Two Cork projects have won national heritage awards — a group from Castlemartyr that remembers the work of Cork-born White House landscapist, John Saul; and the Cork LGBT Archive.

Yesterday, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, recognised nine projects under the Heritage Council’s awards.

The Cork LGBT Archive was a runner-up in the Hidden Heritage Award category for its Queer Republic of Cork exhibition last year.

The exhibition showcased activism memorabilia from the 1970s through to the ’90s, such as leaflets, badges and posters. A book by the same name, Queer Republic of Cork, was also published.

“It is a real and significant recognition of LGBT history as an important part of Irish heritage,” Orla Egan of the archive told the Irish Examiner.

“It is also an important recognition of the significant role the Cork LGBT community played in bringing about social change in Ireland and respect and equality for the LGBT community in Ireland,” Ms Egan added.

She explained that the Cork community was responsible for several firsts when it came to LGBT activism in Ireland.

“A lot of the firsts in terms of LBGT activism in Ireland happened in Cork, such as the first ever gay conference being held here in 1981, the first Irish Aids leaflet was produced in Cork in 1985, and the first LGBT float in a St Patrick’s Day parade happened in Cork in 1992 and it won the prize for best new entry,” Ms Egan said.

The most interesting piece of memorabilia in the exhibition, which is currently looking for a home, is a roll of wallpaper.

The night that the Gay Society (now the LGBT Society) was recognised by University College Cork a party was held at which activist Arthur Leahy passed around a roll of wallpaper for all guests to sign.

Ms Egan said that yesterday’s recognition by the Heritage Council acknowledges years of activism, and brings a movement and a community in from the margins and into the recognised heritage of our country.

Also recognised yesterday was the work of the Castlemartyr-based John Saul Horticulture Appreciation Society, which was awarded a runner-up prize in the Reaching Out category. During Heritage Week last August, the society put on a history talk about John Saul’s journey from Castlemartyr to the White House.

The 19th century horticulturist, businessman, and author went to Washington in the mid-1800s.

He was responsible for landscaping many of the city’s public spaces including those associated with the White House such as the Mall, Smithsonian Grounds, the Square south of President’s Park (now The Ellipse), and Lafayette Square.

Matthew Farrell from Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, was named as Ireland’s Heritage Hero after a lifetime’s involvement in community development work.


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