You’re invited to the first Cork Rebel Week this October, to commemorate World Food Day, Michael Collins and the county’s colourful past
Question: what do Bette Davis, Joan of Arc, Aung San Suu Kyi and Luke Skywalker have in common? OK, here’s a hint: Billy Idol. Got it yet? Yes, they are all rebels who rose from the ranks to fight oppression and injustice.
Bette Davis challenged the all-powerful Hollywood studio system; Joan of Arc led French forces to overthrow English domination; Aung San Suu Kyi is bringing her country from dictatorship towards democracy, and Luke Skywalker, well, he joined the Rebel Alliance to fight the Galactic Empire. With those impeccable credentials, this disparate collection of leaders and game-changers have another thing in common: they would be more than welcome in the county of Cork, in southwest Ireland.
Cork first earned it nickname as the rebel county in the 15th century in honour of its resistance to the British crown, and that reputation for freedom fighting was immortalised in Ken Loach’s film The Wind That Shakes the Barley, starring Cillian Murphy (he also lists Inception, The Dark Knight and Batman Begins amongst his repertoire, but this movie struck far closer to home for the star).
The county is also the birthplace of one of Ireland’s real-life heroes, Michael Collins who fought in the Easter Rising in 1916 and helped to set Ireland on the path to a new republic. Collins, a handsome, charismatic and divisive figure met his end on a country road, gunned down a few weeks before his 32nd birthday. Cork still venerates its famous son, who was born at Sam’s Cross near Clonakilty and went on to represent South Cork in the new Irish parliament.
As part of Ireland’s Gathering, Cork is commemorating its reputation by launching Rebel Week, which will run from 14-20 October. There are lots of events taking place, but perhaps the most intriguing scheme is the Rebel Passport. You can apply for it online and there are several fun ways to qualify. Once obtained it will provide discounts and offers for events, depending on the number of points you earn. The more you earn, the more privileges you gain. Visiting the city from abroad, Tweeting, organising or participating in events, being photographed at a Cork City landmark – all of these will earn rebel points.
Michael Collins’ actual birthday, 16 October, is also World Food Day, and in honour of both occasions the date has been declared International Cork Day. On that day, Cork visas will be issued to visitors at all the county borders – the money raised will go to local charities.
And if it’s ‘the big fella’ himself that you are keen to celebrate, why not head over to Clonakilty the weekend before Cork Rebel Week? There will be parties celebrating Michael Collins, talks, tours and whiskey toasts in the pubs of the town – all to mark the memory of an exceptional man and an Irish rebel that many would also call a hero.