Ring Them Bells- UCC Express, February 2010

Shure hasn’t Cork changed a mighty amount since we rang in the new Millenium?

When I was the happy age of ten, Cork was a very different place. Debenhams was Roches Stores, Opera Lane was a back alley named after a bloke called Faulkner, and Patrick Street was traffic-rancid and rather grey. There was no such thing as Accessorize and Subway was entirely unheard of, not to mind Starbucks! The last ten years have seen great change in Cork, just like everywhere else. The city has seen some triumph, some disasters, and a whole lot of growth and development. In 2000, we celebrated the new millennium, and it’s fair to say that we’ve come a long way since then.

Patrick Street changed entirely in the first four years of the last decade. Although people gave out about the amount of time it took, the footpaths were widened, concrete was replaced with limestone bricks, and lamps were mounted all along the street. The developments stretched into Grand Parade, which was similarly changed and revamped.

By the time 2005 rolled around, and those developments were nearing completion, Cork accepted its role as European Capital of Culture. It was in that year that. We made our own music festival- Live at the Marquee. In its first year, Diana Ross, Nick Cave and Brian Wilson played. In 2006, Kanye West, Bob Dylan and David Gray played, and since the festival moved to the Marina in that pretty coloured tent, Elton John, Lady GaGa, Dolly Parton and Neil Young have all played to critical acclaim. 2005 saw other changes too; Mahon Point is the biggest shopping centre in Munster, and it opened that year. Bershka is a firm favourite and since Mahon Point houses the only Zara in the city, it’s a definite attraction for the average shopper.

In a similar vein, the Capitol cinema went south in December 2005; on the night it closed, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the main attraction. Just like the Pavilion and the Savoy, Cork had lost another cinema, after 58 years of strong business. Cinema didn’t lose out in Cork long-term though. Ken Loach arrived here in 2006 with The Wind that Shakes the Barley. With Cork’s own Cillian Murphy in the starring role, the film struck a chord at the heart of Cork. In 2007, Vinnie Jones and Michael Madsen arrived here to film Strength and Honour. It was definitely an experience to remember for the many UCC students that took part.

It wasn’t just a case of economic boom and bust; Cork does lie on a marsh, and the waters have come calling once or twice. 2009 is best remembered, not least because it was so recent, but there were floods at other times too; the Blackwater burst its banks in 2008 and Fermoy can be flood central when the rain comes.

If there’s a representative sad story to be had in all of this, it likely comes in the form of the rise and fall of Cork City Fe. In 2001, Brian Lennox took charge of the club and success began to smile when George O Callaghan, John O Flynn and Dan Murray joined the team in 2002. In 2003, City came third in the league under Pat Dolan, and the following year, we competed in Europe and came second in the league. Amid controversy, Damien Richardson took over management of the club in 2005, and Cork City secured the league after a win over Derry City, and on a cold day that December, Cork City travelled to Dublin, finishing runners up in the FAI Cup.

Things were looking up for City; then it all came crashing down. When Arkaga took ownership of the club in 2007, Damien Richardson parted ways with CCFC amidst talk of lawsuits and settlements. Alan Matthews took over the reins but the club could not be saved; Cork City went into examinership in 2008, a victim of decrepit ownership by the Arkaga fund. The club emerged from examinership when Tom Coughlan took over, hut the sad end to the story is that Coughlan is now the most hated man in Cork.

Paul Doolin did wonders with a broken and battered team when City ended third in the league in 2009, bot the players and staff had not been paid, there were bills outstanding, and Tom Coughlan has yet to explain his actions. As we walk into 2010, it is uncertain whether Cork City FC will survive another decade. Even with the mentioned potential losses, Corkonians are the happy-go-lucky type. Cork is one of the strangest and best places there is. Everyone knows everyone and any town where you can climb to the top of a tower and ring the bells is a town to see.

Shure ten years ago that was about all we had!