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in the glow of a frozen flame

17 May – 21 July

Mr. B felt the heat. Sweat on his scalp and his forehead and his eyebrows settled, marinating in his hair. Excess labour dripped from him like sad rain on the profile of an architrave. Some flames from city fires remained. They became public fixtures. Like sculptures. They glowed in the shapes of sacks. Full at the bottom. Bottom heavy and desperate. Drunk and stolen. 1Mr. B usually past them on his way to his workshop each morning. As he walked across Emmet Place, one large flame stood oddly proud at the top of Faulkner’s Lane, 2as if it was rolled down from St Patrick’s Street. He was once told that on the morning of 10th December 1920, after the burning of Cork City, a group of local residents built a crate out of the detritus. The sounds of sawing and hammering brought comfort. They salvaged wheels from burnt out cars and attached them to the crate. The structure was strong, mobile and nameless. They placed temporary ramps to the opening of the crate for a frozen flame that had snapped off of Cash’s the night before. They gathered at one side of the flame and pushed it to its bespoke host. The flame was both weightless and the heaviest thing they had ever experienced. Their hands were lightly burnt from the push. Word got around that the best way to remedy this particular burn was to place their hands onto each other’s backs. There was about twelve of them. They stood in a line, chained from back to back, hook to hook, to relieve the pain before they wheeled the flame. Their torsos angled, making lumps out of their muscles. Their clothes elegantly draped from their arms and their heads – shielding them from remnants of heat. In front of them, morning winter sun glowed in their eyes. As they pushed the flame, their stretched bodies echoed the horizon, their strawberry pores had eyes, close to the ground. Sky and place morphed. Deep in red, they deposited the flame in its place of rest – a looking object between St Patrick’s Street and The Crawford Municipal Technical Institute. Trade and skill and thought filtered by a big, remembering sore. Most of the flames vanished along with the objects they destroyed. Each brick and book made its way back. 3Streets and shelves were eventually furnished and scarred and nourished and strange – secured by In the Land of the Lion.4 A witness is still. A gaze is frantic.

1. On the night of the Burning of Cork, Black and Tans and Auxiliaries were drunk. They marched up and down St Patrick’s Street with bags of loot.

2. In the autumn of 2009 O'Callaghan properties renamed Faulkner’s Lane to Opera Lane.

3. “In the aftermath of the Carnegie Library fire, each book that arrived from Ireland or abroad must have fallen through Mr Wilkinson’s letterbox like a fragment of hope”. (McCarthy, 2010, p. 6)

4. “The stock of the Carnegie Library was not restored to its pre-Burning of Cork level until 2 June 1931, when C. Kearton’s In the Land of the Lion [a book about African animal life], purchased second-hand from Boots Library for three shillings, became the 15,000th item entered into the Accession Book”. (McCarthy, 2010, p. 58)

Emmett Place, Cork, Ireland
T12 TNE6
Tel: 021 480 5042

Opening Hours
N.B. Last entry is 15 minutes before closing

Monday–Saturday 10.00am–5.00pm*
Thursday until 8.00pm

Sundays and Bank Holidays
11.00 am4.00pm

*Second floor closes 15 minutes before closing
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