The indispensable GayCork.com guide to the most notable queer Corkonians.
Of Anglo-Irish descent, Bowen spent much of her life at Bowen’s Court, the family home, situated between Mallow and Fermoy. She achieved literary success at an early age, and led an extremely active social life. Her novels include ‘The Death of the Heart’ and ‘The Heat of the Day’.
(we’re guessing about 1980—), entertainer
A previous winner of Alternative Miss Cork, Fabula is widely regarded as being Cork’s First Lady. She has publicly declared that her heart will be always rest by the banks of her own “wino-festooned, pea-green Lee”.
Cork Councillor Kelly (Fine Gael) is one of the few openly gay politicians in Ireland and has campaigned for the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships.
Danny La Rue
One of the most popular and successful drag queens ever, Danny La Rue was born Daniel Carroll in Cork in 1927. His family having moved to England when he was nine, Danny started his acting career during the war. He subsequently went on to star in a number of phenomenally successful West End shows, including ‘Come Spy With Me’ and ‘At the Palace’. Besides working in television and pantomime, he has also toured the world with his act. Noël Coward called him “The most professional, the most witty…and the most utterly charming man in the business”.
(1963—), TV presenter/comedian
Graham grew up in Bandon, where he claimed he only ever “watched television and…went to school”. He later studied Arts at UCC before decamping to London, where he gradually developed a stand-up comedy routine. This eventually led to his own chat show on Channel 4 and subsequent nationwide celebrity.
Edith Somerville and Martin Ross (Violet Martin)
(1858–1915; 1862–1915), writers
Having been brought up in West Cork (Somerville) and Galway (Ross), these second cousins didn’t meet until they were both in their twenties. They subsequently became lovers and literary partners, sharing a house in Castletownshend. Collaborating on a series of works about the Irish gentry, they found widespread acclaim, and novels such as ‘The Real Charlotte’ were well received at the time. Their fame now chiefly rests on the ‘Irish RM’ stories, which were made into a television series in the 1980s.
Louise Walsh (not Louis Walsh!)
Born and bred in Cork, Louise studied art at the Crawford School of Art and at the University of Ulster. Her work—mostly sculpture—has been exhibited widely and she has worked as artist-in-residence in several art centres and galleries.
Although she’s actually straight, Gaye earns her place on this list due to her comic novels ‘Mind that, ’tis My Brother’ and its sequel ‘Turtles all the Way Down’, both set against the backdrop of Cork’s gay scene.
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