City quay-side monument will honour a generation of emigrants

A CITY quay is to be transformed into a unique monument of sound honouring a generation of Cork emigrants.

Four stainless steel listening posts will be erected along Penrose Quay within the next two months. Each will play recordings of interviews with people who left the city for England, from that quay, on board the Innisfallen during the bleak 1940s, ’50s or ’60s.

Each person will tell their story about why they felt they had to leave, and what life was like for them and their families afterwards.

The structures will also play recordings of sonar surveys taken from along the sea bed between Cork and England.

The three-metre high posts, which will be erected at regular intervals along a 150-metre stretch of Penrose Quay, will play the recordings on a continuous 24-hour loop, creating a wave of sound along the quay side.

Listening grills will be placed at adult and child standing heights.

Each structure will also have a beacon on top which will shine out to sea at night.

The monument has been designed by Johnny Hanrahan, the artistic director of Meridian Theatre, and Daphne Wright, a leading England-based Irish sculpture.

Their idea was selected by the National Sculpture Factory who invited design ideas following a motion to the city council by Fine Gael’s Cllr Denis Cregan in August, 2004, who said Cork should honour its emigrants.

He welcomed the design last night and said it had created huge interest around the world.

Plans are also being finalised for a complete revamp of the quay-side.

New railing will be erected, the quay-side will be re-cobbled to recreate the area as it was during the ’40s and ’50s, and new flower beds and benches will be placed there.

Once Kent Station is reorientated to face the quay, the area is expected to become one of the most attractive parts of the city, said Liz Meaney, the city council’s arts officer.

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