1950s and how that decade contained marvellous events like An Tostal, a national Arts celebration that led to so many festivals in Ireland. Maire Bradshaw, the energetic and brilliant Director of The Poets’ House and Bradshaw Books, read an extract from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own as well as an early story by Listowel and Hennessy Award-winner, Catherine Coakley from The Box Under the Bed, an early anthology of women’s writing from that other maligned decade, the 1980s.

On Thursday 12 Stevie G., the celebrated and prize-winning Cork DJ and broadcaster, read from Gil Scott-Heron's The Vulture. Scott-Heron is a famous spoken-word soul, jazz and proto-rap poet, born in Chicago to a singer-mother and a father, Giles 'Black Arrow' Scott-Heron, who was the first black footballer to play for Glasgow Celtic. Scott-Heron wrote The Vulture as well as The Nigger Factory while a student at Lincoln University. He recorded many albums with Flying Dutchman and Arista Records, his single Angel Dust reaching no.15 position on the R&B charts in 1978. Troubled with cocaine abuse and HIV-positive, Scott-Heron served time in New York prisons, yet he continued to make music and poetry, appearing on the Blackalicious Blazing Arrow album in 2003 while on parole. Stevie G's empathy for Scott-Heron and his understanding of Gil's pioneering place in rap poetry and R&B was brilliantly communicated to the lunchtime audience in Grand Parade.
Stevie G. was followed by a superb reading by the charismatic, intellectual Director of the Cork Vision Centre, John X. Miller. John X. read from the fascinating, illustated book Dance me to the end of Love, based on the eponymous Leonard Cohen song. Listeners were also deeply moved by his reading from an Alistair Cooke broadcast from 1954, extracted from the much-admired Letters from America. This particular broadcast dealt with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on integrated schooling across America, a court ruling that had deep implications in the uphill battle against racism in the Deep South.
On Friday 13 Senator Dan Boyle of the Green Party created laughter and linguistic entertainment of a high order as he read extracts from the work of Myles na Gopaleen (or Flann O'Brien or Brian O'Nolan). Work-play and extreme solutions were the order of the day in the world of Myles, mitigated only by an anatomy of official clichés and an understated, ironic fury that characterised the political discourse of the 1940s and 1950s. Witty, sardonic and precise, Senator Boyle gave a perfect rendering of the best of Myles. Dan Boyle was followed by Ann Luttrell, a much-loved and hugely admired member of the staff of Triskel Arts Centre. A lifelong and constant reader as well as a huge enthusiast for literary readings and festivals, Ann re-created some of the energy and wit of the Triskel Short Story Festival of last year when she read a humorous story by the inimitable Tobias Wolf.

Liam, Leanne O'Sullivan, Kathleen Lynch
Kathleen Lynch TD, City Librarian Liam Ronayne, and poet Leanne O'Sullivan at the Cork People Read event
On Saturday 14 we had a bumper reading with City Librarian, Liam Ronayne, Kathleen Lynch TD and poet Leanne O'Sullivan. Liam Ronayne read superbly from John Banville's The Sea, an author and a book he has championed for many years. Kathleen Lynch, taking time out from a hectic political schedule, read from The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. This book is deeply moving and troubling as it depicts the radicalization of a highly educated Muslim working in America in the post 9/11 era as he faces the extremity of Western reactions. It is a book that should be read by anyone wishing to understand the force of emotions at work in personal as well as political life in the modern world of conflict. Kathleen also read from an even more famous, ground-breaking book, To Kill a Mocking-Bird by Harper Lee. Then, Leanne O'Sullivan, just recovering from the hugely successful launch of her own second collection of poems, Cailleach, at the Triskel Arts Centre, read a group of her favourite poems. Her favourites included The Promise by Sharon Olds, When You are Old by W.B. Yeats, Genetics by Sinead Morrissey and the wonderful poem beginning 'When all the others were away at Mass' by Seamus Heaney. It was a memorable and poetic end to a week-long Constant Reader encounter between books, readers and listeners.