A Plate Full of Life


It has been much too long since my last blog. I have been doing some painting, but not much because I got involved with a project about researching and writing about my parents. They were Gerald and Sheila Goldberg and they lived in Cork all their lives.

They were important in the City. They made a very big contribution to the arts, particularly music. My father was a solicitor. He loved law and from the time of his youth he wanted to be a solicitor. He rose to the top of his profession not only through diligent research, taking careful instructions, but being very good in court. He liked nothing more than to speak, and he particularly liked submissions to judges and juries. He was good with the jury. But when he was with people outside court, he still spoke ‘in paragraphs.’ Small talk or chat was not something which he was good at, though he could be amusing too, he was mostly serious, and a high powered intellectual. The kind of books he read would not be found in almost any other person’s library. When I was 18, he asked me what I wanted to do when I finished school. I said I wanted to paint. So, he asked me again, and I said I wanted to paint. He said you cannot: “Look at your Uncle Sidney.” My Uncle was a portrait and mural painter. He lived in Belfast and then London. I was pushed into law.

My mother was the opposite. They were a couple who pushed each other up the hill all day long. Sheila was a Belfast woman from an Orthodox background. She learned Yiddish as a child because she spent a lot of time with her Aunt Minnie. Gerald’s household was also Yiddish speaking, but she said that he never spoke good Yiddish. She claimed that she spoke better Yiddish than he did. Needless to say, they never spoke to us in Yiddish, and thereby hangs a tale. My mother was a very funny person with a wicked sense of humour. She could make a whole room laugh suddenly. She was a great entertainer, and often there were guests to dinner or lunch at Ben-Truda. She engaged with the Cork Jewish community in the first twenty years of their marriage, then it started to decline, and slowly the people began to leave. Then she got involved with the Cork Orchestral Society. This brough great music and musicians to Cork, and she arranged many concerts. She also collected soloists or conductors when they flew, and she brought them to Ben-Truda for coffee, and then showed them around. She met so many world-famous players. She did so many things in her life. She started Lunch Time Concerts in 1963, in the early summer, at the Art Gallery. These continue to this day. A snack lunch was provided. 7 concerts for £1.00 with lunch. She also commenced a service to the poor and needy with Meals on Wheels. She went from the kitchens to the Art Gallery to prepare the lunch. The Meals on Wheels has expanded into a city and county wide service to-day. She started with one kitchen producing only 6 meals. Now it is over 450,000 per year.

In 1965 my father went into local politics. He had an idea that he would like to be the first Jewish Lord Mayor of Cork. Because he was well known through his representation of many clients, especially form the North side of the city, he ran for a seat in that area and was elected as an Alderman on the first count. He was an Independent. The two main parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael had an arrangement that they would share the Mayoralty every other year. This made it impossible for an outsider to break the mold. After several years sitting on the outside bench, he realized he had to join one of the parties. It is probable that his natural alliance would have been with Fine Gael as he had always admired Michael Collins. However, he was persuaded to join Fianna Fail. He waited his turn, which came in 1977. He was elected Lord Mayor. My mother was a working Lady Mayoress. She had her own office and was very concerned with the poor. She wanted to do something to help them. She did succeed in getting some of these people housed. During the year of the Mayoralty, they went on a promotional visit to the USA where they met with the Mayors of New York, Philadelphia, and other cities. The economic side of this tour was very successful. They also toured the UK. They exchanged visits with the Lords Mayor’s of Dublin and Belfast.

My desire to paint never really went away. I only studied briefly with Peter Garrard and then did workshops with others. I am still learning how to paint. But right now, I am writing this book. I will get back to paint soon.

In the meantime, here is a painting I did after a visit to Morocco in 2019. But it was not finished until 2021. Hope you like it.

Jacaranda Tree. Oil on Canvas. 70 x 50 cm

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