40th Anniversary of Cork Tae Kwon Do
On Saturday September 27th, over 100 Tae Kwon Do Black Belts converged on the Silversprings Hotel, Cork to take part in a martial arts event unlike anything ever held in the city to date. Over the years Cork has played host to Masterclass seminars, high-ranking Black Belt promotions and countless international tournaments, but for those in attendance on Saturday, this was an event of far greater significance; this gathering was organised to mark the 40th anniversary of the introduction of Tae Kwon Do to the county, and to honour the man who got it all started.
A long time has passed since a young Aidan Walsh started making his weekly train journey from Dublin to Cork to teach his Tae Kwon Do class in Cork city’s Arcadia Ballroom, but his early dedication to the art has had an impact that has resonated through the decades and across the county. From Mister Walsh’s Cork club came some of the country’s top practitioners of Tae Kwon Do, who in turn went on to train and inspire many subsequent generations of students both in Ireland and around the world. Although Mister Walsh’s club has long since closed its doors, a number of his students from those early days were eager to continue what their mentor had started. These men and women, rightly recognised as legends in their own right today, set about opening further clubs, producing more Black Belts and, eventually a whole new generation of instructors. Four decades later, there are over one hundred clubs under various instructors and associations spread across County Cork, and there isn’t a single one that has not been influenced in some way by Master Walsh’s pioneering work.
Due to the sterling efforts of people like Bryan Walsh, Mark Crowley and Jim O’Sullivan (to name but a few), the occasion of Cork Tae Kwon Do’s 40th anniversary would not go uncelebrated. This group of Cork Tae Kwon Do veterans, friends and former club-mates formulated the idea to invite Mr. Walsh to return to Cork to mark the occasion, arranging for him to lead a training session, open to all Tae Kwon Do students, regardless of affiliation, followed by a banquet in his honour.
The seminar was well supported with representatives present from almost every Tae Kwon Do group in Cork, and some from further afield, with some Black Belts travelling from the U.K. and U.S.A. Students and instructors, young and not-so-young, stood shoulder to shoulder in the lines and sweated it out side-by-side as Mr. Walsh put them through their paces. The enthusiasm and nervous energy in the room was palpable from the onset, as old rivals humbly put their differences aside for the occasion and the younger generation of Black Belts got the opportunity to train in the presence of their heroes. Before the class broke up for the evening, many old friendships were rekindled and many more new ones formed. I’m sure that it is safe to say that each and every participant left the hall glad that they had made the effort to be present for such a momentous event.
That night’s dinner saw an equally large group in attendance, with an impressive number of people turning out to reminisce about the “good old days”, enjoy some typical Cork craic and, above all, to pay tribute to Mr. Walsh. In recognition of his pivotal role in the foundation and development of Tae Kwon Do in Cork, sincere and heartfelt speeches of thanks to Mr. Walsh were delivered by some of Cork’s longest-serving and best-known Tae Kwon Do figures.
Warrior Martial Arts instructors Dan O’Mahony, Dwayne Crowley and Barry O’Mahony would like to convey their sincere thanks to all involved in organising the event. The entire day was a great success, and it was truly an honour to have been present for the occasion.