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10th Annual Celebrating Cork Past Exhibition

Cork CityMillennium Hall/Lecture Hall, City Hall, Cork. Saturday September 29th 2018. 10:00 – 18:30.
For exhibition information please contact
We would very much welcome your thoughts, comments and suggestions please email Thanks Brian Bermingham

For 2018:
Ronnie O’Shaughnessy will be awarded the Lord Mayor's Community Heritage award in grateful appreciation for her immense contribution to the musical cultural life of Cork.
Professor John A Murphy will be awarded the Cork historian of the year 2018 award, in grateful appreciation for his lifetime promotion of the history, heritage and culture of Cork.

Professor John A. Murphy

Professor John A. Murphy

Born in Macroom, reputedly ‘the town that never reared a fool’ or a rather subtle variant, ‘There was never a fool that came out of Macroom’. All four grandparents came from within a five mile radius of the town so that I could boast of a pure West Cork lineage!
The storied river Sullane flowed through Macroom, becoming part of the River Lee some miles to the east. As boys, we frequently walked up over Sleaveen to the scenic pre-flood Gearagh. Irish was still spoken in Cúil Aodha and it could be heard on market days in the streets of the town. Our own speech in school and society was strong Hibernian English in idiom and vocabulary (‘tis how, sic, we do be…’) to the patronising amusement of, say, our Dublin-born secondary school teacher.
I was educated in the de La Salle–controlled primary and secondary boys’ schools where, by and large, teaching standards were high. I served local–authority scholarships to university level, being greatly encouraged to do the necessary study by inspiring teachers. My cast of mind was accordingly egalitarian and remained so.
Having secured a run of first-class honours results at UCC, I got my first job at the diocesan seminary, St. Finbarrs College, Farranferrris, in 1949. The fine edifice still stands but those who once worked there are long since ‘gone into the world of light’, in Henry Vaugen’s phrase.
Looking back now, my period there (1949-1960) was significant in more ways than one. The dominance of the Catholic Church in Ireland seemed imperishable in the 1950s but it turned out to be the best Tridentine decade. Also, I was the only lay teacher in an otherwise clerical staff of twelve or so: was my presence a sop to an important teaching union? At any rate, the priests were ‘goodly comfort; and they gave me a rich insight into the priestly mina. Most important for me, ‘Farna’ was an excellent place to hone my teaching skills and prepare myself for a later third level stage. Unlike the conventional preparation for an academic career, I rose through the ranks, an n.c.o. rather than a commissioned officer, on the whole perhaps not a bad approach.


John A. Murphy, native of Macroom, Professor of Irish History, University College Cork, 1971-1990.

Visiting Professor at Loyola University, Chicago (1974); James Madison University, Virginia, (1979); Boston College (1984), Colby College, Maine (1987).

Independent member of Seanad Éireann (NUI constituency) 1977-’83, 1987 – ’92.

Member of UCC Governing Body and of Senate of NUI in 1980s and 1990s.

Lectured extensively on Irish history and current affairs at various US, UK, Canadian and Australian universities.

Media commentator on the post independence Irish politics and society.

Hon. Editor, Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1964-1979.

Publications include works on histories of UCC.
Awarded D.Litt, honoris causa, by NUI for contributions to scholarship and public life.
Awarded title ‘The University Historian’ by Governing Body, UCC.

Festschrift: History and the Public Sphere: Essays in honour of John A. Murphy, ed. Tom Dunne and Laurence Geary, (Cork University Press, 2005).

Cork Person of the Year, 2005.

Sunday Independent Columnist from the 1990s.

Interests, pastimes: Singing, walking (especially country roads), Gaelic games enthusiast.

Ronnie O’Shaughnessy

Ronnie O`Shaughnessy has been involved in almost every aspect of Cork theatre for a considerable number of years, as actor, singer and musical director. As a musical performer she appeared with all the leading musical societies in Cork. She was musical director for the annual Pantomime and Summer Revels at the Opera House for over twenty years.

Ronnie`s happiest memory is her introduction to the stage at St. Aloysius School production of a Gilbert and Sullivan Musical. Her teacher brought James N. Healy to rehearsals to give advice on extracting the best colour from the words and music. His advice was a wonderful aid for Ronnie to bring out nuances she had not even thought of . He came to the opening night of the show and offered Ronnie a role in his next production “The Mikado” thus starting her long career in Cork Theatre.

Ronnie then appeared on stage in May 1951 in “Berkeley Square” with the Presentation Guild, acting the lead female to Dan Donovan`s lead male, directed by Der Breen and featuring Michael Twomey. By 1952, she was on the Opera House stage with the same group in “The Trial of Christ” with Abbey Scott and Bill Coughlan.

While a member of the teaching staff of the Cork School of Music, Ronnie performed with the RTE Concert Orchestra and served as musical director for several Noel Pearson productions.

As musical director for the Montfort Singers she conducted all their big musicals over the years like “West Side Story”, “Hello Dolly”, Camelot” and “Oklahoma”. Ronnie also appeared on stage in “Mame” and “The Music Man” for the Montfort Productions of those very successful shows reflecting her lifelong interest in acting. It is noteworthy and an example of her ability and different talents that, in 1988 for the Montfort Singers 25th Anniversary Production of “The Music Man,” she was on stage as Mrs. Paroo but was also the Choral Mistress for the show.

So, it was no surprise that, when Summer Revels finished, Ronnie decided to return to her first love-the stage. She began a series of plays directed by the late Michael Twomey, R.I.P., including “The Heiress”, “The Constant Wife”, “An Ideal Husband”, “Lady Windermere`s Fan”, “An Inspector Calls” with Alf McCarthy in 2007, “Matchmake Me Do”, “Many Young Men of Twenty”, “The Field”, “Survivors” and “Up the Rebels” by Declan Hassett celebrating Cork G.A.A. Heritage.

When Michael passed away last year, Ronnie felt it was time to bow out!! Playing Bridge has now taken over from her theatrical days.

Ronnie O`Shaughnessy is a very worthy recipient of the Lord Mayor`s Heritage Award in recognition of her immense contribution to the Musical and Stage Heritage of the City.