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14 Dec 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 14 December 2017

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925a. Eamon deValera, c.1917 a


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 14 December 2017

The Wheels of 1917: DeValera Visits Cork

    This week, one hundred years ago, Éamon de Valera made his first appearance in Cork as the national President of Sinn Féin. In the Easter Rising of 1916, de Valera commanded an occupied building and was the last commander to surrender. Because of his American birth, he escaped execution by the British but was sentenced to penal servitude. After his release from Dartmoor prison in June 1917, he almost immediately won a by-election in East Clare, standing for Sinn Féin. The by-election was caused by the death of the previous incumbent Willie Redmond, brother of the Irish Party Leader John Redmond who had died fighting in World War I. De Valera was elected President of the Sinn Féin party and of the Irish Volunteers in October 1917.

    On Saturday 9 December 1917 on the occasion of De Valera’s visit to Cork, the Cork Examiner records that he arrived by the 8.30am train from Dublin, and was met by large contingents of Sinn Féin sympathisers who escorted him through the streets to the Grand Parade. He was accompanied by Messrs J J Walsh, Liam de Róiste, Tomás MacCurtin and other local leaders of the movement. A large force of extra police were on duty in the streets, but no incident of violence took place. A public meeting of very large dimensions was held at 3pm on the Grand Parade. Mr Liam de Róiste again presided.

    Éamon de Valera reiterated the aims of Sinn Féin – to secure recognition for their island and their nation as a sovereign and independent State, an Irish Republic. Their methods would be to use “every method and every means available for their people to win that”. At the settlement of peace talks in Europe a chance would come their way, and they were going to prepare themselves to be in a position to avail of it. They would go to the peace settlement talks as they were a nation in subjection against their will or as he quoted “by that militarism which the Allies, at least, put before the people – as the reason for which they were waging the terrible war”. De Valera believed that the war was to protect small nations, and to him America was in the war to liberate the peoples who were governed against their will. He declared that the Irish nation was governed by England against its will.

    De Valera detailed a letter he wrote to the Freeman’s Journal a few days previously, which was reply to a speech of a member of the Irish Parliamentary Party, John Dillon. It was intended, according to De Valera, to show the people of Ireland that the campaign being followed by the Nationalist politicians and their press aimed to misrepresent them and was tiring in its pursuit of Home Rule.

      John Dillon was a member of the original committee of the Land League from the late 1870s and was a strong support of Prime Minister’s Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill in its initial pitch. Dillon continued his interest in obtaining Home Rule for over four decades. On the outbreak of the first world war, John Dillon, almost agreed to his leader’s stance in support of the British war effort, but did not share John Redmond’s enthusiasm, nor did he participate in the recruiting campaign in Ireland. He became increasingly concerned at the effect on Irish opinion of the government’s marked disregard of Irish nationalist sensitivities as the war evolved. For the duration of the rising of 1916 John Dillon was the only Irish party leader in Dublin, secluded in his house in North Great George’s Street, a short walk from the General Post Office. In the immediate aftermath he wrote urging John Redmond to impress upon the government “the extreme unwisdom of any wholesale shooting of prisoners”.

    DeValera’s outings at Sinn Féin rallies undermined the Irish Parliamentary Party. He articulated strong comments to the Cork crowd in December 1917 a moral on how the positions of politicians in the Party were weakening. He described them as tigers in the process of being caught and tiring in their pursuit of their prey; “A poor tiger got in and trampled on a large gummed sycamore leaf but the tiger did not want to have that leaf stick to his paw. and he tried to shake it off, with the result that it got stuck more to him; and in its exasperation, it rolled on its back and got coveted with such leaves. Anyone who would try to reply to Mr Dillon or the Press in that way would meet with the same fate as the tiger. When one tackled one or two big lies in the Press a thousand little ones were put forward to support them. Lies grew like bacteria – they could have one or two in a moment and in half an hour they would have a bottle full of them”.

   At the end of Éamon deValera’s oration, Liam de Róiste in declaring the meeting ended, appealed to all who were convinced of the righteousness of Sinn Féin to join their organisation. They were out for recruiting for Ireland, and if they were an organised nation, “there was no force on earth could keep freedom from Ireland”.

    Secret Cork, which is my 2017 book, and published by Amberley Press, is now in Cork bookshops. For information on other publications or the back catalogue to previous columns, check out www.corkheritage.ie.


925a. Éamon de Valera, c.1917 (source: Cork City Library)

925b. Harry Boland, Michael Collins & Éamon de Valera, c.1919 (source: Cork City Library)

925b. Harry Boland, Michael Collins & Eamon deValera, c.1919

11 Dec 2017

Kieran’s Question and Motions, Cork City Council Meeting, 11 December 2017

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Kieran’s Question to CE:

As part of the creation of Tramore Valley Park, a deal was struck between the City Council and Vayu Energy Company to sell the gas from the landfill to this energy company, yielding an income for the Council each year. What has been the return for the City Council todate? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)


That the trees due to be planted on the Blackrock Pier regeneration project be put in place (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

7 Dec 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 7 December 2017

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924a. D J Coakley, Principal, Cork School of Commerce, c.1917

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 7 December 2017

The Wheels of 1917: Housing Crisis Solutions, 1917


    In the first week of December 1917, Mr D J Coakley, Principal of the Cork School of Commerce, delivered a lecture entitled General Principles of Housing and Town Planning, with a specific focus on Cork. His public lecture was delivered with the Cork Municipal School of Commerce in the lecture theatre of the School of Art. Many of the challenges Mr Coakley spoke about are still relevant in today’s city.

   In his lecture, D J Coakley outlined that from the reports or the Medical Superintendent Officer of Health, the Corporation of Cork had during the previous thirty years expended £81,200 in clearing unhealthy and dilapidated areas, and providing some 532 houses and 11 houses of 33 flats for the “labouring classes”. Since 1906 Cork Corporation has spent over £51,000 in re-surfacing the streets. The question of widening certain streets had been under consideration and amongst others, improvements had been carried out at Friary Lane, French’s Quay, and Windmill Road. The Housing Committee of Cork Corporation had secured an option on two sites for housing, on the outskirts of the city at College Road and near Roches Buildings, and had asked for a Local Government Board Inquiry into a Housing Scheme for Cork.

   D J Coakley highlighted his view that in 1917 houses were built more or less haphazard and without any proper formulated general plan. In his opinion nothing could be of more vital importance to any city than that of its people should live in “good quality accommodation with beautiful surroundings”. He noted: “there is no doubt that when the dreadful war was over, schemes of housing and town planning could then be undertaken in all large cities”. He detailed the Corporation of Cork had already taken some important steps. There was a special committee to deal with the housing question. and they consistently called for State grants to address the matter. A considerable amount of valuable information relative to the condition of housing in the city had been collected.

    Mr Coakley painted a stark picture of housing stock in the city. There was a very large proportion of unsanitary houses, as he described, not quite suitable for human beings to live in”. In referring to the tenement houses he stated that some of them were so old and dilapidated, and so structurally bad. Hence repairing them was out of the question, and, consequently, almost forty houses were closed some years previously because of being unfit for human habitation. Coakley made the case that accommodation was urgently needed for 115 families, whose houses just needed be demolished as they were in such a poor state.

    Mr Coakley stated that overcrowding was a large challenge. In 719 tenement houses 726 cases of overcrowding were discovered. ln some cases the cubic space of the sleeping apartments amounted to only 72 cubic feet for each person. There were several instances of where the father and mother, and sons and daughters over 20 years of age, all slept in the same small apartment. Of the 12,850 houses in Cork, 1,500 were unprovided with back yards and nearly half were situated in the centre on the flat of the city.

    Lack of space rendered it impossible to keep even the smallest stock of commodities. Coal, oil, and other fuels were usually stored under the bed. Mr Coakley spoke about endless drudgery and breeding places of mental deterioration; “endless drudgery, such as taking water up four or five flights of stairs uses up all the energy of the mother who has neither time nor strength to give to the care of her children; from these breeding places of mental, moral, and physical deterioration emerge the work-shys and unemployables, born and bred in insanitary slums, with the gutter for a play-ground”.

     In his conclusion Mr Coakley outlined a number of potential solutions. He was excited about the next steps to be taken to formulate a competition tor the best plan for the future development of the city. He wished to offer a prize sufficiently large to attract the very best brains in the subject of housing and town planning. Cork’s new Housing Schemes needed to be in the suburbs and landowners should be encouraged to develop their own estates. The question of co-partnership housing with private landlords was worthy of serious consideration. The rents of the poorer classes were not sufficient to enable houses to be built economically for them by private enterprise, and that, therefore, a State’s contribution was necessary in addition to a State loan. The Housing Committee of Cor Corporation was taking active steps to secure a State grant for Housing. Coakley also called for a joint housing and town planning committee to consider the housing question in its different aspects-social, economic, engineering and legal and to make surveys. A Cork Town Planning Association was founded in 1922 and the document Cork: A Civic Survey emerged in 1926. The survey can be viewed on the local studies website of Cork City Library on the Grand Parade, www.corkpastandpresent.ie or viewed in local studies in hard copy.

   Secret Cork, which is my 2017 book, and published by Amberley Press, is now in Cork bookshops. For information on other publications check out www.corkheritage.ie



924a. D J Coakley, Principal, Cork School of Commerce, c.1917 (source: Cork City Library)

924b. Section of slum area to the south west of St Finbarre’s Cathedral; twenty acres of which was demolished in the early 1930s to make way for Cork Corporation’s social housing scheme (source: Cork City Library)


924b. Section of slum area to the south west of St Finbarre’s Cathedral, c.1900;

5 Dec 2017

Cork City and County Councils, Boundary Extension Proposal, 5 December 2017

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   The latest in a series of engagements between the two Cork Councils and the Implementation Oversight Group (IOG) took place yesterday (Monday 4th December 2017), with political and executive representatives from both sides meeting with the IOG. The elected members of both Councils were subsequently briefed in relation to progress made on agreeing a boundary alteration.  


   It is understood that the Chair of the IOG, John O’Connor, will this week deliver his report defining a revised city boundary to the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy who established the IOG.


   Lord Mayor, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald described the outcome of yesterday’s engagement as positive. “The scale of the boundary extension discussed yesterday represents a significant reduction in the boundary originally proposed by Cork City Council to the Cork Local Government Review Group. However the City Council has engaged fully with the IOG in its efforts to deliver a deal that could form the basis of the expansion of the city,” said the Lord Mayor.


“The process has been protracted and complex and the compromise proposal hasn’t met with all our expectations. However it represents a historic opportunity for Cork – both for the City and County, and indeed the wider Cork region. Working together, both Councils can grow Cork to be a true counter-balance to Dublin and help to drive the national economy”, he said.

County Mayor, Cllr Declan Hurley, expressed his satisfaction that both sides have achieved considerable progress.

“Both Councils have invested significant time and effort in recent weeks in reaching a solution, and the fact that a proposal has been identified is testament to the desire on the part of both Councils to conclude the matter locally. Everyone involved has adopted the approach that any boundary alteration must deliver what is best for Cork, its people, its communities, its future. While Cork County Council is ceding significant territory to the city, it will continue to retain responsibility for a large portion of its overall strategic employment areas (for example, areas such as those surrounding the entire Cork Harbour, Little Island, and East Cork, will remain in the county). Both Councils acknowledged that it was unlikely that they would each achieve all that they individually sought to achieve. Today’s developments provide a solid basis to move forward – on a joint collaborative basis – to drive the entire city and county of Cork as the leading economic region outside of Dublin, and that is great news for Cork”.

30 Nov 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 30 November 2017

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Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 30 November 2017

The Wheels of 1917: Legacies of the Manchester Martyrs


    This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Manchester Martyrs – they were William Allen, Michael Larkin and Michael O’Brien, all born in Ireland but living in Manchester and active Fenians. In 1867, after a most unconvincing trial, they were executed for their part in a successful ambush to free two Fenian leaders from a prison van in which a policeman Sergeant Brett was shot dead.

    One hundred years ago, on Sunday 26 November 1917 the fiftieth anniversary of the Manchester Martyrs was celebrated in Cork by Sinn Fein and the re-organised Volunteer battalions. a public procession through the principal sheets of the city and a meeting at the National Monument, Grand Parade. The procession was an impressive one, and the route was through North Main Street, North Gate Bridge, Pope’s quay, Bridge Street, King Street, Brian Boru Street and bridge, Merchant’s Quay, St Patrick street, and Grand Parade. The Volunteer Cycle Corps was in the front, then came the, Pipers’ Band, followed by the Irish Volunteers, the Cork Workingmen’s Brass and Reed Prize Band. When the different contingents reached the National Monument, orations were delivered, which compared the IRB / Fenian movement with the ongoing Independence campaign in the post 1916 era.

    The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) was founded in Dublin and New York in 1858. The founders included James Stephens, John O’Mahony, Charles Kickham, John O’Leary, Thomas Clarke and Michael Doheny, all of whom had been connected in a post-famine rising in 1848. In addition, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa established his Phoenix Society at Skibbereen, County Cork. The belief of the IRB or later to become known as the Fenians was similar to that of the ideas of Thomas Davis on Irish nationality, and they also believed that Britain would never concede independence without the use of physical force. Their central focus was to concentrate on the independence of Ireland from Britain. The followers of this organisation were primarily working men, in particular small farmers. By 1867, thousands of such persons had enrolled and preparing themselves for action.

   On 5 March 1867, risings took place in Dublin, Cork and Limerick, On the night of Shrove Tuesday, 5 March 1867, over 2,000 Fenians in Cork City were ready for action. The rallying point was at Limerick Junction and the Cork Fenians were to meet with forces from Kerry and from Mallow and surrounding areas in North Cork. With not that many weapons between the groups as a whole, it was planned to raid private houses and barracks for guns and ammunition and hope that munition shiploads would arrive from the USA in Cork. However, the plan was not to be that straight forward. Cork weather in the form of a blizzard and high resistance among munition stations hampered the quickness of an attack. Thus, instead of advancing, the Fenians were forced to retreat with the eventual order being given to disperse.

   The rising had failed and in the days following the event, a large force of marines were drafted in from Southampton to Cork; Victoria Barracks (now Collins Barracks), Elizabeth Fort and Cat Fort were reputed to be filled to capacity with troops. These militia men were to patrol the streets of the city by day and by night. Involvement in this rising was to result in arrest and the local newspapers of the time, the Cork Examiner, Cork Constitution, the Cork Herald and the Southern Reporter carried daily reports of these latter arrests

   On 11 September 1867, Colonel Thomas J Kelly (Deputy Central Organizer of the Irish Republic) was arrested in Manchester, where he had gone from Dublin to attend a council of the English ‘centres’ (organisers), together with a companion, Captain Timothy Deasy. A plot to rescue these prisoners was hatched by Edward O’Meagher Condon with other Manchester Fenians. On 18 September, while Kelly and Deasy were being conveyed through the city from the courthouse, the prison van was attacked by Fenians armed with revolvers, and in the scuffle Police Sergeant Charles Brett, who was seated inside the van, was shot dead. The three Fenians, who were later executed, were remembered as the Manchester Martyrs.

   On the same day as the executions in November 1867, Richard O’Sullivan Burke, who had been employed by the Fenians to purchase arms in Birmingham, was arrested and imprisoned in Clerkenwell Prison in London. In December, whilst he was awaiting trial a wall of the prison was blown down by gunpowder in order to affect his escape. The explosion caused the death of twelve people, and injured one hundred and twenty others. A week later the Foaty Bay Martello Tower in Cork Harbour was attacked by Fenian members on St Stephen’s Night, 1867. William Lomassaney O’Connell from Passage West with an alias of Captain Mackey led the attack. The tower garrison consisted of two gunners of the Royal Artillery. He and other members took a number of eight-pound cartridges, variously stated from ten to twenty, besides a quantity of fuse. After staying for some time, they left the tower, to which it is supposed they had come to in boats. William Lomassaney was a wanted man by the police for the raid on the Martello Tower. He was arrested with two of his accomplices at Cronin’s public house in Cornmarket Street, Cork on 7 February 1868.



923a. Depiction of Manchester Martyrs 1867 (source: Cork City Library)

923b. Prisoners leaving the new Bailey for the Assize Court, Illustrated London News, November 1867 (source: Cork City Library)


923b. Prisoners leaving the new Bailey for the Assize Court, Illustrated London News, November 1867

28 Nov 2017

Ballinlough Christmas Concert, Sunday 3 December 2017

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Always a great evening’s entertainment!

Ballinlough Youth Clubs Christmas Concert, 3 December 2017

27 Nov 2017

Kieran’s Question to CE, Cork City Council Meeting, 27 November 2017

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Question to CE:

 To ask the CE, as the south docks area develops in the Navigation House area, what plans and measures are in place to reduce the increasing congestion of traffic in the morning and evening times? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)


That the City Council provide better pedestrian priority measures as Boreenmanna Road meets Rockboro School; the visibility of the traffic lights and luminous areas needs to be improved as do widening the footpaths from the school to Castlegreina Park (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

23 Nov 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 23 November 2017

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Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 23 November 2017

The Wheels of 1917: Games of Cat and Mouse


    One hundred years ago, on 16 November 1917, Terence MacSwiney was court martialed in Cork for wearing an Irish Republican Army (IRA) uniform and drilling and training volunteers on 21 October 1917. Terence’s arrest was part of Westminster’s Defence Against the Realm Regulations. It was part of the rounding up of forty-seven Sinn Féin officers who were openly drilling, training, parading and wearing uniforms. The arrested men were from Cork, Kerry and Limerick and were lodged in Cork County Gaol, next to University College Cork.

    Prohibitions against drilling, wearing uniform, carrying arms or even hurleys, had been announced by the British authorities. The first public challenge to these restrictions on a national scale was made by Sinn Féin in October 1917. On Sunday 21 October public parades were held all over the country in honour of Thomas Ashe who had died on hunger strike in Mountjoy Gaol, Dublin on the previous 25 September.

    Terence MacSwiney organised a public parade of the two city battalions. Battalions mustered several hundred men outside their closed hall in Sheares Street and marched via Lee Road to Blamey and back again to the city. Tomás MacCurtain led the recitation of the rosary at the National Monument at the conclusion of the parade. Tomás MacCurtain, Terence MacSwiney and the officers were subsequently arrested.

    According to the recorded proceedings of the court martial trial on 16 November 1917, Terence MacSwiney did not answer when called upon, and subsequently answered in Irish. Asked if he found any objection to being tried by the Court, he again replied in Irish, and the President of the court martial session noted that if he did not answer in English he would be committed for contempt. Terence repeated his observation. Evidence was then given to drilling at Mount Desert by a party of about 500 men who subsequently marched through the city. Tomás MacCurtain and the other five prisoners adopted a similar approach to that of Terence MacSwiney in speaking in Irish. The companions included John O’Sullivan (Abbey Street), Frederick Murray (Sunday’s Well Road), John Murphy (Friar’s Walk), Christopher O’Gorman (O’Connell Street), and Patrick Higgins (Dominick Street). Each were sentenced by the court to one year-imprisonment without hard labour.

   Terence MacSwiney went on a hunger strike for three days prior to his release. He was rearrested four months later to complete his sentence. Terence’s internment in March 1918 caused him to miss two major life events – the birth of his daughter, Máire, in June, and his election to the first Dáil as TD for Mid Cork, in December. Released in Spring 1919, he took his seat.

    In 1916 there were a handful of hunger strikes, contesting punishments imposed by the prison authorities. The technique was adopted in earnest in 1917. Forty prisoners on hunger strike were forcibly fed, and this procedure killed Thomas Ashe. Originally from Kerry and a teacher by profession, Thomas Ashe was a prominent activist in most of the major nationalist organisations of the pre-independence period, including the Gaelic League, the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and the Irish Volunteers. Ashe was responsible for leading the Irish Volunteers at the battle of Ashbourne in County Meath, the most significant military engagement outside Dublin during the Easter Rising. He became a key figure in the reorganisation of republicanism in 1917. Thomas Ashe was arrested in August 1917 and charged with sedition for a speech that he made in Ballinalee, County Longford. He was sentenced to two years hard labour.

   Whilst in Mountjoy Gaol, Thomas Ashe (32) and other prisoners demanded prisoner of war status instead of that of ordinary criminal. As a result of prison staff taking away their beds, bedclothes and possessions, they went on hunger strike on 20 September 1917. Forcible feeding began on 23 September. When Thomas Ashe was forcibly fed and immediately collapsed afterwards. He was transferred to hospital where his condition continued to deteriorate, and he passed away.

    Over the next two and a half years, hundreds of prisoners went on hunger strike; almost all gained concessions and often release. This strategy was release and re-arrest, legalised by the ‘Cat and Mouse’ (Prisoner’s Temporary Discharge of Ill Health) Act of 1913. It had been utilised with some success against the suffragettes. Under the Act, the hunger striker would be released when their condition had deteriorated considerably; when she had recovered her health, they served the rest of their sentence. In practice, released prisoners were re-arrested only if they participated in militant protest. The Act proved effective by deterring the activities of leading militants—if not in prison, they were either physically incapacitated or preoccupied with escaping recapture.

    There are many examples of the above Cat and Mouse Act revealed across newspapers such as the Cork Examiner. For example, four Dunmanway men – Messrs O’Mahony. McCarthy, Ahern and O’Neill, who had been released from Cork County Gaol and their hunger strike on 17 October 1917 were re-arrested on Thursday 6 November. They resumed the hunger strike, refusing to take any food in the prison. Another example took place on Monday morning at 7am, 19 November when sixteen prisoners, just tried by court martial for offences were removed from Cork County Gaol and taken to Dundalk prison. Whilst the deportation went on, from noon on that day approximately twenty prisoners who had been court martialled and jailed in Cork County Gaol over the previous weekend in consequence of their demands to be recognised as political prisoners went on hunger strike.

Secret Cork, which is my 2017 book and published by Amberley Press, is now in Cork bookshops.


922a. Depiction of Terence MacSwiney, 1910s (source: Cork City Library)

922b. Cork County Gaol adjacent UCC, c.1920; it is now the site of the Kane Science Building. Only the entrance portico has survived. (source: Cork City Library)

922b. Cork County Gaol adjacent UCC, c.1920

16 Nov 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 16 November 2017

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921a. SS Ardmore, c.1910


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 16 November 2017

The Wheels of 1917: The Demise of the SS Ardmore


    This week, one hundred years ago, the Cork cargo steamer SS Ardmore was attacked and sank without warning at 10.30pm on Tuesday night, 13 November 1917. In an account of the History of Port of Cork Steam Navigation by William J Barry in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (1918) he relates the SS Ardmore made her maiden voyage from London to Cork in 1909 and kept sailing on that line, even after the start of World War I. The ship had carried men during the war to the French coast. She had a stationary crew of 27 and was under the command of Captain Richard Murray.

    The SS Ardmore left London and set sail for Cork on 13 November 1917 with her crew of 27 and general cargo onboard. The chief engineer of the ship on this trip was Michael J O’Sullivan, three of whose brothers were also steamship engineers. He was not permanently attached to the SS Ardmore but an event necessitated Michael remaining ashore for some days. That caused a transfer of another engineer officer to his former ship, and he being again fit for duty, was posted to the SS Ardmore on her voyage.

   Before the ship left London, her crew were told to be extra careful during the voyage as a large amount of German U-Boat activity was reported with several ships being hit and sunk in the area only days before. The crew were given detailed orders when they started their voyage. They were instructed to sail to Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, Wales first and wait until it became night, so the SS Ardmore could cross the Irish Channel under the shield of the darkness of night.

   In accordance with instructions she called at Milford Haven, leaving shortly after. At 10pm on 13 November, when about six miles off the Coningbeg Light Vessel, on the Wexford coast, a challenge was flashed out by morse signal asking: “What ship is that, where bound?” Captain Murray, in accordance with sailing instructions ordering him to answer challenges, replied: “Ardmore, London to Cork”. The night being hazy, it was problematic to view objects at very great distance, sometimes the haze developed into a dense fog, and although the outline of the vessel suggested a patrol boat, there was agreement in the post attack and report writing phase that it was a submarine, which sent the SS Ardmore to the bottom of the sea.

    At about 10.30pm, when Captain Murray and Richard Jagoe, chief officer, were on the bridge, an enormous explosion happened on the starboard side forward of the bridge, quaking the ship from stem to stern, at the same time shattering g all the glass in the wheel-house. The Captain ordered the boats to be launched immediately, and with the chief officer assisted to lower the forward starboard lifeboat, some of the crew being already in it. The ship remained upright for a very short time, then suddenly plunged head foremost into the depths of the sea, taking everything and all on board down with her.

   The chief engineer Michael O’Sullivan and engine room staff were killed by the torpedo explosion. The second mate before jumping into the sea. put a coloured signal light in his pocket, and when clinging to the broken boat managed to ignite it. The flare enabled the drowning men to secure pieces of wreckage, which kept them afloat. Captain Murray and the second-engineer. who was injured, spent a terrible night, clinging to the up turned boat, with seas breaking over them.

    Many of the hands were left struggling in the water. The captain and six others managed to reach one of the starboard lifeboats, and when the swirl of waters calmed down over the sunken vessel, searched about in the inky gloom for any who might be afloat. Through the night they drifted to and fro.

   A poignant tragedy was that listed amongst those lost were two men both named Timothy Twomey. They were a father and son, and residents of Mill Cottages, Glanmire. The younger man could have been saved, but he went to the rescue of his father who was trapped below and even though both were strong swimmers they were lost. The younger Twomey had a baby son, Jimmy, of fifteen months. He grew up to be a well-known GAA figure in the Glanmire-Glountane area and was a prominent hurler with Sarsfields Hurling Club.

    The two rescue boats, one was a patrol boat called Au Breitia and the second was an American steamship called IH Lookingback. One of the first survivors to be picked up was Corkman Michael Walsh who was the cook on the ship. He had spent some considerable time in the water, hanging on to a cattle board spar, and was suffering severely from shock. He was immediately conveyed to hospital, and at first it was thought that he was the only one saved from the ill-fated vessel. Later, however, news reached the port that seven other members of the crew had been rescued. Later another vessel came across a boat with the captain and six men, took them on board, and conveyed there to Queenstown. There were no further survivors.

Note: My public historical walking tours are finished till next Spring; thanks to everyone who came out and walked the different suburbs this year. Secret Cork, which is my 2017 book and published by Amberley Press, is now in Cork bookshops.


921a. SS Ardmore, c.1910 (source: Cork City Library)

921b. Coningbeg Lightship off Wexford coast, early twentieth century (source: London Metropolitan Archives)

921b. Conningbeg Lightship Wexford, Coningbeg Lightship off Wexford coast, early twentieth century

13 Nov 2017

Kieran’s Question to CE and motions, Cork City Council Meeting, 13 November 2017

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Question to CE:

(A) To ask the CE about the progress of ongoing considerations for a tree replanting programme for the 500 fallen trees lost from Storm Ophelia? (B) Plus to ask about the number of trees removed as part of the ongoing City Centre Traffic Strategy and the reasons why? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)


That the City Council works towards preparing an application for the EU Green Capital Award. The Awards aim to reward the efforts of cities who strive to improve the lives of their citizens, become role models and commit to environmental, social and economic sustainability (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

That the translation of the Tomás McCurtain diaries, being currently led by the Cork Decorative Fine Arts Society in association with Cork Public Museum be supported by Cork City Council as part of the Decade of Centenaries (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).