President praises community heroes in Cork

The spirit of volunteerism and battling through tough times was lauded at a number of events in Cork at the weekend by President Michael D Higgins.

Yesterday, he recognised the contribution of crews past and present when he visited the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat Station in West Cork.

The local community celebrated its history over the weekend and the time and skill given by its volunteers, including the lifeboat service’s key role following the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania, the 1979 Fastnet yacht race tragedy, and last year’s sinking of the Tit Bonhomme in Glandore harbour.

“It is uplifting to be in a place that demonstrates so strongly how, despite the rampant materialism that so recently threatened the fabric of our society, we are still at heart a decent people, a people who have not lost that fundamental instinct to act in the common interest, to respond to those in need, and to say a resounding ‘yes’ to our communities,” said President Higgins.

On Saturday, he recalled another challenging period in history when he unveiled an exhibition at the Cork City Library, which opened a decade after the Cork Carnegie Library was burnt to the ground on its site alongside Cork City Hall during the Burning of Cork in 1920.

He was launching The Crucial 100, an exhibition of books which informed the cultural, intellectual, and political revolutionary period of the early 20th century. He said, after the loss of the library and its 15,000 books, city librarian James Wilkinson made an international appeal for donations.

Among the donors were Mrs George Bernard Shaw, who donated 1,283 books, and Mrs WB Yeats.

“This was a dark, difficult period for the people of Cork but they rose to the challenge of reconstruction and renewal,” he said.

During his visit to West Cork, President Higgins commemorated the 400th anniversary of Clonakilty receiving its borough charter from King James I.

He praised the town’s numerous voluntary groups, including those whose hard work resulted in Clonakilty being named last year as Ireland’s Tidiest Small Town. It was all the more remarkable, he said, given the devastation caused by flooding last summer, which civil defence, Red Cross and other volunteers had helped the community overcome.

Also on Saturday, he re- dedicated a plaque unveiled by Éamon de Valera 50 years ago in Carrignavar, near Cork, to commemorate the many poets associated with the area.


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