Queer Beyond London is delighted to highlight exciting research and projects exploring queer local histories that will be featured in our upcoming Queer Localities international conference from 30 November – 1 December 2017.


Orla Egan

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. Versions of Irish LGBT history which do emerge usually focus on activities in Dublin, ignoring the dynamic activism throughout the rest of Ireland.


In focusing on the development of the Cork LGBT community I hope to expand the existing narratives about LGBT history in Ireland and to move beyond the predominant focus on activities in Dublin. Many of the ‘firsts’ in Irish LGBT activism happened in Cork, but this is often unknown or ignored; the first Irish Gay Conference (1980), the first Irish AIDS leaflet (1985), the first Irish Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (1991), the first LGBT float in a Patrick’s Day Parade (1992).

I have created the Cork LGBT Archive to gather, preserve and share information about the Cork LGBT Community. There is a both a physical collection and a digital archive. An Exhibition, Queer Republic of Cork, was organised as part of Irish Heritage Week in 2016 (winning a prize under the Hidden Heritage category) and a book of the same name was published in December 2016.

This paper would highlight key moments in the development of the Cork LGBT Community and would explore the challenges and benefits of developing the Cork LGBT Archive.

Orla rainbow flag ShandonOrla Egan is the creator and curator of the Cork LGBT Archive and author of Queer Republic of Cork: Cork’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communities, 1970s-1990s (2016) She has a long history of LGBT activism and work in the community development, education, equality and social justice fields. She teaches part-time in Women’s Studies, Digital Humanities and Social Studies in UCC. Orla tweets from @OrlaEgan1 and @CorkLGBThistory


Queer Localities: a two-day international conference
Birkbeck, University of London
30 November – 1 December 2017

Free and open to all, but please REGISTER your place here

Click here to view the Conference Programme.

Queer Republic of Cork: The development of Cork’s LGBT Community and of the Cork LGBT Archive
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