As part of my commitment to covering local political events going on around Cork city, this Thursday I attended a meeting concerned with changing British names of Ireland streets and places into Irish ones. I had seen their banner around Cork for a month now, and was really curious about it .This event was organized by Independent candidate of People’s Convention Mr. Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, and was held in his office located at 99 Douglas Street.
What Went Down at the Meeting
The meeting began with Mr. Ó Cadhla explaining the importance of Irish people standing up for themselves and respecting themselves by taking action to put the names of celebrated Irish figures on the streets instead of British royalties and aristocrats who had colonized Ireland for a long time and had a hand in the calamitous Irish famine.
Mr. Ó Cadhla then, heard other citizens’ opinion and tried to engage everybody in the discussion. He emphasized the importance of Irish people learning their own history and acknowledging their own achievements. He expressed his frustrations over the name of “Victoria Road” in Cork, since Queen Victoria is historically known as “the Famine Queen” in Ireland. Other British street/place names that Mr. Ó Cadhla and people at the meeting were most upset about included: Albert Quay, Marlborough Street (which is named after the Duke of Marlborough involved in the 1690 siege of Cork and the massacre of city’s inhabitants), Wellington road, and so on.
The meeting participants believed that those places have been named by foreign forces who considered Irish people as their slaves. Although one man who insisted on his neutrality mentioned something about the naming being done by peoples’ representatives at that time, his point of view was challenged and discussed by others.
One of the participants also argued that if they would take down those name from Streets and places people might no longer remember a part of Irish history ( regardless of its negativity). In response to that, Mr. Ó Cadhla said that they could still keep those names on plaques and such, but having them on the streets in high honor is unacceptable.
Mr. Ó Cadhla, also expressed his concerns about the demised sense of nationalism and patriotism in Ireland by mentioning that on the 17th of March which is Ireland’s national day , people of Ireland could be found anywhere in the world, except in Ireland. People also suggested names of Ireland’s celebrated figures such as well known mathematician and philosopher George Boole (who was actually of British nationality but spent a part of his life in Cork city and was the first Professor of Mathematics at the University College of Cork (UCC) at the time of his death,and was also married to an Irish woman) to replace negative British names.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. Ó Cadhla and others vowed to gather round again in the coming weeks or so, and left their contact details for further contact and planning. So, if you are a cork resident who is passionate for this cause, I would say joining this movement and helping it keeping its momentum, would not be a bad choice.
I have to thank Mr. Ó Cadhla and other people there for being kind enough to let me take their photographs. I am looking forward to follow up on their efforts for getting their message through.