Re-loving Cork City. / by Ed Godsell

I'm not the only Corkonian to have a love-hate thing for his native city.  I think it moves in unpredictable waves between the two poles and though I'm not one for the supernatural I am wondering if it may have something to do with the positioning of the moon.  Recently there was a super moon and almost magically the duffel-coat like heaviness I was feeling towards the city shed itself and took on the garb of a real appreciation and respect for city and those that reside within it.  

On a sunny November afternoon I took a stroll through the city with my camera. I had been meaning to do it for ages but it had eluded me.  I'm leaving Cork again soon and so when I saw the blue sky of the November sunday I grabbed my camera and moved on it.  I'm glad I did. That day I spent in the city with eyes wide open watching not just people but places, the landscape and architecture of the city, the alleyways, the little details, re-awoke a dormant love of my city.  Cork city is crammed full of diverse characters whom for the most part are honoured to be asked if their picture can be taken.  They are full of soul and song and not afraid to expose themselves, warts and all.  Everybody that I asked whether I could take their portrait said yes except one... but he was English and full of suspicion...

I only managed to cover a fraction of the city as the two streets of North main street and Shandon street alone kept me busy,  I never made it to my favourite street.  The spectrum of people here is quite amazing and reminded me of the Irish writer Kevin Barry's novel 'The city of Bohane' though not as dystopian as Barry's fantastical fiction.   Immediately I met characters that looked like Protestant preachers from another ere, there were Congolese and Nigerians looking sharp for Sunday service, young revellers weary from the night before, Koreans, older men enjoying their Sunday afternoon sup smoking fags in the doorways, the salt of the earth as they say.

There will be more.

 

Daniel Connell was my first subject of the day. He stopped me rather than the other way around to ask me about my camera.  He was on his way back from Sunday service at the cities Protestant Cathedral, St.Finbarre's.   I told him his name sounded particularly Catholic and he explained the difference between having an "O" before Connell in his surname.  Catholics have 'O''s and Protestants don't! 

Daniel Connell was my first subject of the day. He stopped me rather than the other way around to ask me about my camera.  He was on his way back from Sunday service at the cities Protestant Cathedral, St.Finbarre's.   I told him his name sounded particularly Catholic and he explained the difference between having an "O" before Connell in his surname.  Catholics have 'O''s and Protestants don't! 

J.J. Hurley was standing outside 'The Chimes' bar beside Shandon tower when the fella on the left asked him for a light interrupting J.J's story about Fred Astaire and how his ancestors were from Shandon.

I met Daniel, originally from Congo as he came out of church service on Barrack street.  Such a sharply dressed man!  He is one of those characters that will break out into a huge smile or laugh at the slightest hint, maybe he was still buzzing after his weekly spiritual fix.  We discussed the concept of the well dressed African 'Sapeur' he claimed not to be one but I convinced him he must be.   We chatted about the fashion sense of the Irish male and he told me they were too stingy to dress up well and preferred to spend their money on other things.  I guess we all generalise of sorts... but he may have a point, after all I admit I was decked out in a pair of old runners, jeans, an old coat and particularly crappy wooly hat...

I met Daniel, originally from Congo as he came out of church service on Barrack street.  Such a sharply dressed man!  He is one of those characters that will break out into a huge smile or laugh at the slightest hint, maybe he was still buzzing after his weekly spiritual fix.  We discussed the concept of the well dressed African 'Sapeur' he claimed not to be one but I convinced him he must be.   We chatted about the fashion sense of the Irish male and he told me they were too stingy to dress up well and preferred to spend their money on other things.  I guess we all generalise of sorts... but he may have a point, after all I admit I was decked out in a pair of old runners, jeans, an old coat and particularly crappy wooly hat...

When a friend came along Daniel gave a chivalric little bow and such a huge smile.  Such a charmer!

Cahill O'Donovancan often be found playing his violin on Paul street. We discussed Cork Poets, particularly the chap over his right shoulder, Gregory O'Donoghue, who really just happened to be looking on from the background.

His beard was so fine I had to take a closer shot!

His beard was so fine I had to take a closer shot!

Nicole and Celina had just eaten their Sunday lunch but that didn't stop them from launching into a box of pringles (Which nicely matched her attire!?

Birthday girl.

Bernadette was doing her meals and wheels rounds when I met her on Shandon street.  At first I didn't realise she was actually organising the feeding of the old and infirm as she seemed quite elderly herself, but she was spending her Sunday, like all sundays, looking after the elderly in her area and making sure they were all fed.   "Old people are the best craic sure' she called out as she moved on.

Bayam is originally from Congo.  He was also just out of Sunday service.  His jacket caught my attention, it had a patch that read 'Death before dishonour'  I asked him was it designer, 'yes' he told me 'I got it in TK Max'  

James stands outside the "homer' bar on Shandon street.  He was taking a break from his company inside that he said were wrecking his head telling him he should shave his beard.  "No way' he said 'I took me five months to grow it!'

James stands outside the "homer' bar on Shandon street.  He was taking a break from his company inside that he said were wrecking his head telling him he should shave his beard.  "No way' he said 'I took me five months to grow it!'

I've seen Liam Kirby a lot recently.  I saw him at nearly every screening I was at at this years Cork Film festival.  He told me he has been coming to the festival for 53 years, he travels up from waterford especially.  I would sometimes notice him shuffle out midway through a screening and I found myself agreeing with his taste most of the time!  He became a kind of canary in the mine for me, when Liam moved out the film would likely turn out to be a dud!  (Although he did sit through some stuff that even I thought was pretty full on...'   I Hope I see him at next years festival!

Israel is 19 and is also Congolese, he spoke with a fairly strong Cork accent, he's been hear since he was ten and was just waiting for his girlfriend to go see a movie.

This little fucker didn't like me at all.

Antonette told me she was feeling great for her 68 years.  I asked her the trick, '16 years and no booze' was her straight up reply.  fair play to her.

Steve, 25,  was a little reluctant to have his picture taken.  He was out the night before till late and was sure he didn't look great.  I told him he was just beautiful as I took the shot.

Stephen Hartnett aged 22