He’s been an integral part of the fabric of Cork City for over half a century. Now he’s set to be a part of its Christmas celebrations.
Legendary newspaper vendor Michael O’Regan, 64, who has been selling the Irish Examiner and Evening Echo newspapers on his patch on St Patrick’s Street for a remarkable 54 years, will play a key role in the Christmas lights switch-on ceremony tonight.
Michael, who has always wanted to feature in the city’s Christmas celebrations, will be recognised on stage this evening for his contribution to the life of the city before Cork’s All-Ireland winning ladies football and camogie captains, Briege Corkery and Anna Geary, officially flick the switch on the city’s festive lights.
“Sometimes people as familiar as Michael tend to get overlooked in terms of how important they are in our lives, and in the life of the city,” said Damien O’Mahony of the city council.
“This is an opportunity for the city to say thanks to a person who doesn’t get thanked enough.
“We know it’s Michael’s job. But it’s the iconic way he has done it through the decades — especially the good humour he brings to his task — it’s what Cork is all about.
“It is the maverick nature of our people underpinned by their intelligence and their warmth.”
Michael was fitted out for a new suit courtesy of Morley’s, a pair of new shoes thanks to Molloy’s, and will be sporting a new haircut for the occasion.
Jack and Tim Mulcahy, of the Chicken Inn in the English Market, liaised with city officials to help make Michael’s dream come true.
“He is one of the city’s great characters, some of whom were maybe forgotten about during the Celtic Tiger era,” Tim said.
“But Michael, and people like him, are unique to this city, and they help make it what it is.”
Michael is a constant feature on the city’s streets and follows the city council’s workings very closely, attending every single mayoral election for the last 46 years.
Tim said: “I think it’s only fitting that he is recognised like this tonight and we are delighted for him.”
City officials are keeping a close eye on the weather forecast in the hope the ceremony can go ahead at 6pm.
They have defended switching the lights on almost seven weeks before Christmas, saying they are responding to calls from city businesses.
Weather permitting, eight times All-Star winner Ms Corkery, who captained the Cork ladies football team to All Ireland glory, and Ms Geary, captain of the county's All-Ireland winning camogie team and Cork Rose, will perform the task on St Patrick’s Street.
The ceremony, which will include entertainment by the Academy of Popular Music, starts at 6pm with the lights due to be turned on at 6.45pm.
Traffic restrictions will be in place on St Patrick’s St from 4pm to 9pm and motorists have been warned to expect delays.
Meanwhile, the Glow Christmas Festival in Bishop Lucey Park and Grand Parade, featuring a food and crafts market and a 10m ferris wheel, and which attracted almost 170,000 people last year, will be launched on November 28.
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