CHA AND MIAH WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG BOYS LOOKING UP AT THE NEW KINGSLEY HOTEL IN CORK CITY
The Kingsley Hotel is located on the banks of the River Lee on a site that was once the famous Lee Baths, where hundreds played, dived and frolicked in the decades between the 1930s to the 1980s. Today [10 May 2022] I walked to the Kingsley Hotel, from the city centre, as I wanted to photograph a sculpture of two boys which pays homage to a famous “Two Working Men” statues by Oisin Kelly.
It took me four years to determine the name of the artist responsible for the sculpture at the Kingsley Hotel. I asked at the hotel a few times and no one knew anything about the artist other than they thought he was from Cork.
In July 2017 I was in the area and had lunch at the hotel and upon leaving I noticed what appeared to be writing at the base of the sculpture. At first I was not sure if it was an inscription but when I returned home and zoomed in I saw the name ‘Brendan Byrne’.
To appreciate this sculpture you need to understand that there is the ’Two Working Men’ sculpture by Oisin Kelly across the road from the hotel. Here we have a representation of the two men when they were only young boys. Unfortunately there is a darker side in that many locals consider them to be ‘Upton’ boys.
St. Patrick’s Industrial School, Upton was an industrial school in Upton, County Cork and by all accounts it was a really horrible and cruel place.
I suspect that the artist had not intended any reference to the Industrial School.
The information below is included on a large plaque located beside the two boys:
‘It’s a fine big place you’ll have to agree’
Says Miah to Cha as they strolled by the Lee
‘I heard’ tis a hotel, called the Kingsley- it’s new’
So they stopped for a while to admire the view.
The spot that they gazed at – they’d looked at before
As the high diver plunged to the onlookers’ roar
The Lee Baths had gone now but here on its site
Was a beautiful Inn, inviting and bright.
The decades have passed now but the two friends still meet
To see them right now just look across the street
A critical eye’s cast on every new building
As curious as ever, just like when young children
The plaque also includes the following explanation:
”In 1968, a stunning piece of sculpture by world renowned artist Oisín Kelly was unveiled just across the street on the Plaza outside County Hall. The piece was entitled ‘Two Working Men’ but the people of Cork quickly and affectionately renamed them ‘Cha and Miah’ (Charles and Jeremiah) after two famous Cork characters. The curiosity displayed by the men depicted in the sculpture led us to think that they must have been just as inquisitive as children. So the hotel commissioned this piece to remind us of a time when we were young and the world was full of wonder and curiosity was just part of who we were. Stay forever young at heart.”