I left Cork for what may be the last time today. The Lee was unusually brown after two days of heavy, unbroken rain. As the bus pulled away from the grey, drizzly city and left behind a panorama of houses muddled together over hills and valleys, rising spires punching holes in the horizon, I felt more than sad. I might have even cried a little bit.
I love Cork. Love it.
I hate the fact that I have to leave. I am deeply annoyed that nowhere else in Ireland can I get a good brunch at 2pm on a weekday but in the Liberty Grill. I am aggrieved that I can no longer just walk down the road to Freakscene on a Thursday, my go-to for general debauchment and devilry for the past seven years. And I am deeply regretful of that fact that I can no longer wake up in the flat I once shared with someone very special, open my balcony doors and have breakfast watching the same panorama that passed me by just as I left it today.
One of the best things about Cork, or indeed any city with a steady stream of creative, industrious inhabitants, is its ability to reinvent itself. I know I’ll come back in a few months, or even weeks, and there will be a new place to go, a new business sprung from the not so-fertile ground and a new event that, once it takes hold, we can’t imagine our weekend without it.
In my few years spent in Cork, and especially in my tenure as a writer for this very fine newspaper, I have seen the fashion industry in Cork evolve into something totally different (and much better) than it was before.
There is probably a core group of thirty to forty people in the city who are making an active effort to advocate for Cork fashion, and I would like to salute a randomly-selected cross section of this very diverse bunch of creatives. The people selected reflect a little bit of the best in Cork without any semblance of hierarchy; no-one is more or less important than other people I have omitted to mention.
Belinda O’Sullivan is one of Cork’s most talented dressmakers. She has an understanding of fabric and skill with tailoring that is that magic, elusive mix of talent, instinct and learned skills. A dress from Belinda is one that you will treasure forever (and she’s a ridiculously lovely person to boot).
Cathy O’ Donoghue of vintage store Turquoise Flamingo has transformed her bolthole in Washington Street into a concept as well as a retail space. Not contented with just selling her careful edit of clothing (she’ll always have something special in the back, just ask very nicely) she also hosts vintage nights in-store and stocks incredibly cool jewellery and reworked vintage clothing from small local business, which have built up a cult following.
And finally, Emer O’Sullivan and Vivienne Kelly, who may well be the catalyst for the turning point of the no-longer still world that is Cork fashion. By promoting and nurturing Cork Fashion Week, they have given the industry in the city a legitimacy that it was somewhat running low on before.
For these people, the ones I didn’t mention and the ones who follow them, I say thank you. Thank you for making this city one I was proud to live in, and one I am still very proud to write for.