Apology issued after Collins’s gender listed as ‘langer’

Brochure promoting Cork Rebel Week courts controversy with Collins reference

The organisers of Cork's main contribution to The Gathering have apologised after controversy flared up at Cork City Council over their use of the Cork term of abuse, 'langer', in relation to Michael Collins.

The controversy arose when Fine Gael members of Cork City Council noticed that a brochure promoting Cork Rebel Week carried a Cork Rebel Passport in the name of Michael Collins and in the slot for "sex", bore the word 'langer'.

The word 'langer' is a Cork term of abuse whose usage was generally confined to Leeside but after Roy Keane reportedly used it describe Mick McCarthy during their contretemps in Saipan before the 2002 World Cup, its familiarity spread.

The Saipan incident prompted local Cork songwriter Tim O'Riordan to pen 'The Langer Song" which he recorded with his band Natural Gas which helped to promote 'langer' as a term of abuse beyond the Rebel County.


According to Sean Beecher in his Dictionary of Cork Slang, the word 'langer' has two meanings - 'a disagreeable person' as in 'Go away, you langer' or 'a penis', with the second derivation possibly coming from langur, a long tailed monkey in India.

Whichever meaning was intended in the Cork Rebel passport issued for Collins is unclear but the net effect was that Fine Gael members of Cork City Council called for the immediate withdrawal of all 100,000 copies of the offending brochure.

Fine Gael Cllr Des Cahill told Cork’s 96FM that he had spoken to members of Collins’s family, who were utterly appalled by the mistake, and he had been reassured by senior staff at Cork City Council that all the offending documents would be withdrawn.

His party colleague, Cllr Emmet O’Halloran, who first spotted the reference, said it was “hugely hugely upsetting and hugely offensive to me, both as a Corkonian but also as a member of Fine Gael that one of our national leaders should be referred to in this way.”

But this morning, Padraig O’Kane of Corporate.ie, which is organising Cork Rebel Week which is centred on Collins’s birthday on October 16th, apologised for the mistake, and said Corporate.ie would bear the €5,000 cost of withdrawing all 100,000 brochures.

“On behalf of Cork Rebel Week, we take responsibility for the error on the printed literature detailing the schedule of events for Cork Rebel Week which was shared at a briefing session with Cork City Council last night,” said Mr O’Kane.

“We want to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly for any disrespect caused to the memory of General Michael Collins and his family due to this error. Absolutely none was intended,” he added.

Cork Rebel Week runs from October 12th -20th and aims to attract some 5,000 international visitors to Leeside and among the events are the Cork Folk Festival and an exhibition on Cork's Rebel Lord Mayors, Tomas Mac Curtain and Terence Mac Swiney.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times