Mayor of the County, Councillor P.J. Sheehan, John Kennedy of Cork 2005, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.


I would first of all like to thank the organisers for the invitation to be here with you this morning. 


A few moments ago I was speaking with the County Mayor about the built landscape and urban environment of Cork City . 


As with all great European cities, the landscape and culture of Cork has been shaped by its history and for us it has been a history of many visitors.  It is now said that our very early visitors may have come from Spain or even North Africa , Greece has also been suggested. There were certainly visitors from Rome and in those early days there were monastic settlements on the rock outcrops beside the river Lee and then the marauding Vikings arrived in their long boats, but they liked it here and settled down laying the foundations of our city. They were followed before long by the Normans, who came bringing their culture and more besides with them and established settlements even further afield than the Vikings.


And lastly but not least, we had the colonisation by the English effecting their own very substantial cultural impact on the country and the landscape as well.


For the people of Cork living in the city today, it is necessary to develop the city economically and to look to the future with confidence, without in the process doing damage to the our inheritance from the past or in the context of today’s workshop doing damage to what people regard as their own cultural landscape and our shared natural landscape.


It is all about developing a future for people based on sustainable development, keeping the best of the old practices, but yet bringing all the benefits of modern living to the city as well.


It will be evident to you that there has been great investment in the city in recent years and of course this brings its own challenges.


The Hill of Tara in County Meath (Ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland) is an example of the difficulties involved in balancing protecting cultural landscape with providing development infrastructure in Ireland today. The National Roads Authority are in the process of constructing much needed road infrastructure throughout the country, one of these roads will be near the Hill of Tara and this has recently led to a clash with those who say that this road will damage the distinguishing features of the Hill of Tara landscape.


Of course, it is important that we have an open debate about these issues, but it is also important that we are able to move on, while taking stock of what is there, but yet moving on.


For a city or a country to sustain itself it has to develop, often involving hard decisions, for example; if you look at some of the developments in Cork over the last number of years, you will see that we have been fortunate as a city with the evidence of development in the city illustrated by the number of cranes on the skyline. At the same time there has also been investment in restoring fine old buildings and streets.


It might be difficult to appreciate it today, but Cork was a city in decline for many years and it is exciting for those who witnessed those hard years to see this evidence of development, employment and growing wealth.


For the last seven or eight years we have discovered the Celtic Tiger down here in the south and we now have very substantial investment being made in development by both the Local Authority and by private enterprise.


It is all about bringing everyone on board when planning such important development, it is about sitting down and consulting with all sides, working to develop a solution that suits everybody.


A major feature of the Cork landscape has to be the River Lee. For centuries we turned our back on the river.  We have never really used it for the wonderful amenity that it is. It should be a positive source of inspiration and enjoyment for the citizens of Cork and our visitors alike.


We have now in Cork made the decision to go back and look to the river as a focus for future growth and development, particularly in the former docklands area.  It is important to bear in mind that Cork has the second largest harbour in the world next to Sydney and we have never fully exploited its potential either.


The Local Authorities in both the City and County are now looking at this wonderful resource to see how best to exploit the potential of the river and the harbour in a sustainable manner.


In the context of Cork 2005 and the mantle of the European City of Culture, it is significant that there are delegates in this room today from thirty five different countries and that is probably one of the most diverse cultural events that we will have in the city this year.


I would like to thank those who were responsible for bringing this workshop to Cork, it is indeed important that we learn best practice from other countries and that other countries or delegates from other countries can come and see what is happening here in Ireland and we can learn from each other.


I would like to thank everybody involved and wish the event every success and hope that you enjoy the city over the next few days and take time out to view some of the developments that have been taking place in recent years and indeed experience the historical heritage that is on view throughout the city and I hope that above all else you will enjoy your stay here.



Go raimh maith agaibh go lēir. (My sincere thanks to you all)