Renowned soprano Cara O’Sullivan has been presented with the inaugural Cork Culture Award.
Ms O’Sullivan, who has been diagnosed with what friends say is a “life-changing illness”, was joined by a small gathering of close family and friends at Cork's City Hall recently for a very personal and intimate presentation ceremony.
The award itself was designed and produced by Eleanor Cahalane of Cork Craft and Design and features the Reiki symbol of power.
Lord Mayor, Cllr Mick Finn, says he wanted to create, during his term as Lord Mayor, an award to recognise citizens specifically for their contribution to the arts and to the artistic life of the city.
He said he chose Ms O’Sullivan as the inaugural recipient of the new award in recognition of her glittering career, and to mark her outstanding contribution to the artistic and cultural life of the city over several years.
His proposal to honour Ms O'Sullivan received unanimous approval from the members of Cork City Council earlier this year.
“Cara is a superstar and the fact that concerts in celebration of her career sold out in days is a testament to just how much Cork and Irish people love her," he said.
From Sunday’s Well to Sydney Opera House, Cara has entertained music lovers all over the world and this award from Cork City Council celebrates her achievements.
Cara and her fellow sopranos, Majella Cullagh and Mary Hegarty, treated the gathering to a medley of their favourite operatic arias.
Meanwhile, preparations are well advanced for the first of a series of sell-out fundraising concerts in Ms O’Sullivan’s honour this weekend.
Cork Opera House will stage, Cara: A Celebration, on Sunday night to celebrate her remarkable singing career.
The gala concert will be led by Ms Cullagh and Ms Hegarty, and will feature a host of special guests, supported by a 50-piece orchestra conducted by John O’Brien and Conor Palliser.
The show will be staged in the City Hall concert hall the following night. A similar show is due to be staged in Dublin soon.
Ms O'Sullivan is one of the best-known and loved performers to come from Cork. She has performed in opera houses and on concert stages all over the world.
Friends involved in the organisation of the fundraising concerts say they have been overwhelmed by the public response since news of her illness was made public, and by the demand for tickets as the music community unites to honour and say thank you to her.