High praise as Cork County Hall exhibition marks 50th anniversary of the opening of Ireland’s first skyscraper

A special exhibition detailing the building of Ireland’s first skyscraper will remain open in Cork’s County Hall for the next few weeks.

It was unveiled yesterday to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of what was then Ireland’s tallest building, at 64.3 metres, a record it held until 2008.

More than 500 people attended the event, including a number of retired staff who reminisced on a specially commissioned video about moving into the building.

Opening the exhibition, the Mayor of County Cork, Declan Hurley, said that County Hall was built to serve the people of Cork, but it also became a building which was now a cherished part of the environment of Cork.

The exhibition, in the foyer area, tells the story of the building designed by then-county architect Patrick McSweeney.

Mr Hurley and council chief executive Tim Lucey also unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.

Mr Lucey spoke of the changes which had occurred over the 50 years within the tower, adding that the principle of public service had remained the same.

Kathleen Desmond and Brenda O’Connor at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the opening of the County Hall, on the Carrigrohane road yesterday. Picture: Eddie O’Hare

“Cork County Hall was built to provide a single destination for service provision,” he said. “We continue to provide services in the way that suits the people we are here to serve.

“We are now online and able to transact with the people of Cork 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We are all working together to add value and provide a high quality of life while ensuring the county’s sustainable future growth.

“It was said 50 years ago that this County Hall belonged to the people of Cork. It continues to belong to the people of Cork and will continue to be a building which delivers for the people of Cork well into the future.”

Mr Lucey said he first arrived for work in the building in 1982, little imagining at that stage his progression to the council’s top job.

Angela Collins who climbed down the county hall at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the opening of the County Hall, on the Carrigrohane road yesterday. Picture: Eddie 

Mr Hurley, meanwhile, noted how Patrick MacSweeney had said at the official opening that the success of those at County Hall would be judged by present and future generations.

“There was immense pride in Cork County Hall in 1968. That pride remains and if anything has increased.

“I am confident that future generations will continue to take pride in this building, which is much more than a building.

“It represents the people of Cork and I, for one, take great pride in that.”

Ireland’s Steeplejack Angela Collins O’Mahony. reaches the top of the County Hall.June 16, 1985. winner of the Great Race Lee Fields June 16th 1985

Prior to 1968, council staff were spread throughout the county and council meetings took place in the Courthouse on Washington St.

The building took three years to construct at a cost of £500,000.

When completed, County Hall was a high-rise solution, designed as a single, elegantly proportioned, vertical block with a textured surface of precast concrete tracery which eliminated the need for scaffolding during construction.

Throughout the years the original distinctive concrete facade became severely eroded. In 2010, it was replaced as County Hall was given a multi-million euro makeover which included adding a 17th floor for the Vertigo restaurant. This increased the building’s height to 67 metres.

Breaking Stories

Taoiseach to attend Nelson Mandela Peace Summit today

Ex-smuggling route in far-flung area of Irish border influenced Dante’s Inferno

Minister Eoghan Murphy hits back at Sinn Féin ‘stunt’

Protestors: We’ll risk breaking law to end housing crisis

More From The Irish Examiner