Padraig Colman

Rambling ruminations of an Irishman in Sri Lanka

Category: Abacus

Alderney – Thank God It Isn’t Jersey

A version of this article appeared in the September issue of  The Abacus

https://casrilanka.com/casl/media/sep_2014/index.html#/62

Lloyds Bank victoria st

Two thousand alcoholics, clinging to a rock.

alderney_flying_in

There were Nazi concentration camps on British soil. The inmates described the Channel Islands as Les Rochers Maudits.

History and Geography

map

Alderney is the most northerly and third biggest ( three miles long by a mile-and-a-half wide) of the Channel Islands, 60 miles away from the British mainland and 20 miles from the bright lights of Guernsey. The Duchy of Normandy annexed Alderney in 933 AD. In 1042, William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy (later William the Conqueror, King of the English) granted Alderney to the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. After 1204, when mainland Normandy was incorporated into the kingdom of France, Alderney remained loyal to the English monarch as Duke of Normandy. Today, residents of Alderney are subjects of the British Crown, but are not represented at Westminster. Alderney is not part of the United Kingdom or the European Union. As of April 2013, there were 1,903 people living on Alderney.

 

Jersey

 

I first took against Jersey when I was actually there but had not intended to be. I was going on a camping holiday to Alderney with a friend and our plan was to travel to Jersey from Weymouth and then get a hovercraft to Alderney.

Unfortunately, there was no hovercraft until the next day and we had no money for accommodation. A Jersey restaurant ripped us off. We tried sleeping on the beach but it was too wet. We tried a shelter in the park but dogs woke us up and we found ourselves wandering the streets at about 5 am A Gestapo-like policeman searched us and threatened to throw us in jail for vagrancy. The TV series Bergerac, which portrayed Jersey as a seething pit of crony corruption and gangsterism, confirmed my view. In more recent years, personal experience of off-shore banking has confirmed in my mind that Jersey is Rip-Off Island.

Laissez Faire

Alderney was more hospitable. There is a common expression elsewhere in the Channel Islands that Alderney is “two thousand alcoholics, clinging to a rock”. Alderney was one of the last places in the British Isles to introduce a smoking ban in pubs, shops and restaurants. Alderney allows people to ride motorbikes without helmets and drive cars without seatbelts. Although peace and quiet attracts elderly people there is, occasionally, a vibrant nightlife. While Jersey hosts offshore banks, Alderney hosts over a dozen gambling website operators. One of these is Full Tilt Poker, which is currently being prosecuted by the US and Canadian governments.

Alderney has two policemen but almost no crime. People do not lock their cars. Because it is quiet and secluded, Alderney has attracted some famous residents, including TH White (The Once and Future King) cricket commentator and poet John Arlott, cricketer Sir Ian Botham, Beatles producer Sir George Martin, actress Dame Julie Andrews.

Spooky

However, there was something spooky about Alderney. We had thought we would be pitching our tents on a busy campsite. It turned out that ours were the only two tents on a farmer’s rather isolated field, overlooking Saye beach.

Saye_Beach_Campsite_from_Air

One night, something snuffling about outside my tent woke me up. I shone my torch but could not see anything. Another night, I dreamt that there was a small chapel in the field. It was covered in ivy which indicated that no one had gone in or out for a long time. Slowly the ivy began to break as the heavy door painfully creaked open from the inside. My companion told me in later years that he had had the same dream.

Local people liked to scare newcomers with tales of a headless German horseman who was said to haunt the road leading to our campsite. One night, after an evening spent in the pubs of St Anne’s (the only town), circumstances dictated that I had to walk back to the campsite alone. It was a moonless night and at one point, the trees met over the top of the road, forming a dark tunnel. I saw no headless horseman. I survived.

German Occupation

During the Second World War, the Channel Islands were the only part of the British Commonwealth occupied by German  forces. In June 1940, around 1500 residents were evacuated from Alderney. The German occupation was a test run for the occupation of Britain.

Evacuation-prams

The Germans built four concentration camps in Alderney, with an estimated population of 6,000. Organisation Todt (OT) was a Third Reich civil and military engineering group named after its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi.

todt

arbeit

 

Most OT workers were forcibly recruited, but the real slave workers were citizens of the Soviet Union, mostly from the Ukraine and Jews. OT used forced labour on Alderney to build bunkers, gun emplacements, air-raid shelters and concrete fortifications.

fort

 

fort2

batterie_annes

tourgis

alderney-castle_1693647c

copper

enemy

Local people told us that the huge mound beside our campsite had been a German “hospital”. In fact, the campsite is the location of the Lager Norderney camp, which in 1943 was “home” to European slave labourers. Close by is a tunnel from the camp to the beach, which, some allege, was a killing site.

350px-Forced-workers5

The Germans sent miscreants from other islands to Alderney. This meant that there were witnesses to the brutality. Arbitrary beatings occurred daily for the most trivial reasons such as searching for food in garbage buckets. Witnesses described sadistic games the OT guards played with the prisoners. One set Alsatians on the workers. Another took pot shots out of a window. Prisoners were dragged around until they lost consciousness.

_48806874_germansolidersalderney-brianbolland

The worst thing was the systemic violence of overwork and starvation. Breakfast was half a litre of ersatz coffee without milk or sugar; lunch half a litre of thin vegetable soup; supper, the same with a kilo of bread between six men. There was systematic corruption by which the Germans deprived the prisoners of their meagre rations. No clothing was issued. The men worked at least twelve hours a day, with a half-hour break, seven days a week.

map_showing_sylt_camp

It is difficult to say with certainty how many perished in the Alderney camps. In his book, The British Channel Islands under German Occupation, 1940-1945, Paul Sanders believes that it is not unreasonable to assume that one third of those who entered the camps died, which mean a death toll of well in excess of 1,250.

sylt

Paul Sanders wrote: “Whatever may have been written elsewhere about the exemplary demeanour of German troops in the Channel Islands, in Alderney, an almost imperceptible, yet genuine disintegration of morale took place which found an outlet in corruption, alcohol excess, sexual debauchery and cruelty towards foreign workers.” Officers routinely kept mistresses or “comfort women” and Major Hoffmann opened his own brothel in a quiet corner of the island. On the larger islands, there were routine health checks of prostitutes but on Alderney, VD was out of control.

Returning Evacuees

On their return to their island, Alderney evacuees had little knowledge of the crimes committed on their island during the occupation. They were shocked to see the state of Alderney, with many houses completely derelict. The Germans had used anything wooden as fuel. When evacuee Marion Bates returned in 1945, she noted the absence of birds – Alderney without birdsong suggested that the island had lost its soul. However, the Germans had installed water pipes, electricity and tarmac roads.

return

Alderney Today

St Anne's church

Le Huret

The economy has gone from depending largely on agriculture, to the tourism and finance industries. E-commerce has become increasingly important. The residents on Alderney enjoy a 20% income tax rate, and no VAT, inheritance tax or capital gains tax. It is more welcoming than Jersey and Guernsey. Jersey likes no one who is not super-rich and in Guernsey, there are restrictions on incomers buying property. Unlike other Channel Islands, Alderney enjoys an open housing market.

house for sale route de braye

There is a growing stock of commercial property on the island and the States of Alderney are enthusiastic supporters of economic growth. Alderney enjoys a gentle pace of life but still offers a very welcoming environment to dynamic businesses, thanks to high-speed broadband.

fort clonque

The island usually receives about 3,000 visitors a year. There is virtually no entertainment apart from pubs. There is an old-style cinema, which has two weekly showings of films way behind the UK release dates. There are decent places to eat – a choice of Thai, Italian, Indian, pub-grub. Informal dance music events often take place in abandoned bunkers. Families from the mainland come for the white sandy beaches and the dramatic cliff-top walks. ‘Twitchers’ come for the 260 species of birds.

The birds, the soul of Alderney, came back.

alderney-braye-bayclonque2

 

Credit Unions – Banking and Social Responsibility

This article appeared in the June 2014 issue of The Abacus.

 

Will the conventional banks ever provide “a New Moral World” of happiness, enlightenment, and prosperity?

 

When I called in at Midleton Credit Union just before Christmas, I was immediately offered a piece of cake and a glass of red wine. This was around 10am and there was already a good deal of red-faced conviviality in the branch. Whenever I stopped by to make a deposit or withdrawal, the manager would call me in for a friendly chat.

I have a similarly cordial relationship with my local Sampath Bank manager but one could never imagine such a thing with conventional banks in the UK or Ireland. If one tries to phone the Croydon branch of Barclay’s, one finds that all branches have the same telephone number and when one dials that number, one finds oneself speaking to someone in Bangalore rather than Croydon. Barclays plan to cut 12,000 staff this year. The bank’s total bonus pool for 2013 rose by 10% to £2.38bn, from £2.17bn in 2012, with the investment bank’s bonus pool increasing by 13%.The level of personal service is unlikely to improve.

History of Credit Unions

Credit Unions originated in the 19th century, based on the ideas of Robert Owen in the UK, Herman Schulze-Delitzsch in Germany and Alphonse Desjardin in North America. Owen was born in Wales but moved to Manchester, then to Scotland (where he achieved commercial success operating on principles that became the basis for the cooperative movement in Britain). He then bought a town in Indiana which he renamed New Harmony. Unfortunately, the utopia failed. Owen’s vision was of “a New Moral World” of happiness, enlightenment, and prosperity through education, science, technology, and communal living.

A Credit Union is a member-owned financial cooperative, democratically controlled by its members, and operated for the purpose of promoting thrift, providing credit at competitive rates, and providing other financial services to its members. Many Credit Unions also provide services intended to support community development or sustainable international development on a local level.

Credit Unions in Ireland

Credit Unions have played an important role in Irish society since the 1950s. The Irish Credit Union movement has achieved one of the highest membership penetrations of any country, with over 50% of the Irish population now holding membership. Credit Unions in Ireland today vary dramatically in size, membership and in the range of services they offer. However, they all share a basic philosophy and set of principles.

Ireland in the 1950s could have been a third world country. There was high unemployment and poor housing, which led to sickness and malnutrition. State unemployment benefits were low and did not last indefinitely, leaving many families in abject poverty, relying on loan sharks. Banks and other financial institutions did not advance credit without substantial collateral or guarantees; you had to be a homeowner in order to get a loan and very few people owned their own homes in the 1950s.

Nora Herlihy (a teacher of under-privileged children), Sean Forde (a baker) and Séamus P MacEoin (a civil servant) decided to do something about it. They recognised the root of the problem as the scarce availability and poor management of money and resolved to identify a system that would allow people to gain more control over their finances.

In 1956, a government sponsored savings campaign prompted a co-operative in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, to set up a thrift society, which was reformed as the Dun Laoghaire Borough Credit Union – the first in Ireland.

Peace pioneer John Hume and five others pooled their combined savings of eight pounds and ten shillings, in October 1960, to set up Derry Credit Union, the first in Northern Ireland.

The movement advanced through the 1960s in a series of spectacular leaps. By the end of the decade, 180,442 people had joined 336 unions spread throughout the 32 counties and their savings amounted to almost £9 million. Most members of Credit Unions are savers rather than borrowers, which can be a problem for their viability.

Personal Experience

I was a member of Midleton Credit Union in County Cork. Their motto is Not for profit. Not for charity. But for service. Midleton has 18,000 members and provides a full range of financial services to members. Midleton Credit Union was formed in 1968 solely to help its members and aims to offer fair and reasonable rates on savings and loans. It provides loans for cars, holidays, Christmas, weddings and just about anything one can persuade the manager to agree to. Payment periods range from one to five years. Loans are insured at no direct cost to the eligible member. Repayment protection insurance is available as an optional extra. There are no hidden fees or transaction charges. A loan of 10,000 repaid monthly over five years would mean monthly payments of €209.82. The typical interest rate of 9.5% is high compared to the 2% on my Bank of Ireland mortgage, but I found the Credit Union’s flexibility helpful in the refurbishment of my derelict cottage and the refurbishment of my very mouth when I had extensive and expensive dental treatment. Repayments are calculated on the reducing balance of the loan. This means smaller interest repayments as you repay your loan. Repayment terms can be adjusted to suit your particular circumstances. You can repay the loan earlier or make larger repayments than agreed with no penalty. Additional lump sum repayments are accepted with no penalty.

Criticism

It is ironic, in the light of what I have written in these pages about the shortcomings of the Central Bank of Ireland as a financial regulator, that it should publish a report critical of Credit Unions. In Credit Union Prism Risk Assessments, Sharon Donnery, Registrar of Credit Unions, wrote: “Regrettably, we found the majority of credit unions we engaged with needed to make significant improvements. …We also noted in a small number of cases certain attitudes and behaviours indicative of an unwillingness to comply with legal and regulatory requirements and associated absence of appropriate risk management systems and compliance programmes.”

 

Ms Donnery pontificates: “As with all other financial institutions, they depend on public confidence for their success and members need to be assured that their savings are safe.”

 

Despite the shortcomings of the Central Bank, three executives of Anglo Irish Bank are each facing 16 charges of illegal activity.

 

Customer Satisfaction

Research indicates that Credit Union customers are more satisfied with service quality than bank customers are. A survey showed that Credit Unions rate significantly higher than banks on 11 of the 14 service quality questions: access; courtesy; communication; credibility; security; empathy; tangibles; basic service; fairness; fixing mistakes; and guarantees. People between the ages of 18 and 34 have a high regard for the community-owned lenders. Four out of 10 young adults are members of Credit Unions and half of this group would consider a loan of around €6,300. Young adults see Credit Unions as more understanding than banks.

 

Conclusion

The World Council of Credit Unions is the leading international trade association and development agency for credit unions. Since 1971, World Council has increased access to high quality financial services worldwide by strengthening Credit Unions using a well-defined and thoroughly tested development model. In Sri Lanka, the World Council is strengthening Credit Unions in areas affected by the conflict with the intent of restoring financial stability and a broader sense of security.

It would seem that in Ireland the public, chastened by the antics of the casino banks, have more trust in Credit Unions than banks, whatever Ms Donnery might say. Is there a lesson for the rest of the world? Banking (the service that should protect savings and supply loans for social uses such as productive development) is too important to be left in the hands of a small number of private bankers who, by definition seek only to maximise their profits. Credit Unions bring a measure of democracy, cooperation and mutuality to the ugly world of finance. They are an example of what biologist EO Wilson called “the delicate web of reciprocity”.

 

Regulating the Regulators

This article appeared in the March issue of The Abacus.

 

Does deregulation protect the public or give licence to fraudsters?

 

One often sees features in the Sri Lankan media in which respected entrepreneurs call for further de-regulation in the financial sector in order to ease the business of doing business. It is quite legitimate to criticise the inertia caused by unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape. However, we should remember that it was not an excess of regulation that brought about the financial crisis in the US and the EU. De-regulation is unlikely to protect the public or investors.

 
Regulators, whether appointed by national governments or international groups, have the task of protecting investors, maintaining orderly markets and promoting financial stability. For example, in 1974, the central bank governors of the Group of Ten countries established the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) to provide a forum for regular cooperation on banking supervisory. Its objective is to enhance understanding of key supervisory issues and improve the quality of banking supervision worldwide. The Committee also frames guidelines and standards.

 
In general, regulators promulgate and implement laws and rules that govern what financial institutions such as banks, brokers and investment companies can do. The range of regulatory activities can include setting minimum standards for capital and conduct, making regular inspections, and investigating and prosecuting misconduct.

 
In a previous article, I indicated that this did not work too well in Ireland. Rialtóir Airgeadais was the sole regulator of all financial institutions in Ireland from May 2003 until October 2010 and was a constituent part of the Central Bank of Ireland. One former CEO was Patrick Neary, who retired early over the handling of the Regulator’s investigation into the €87 million in secret directors’ loans at Anglo Irish Bank.

 
The German Regulator warned the Irish Regulator in 2004 that a German bank’s Irish subsidiaries were involved in risky and under-scrutinised transactions worth as much as €30bn or 20 times the parent bank’s capitalisation. Despite the warning, in 2007, the Irish Regulator approved another investment vehicle from the same bank. Two months later, the stable of off-balance sheet companies needed a €17.3bn bailout from the German association of savings banks. The German regulator also blamed the Irish Regulator for the failure of another German bank that the German government had to bail out at a cost of €102 billion.

 
The Financial Services Consultative Consumer Panel said that most Irish consumers lost significant amounts of money because of the inadequacies of the financial regulatory structure. It also criticised the inadequate response of the regulator to threats to consumers, including the Irish property bubble.

 
Ernst & Young refused to appear before a parliamentary committee following the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank and was investigated about its audits of that bank. Nevertheless, the Irish Regulator hired Ernst & Young to advise on the €440 billion bank guarantee scheme in January 2009.

 
Transparency International noted that the Irish Regulator had found substantial departures from credit policy during inspections of banks, but failed adequately to follow up on its concerns. One wag likened the actions of the Irish Regulator to “the Vatican running an abortion clinic”. The European Commission in a November 2010 review of the financial crisis said, “Some national supervisory authorities failed dramatically. We know that in Ireland there was almost no supervision of the large banks.”

 
The possibility of criminal prosecutions against managers in Irish banks who committed offences was compromised because the Regulator was aware of the alleged offences but took no action to stop them. This allowed wrongdoers the opportunity to claim they were acting with the approval of regulatory authorities. Nevertheless, three executives of Anglo Irish are each facing 16 charges of unlawfully providing financial assistance to individuals for the purpose of buying shares in Anglo Irish Bank in 2008. About 350 people volunteered to serve on the jury, giving an indication of the interest in the trial, which may last for six months.

 
Criminal prosecutions are rare in the US. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, in its final report, uses variants of the word “fraud” no fewer than 157 times in describing what led to the US crisis, concluding that there was a “systemic breakdown,” not just in accountability, but also in ethical behavior.

 
In Ireland, the failure of regulation arose from a combination of factors: incompetence, lack of intellectual firepower, understaffing, cronyism and plain lethargy. In other countries, regulators are ineffectual for similar reasons; sometimes complexity defeats them. Alan Greenspan wrote that financial regulators are required to oversee a system far more complex than what existed when the regulations still governing financial markets were originally written.

 
Critics argue that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is tasked with overseeing derivatives that were at the centre of the US crisis, is drastically underfunded. The CFTC gets $215 million to regulate markets. The notional value of the markets the agency tries to regulate is mushrooming from $45 trillion in commodities swaps to a nearly $400 trillion derivatives trading industry.

 
The argument of the banksters/fraudsters goes: Markets have become too complex for effective human intervention. The only strategy that can work is maintaining maximum freedom of action for key market participants such as hedge funds, private equity funds, and investment banks.

 

Regulators and legislators, in cosy complicity with the banks, have taken very few real and restrictive measures concerning financial companies.
In the UK, the Vickers Commission presented its recommendations to the authorities in 2011. Vickers said that banks should ringfence their high street banking businesses from their “casino” investment banking arms. Other commissions in France and the EU also recommended ring fencing.

 

Nevertheless, in January 2013, the Basel Committee postponed the application of one of its principal measures, the liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) regulation, requiring banks to constitute reserves capable of meeting a crisis for thirty days. The measure was to have applied from 2015, but it has been postponed until 2019.The banks may still include toxic products in the LCR. The EC retreated from its plan to protect deposit-banking activities from the undesirable effects that may arise from highly speculative and risky trading activities.

 
There seems to be no sign that regulators are likely to grasp the nettle of dealing with the banks in such a way that they will be compelled to protect the deposits of ordinary people and finance socially useful production. Banking (the service that should protect savings and supply loans for social uses such as productive development) is too important to be left in the hands of a small number of private bankers who, by definition seek only to maximise their profits.

Cork City – Watery Gateway to the World

 

city-hall-cork

 

court house

English Queen Visits English Market.

queenfish
As well as shaking hands with former IRA Commandant Martin McGuinness, Queen Elizabeth II, took time on her trip to Ireland to visit Cork’s English Market in May 2011. She was impressed by the fact that the market victualled British troops, right back to the Napoleonic Wars. The cornucopia known as the English Market, a roofed food market that has been trading since 1788, is my favourite place in Cork city.

 

QueensVisitEnglishMarketPackedDENISMay2011_large
Like Cork City and the Irish economy, the English Market has survived, sometimes only barely, through good times and bad. In January 1789, the market closed when serious flooding put the entire city under water. The English Market remained open throughout the famine years (the starving kept at bay by a special constabulary unit). The Market miraculously survived the burning of the city by the British in December 1920. It has endured fires and attempts replace it with a car park. The arrival of thousands of immigrants to the city has enriched Cork life and the market reflects this. The ‘foodie’ middle class can choose from an infinite variety of olives, foccacia breads and organic meats. Under the same roof, the old working class continues to buy cheap cuts of meat.

 
Global City

 

Cork has long been a globalised sort of place. It, and Cobh (the Cove of Cork), was a departure point for people leaving Ireland to change the world and a reception point for receiving people wanting to change their own lives for the better. Thousands of famine-stricken migrants left Ireland from Cobh in the 1840s. The Titanic made its last stop in Cork harbour. Hundreds of the passengers of the liner Lusitania, whose sinking in 1915 by a German U-Boat brought the US into the First World War.

 

 

prom

 

Survivors from the Lusitania were brought to the hotel now known as The Commodore.

 

To cash in on the tourist trade, one Cobh publican changed the name of his establishment from O’Leary’s to the Lusitania. His rival next door changed the name of his pub from The Rotunda to The U-Boat.

 
A Wet and Marshy Place

 

flood
The name ‘Cork’ means marshy place and refers to the fact that the centre of Cork City is built on islands, surrounded by the River Lee. The river channels between the marshes were infilled to form St Patrick’s Street, the Grand Parade, Henry Street, Grattan Street, Cornmarket Street, Sheare’s Street. Recent pictures show St Patrick’s Street looking like Venice. Global warming may eventually drown Cork.

 

flood2
Norsemen and Normans

 
English people used to call my father (born in Cobh when it was called Queenstown) “Geordie” because there is a similar Scandinavian lilt to the accents of Cork and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In the sixth century, St Finbarre founded a monastery, which was the beginning of the city. Cork experienced its first recorded encounter with the Vikings in 820, when they attacked Finbarre’s great monastery. The Vikings and the monastic community eventually arrived at a form of peaceful coexistence. The seafaring and trading abilities of the Vikings proved to be a boon to the monastery and they established Cork as an important trading centre.

 

StFinbarre's

Blackrock-Castle-Cork-old-photo
The Anglo-Normans first came to Cork in 1172 and changed the look of the city by building city walls and churches. The city still has a continental kind of atmosphere although most of the medieval buildings have disappeared and the fabric of today’s Cork dates mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries. It did not help that the thuggish Black and Tans set fire to the city in 1920 as a reprisal.

 

burning-of-cork

 

french-huguenot-church
Like New Orleans, Cork has its French Quarter around French Church Street and Carey’s Lane. Many Huguenots left France when the Edict of Nantes, which had granted religious freedom to Protestants, was revoked in 1685. Despite their small numbers, the Huguenots became prominent in the commercial and civic life of the city. Many Huguenots served as Sheriffs and Mayors of Cork.

 

huguenot
Guns and Butter, Boom and Bust

 

haulb2
Although it was a hotbed of rebel activity, Cork did well out of the British Empire. Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour was a major British naval base and defence against Napoleon. Cork exported salted beef, pork and butter to the West Indies and fed the British navy. The unrivalled ability of Cork Harbour to shelter the biggest fleets assembled during the American War of Independence and, later, during the Napoleonic Wars was a major factor in the expansion of the provisions trade in Cork.

 

haulbowline
I remember when Cork was dirt poor. Ancient black- shawled women, like one might see in Greece, Sicily or Portugal, moved like shadows in the warrens of alleyways that climbed the steep streets. Beggars sat on St Patrick’s Bridge.

OldCorkWoman

Henry Ford’s grandfather was a Corkman from Ballinascarthy, who, in 1847, at the height of the Famine, made the gruelling voyage from Queenstown (Cobh) to Quebec. The Cork  factory was its Ford’s oldest (established in 1917) outside the US. It closed in 1984 as did the Dunlop tyre factory, resulting in a loss of 2,500 jobs. The Dutch-owned Verolme shipyard at Rushbrooke gave up shipbuilding in 1985. At its prime, the yard employed more than 1,200 people working in shipbuilding, ship-repair, offshore platform modules and many other engineering enterprises.
Viagra Boom
In the 1990s, new industries came to Cork. Cork City became one of Ireland’s most important IT hubs. Low corporation tax attracted multinationals like Apple and Amazon. Pfizer manufactures Viagra in Cork. Many multinational pharmaceutical companies are located in Little Island. Cork is now Ireland’s most important centre for the chemical industry and Ireland’s only oil refinery is located at Whitegate across the harbour from Cobh.
Tourism

 

StephPoets

Cork was European Capital of Culture in 2005.

 

murphy's

Murphy’s Brewery at Lady’s Well
The Cork International Jazz Festival has played host to everyone who is anyone in the jazz business. Guinness sponsor the Jazz Festival, although Murphy’s brewed at the Lady’s Well brewery in Cork is a far superior drink. The festival takes place at the end of October , just as the department stores are putting on their Christmas display. The Cork International Film Festival was established in 1956 and is still going strong every November.

 

corkjazz
Almost 100,000 passengers arrive in Cobh each year when large cruise liners berth right in the centre of the town at Ireland’s only dedicated cruise terminal. Tourist attractions are focused on the maritime and emigration legacy of the town and include the Queenstown Story Heritage Centre, Titanic Experience, Titanic Trail walking tour, and St Colman’s Cathedral.

 

Cruise

 

StephCobhMoon

The town has remained largely unchanged since the Titanic departed from Cork Harbour in 1912, with the streetscape and piers still much the same. There is evidence of the greed years of the property bubble in that the spacious gardens of the grand houses on Lake Road have been subdivided and built on.

 
Hope for the Future?

 

 

StephSunny

 

According to the IDA (Irish Development authority), Cork is the industrial heart of Ireland. Dublin as a region had the lowest proportion of Irish-owned industrial units in 2011 at 14.5%. The south-west region, with a much smaller population, accounted for 15% of Irish-owned industry. Average industrial wages in the Cork region are €44,800, while the Dublin region is next highest at €44,700.

 

 

Iago-store
The English Market is a good symbol for Cork, encapsulating the political, socio-economic, cultural and dietary history of the city across 226 years. The first surge in economic growth in the 1960s led to a more open and adventurous outlook and significant changes in patterns of food buying and eating.

 

Paradiso

The Paradiso- my favourite restaurant in the entire universe

Ireland used to be a gourmet hell but now Cork has celebrity chefs and fine restaurants. In the 1990s, influences from abroad were absorbed.
The English Market still thrives despite the economic downturn. English Market produce left unsold goes to the homeless. Homeless people have been known to ask ABC (the Alternative Bread Company) “Do you have any of that rosemary focaccia?”

 

 

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