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Artwork to honour jewish presence in cork

Thursday, 13th December, 2012 5:00am

This Saturday marks a special event in the year in Cork. A special lighting event called Evening Echo will offer a reminder of the fact that there was once a thriving Jewish community in Cork city. Now there are only a very small few and that number has declined over the year since the project began last December. Last year there were six members of the Jewish community in Cork.The art installation will take place at sunset on Saturday 15 December in Shalom Park, in the heart of what is known locally as Jewtown. 'Evening Echo' is a public project created by renowned New Zealand artist Maddie Leach. It will begin at approximately 4.14pm and last for a period of 30 minutes.It will also, for the first time, be streamed live to Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in Auckland, New Zealand where the Evening Echo project is featured in a new exhibition, called 'Between Memory and Trace'.

The project involves a complex lighting system, which will ensure that this unique lighting event occurs each year in Cork on the final day of Hanukkah for the next fifty years. Hanukkah is a significant holiday in the Jewish calendar, and involves the lighting of a nine-branched candelabrum.

The art project involved the installation of three new park lamps in Shalom Park to match the park's existing six lamps. The configuration of these nine lamps make reference to the candelabra lit every year during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.  

Each year on the final day of Hanukkah at twilight, the taller lamp in Shalom Park will light for a number of minutes and begin a sequence for all the other lights to light up. The project is planned to run for 50 years and involves complex software to trigger the sequence.  

Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Cork Hebrew Congregation, Fred Rosehill has been a central part of planning for the project. He said: “The 'Evening Echo' event by Maddie Leach is a historic and fitting commemoration of Cork's Jewish history. Shalom Park and the surrounding hinterland, still affectionately known as Jewtown by some older residents of the area, served as a focal point for the community in its heyday, in the later part of the 19th century.

“I think it is fitting and appropriate that all these years later, when the community has seen significant decline due to emigration, that this live commemoration will keep the memory of the former residents of the area alive,” he said.Artist Maddie Leach said: "Evening Echo  is a project that acts as a kind of signpost, and offers a delicate resistance to the slow disappearance of Cork's Jewish community. It can remind us of the idea that as one community wanes others emerge.”

The project was managed by the National Sculpture Factory and Cork City Council and supported by Bord Gáis which initially gifted Shalom Park to the city of Cork in 1989.

This year the last night of Hanukkah falls on Saturday December 15. The lamp lighting, which is open to the public, will begin at approximately 4.14pm and last for a period of 30 minutes.

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