The first time I met Michael Cogan was probably when we were throwing things at each other from our respective prams, writes Niall O'Donovan. We grew up together on Glasheen Road in the 1940s, during and in the aftermath of the Second World War.
Over the years as our vocations took us on different paths we might not meet for long periods, but when the opportunity presented we always took up where we had left off. He was a loyal and good friend and is very much missed.
When Rose Cogan, Michael’s mother, spent her last illness in the old Marymount Hospice in Military Hill, so impressed were Michael, and his wife, Valerie, by the care that she had received, that they decided to do something to help the nuns to improve the facilities in the somewhat dilapidated old building. Thus began one of Cork’s most well-known charities, the Friends of Marymount.
As Vincent Kelly, Friends of Marymount, said: "The tremendous fundraising both of you [together with his wife Valerie] did over the years on behalf of Marymount Hospice through the Friends of Marymount will never be forgotten, nor indeed your courage, dedication and energy as driving forces in the organisation since its inception. Both of you helped countless numbers over the years through your unstinting selflessness."
Michael Cogan was born on September 30, 1933, to Bill Cogan, a customs official, and his wife Rose, who worked in the home.
Michael Cogan ('MJR'), 30/9/33-15/2/2023.
Having attended Miss Cotter’s kindergarten in Wycherly Tce. for two years, Michael enrolled in CBC in 1941 and graduated in 1951. Excelling academically – he won both an Inter Cert and university entrance scholarships – while also engaging energetically in his favourite sports – rugby, cricket, and handball.
He graduated from University College Cork (UCC) in 1954 with a BE(Civil) degree and after stints in Dublin, Schull, and Ennis he finally returned to Leeside in 1967 to Cork County Council where he spent the remainder of his career.
Among the many tributes received, Richard Cronin and Finola O'Riordan said: "MJR was a kind, good humoured and true colleague whether you were a young student or a senior engineer. He willingly shared his knowledge and experience with all for the betterment of all." While Ted Lucey said: "A well-respected engineer and proud of his profession. Always enjoyed meeting him in County Hall. He was a true gentleman with an admirable sense of humour."
Ed O'Connor said: "I first met Michael when I started work in the council in the seventies and over the years we build up a great working relationship He had a great sense of humour and always up for a bit of banter when you meet him in the corridors of County Hall and out and out gentleman."
A Fellow of the Institute of Engineers of Ireland and a former chairman of the Cork/Kerry region, he was also associated with such nefarious activities as the Language Freedom Movement and the Cork multichannel TV campaign.
During this time, he also met his future wife, Valerie Sutton, whom he married in 1965 and they had two children, Suzanne and Alan, and in time grandchildren Adam, Sofia, Rory, and Nathan.
An enthusiastic rugby player and subsequently supporter, he was a long-time member of UCC Rugby Club, and was one of the early members of the Munster Supporters' Club when that was formed. He was also a keen golfer and a member of Cork Golf Club for many years. He was also proud to have been one of the early members of Crofton Celtic FC.
In 1989 he, together with classmate Pat Cashman and fellow CBC past pupil and graphic designer Larry Egar, they published the book Christians – The First Hundred Years celebrating the centenary of their alma mater. He was also actively engaged in raising funds for the proposed new school in the early days of its planning.
An inveterate letter writer, the files of the then Cork Examiner must contain many of his epistles written to protest what he would have seen at the time to be certain injustices.
Indeed, he did not stop at merely writing letters, but also became involved in causes that he believed in, such as the demand for multichannel television to be extended to the entire country, rather than being confined to the east coast as it was in those days.
Respectfully known to his friends and colleagues as 'MJR', he was a gentle man with a quiet sense of humour most noticeable when among those whom he knew well.
He died at home, with his family at his bedside, on February 15, 2023, after a long illness.
May he rest in peace