Cork's Open House programme has something for everybody

Carol O’Callaghan takes her pick of the events at this weekend’s Open House programme in Cork city

Cork's Georgian heritage can be explored in the interior of the offices of Fachtna O'Driscoll Solicitors on South Mall.

CALLING all enthusiasts of historic and contemporary buildings, interiors and architecture. It’s your lucky weekend — buildings not normally open to the public on a day to day basis will be part of the Open House Cork programme, this weekend.

It’s the third time Cork city is participating in this global initiative which sees 36 cities opening up buildings of note during weekends this month and next, with Cork expanding its offering this year to include talks and tours, all of which are free of charge.

Today, between 10am and 3.30pm Cork’s Georgian heritage can be appreciated at the offices of Fachtna O’Driscoll Solicitors at 9 South Mall, and just a five minute walk away across nearby Parliament Bridge, will take you to the fascinating Narrow House at 20 Red Abbey Street.

Open from 11am to 1pm, this private home which is on Cork City Council’s Record of Protected Structures is becoming a regular feature of the Open House Cork programme such is its popularity with the general public. Built towards the end of the 18th century, at its widest point it measures just 2.6 metres.

As a city awash with religious structures, University College Cork’s Honan Chapel opens from 4pm-6.30pm, and the repurposed Christchurch at the Triskel Arts Centre opens from 11am-2pm.

Tomorrow, from 2pm-5pm, these will be joined by the former Cork Synagogue (now the place of worship for the Seventh Day Adventist Church), where Cork’s Jewish community observed Shabbat for 135 years.

St Finbarrs Collegiate Chapel, also know as the Honan Chapel, is a 19th century design finished internally with Celto-Byzantine motifs.

In the same locality, the quiet city centre oasis of Nano Nagle Place is open from 10am-1pm. Once the mother house of the order of Presentation Sisters who developed the site, it served as a school and convent complex for 250 years.

Closing its doors in 2006, it has now been conserved and developed as a multi-purpose heritage and community resource for the city, a project overseen by architectural conservation architects Jack Coughlan, who will also run a guided tour.

For anyone who fancies donning some stout walking shoes and joining one of the trail events, there are five stand-out opportunities. Artistic types mourning the demise of what was our version of the Parisian Left Bank can take heart. Having lost the opportunity to set up easels in good weather by the North Gate Bridge to paint Shandon Steeple after a block of Celtic Tiger apartments erupted in their sightline, they can now join a sketching tour of the buildings on MacCurtain Street led by CIT and the Cork Centre for Architectural Education lecturer Jim Harrison. Participants will learn how to capture streetscapes, and there’s even a prize at the end for the best effort.

Those who count UCC as their alma mater might enjoy a return to see how the campus has developed in recent years. Led by O’Donnell Tuomey Architects, the tour takes in the award-winning Lewis Glucksman Gallery and the recently started student hub.

But while UCC has been the stalwart of higher education in Cork city for more than 150 years, if there’s one place which changed its economic face and transformed the lives of Corkonians, it’s the Ford car manufacturing plant. Built in a similar style to other Ford developments in Michigan, the plant which has faced the River Lee for 100 years is considered an exemplary model of functional design from the early days of mass production automobiles.

CIT Cork School of Music’s redvelopment is the work of Murray O’Laoire Architects who designed this state-ofthe- art facility.

Local author Tom Spalding will lead Quays to the City, a tour of Cork City’s 18th and 19th century quays, covering the development and reclamation of the islands which make up the city centre, the quay walls themselves, which are currently under threat, and some important quay-side buildings.

Tom Spalding then joins architect Gareth O’Callaghan and together they’ll lead a novel pub crawl, meandering through Cork’s streets to visit the more architecturally significant public houses. Open to over 18s only, the tour details are being kept under wraps until the day, but there is a promise of pit stops for liquid refreshments.

Bear in mind you may encounter some queues for the more popular buildings. Tours and trails, although free of charge, are ticketed so booking is essential as numbers are limited to ensure quality of information delivery.

For more information and the full programme of events email, for general enquiries or for free, ticketed events.

Christchurch on South Main Street, which has been repurposed as an arts copper tones this season. venue annexed to The Triskel on Tobin Street, is open this weekend.

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