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Cork Independent

Cork Profile

Michael Lenihan, author and historian

Wednesday, 19th December, 2018 5:02pm

Name and position: Michael Lenihan, author and historian

Age: 39+

Lives: Grange, Douglas

Family: My wife Josephine, son Andrew, daughter Catherine, son-in-law Andi, grandson Culann and granddaughter Abigail.

Pets: Unfortunately our Westie Sprocket passed away five months ago at 13 years old. We have two chickens, Henrietta and Zebe, but I am still buying eggs in the shop.

Favourite thing about Cork: It’s still a small, friendly place and you are guaranteed to meet someone sociable whilst walking around the city.

Least favourite thing about Cork: Too many Starbucks in the city. We should be supporting our independent coffee shops more. Local bookshops are also in decline, as Liam Ruiseal’s closed recently. The only independent book shop in the city is Vibes and Scribes, but Waterstones give great support to local authors. Thankfully we have many independent book shops in the county, with Bandon Books, Carrigaline, Kinsale, Skibbereen and Clonakilty.

One thing you’d change about Cork:

 I would love to see the old electric trams back in the city. They survived for a term of 33 years and travelled as far as Douglas and Blackrock.

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

 I wanted to be a fireman, especially when I won a massive fire engine in junior infants.

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

I have always worked in warehousing, and I have an MA in History from UCC. I have written several books on Cork history including ‘Hidden Cork’, ‘Pure Cork’ and ‘Timeless Cork’ and my latest, ‘Cork Burning’, all published by Mercier Press.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

My hobby, which involves a lot of historical research. I particularly love collecting old postcards and images of Cork city - every image has a story to tell. It could be a rare view of a building in the background, or interesting street furniture, such as a drinking trough for horses, which are long forgotten. Trying to date some of these views can be quite remarkable.

What motivates you?

If I am really interested in a project I will give it 110 per cent.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Stay in education and work hard and it will open up huge opportunities for you.

If you weren’t in the job you have what would you be doing?

I really enjoy a spot of DIY, so I would love to be in a workshop making and constructing individual pieces with wood.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?

My favourite achievements are my books, ‘Hidden Cork’ and ‘Pure Cork’, which are local bestsellers and are still selling in book shops today.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

My father Denis Lenihan, who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Cork, and from whom I inherited my love of this great city.

What is the life dream now?

I would love to travel the world on my motorbike with my wife Josephine.

How do you switch off?

Going for a burn on my motorcycle, a bit of DIY, reading and historical research.

What is your favourite Cork memory?

Buying my first motorcycle from Ross & Co on Winthrop Street. It was a Yamaha 100 LS3 and they even took an old bicycle as a trade-in.

What is your favourite place in Cork?

It has to be Cork Public Museum, where wonderful exhibitions are constantly on display thanks to the wonderful work of curator Dan Breen. The latest exhibition ‘Below Our Feet,’ features artefacts uncovered by archaeologists at the former Beamish and Crawford brewery site.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

I always remember my father’s one – ‘A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.’

When are you at your happiest?

Having fun with my grandchildren Abigail and Culann.

Any regrets?

Not winning the Lotto – well, there is still hope.

What is your hidden talent?

It has to be making my wife Josephine laugh without trying.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

That I was expelled from the North Monastery when I was 15, just before my Inter Certificate (Junior Certificate).

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Well, I spent two years of my life researching for my new book ‘Cork Burning’, which became quite an obsession. I took great pleasure in researching and writing this book, and I am really enjoying the wonderful feedback that I am getting from everyone about it. I am very proud to be able to give my contribution to local history. ‘Cork Burning’ is available in all good bookshops - here’s to another Christmas bestseller!

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