Commemoration of the tragic burning of Cork City and its library

AF Cork was privileged to take part in the commemoration of the tragic burning of Cork City and its library, on December the 12th of 1920, by English troops.

Last night in Cork was such a night of terror and destruction as we have not yet had. An orgy of destruction and ruin: the calm frosty sky red – red as blood with the burning city, and the pale cold stars looking down on the scene of desolation and frightfulness… The finest premises in the city are destroyed… The City Hall and the Free Library also been burned out.” [Liam de Roiste]

After the reconstruction of the building, and following an appeal for international solidarity, many countries, including France, sent books to rebuild the collection of the library. In commemoration of this tragic night and solidarity of readers throughout the world, a march took place on Saturday, the 11th of December, last, from Cork City Council, crossing Oliver Plunkett Street, to the Library on Grand Parade where Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Michael O’Connell and other guests read a range of extracts from the books which had been offered to the library in the aftermath of the fire.

AF Cork’s director Salim Bachi read a short extract in French about Voltaire from a History of Literature of the 18th century.

For more information about the fire of Cork and its library, we would highly recommend poet Thomas McCarthy’s book, Rising from the ashes, The Burning of Cork’s Carnegie Library and the rebuilding of its collections.

AF Cork would also like to extend our gratitude to Liam Ronayne, City Librarian, for his invitation to take part in this event.

Photos by Marie Guillot
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