There’s just over 3,000 miles between Cork and New York City. However, the vast distance created by the Atlantic Ocean between them bears a stark contrast to the deep rooted close connection they share.
From 1848 to 1950 alone, for more than 2.5 million of the 6 million Irish emigrants journeying to America escaping famine or searching for work, Cobh in County Cork served as the last glimpse of home they saw, and New York the first of their new life.
Currently, 13.3% of the population of the USA consists of people who have immigrated from other nations. However, long before mass immigration became the norm and currently an increasingly important issue for America the few individuals from this side of the Atlantic who made the journey to the US were processed only by the officials of whichever state they arrived in first. A surge in the 1800’s of Italian but more so Irish immigrants gave great cause for a nationwide processing initiative to adequately and efficiently monitor exactly who was entering the United States of America. Famously, the first federal immigration processing station in America was established on Ellis Island in New York, becoming the gateway to a new life for the millions who passed through its doors. The first of these was 17 year old Annie Moore from County Cork, who was the very first immigrant to arrive at Ellis Island in 1892.
The Irish who had arrived in the 4-5 decades before Annie Moore and her two young brothers we there as an absolute last resort. However, since then, countless efforts have been made on both sides to ensure that the connection between Cork and New York is not merely a convenience for one but a beneficial opportunity and necessity for both.
One of the first of these efforts was the coming together of Cork natives living in New York in the final years of the 19th Century to form the then County Corkmen’s Benevolent, Patriotic and Protective Association, created to promote and protect the growing presence of Cork culture across New York. Over a century later the demand and need for the now County Cork Association of New York is as big as it was when it was established in 1884. Members now range from men, women, Cork natives to third generation. With membership growing each year it is clear that the relationship Cork shares with one of the biggest cities in the world is growing too.
In the decades that have passed since 1884, more and more Irish have been travelling to New York with more than just hope for a better life but armed with ideas, determination and ambition. The increasing success of Cork people in New York has caused the relationship to alter in its nature. New York was once essential for many Irish to survive, escaping famine and unemployment for a life of possibilities across the Atlantic, but as the Irish population has re-grown and the country re-emerges from the financial hardships of recent years, the success stories of native Corkonians and Cork businesses in New York continues to give ample reasons for the Big Apple to rely on the ambitious and driven youth constantly emerging from the Rebel County.
One successful business which has followed individuals like Annie Moore and the founders of the Cork County Association of New York in strengthening the relationship between Cork and New York is Cork business Trustev. With a clientele which includes Facebook Telefonica and BT, Trustev work to help large multinational companies detect and avoid online fraud. Difficult, demanding work which is predominantly carried out in their global headquarter offices in Blackrock, Cork. Demand from the leading companies in the world predominantly in North America such as those aforementioned brought about the need for Trustev to establish an office in New York, while maintaining it’s primary offices back home in Leeside, a truly millennial story of establishing Cork as an attractive city for New York to partner with.
Bringing the tale of the Cork- New York relationship up to today’s modernity, one of the biggest plans and opportunities on the horizon for Cork is the possibility of direct flights to New York City undoubtedly opening up huge opportunities for both cities. In recent months the long planned high speed internet fibre cable stretching from New York across the Atlantic to deliver faster internet speeds to Ireland was finally connected to extension cables just off the Cork coast, what historians in centuries to come may view as a “classic 21st Century connection between two cities”.
With international airlines and extraordinary inventions such as the 4,600km Trans-Atlantic submarine cable system – Project Express seeing the endless opportunities in investing in connecting “The Peoples Republic of Cork” to “The Capital of the World”, it is easy for one to assume that the tale of these two cities is only just beginning.