The Golden Fish


I’m the golden fish on Shandon. Well you might call it Shandon but it’s St. Anne’s Church to me, and from here I can see my city in all its manifestations and its finery.

I’m a salmon, not a goldfish. Do not call me ‘the goldfish’ on Shandon. I don’t like ‘the goldie fish’ either – it’s somewhat demeaning. You don’t hear the golden angel on Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral being called the ‘goldie angel’ do you?

Furthermore, I would like some myth or legend to be associated with me, just like that golden angel. I wonder if I could somehow be associated with the dangers of global warning? For example ‘when the golden fish of St. Anne’s Church falls into the Lee, the city will be engulfed by the rising tides of climate change.’ Something dignified and significant like that.

I think that angel is a bit of a cod, if I’m honest, no pun intended. I mean, how clichéd for starters, an angel with a trumpet. But a fish! Directly referring to the loaves and fishes parable of the bible, or that Irish myth of the salmon of knowledge, and speaking to the great history of salmon fishing in this city. Of course the fish is the great and original symbol of the church, before they changed it (unfortunately in my humble opinion) to a cross – an instrument of torture, by the way.

Also I’m over 4 metres long, much larger than that angel and being a wind vane I also have a practical use.

Then there’s my visibility. I can be seen far and wide over Southside and Northside and if I do say so myself, I’m a fitting pinnacle above the wonderful pepper pot and the sandstone and limestone tower of St. Anne’s and a very suitable symbol for the city overall. Those two castles on the city emblem are a bit jaded, are they not? Correct me if I’m wrong. And Latin is a dead language, too.

Yes, I can remember the days of ships lining up both sides of the North Channel, as far as North Gate Bridge, their proud masts reaching high over the water, ready to set sail to faraway shores bringing our famous butter (whose market is just below me here) and other produce to the four corners of the world. I can remember the great building spree of the Huguenots and others, pushing the city out in all directions. I can remember the good times and the bad times – some of those recent – when our younglings, and not our goods, were our main export.

Now things are on the up again, here in my city. I can feel it; I can see the top of that new development on Grand Parade rising up over St. Patrick’s Street, and those fine new offices over on Albert Quay. Cranes are popping up, here and there, across the city. And the tourism! Why every day we have people from all over the world ringing the 8 bells of Shandon, famed far and wide by the lovely verse of Father Prout.

Yes, things are looking up for me and the city I represent. And when the wind blows from the West and I turn to face it of an evening, I can see the sun soften to amber and redden and ease itself down over Sunday’s Well, and then the clouds above glow in a glorious crimson light, which fades to russet and blue, and then darkens and dies. On special nights, when the wind changes around to the East, I turn then, high above my people slumbering below, and wait for the first signs of brightness over the sea, to herald in the coming of a new day for Cork, my Cork, my city by the Lee.