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Left Archive: Cork LGBTQ Archive September 21, 2020

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Uncategorized.

Given the interview with archivist and historian Orla Egan of Cork LGBTQ Archive today it is only appropriate to point to some of the materials in that Archive – many of which will be of considerable interest to those involved in progressive and left campaigns over the decades. As the Archive notes, its aim is:

…to preserve, digitise, share and display information in relation to the history of the LGBT communities in Cork, Ireland.

Cork has a long and rich history of LGBT activism, community formation and development. Since at least the 1970s LGBT people in Cork have forged communities, established organisations, set up services and reached out to others. As well as campaigning for LGBT rights and providing services and supports to LGBT people, the LGBT community has played a vital role in movements for social justice and political change in Cork. Yet this community, like many other LGBT communities worldwide, has been largely invisible in historical accounts and its contribution to social and political change and developments largely unacknowledged.

The Arthur Leahy collection is at the core of the Cork LGBT Archive. This is a private collection, gathered since the 1970s, and including posters, newsletters, leaflets and other items. In addition to this collection, items are also being gathered from other smaller collections and individual items held by members of the community.. Oral histories will also be included.

Exhibits can be found here, and include an overview of the struggle for LGBTQ workers rights. As it notes:

Up until the 1990s the rights of LGBT workers were not protected under Irish legislation. LGBT people frequently

experienced prejudice and discrimination in their workplaces. Protecting the rights of LGBT workers and campaigning for legislative changes became a priority of the Irish LGBT organisations that began to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s. Cork LGBT activists played a central role in the campaign for LGTB workers’ rights and bringing about changes in the legislation.

Artifacts in that collection can be found here. It’s a remarkable range of materials that encompasses National Gay Conference materials on employment rights, through to letters to the Department of Labour and even a photograph of Cork Gay Collective member Laurie Steele canvassing Mick O’Riordain in 1981 at the ICTU Conference in Cork.

All this is testament to the integral place that the struggle for LGBTQ rights played as a part of the struggle for all workers rights and vice versa. But the scope of the collections is wider again with materials on areas as diverse as LGBTQ Patrick’s Day Parades – the first float in Cork appearing in 1992, through to the Cork Lesbian Group/Cork Lesbian Collective Collection and the Cork Pride Collection. There’s also material from the anti-8th Amendment Campaign and the Quay Co-op Collection.

For short film about the Archive please see here.

You can follow news of the Archive here.

Also linked to the Archive is QUEER REPUBLIC OF CORK: Cork’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Communities 1970s-1990s by Orla Egan.


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