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24 Feb 2018

Award Ceremonies, Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project 2018

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   Local historian Cllr Kieran McCarthy has announced that the date for the Cork City schools’ award ceremony of the Discover Cork Schools’ Heritage Project is Wednesday 28 February (7pm, Concert Hall, City Hall) whilst the county schools’ award ceremony is on Thursday 1 March (7pm, Silversprings Convention Centre). A total of 39 schools in Cork took part in the 2018 Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project, which included Schools in Ballinlough and Douglas. Circa 750 students participated in the process with approx 180 projects books submitted on all aspects of Cork’s local history heritage. The Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project, in its fifteenth year is a youth forum for students to do research and offer their opinions on important decisions being made on their heritage in their locality and how they affect the lives of people locally.  The aim of the project is to allow students to explore, investigate and debate their local heritage in a constructive, active and fun way.

    Co-ordinator and founder of the project, Cllr Kieran McCarthy noted that: “The project is about thinking about, understanding, appreciating and making relevant in today’s society the role of our heritage - our landmarks, our oral histories, our landscapes in our modern world for upcoming citizens. The project also focuses on motivating and inspiring young people, giving them an opportunity to develop leadership and self development skills, which are very important in the world we live in today”.

   The City Edition of the Project is funded by Cork City Council with further sponsorship offered by Learnit Lego Education, Cllr Kieran McCarthy, Lifetime Lab and Sean Kelly of Lucky Meadows Equestrian Centre. Full results for the City edition and the County edition of the project are online on Cllr McCarthy’s heritage website, www.corkheritage.ie.

22 Feb 2018

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 22 February 2018

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Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 22 February 2018

Stories from 1918: Liam De Róiste’s Campaign

 

      This week, one hundred years ago, a public meeting was held on 24 February 1918 under the auspices of the Whitechurch Sinn Féin Club in the village Dispensary Hall. Vice-chairman of Sinn Féin in Cork and Gaelic scholar Liam de Róiste was the guest speaker.

Liam De Róiste (1882-1959) was born in Tracton, County Cork and was prominently identified with the Cork branch of the Gaelic League movement. He was a founder member of it in 1899 and his interaction with the League was strong over many years. He was also the founder of the Celtic Literary Society which brought together in Cork City a group of men destined to win later fame. These included such men as Cork’s martyred Lord Mayors, Terence MacSwiney and Tomás MacCurtain, brothers P S O’Hegarty and Seán O’Hegarty and Daniel Corkery, the playwright and novelist. Hand in hand with this activity was Liam’s love of the Irish language. He was in turn secretary and chairman of the Gaelic League in Cork, and a friend of such people as Dr Eoin MacNeill and Dr Douglas Hyde, the latter who became Ireland’s first President. In later years he was the founder and for many years secretary of Coláiste na Mumhan, an institution, which played such an outstanding part in the spread of the language. He was chairman of the first meeting of Sinn Féin in Cork at which attended Sir Roger Casement and Eoin MacNeill.

    Liam De Róiste’s obituary in Irish newspaper in 1959 highlight that he was an original member of the Irish Volunteers and took part in the now historic march to Macroom on Easter Sunday 1916. Later, he helped to smuggle in rifles from London for distribution to the IRA. In late 1916 and throughout 1917 Liam De Róiste was important glue to keep the re-organisation of Sinn Féin going in Cork, especially with Terence McSwiney and Tomás MacCurtain being imprisoned for long periods of time during the years 1916-1918. Liam De Róiste kept the re-organisation of the party strong, being involved in organising rallies in Cork in late 1917 for Arthur Griffith, Countess Markievicz, and Eamon DeValera. He also wrote a diary, copies of which are digitised on the website of Cork City and County Archives. The diary entries are long in 1916 and early 1917 and veer to limited commentary in late 1917.

     Liam De Róiste’s speech in Whitechurch on 24 February 1918 highlighted many of his interests and campaigns. In his opening remarks he noted that the object of the Sinn Féin movement was the sovereign independence of Ireland; “Sinn Féin claimed for Ireland as a right the same measure of liberty at least as the Western Powers of Europe claimed for Belgium. They claimed for Ireland as a right self-determination in the fullest and freest sense and to take advantage of the World War I quest for peace talks; “No physical force on earth, not all the militarism of all the Empires could ultimately beat the determined spirit of a nation. But as sensible men it behoved us to take full advantage of affairs abroad, of the international situation to press our claim for sovereign independence before the nations of the world”.

     Continuing, Mr De Róiste dealt with Sinn Féin political campaign calling for retention of food at Irish ports. He warned his listeners against what he deemed “the lies and misrepresentations that had been spread by political enemies of Sinn Féin”. He made a strong appeal for the conservation of food and increase of tillage. He claimed that efforts were being made, particularly in Cork county, to create a bad feeling between farmers and farm labourers as a means of injuring the Sinn Féin movement. He himself as President of the Sinn Féin Executive had been challenged by the Cork Examiner” as to whether he favoured strikes or not.

     Referring to the recent speech of Irish Parliamentary Party John Dillon, Liam De Róiste claimed that the Irish Convention on Home Rule was unlikely to produce a unanimous report, or frame a constitution that would be acceptable, to any section of the Irish people. “The only law the Irish people recognised was the moral law, and within the limits of the moral law they would fight the English Government in every department for the control of this country, which was theirs”. He also spoke of the heavy burden of taxation on the country, proposing that it would be heavier when the war concluded. He pitched that even as a business proposition the absolute independence of Ireland was desirable.

            Mr Tadgh Barry also addressed the meeting, and said they were out to win for Ireland the right to govern herself. Sinn Féin stood for the moral right of Ireland, which meant the removal of England’s wrong-doing towards her; “Neither John Redmond nor William O’Brien wanted Home Rule, or any of the same class who desired the continuance of Dublin Castle rule in the country”. He warned the people against the circulation of what he deemed “lying statements, which were circulated to set the farmer against the labourer, and to make the workers distrustful of each other”. Hence, he advocated the establishment of arbitration courts to settle, local differences.

 

Captions:

934a. Liam De Róiste, c.1918 (source: Cork City Library)

934b. Liam De Róiste and JJ Walsh, 1918, from Cork City and County Archives’, Voices of the Many, Local Archives from Cork, 1914-1916 (2016)

 

15 Feb 2018

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 15 February 2018

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933a. Alfred Hutson, c.1891

 

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 15 February 2018

Stories from 1918: The Cork Fire Brigade

 

    This week, one hundred years ago, a fire of serious dimensions occurred on 13 February 1918 in Messrs Baker and Company extensive confectionary works on French Church Street. The conflagration spread with alarming rapidly through a portion of the premises sharing the Carey’s Lane side of the building – it became enveloped and there was a further extension of flames into the area in the direction of Paul Street.

   It was about 7.45pm when an outbreak was detected, and the Fire Brigade was promptly summoned. Under the charge of Captain Hudson, the Brigade with full equipment was quickly on the scene and in a brief space of time set to work to extinguish the flames. A large force of police immediately arrived and took up positions at different points between St Patrick’s Street, Paul Street, Academy Street, Carey’s Lane and French Church Street.

   There were no less than eight lines of hose at work and by the aid of the fire escapes the firemen and military, as well as the firm’s employees, were able to perform a vast share of their duties from the roofs of the buildings in each street. After three hours’ hard work the outbreak was finally under control but not before the middle section of the building had been completely gutted. The outer portions of the premises, those at the St Patrick Street and Paul Street ends, were saved.

    Captain Alfred Hudson was the backbone of the City’s fire brigade during that eventful evening. He arrived to Cork in 1891 and retired in 1928 – a total of 37 years’ service in Cork. Local historian Pat Poland’s book For Whom the Bells Tolled and Cork Examiner reports through the years reveal that Cork Corporation established Cork City Fire Brigade in 1877. The first fire station was at 20 South Mall, where the Corporation offices were then situated, but it was soon moved to the site at Sullivan’s Quay. Facilities were certainly limited to say the least. The site was an open one with a small office which operated as a duty room.

   Captain Mark Wickham who was an inspector of the fire escapes in Dublin had the enormous task of organising the activities of the insurance companies’ brigades while in the South Mall. After a time it became usual for this brigade to respond to any fire calls whether it was an insured premises or not. This arrangement suited the Corporation and lasted from Captain Wickham’s appointment in 1877 until in the late 1880’s when the insurance companies decided they had undertaken too much in accepting responsibilities for everyone’s fires. What emerged was a free service without any public financial aid needed towards the upkeep of the service.

   The site at the South Mall remained open up to 1894 and the equipment consisted of a horse-drawn hose reel, a jumping sheet and a fire escape. Captain Wickham remained in office until 1891 when he was succeeded by Captain Alfred Hutson who was appointed Superintendent of the Cork Corporation Fire Brigade. A former station officer in Brighton Fire Brigade and having served in the London Metropolitan Fire Brigade, he was well equipped to handle the problems he encountered in Cork.

   In Cork Alfred Hutson first initiated a building and re-organisation programme. He increased the staff to seven men and ten part-time auxiliaries, the latter being selected from Corporation employees. The present Quay Co-Op, now the red bricked fire station at Sullivan’s Quay was built in 1893 during his early years of service in Cork.

   The training of the auxiliary staff was undertaken and they were then employed on outside duties such as theatres, bazaars, etc. They were summoned by a system of call bells. Captain Hutson between the years of 1891 and 1894 organised volunteer fire brigades among the students of Queens College (UCC) and in 1892 a volunteer fire brigade of prominent businessmen was also formed.

   Two additional fire stations were opened during Captain Hutson’s reign at the rear of the Courthouse on Grattan Street and at the top of Shandon Street. The men were full time firemen in every respect as they were on duty 24 hours of the day seven days of the week. New entrants had to live in accommodation provided on the station premises so in an emergency whether he was on or off duty, the fireman had to turn out for work. The engines at this time were two Merryweather steam pumps, which were drawn by teams of horses and these were purchased in 1892. In St Patrick Street a central street station was located with rescue equipment and one man on duty all night.

   In addition, large rescue equipment was located at strategic locations in the City. The Brigade at that time consisted of six regular men and two Turncocks living on the station with six auxiliary firemen, all Corporation employees, and with local volunteers in all a force of 30 men could be mustered in a few minutes. A report from the Chief at the time suggested that a night response took about 2.5 minutes with men fully dressed and horses out.

Captions:

933a. Alfred Hutson, c.1891 from P Poland, For Whom the Bells Tolled (source: Local Studies, Cork City Library)

933b. Quay Co-Op, former Fire Brigade Station, Sullivan’s Quay, Cork (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

 

933b. Quay Co-Op, former Fire Brigade Station, Sullivan’s Quay, Cork

12 Feb 2018

Kieran’s Question to CE & Motions, Cork City Council Meeting, 12 February 2018

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Question to CE:

To ask the CE about what communication has occurred with the HSE to move forward the site of the former St Kevin’s Hospital away from dereliction to some form of use? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

Motions:

That the City Council apply for central government funding to replace the 500 trees felled by Storm Ophelia (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

That the City Council re-iterate the points in discussion with private developers the protected status of the Port of Cork building and the bonded warehouses (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

8 Feb 2018

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 8 February 2018

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932a. Front façade of former Cork Library, South Mall

 

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 8 February 2018

Stories from 1918: The Pembroke Street Library

 

   Two owls on a coffee shop entrance and a date 1792 are the only remnants of the Cork Subscription Library on Pembroke Street.  At the annual meeting of the subscribers to the Cork Library, Pembroke street, held on 4 February 1918 Michael Murphy, Solicitor and Honorary Secretary read the auditors’ report, which was published by the Cork Examiner a day later. A profit of £45 l6s 3d was made comprising £22 in additional subscriptions and £17 for the sale of waste paper.

   Three years previously in 1915 the library had been put into a “good condition of repair”, with the result that there was no expenditure under repairs for 1917. The salaries of the librarian and assistant had not been increased since the war commenced. At the 1918 meeting salary rises was one of the principal themes. An increase in the subscription of 4s a year was proposed i.e. from £1 1s to £l 5s. The alternative to an increased subscription would be to cut down the supplies of papers, periodicals, magazines, etc. According to Mr Murphy, Cork Library offered advantages far greater than such libraries in other large centres, and where the subscription was up to £2 2s. Canon Tracy said that subscribers were very pleased with the manner in which the library was conducted at the time, and the committee and officials had “carried out their duty well”. As regards the increase in the rate of subscription, considering the valuable services given in the library, he was “surprised that the proposal was not more than 4s”.

   On the motion of Canon Tracy and seconded by Dr E Murphy, the President of the Library, Professor William F Stockley, was unanimously re-elected, and Mr Coroner Horgan, solicitor, Honorary Treasurer. In 1905, Professor Stockley has been appointed professor of English at University College Cork. He occupied the chair until his retirement in 1931. He was president of the Cork Literary and Scientific Society from 1913 to 1915 and President of the Cork Library Committee from 1913 to 1930.

    Unique in the country, the Cork Subscription Library was founded at a time when books were scarce, expensive and not easily attainable. The library catered successfully throughout its long period of use, for the reading wants of many generations of Cork men and women. The brightest and best in the intellect of Cork were closely associated with the Cork Library ever since its inception. In 1792 the library was based on Cook Street to begin with and then new premises were designed by noted architect Thomas Deane.

   In 1801 the library had eight life members and 143 ordinary members. The committee for that year comprised notable Cork personages – Dean St Lawrence, President, Dr John Longfield, Vice-President; Doctors Charles Daly, Richard Walsh, J Bennett, T Bell, and Messrs A Lane, S Wiley, J Spearing, St Leger Aldworth, W Trant, T Rochfort, S Richardson, P Stacpole, Mr Maxwell, H Wallis, B Bousfield, N Mahon, and E Penrose. Dr T Westropp was treasurer.

   The library catalogue in 1801 ran to a volume of 31 pages and had 627 items – History, Antiquities and Geography (146), Biography (38), Politics and Political Economy (21), Morality (13), Law (4), Divinity, Sermons (7), Metaphysics and Arts (62), Medicine, Surgery, Anatomy and Chemistry (83), Natural History, Minerology, Botany, and agriculture (26), Voyages and Travels (84), Belles Lettres, Poetry, Criticism, and Miscellany (108), Novels and Romances (25), and Dictionaries and Grammars (10). By 1820 the number of books in the catalogue had risen to 2,013 with membership growing to 385.

   Any person wishing to become a member of the library had to be proposed by a library member and seconded by another. After his and their names had been exhibited for five days in a part of the library, the subscription for the year of one guinea, together with the admission money of half a guinea had to be deposited with the treasurer. The proposed member was then balloted for in Committee, and if a majority of those present appeared in favour of him, he could be admitted. On signing the rules, he was entitled to all the privileges of a member of the society. The names of ladies, however, were not posted up, but kept in a closed book. The library was to be open for members of the library to read and send for books from 11am to 5pm from 1 February to the 1 November; and from 11am to 4pm from 1 November to 1 February except Sundays, Christmas Day, and Good Friday, Members could only take one book unless an additional subscription of half a guinea for an additional book.

   By the year of the Cork Subscription Library’s closing in 1938, the reading room had upwards of 20,000 volumes of general literature, the daily and weekly newspapers, periodicals, illustrated papers and magazines. The library contained a central, spacious and comfortable writing room, ladies’ rooms and gentlemen’s smoking room. The members of a subscriber’s family were entitled to the full privileges of the Library whilst the annual subscription was £2.

 

Captions:

932a. Front façade of the former Cork Subscription Library, South Mall (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

932b. The owls of Pembroke Street (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

2 Feb 2018

McCarthy: Summer 2018 slated for Tramore Valley Park Opening

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     Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed the response of the Director of Recreation and Environment of Cork City Council David Joyce that Tramore Valley Park is on track to open to the public in the summer of 2018. In reply to a question at the last City Council meeting by Cllr McCarthy, Mr Joyce outlined that there are several health and safely concerns that need to be resolved before the site opens to the public.

    Cllr McCarthy has remained consistent in lobbying to get the park open; he noted; “vast amounts of public money has been invested to transform this former landfill into a c.160 acre public park. An extra allocation of funding within the City Council’s 2018 budget has allowed for the opening of the park. I remain committed to putting pressure on the officials to open this significant park area, which will serve all of the city and beyond its boundaries”.

1 Feb 2018

Cork Bridges and Funding 2018

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Cork City Council Press Release, 1 December 2018:

Three of Cork’s most important heritage bridges are to undergo either restoration or significant maintenance works this year.

St Patrick’s Bridge:
Cork City Council, in conjunction with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), is to begin preliminary works on the repair and rehabilitation of the iconic St. Patrick’s Bridge next week.

This bridge is representative of 19th century design and construction and its restoration will be sympathetic to these values as well as to its unique heritage and historical importance. It is expected that the €1.2 million works will have minimal impact on pedestrian and traffic movement and will be undertaken in two phases.

SSE Airtricity Utility Solutions Ltd. has been selected by Cork City Council to undertake phase 1 preliminary works and they have appointed renowned Italian lighting restoration specialists, Neri to complete the project. Neri has worked extensively in Dublin including on lighting restoration at O’Connell Bridge. The existing four heritage standards (lamp columns) on St Patrick’s Bridge will be removed during the week commencing February 5th and an additional four standards, currently in storage, will be sent to Italy for repair and restoration.

This will involve returning the columns to their original unpainted bare metal state, repairing weather damage, protecting and repainting the standards. As part of this process, moulds will also be created to make additional duplicates columns. Upon completion, the 12 restored/replicated standards will be returned to the bridge in September complete with new lantern heads with LED fittings where they will be remounted just as when the bridge was first built. In the interim period, six standard temporary lighting columns will be put in place to help illuminate the footpaths during darkness.

Cork City Council is in the process of issuing a tender for phase two of the works which it expects will begin in early May. This phase of the works involves the removal of all vegetation and algae from the bridge, the cleaning and repair of all stonework and the re-pointing of missing or defective masonry joints. Proposed works also include the replacement of the footpath and carriageway surfacing together and new road markings. Existing traffic lights, elevation and architectural lighting and directional signage will also be upgraded.

It is expected that all works to St. Patrick’s Bridge will be completed by mid October.

St Vincent’s Bridge:
A tender is also due to be launched next month for critical maintenance work on St Vincent’s Bridge which connects the North Mall and Sunday’s Well to the junction of Bachelor’s Quay and Grenville Place. Detailed design to assure the continued usage of this bridge is being progressed. As part of these works, lighting on the bridge will also be improved.

Daly’s Bridge:
Refurbishment works will also begin on the iconic Daly’s Bridge in September this year to repair extensive corrosion and damage.

A tender has been launched seeking consultants to undertake design and civil works preparation. It is intended to award this contract by the end of next month. A contract for the civil works will be tendered in the coming months with a programme of works likely to start on site in September. The Department for Transport, Tourism and Sport is funding the project.

 

30 Jan 2018

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 30 January 2018

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931c. Former Hibernia Buildings, MacCurtain Street built initially by Dobbin, Ogilvie & Company

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 1 February 2018

Stories from 1918: Dobbin, Ogilvie and Hibernia Buildings

 

    The first week of February 1918 brought a focus to picketing and strikes on Cork’s streets. Picketing was held outside Messrs Dobbin, Ogilvie and Co, on King Street (now MacCurtain Street). The strike concerned 54 workers, 37 females and 17 males.

    A prominent member of the Transport Workers and General Union, when interviewed in the Cork Examiner described the origins of the dispute. The dispute has its origin in demands made in October 1917 for 18s per week for female hands who were being called upon from time to time “to perform heavy work, men’s work, hoisting of full barrels, etc”, and 30s per week for men, which included firemen. An advance of 2s per week was offered to, and rejected by the men on that occasion, and an advance of 5s per week to female workers, which was accepted.

    The men were told they would receive more favourable consideration if they left their trade union. They did not and were fired. The firm gave references to them, and days later five workers at the firm were each asked to perform the work of those put off. They refused, got a week’s notice and the rest of the workers decided to strike. Grievances at the company were not resolved until 1919.

   The business, Messrs Dobbin, Ogilvie and Company, which was established in the year 1855, was a successful enterprise. It developed to such an extent that a larger premises was needed. The company moved from premises on the South Mall and on Princes Street. In 1877, newly erected buildings, known as the Hibernia Buildings, on King street were occupied, and trade was further developed.

   In the Irish Builder newspaper for 1883, a fire is recorded on the site. The paper recorded that the business comprised three buildings; the main or centre structure contained the counting-house and the general warehouse, in which all kinds of merchandise were stored. Brandies, whiskeys, oils, chandlery, and other inflammable materials were among the goods that filled this large section. At the right stood the building in which the confectionery was manufactured. The building at the left side was the one in which the important work of tobacco spinning was carried on. The tobacco factory was deemed to be fitted with “machinery of a very expensive and elaborate character”.

   Following the fire, some of the building was remodelled by Henry Arthur Hill and was known for its cupola atop it. In the year 1891 the business was converted into a joint stock company, and continued to expand. Like many other trading companies, it had its good years and lean years.  It was well known for its Cordangan Mixture, Douglas Mixture, Irish Roll, and Plug as well as its jams and jelly marmalade. For many years, the company, in addition to its general business and tobacco manufacture, was engaged in the army canteen trade on a very considerable scale, and the cessation of World War I involved a largo reduction in the extent of the company’s operations. In the early 1920s, the establishment of the Customs barrier between Great Britain and the Irish Free State involved a further extensive loss of business, as the company’s cross-Channel tobacco trade, a large percentage of the total, was relinquished. The firm went into voluntary liquidation in April 1926.

   In Hodges Cork and County Cork in the Twentieth Century (1911) James Ogilvie is listed as born in 1840 and educated privately. He was as a Justice of the Peace for the county and city, member and ex-Chairman of the Cork Harbour Commissioners Board, Chairman of the Cork Spinning and Weaving Company, Ltd, Director of Eustace and Company, Ltd,  Director of F H Thompson and Son, Ltd, Director of the Cork Commercial Building Company, ex-President of the Cork Literary and Scientific Society, member and ex-President of the Cork Incorporated Chamber of Commerce and Shipping, Trustee and Member of the Committee of Management of the Cork Savings Bank. He died at his residence in Queenstown in September 1910.

   In his obituary on 2 February 1942 in the Cork Examiner Sir Alfred Dobbin was born in 1853, the son of Leonard of Belfast, and later of Cork. Early in life he displayed a great business acumen, which prompted him to play no small part in the building up of Cork’s commercial importance. He was appointed High Sheriff of Cork in 1900 and in the same year was knighted by Queen Victoria. Within a few years he was also appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Cork City, a position which he held until the change in regime abolished the post.

   During the Irish War of Independence the Dobbin house at Frankfort, Montenotte, was totally destroyed by fire. On another occasion he was fired upon but it was made public at the time that the bullet hit a button in his clothing and was deflected, thus saving his life.

    Sir Alfred’s first wife, Miss Margaret Reid Ogilvie died in 1883. after seven years of married life. Lady Kate Dobbin was the second daughter of the late Mr William Wise, solicitor, of Bristol. Both Sir Alfred and Lady Dobbin took a keen interest in art. Kate Dobbin was a well-known exhibitor at exhibitions of paintings and photographs.

 

Captions:

931a. Sir Alfred Dobbin, in Hodges Cork and County Cork in the Twentieth Century, 1911 (source: Cork City Library)

931b. James Ogilvie, in Hodges Cork and County Cork in the Twentieth Century, 1911 (source: Cork City Library)

931c. Former Hibernia Buildings, MacCurtain Street, built initially by Dobbin, Ogilvie & Company (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

 

25 Jan 2018

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 25 January 2018

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930a. Advertisement Guy’s Commercial Directory of Cork 1883 for Newsom’s Tea and Wholesalers

 

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 25 January 2018

Stories from 1918: The Newsom Legacy

   This day 100 years ago, 25 January 1918, brought the news to Cork citizens that one of the its respected merchants had passed away – that of John Charles Newsom. The Cork Examiner records that at a meeting in the City Council Chamber in Cork City Hall Alderman Simcox proposed a vote of sympathy with the Newsom family of whose death they were all sorry to hear; “The late Mr Newsom is a great loss to the commercial community in Cork. He was a member of many public boards, notably the North Infirmary. He gave lavishly to many of the charities in the city, and not only did he contribute to public charities, but he also gave privately. The poor of the city would deeply regret his loss, and frequently large crowds could be seen outside his place from year’s end to year’s end”.

   The announcement of the death of John Charles Newsom took place at his residence Temple Lawn on Blackrock road. Born in 1838, he was a son of Samuel Newsom, and grandson of the founder of John Newsom and Son. In the wake of the Napoleonic wars and the consequent depression, Quaker merchant families began increasingly to concentrate on developing a new style business based on combinations of retailing and wholesaling. They took on insurance and shipping agencies and increasingly began to take on a rentier or landlord role. John Newsom set up his business circa 1816. His firm was situated at 109, St Patrick’s Street. In the Cork Constitution, on 5 October 1830 it details some of the diverse products that John Newsom was importing – “100 casks of new mustard, 30 boxes of Kensington candles, Jamaica coffee in tierces and barrels, Double Berkley cheeses in baskets, fine salad oil in half-chests, Carolina rice in tierces, cotton and linen wick in bags, vinegar from Bordeaux, Zante currants, Italian liquorice, isinglass, citron and candy, pearl and Scotch barley, split peas, chocolate, patent and shell cocoa, wax and spermacetti candles”.

    John Charles entered the family business early in life. When the firm was made a limited company in June 1899, he became its chairman, and his brother, Samuel H Newsom became Vice Chairman. Incorporated for many years in the business was a wholesale sweet and confectionary branch trading under the name of Baker and Co.

    As a young man John Charles became interested in the Temperance Movement, and as the years went by this interest developed considerably. He developed the rallying posters and posted them in the city and region. For many years he was President of the Irish Temperance League. In one of the last speeches he made in public, delivered in 1916, he referred to the starting in 1862 of refreshment rooms in Cork City for the purpose of supplying the working classes with a substitute for intoxicating drink. The committee was Francis W Allman, Francis Guy, Edward Cleburne, Denis Brennan, Robert Scott and Newsom himself. The enterprise was a success. It was years later before it was introduced in other cities like Liverpool and Bradford. The committee also chaired one of the two steamers of the Citizens’ River Company called the Citizen. In this, during the summer months, evening excursions round the harbour were given. The ticket cost sixpence, while for an extra two pence refreshments were supplied in the shape of coffee and buns.

    In 1894 John Charles was a proud President of the Cork Young Men’s Christian Association with its circa 850 members. The YMCA societies were founded across Ireland from 1849 onwards and were the brainchild of Revered Dean O’Brien. By 1894, the one in Cork was the only one that remained. In other towns and cities once flourishing societies became split up, and gradually disappeared, their places being taken by other associations.

   John Charles campaigned for a new building and merchants like him contributed generously towards one on Marlboro Street. On 2 March 1894, a gorgeous and spacious red brick building opened. Designed by architect William Henry Hill, it was built by John Delaney and his team. The Cork Examiner, the day after the event recorded that on the ground floor there was lecture hall, at the southern end. On the first storey was a reading room, secretary’s office, retiring room, and junior members’ room. On the second storey was situated a classroom for educational purposes and rooms for the committee, honorary secretary, and caretaker. On the top storey was the gymnasium. The entire cost of construction has been about £5,000, £850 of which was expended in purchasing the ground and chapel.

    As an Elder of the Quakers, John Charles Newsom took a leading part in all their religious and social activities. Another society in whose work John Charles played a very active part was that for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, of which he was honorary secretary. He was one of the oldest trustees of the North Infirmary. He was a Harbour Commissioner with the Port of Cork. Another position he held was that of Chairman of the Cork Improved Dwellings Company, which under his able guidance, the company built houses (Industry Place, Hibernian Buildings & Rathmore Terrace) for the working classes at a reasonable rent.

Captions:

930a. Advertisement Guy’s Commercial Directory of Cork 1883 for Newsom’s Merchant Tea and Coffee dealers, located at the corner of Marlboro Street and St Patrick’s Street (source: Cork City Library)

930b. Former YMCA Hall, Marlboro Street, which initially opened in 1894 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

930b. YMCA Hall, Marlboro Street, opened in 1894

23 Jan 2018

Kieran’s Question to CE, Cork City Council Meeting, 22 January 2018

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Question to CE:

To ask the CE about the work programme and timeframe for Tramore Valley leading up to its opening to the general public this year? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

Motions:

That the missing street plaques be replaced at Dalton’s Avenue and Sheares Street, as well as the Sráid An Chapaill Bhuí at the Roundy House pub side on Castle Street (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

That Cork City Council’s future Arts Plan be compiled and published (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)