They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Walking through Cork City the electricity boxes that
decorated the side of the streets light up with art and colour. Street artists in Cork took initiative
with their artwork to show it to the people who walk through the streets of Cork every day. It
creates a welcoming atmosphere in the city for visitors and locals alike and they include many
references to Cork and the culture that surrounds the city.
The themes present in each of these artworks convey a deeper message within the artwork. Our
journey starts on Grande Parade, a street that can be flocked with people some days but the
artworks on this street reminds me of home, of identity, of Cork. On picture that jumps out just as
you walk past the library is an artist’s impression of Rory Gallagher to honour the Rory Gallagher
music library. History makes another appearance in the form of Thomas Kent along the banks of the
River Lee. Born in Castlelyons 1865, he died by firing squad in Collins Barracks in Easter 1916.
Irish also makes an appearance on Grande Parade, ‘An te ach bhfuil laidir ni folair do a bheith glic’,
The warm is not strong for the wise. A thought about the meaning of that saying wanders through
my head as my walk through the beloved streets of Cork continues. These pieces where Irish takes
precedent were organised by Gael-Taca, founded in 1987, Cork’s main Irish language organisation.
The theme of ‘welcome’ is a huge factor in many of these pieces of art. The culture dynamic that
exists in Cork is referenced in this artwork through the city. In this relatively small but diverse city
you can surround yourself with visual art culture from Spain, Holland and places as far away as
China. Each piece of art, although representing a nation, puts a Cork twist on their message. One
electrical box reads ‘Bienvenue à Cork’ with references to the GAA in the artwork, something that is
at the beating heart of Cork. Cork humour also plays a part in street art around the city as there’s a
second box here with a picture of a bottle on it, it reads ‘Ireland is like a bottle it would sink without
Across from Merchant’s Quay, next to the river, there is one piece of art that struck a chord with me.
Seeing it from a distance was easy since it was bright green and stood out against the crowds, so it
was very easy to identify. It was only when passing it I was able to read what it said. “Listen, life’s
worth talking about” and then in the bottom the Samaritans had signed their name and number. A
pang of gladness pierced my chest that somebody somewhere decided it was important to have that
information out in the open for people to see each day.