« Older Entries Subscribe to Latest Posts

18 Mar 2019

Cork’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, 17 March 2019

Posted by admin. Comments Off

Pictures I took from the viewing stand this year; thanks to Cork City Council for organising and to all the community groups for their great colour and pageantry. More pictures are on my heritage facebook page, Cork Our City, Our Town.


St Patrick's Day Parade, Cork, 17 March 2019








16 Mar 2019

Finishing of Works Ceremony on St Patrick’s Bridge, Cork, 16 March 2019

Posted by admin. Comments Off

Finihsing of works ceremony, St Patrick's Bridge, 16 March 2019

This week marks another chapter in the history of the illustrious St Patrick’s bridge as it re-opens after re-furbishment. It has had a rocky history. The thread below shares some of the interesting.

Demand: By the middle of the 18th Century demand for bridge access to the developing St Patrick’s Hill area was strongly called for. When first proposed opposition reigned in the city, especially the businessmen near the proposed site and the ferry boats that operated the River Lee. Their petition to the council was turned down and in 1786, the go-ahead for the raising of money for the project was given.

 Great Channel that became St Patrick's Street, c.1760

Tolls: Funding a new bridge was difficult so the Corporation of the city that loans would have to be taken out and would have to be paid back with interest. However the loan or the £1000 contribution from the council was not enough to pay back the financial institution plus interest that loaned the money. So it was decided to place tolls on the proposed bridge and to abolish them 21 years later.

 Tolls of St Patrick's Bridge, late 1700s, compiled by Antoin O'Callaghan

New Bridge: Mr. Michael Shanahan was chosen to be the architect and chief contractor of the operation. From 1788, he set about planning the project and on 25 July of that year, the foundation stone was laid. It took a half a year to nearly complete the whole job. The people of the city were astounded at the progress of the new bridge.

 Unfortunately on 17 January 1789, disaster occurred as a flood swept through the Lee Valley. A boat tied up at Carroll’s Quay (then Sands Quay) broke lose and crashed against the uncompleted centre arch i.e. the keystone and destroyed it. Devastated Michael Shanahan set off to London to find new prospects. He was encouraged to come back and the bridge was rebuilt & christened on 29 September 1789.


Depiction: For over two centuries, Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery has also minded & displayed landscape views of the city-the 2nd painting is by Mr T S Roberts who also shows how important the bridge’s location was & in the background the Navigation Wall now part of Cork’s Marina Walk.

2. First St Patrick's Bridge, Cork

 View of Cork City by Thomas Sautell Roberts (1760-1826)

Documentation: There are several old City maps, historical articles on the bridge’s history and two books on the bridges of Cork by local historian Antoin O’Callaghan – all available to consult in local studies in Cork City Library.

 Flood of 1853: In November 1853, disaster happened again when St. Patrick’s Bridge was swept away by flood. This was due to a  build up of pressure at North Gate Bridge which was the only structure to remain standing whilst the flood swept over the city centre claiming several lives and destroying everything in its path.

 The damged St Patrick's Bridge,  Cork, from Illustrated London News 1853

Benson’s Design: There was much controversary over the proposed new & ultimately present day bridge, mainly because of the type of bridge to be built i.e. either stone, iron and even timber. Architect John Benson was to be the architect and he chose Joshua Hargrave, the grandson of the Hargrave that worked on the first bridge and other contractors to build the structure. In November 1859, the new St Patrick’s Bridge its foundation stone ceremony.

Disaster struck again when the bridge had to be reconstructed due to a ship which struck it. It was reconstructed again and was opened on 12 December 1861 for public traffic. From here on the Bridge remained the same and it still spans over the rushing waters of the River Lee.


St. Patrick's Bridge from the Illustrated London News, 3 December 1859

14 Mar 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 14 March 2019

Posted by admin. Comments Off

988a. North Infirmary, Cork 1914


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 14 March 2019

Tales from 1919: The Work of the North Infirmary


    In 1919, the work of the North Infirmary appears regularly in Cork newspapers. One hundred years ago, 14 March 1919, a public meeting of Cork citizens was held at the Council Chamber, City Hall. Hosted by the Lord Mayor Cllr William F O’Connor, the meeting sought to perpetuate the memory of a well-respected young Cork Doctor, John Higgins, who had passed away from influenza. He had gained his MB degree with first class honours at UCC and was awarded first place in Ireland in several of his subjects. At his funeral the Cork Examiner reported that his cortege from the North Infirmary to St Finbarr’s Cemetery was extensive and there was a large public outpouring of grief.

    Dr John Higgins was also remembered at the monthly meeting of March 1919 and at an annual meeting on 6 May 1919 of the Committee of Management in the boardroom of the North Infirmary (now the Maldron Hotel in Shandon). At the May meeting it was noted that the wave of influenza, which had spread over the country had fatal results or had left many patients very sick and frail. It was detailed that every effort had being made to preserve John’s life, which was watched over by his professional colleagues and by the Sisters of Charity.

   An extensive annual report of the activities of the North Infirmary (est. 1719) appears in the Cork Examiner on 6 May 1919, which provides insights into staff, public demand, hospital space and financial debt. The City High Sheriff Mr W J O’Sullivan and subsequently the Lord Mayor, presided. The Infirmary opened the year’s work of the hospital with 68 beds, occupied by intern patients, consisting of 57 surgical and 11 medical cases. There were 1,054 surgical and 291 medical patients received during the year. Of this large number, 1,033 patients were discharged, cured or relieved, and 252 of the latter were positively treated. During the year, there were deaths of 35 surgical and 30 medical patients. A large number of patients from distant parts of the county were treated by the surgeon. As an addition to the main building (opened in 1836 with its wings opening in 1893) a new dental hospital had been opened. In another portion of the new building patients were treated for diseases of the eye, ear, throat, and nose. This department, under Doctor J H Horgan, was deemed much sought after. Owing to the war and other causes, the Rontgen Ray Department has not yet been formally opened, although it was being used for some infirmary purposes.

   Reference in the annual report is made to the resignation of Mother Josephine Murphy due to sickness. For many years, she was the Superioress of the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, who had charge of the patients and the domestic working of the North Infirmary. Superioress Mother Angela McNally was appointed to the role. The Sisters continued their charge they took up over fifty years previously. In the various wards the full complement was fourteen Sisters. Joining them were two staff nurses and a large number of probationers from Cork’s nursing school.

    The annual report of the Dental Hospital division for the year 1918 outlined that people feared influenza and were afraid to congregate in buildings. The curtailed train service hindered access to Cork City as well as the increased cost of all dental materials. Despite these issues, 293 patients underwent dental operations under general anaesthesia with 262 operations of a minor nature were performed under local anaesthetics. There were 1,287 ordinary extractions, 233 sets of artificial teeth, 65 repairs, 28 gold inlays, 18 crowns, 25 cases of root treatment, with 1,156 consultations.

   Discharged soldiers and sailors continued to be treated in the special ward set aside for them. The larger number reaching Cork were treated at the Military Hospital at Victoria Barracks. Special treatment was given to enable them to take up civil work again.

   The sub section of the report on the Eye, Throat, Nose and Ear Department described that with the exception of the period during which the influenza epidemic was prevalent in the city, the Ophthalmic and Laryngological Department of the Hospital continued to be very largely availed of by the poor of the city and county during the previous year. There were many children attending the clinic. This the report reflected that the parents of impoverished children were beginning to realise more and more that the early and expert treatment of defects of the eyes, the ears and the breathing passages was the “best and only safeguard against the permanent injury of the organs”. Over 2,000 new cases visited the extern division of this department during the year, and the total attendances were nearly three times that number. Nearly 300 surgical operations – many of a serious character – were performed under general anaesthesia, and approximately 150 operations were performed under local anaesthesia.

   The finances were in a difficult state. The Treasurer’s report showed a debit balance on the year’s work of just over £1,185 and attention was drawn to the increased cost of coal, totalling £117, to a decrease in subscriptions (the total of which only amounted to over £400, which was deemed a very small sum from the city and county). War, influenza, increasing demands of patients wages and the increased cost of maintenance of the buildings also drove costs up. Discussion took place on increasing public subscriptions and asking for state aid with motions taken from those present at the annual meeting to write to Westminster expressing concerns and demands.

  Kieran is also showcasing some of the older column series on the River Lee on his heritage facebook page at the moment, Cork Our City, Our Town.



988a. North Infirmary, Cork 1914 (source: Cork City Library)

988b. Maldron Hotel, former site of North Infirmary, Cork, present day (source: Kieran McCarthy)


988b. Maldron Hotel, former site of North Infirmary, Cork, present day

13 Mar 2019

Award Ceremony, Discover Cork Schools’ Heritage Project 2019

Posted by admin. Comments Off

   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 13 March (6.45pm, Concert Hall, City Hall). A total of 18 schools in Cork City took part in the 2019 Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project, which included Schools in Ballinlough, Ballintemple, Beaumont and Douglas. Circa 750 students participated in the process with approx 170 projects books submitted on all aspects of Cork’s local history & heritage.

  The Discover Cork Schools’ Heritage Project is in its sixteenth year and is a youth platform 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 developing new skill sets within young people in thinking about, understanding, appreciating and making relevant in today’s society the role of our heritage – our landmarks, our stories, our landscapes in our modern world. 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 are online on Cllr McCarthy’s heritage website, Cork Heritage

7 Mar 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 7 March 2019

Posted by admin. Comments Off

987a. Irish Volunteer Hall which transformed in St Francis Hall, 20 Sheares Street


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 7 March 2019

Tales from 1919: The Temperance Movement


    The celebration of the new St Francis Total Abstinence Hall at 20 Sheares Street was marked at the annual meeting of the society on Saturday 1 March 1919. The newly elected Lord Mayor of Cork Mr William O’Connor was in the chair. William was a native of Cork. He received his early education at the Presentation Brothers’ College, and obtained his MA degree at UCC, later qualifying as a solicitor. He was appointed Cork High Sheriff in 1917 and was elected Lord Mayor a year later. A keen golfer, he was for some time Captain of Muskerry Club. During his mayoralty, he associated himself with the cause of temperance and total abstinence from intoxicating drink.

   The Rev President Fr Francis spoke after the Lord Mayor and detailed that the furnishing was almost complete with three full-sized billiard tables, reading room, library, card-room, committee-room, a special room for boys, besides a large space behind on which a concert hall was built. He outlined the rising numbers of the society; “the soul of the place are the members and these number several hundred, which number will be doubled when the hall is fully finished”. Circa 4,000 members are highlighted in the speeches. The Rev President Fr Francis also spoke about statistics published in 1919 which reveal that £18,397, 518 was spent on alcohol by the public, which was up from circa £12m in 1913.

   The St Francis Total Abstinence Society was founded circa 1900. Based initially on Fr Mathew Street, it hosted sermons and talks by the Capuchin order. Documentation from its early years is hazy and scarce. The Society possibly co-utilised the Capuchin recreational space for the Fr Mathew Temperance Campaign.  On 30 January 1907, the early Fr Mathew hall was opened in what was then Queen Street.  There was a good auditorium for plays and concerts and plenty of rooms for activities such as a billiard room, a card room, a reading room.

   For the St Francis Total Abstinence Society talk of needing a premises accelerated in the 1910s. Charity events were organised. For example, in February 1917 fundraising concerts were held at Cork City Hall where the Cork School of Music Choral Society under the conductorship of Professor Theo Gmur were heard as well as music by Professor J C Shanahan. Cork Corporation gave the space for free. Advertisements in the Cork Examiner August 1917 records outings to Crosshaven by train, whereby lunch was served near Church Bay, followed by football matches and sports activities. The Greenmount Band provided the music on the outings. The site chosen for their new hall was the former Irish Volunteer hall on Sheares Street. The St Francis Hall continued as a dance hall venue for several decades after.

   The St Francis Total Abstinence Society was also part of a wider renewal in temperance activity across Ireland. Previously in 1838 Fr Theobald Mathew established his Temperance campaign and within a decade enrolled three million people, or more than half of the adult population of Ireland. By 1898 though, over sixty years after the Fr Mathew campaign the influence of the pioneer movement had waned. In 1898 Fr James Aloysius Cullen initiated the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association in Dublin, which created branches of its association and inspired solo societies.

   Guy’s Directory of Cork City and County lists nine temperance societies in the city – Apart from St Francis Total Abstinence Society there was also the Church of Ireland Temperance Society, Cork Women’s Christian Temperance, the Pioneer Division No 790 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Total Abstinence Benefit Society (based at Hibernian Hall, Morrisons Island), St Mary’s Hall (North Cathedral Parish), St Vincent’s Hall for Girls (St Mary’s Road), the Third Order of St Francis Hall (Grattan Street), Fr O’Leary Total Abstinence Hall (Bandon Road), Fr Mathew Total Abstinence Hall (Queen Street). There were also temperance halls in Rochestown, Blarney, Bantry, Buttevant, Doneraile, Kinsale, Skibbereen and Youghal.  

   The Fr O’Leary Hall on Bandon Road hosted a prominent temperance campaign. As curate in the Lough parish between 1890 and 1915, Fr Patrick O’Leary took a leading part in the Temperance movement. Whilst serving in the Lough parish he began the study of the Irish language and in a short time he became a fluent Irish speaker. He wrote several Irish text books, and the one by which he was best known was Ceacta Beag, a book which was widely used in schools throughout the country.

    Opening on 10 October 1900, the Bandon Road hall was initially named St Finbarr’s Working Men’s Temperance Club and was based on principles of the The League of the Cross, which was a Roman Catholic Total Abstinence confraternity. Established in London in 1873 by Cardinal Henry Manning, its aim was to unite Catholics, both clergy and laity, against intemperance. The hall was designed by James McMullen and built by the contractor Alderman Edward Fitzgerald. The body of the hall was rectangular with a raised platform at one end, suitable for the holding of concerts and events. It was divided into three apartments, separated by glass partitions and arranged so that the three could be merged into one room if it were found necessary. There was an additional spacious gallery, in which was situated the billiard-room and the library. The rooms on the ground floor were intended for reading rooms and general recreation rooms.

Kieran is also showcasing some of the older column series on the River Lee on his heritage facebook page at the moment, Cork Our City, Our Town.



987a. Irish Volunteer Hall which transformed in St Francis Hall, 20 Sheares Street (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

987b. Former O’Leary Hall, Bandon Road, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)


987b. Former site of St Francis Hall, Sheares Street, present day


4 Mar 2019

Cllr McCarthy: Calls for Public to Check New City Electoral Registers

Posted by admin. Comments Off

Press Release:

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has praised the work of the franchise teams at both Cork City Council and Cork County Council and their respective Director of Services for their trojan work in identifying electors to be transferred into the new city. A total of 62,567 voters will see their vote transfer from Cork County Council to Cork City Council in this May’s local elections.

The Final Register of Electors 2019/2020 has been published for the extended city of Cork. The total number of electors on the Register for the extended city is now 148,780 due to the city’s boundary extension which is due to come into force the month after the local and European elections. Over 15,000 people in the Douglas, Donnybrook Hill, Maryborough Hill, Mount Oval and Rochestown areas have been transferred.

Cllr McCarthy has noted that there may yet be people who are not correctly identified on the register. “I am encouraging all voters to please check their details online at checktheregister.ie or by contacting City Hall”. Members of the public can check their details online by using checktheregister.ie website. They can also contact the Register of Electors office, Cork City Council, City Hall, Cork at 4924107 or e-mail franchise@corkcity.ie

“If they are not on the current register or have changed an address you can apply to be included in the Supplement by completing RFA2/RFA3 application forms which are available on the website – checktheregister.ie –application forms”.

“The councils’ franchise teams, which oversee voting protocol, not only had to identify the electors in the newly extended areas but they also had to re-configure the local electoral areas as the city is moving from six electoral areas to five local electoral areas. This is a very complex body of work,” Cllr McCarthy noted.

28 Feb 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 28 February 2019

Posted by admin. Comments Off

986a. Aerial view of former Cork Showgrounds, Ballintemple, 1972

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 28 February 2019

Tales from 1919: The Gaels of the GAA


    This week one hundred years ago on 24 February 1919, the annual convention of the hurling and football clubs affiliated to the Cork County Board, Gaelic Athletic Association was held at the Council Chamber, City Hall. Mr J McCarthy (Chairman) presided and there was a large attendance of delegates from the different clubs, as well as members of the County Board. Outgoing officers were unanimously re-elected such as prominent Sinn Féin activist and MP Mr J J Walsh. Positions to the Munster Council, Munster Convention and to the All-Ireland Convention were appointed.

   Senior hurling championship medals were then presented to the winners, Carrigtwohill, and the Chairman remarked that Carrigtwohill deserved the honour, for their hard work and training. The runners-up Blackrock Hurling Club were also presented with a set of medals for which Mr Dorney returned thanks and shared his hope that Blackrock would be further successful in the season to follow. Cove, the winners of the senior football championship, were also congratulated.

   The Chairman, Mr McCarthy, spoke at some length on the progress of the Cork Branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association and reviewed the year’s work. His account gives several insights into the development of the Cork branch 100 years and threads from that history, which are still very present today especially regarding player selection, fundraising and the aspiration to own a premises and site they could own outright.

  The meeting agreed to start the inter-county championship on the first Sunday of April. A motion was discussed, which was referred to the Cork County Board – that “the senior teams be divided into four divisions, and that two Sundays, within a month previous to first inter-county match be set aside for the purpose of three trial matches between teams selected from each division; that two matches be played on the first Sunday and the final on the following Sunday, and that the inter-county team be selected from the players taking part in the match”.

  A decision was made to create a referee’s association to be comprised of four members of each division of the County of Cork in the games of hurling and football, and 10 members of the City clubs.

   On the effects of the First World War Mr McCarthy commented that despite “repressive regulations” around attempts to stop GAA events linked to political activism and militantism and the lack of railway facilities due to war, many matches did go ahead. He spoke of the support given by the GAA in the fight against conscription. However, there were several players who chose to fight at the front. He recalled the National Aid matches, which were fundraisers to send supplies to the War’s front lines. The games in aid of the widows and orphans of drowned seamen of Cork steamers though obstructed by the police authorities, also realised a respectable amount.

  On the Cork branch’s investment in railways, the Chairman noted his view that some people seemed to think as the Government had control of the railway’s, that the Cork County Board should have no shares in any such railway company. That he believed was a very two-sided question. The reason the Board originally put some money into the Great Southern and Western Railway Company was in order that they might have a voice in train arrangements and facilities in connection with their matches.

  On attaining their own grounds, one of the city’s prominent doctors Dr Saunders noted that steps should be taken by the Cork County Board to purchase the Cork Athletic Grounds and make that venue their own property. Since 1892, the GAA had leased grounds, which were adjacent the Cork Park Racecourse and the Munster Agricultural Society Grounds. The site is now that of Pairc Uí Chaoimh.

   The Vice President of the Cork Branch Mr Thomas Dooley said from his knowledge of the present shareholders of the grounds, he was certain they would place no obstacle in the way of the County Board purchasing the grounds and running them for their own benefit and the benefit of the “Gaels of the city and county”. The shareholders were to be consulted on the matter.

  On taking a political standpoint, the main agenda item was to consider a motion adopted by the Central Council regarding the Oath of Allegiance for civil servants, which had been introduced in November 1918. The motion read: “That it is incompatible with the principles of the Association for any member to take the oath of allegiance, and any member having done so is hereby relieved of membership pending the next All-Ireland Convention”.

  The Chairman said the delegates from Cork to the All-Ireland Convention should listen to both sides of the question. He had received a statement in Irish and English from those affected by the regulation in Dublin. The Chairman’s personal view was that he believed the men effected by the rule in question had nothing to do with the administration of British law in the country, like soldiers, sailors, policemen and magistrates, and the oath should be omitted from taking in the wider civil service.

  Dr Saunders moved, as an amendment that the Cork delegates should be bound to support the action of the Central Council but also the men effected; “There were men who had refused to take the oath, and they should not go back on those men who had sacrificed everything”.

   The upshot of the debate was that the Cork GAA were against the oath of allegiance in principle, but so far as it applied to civil servants. Their delegates would find out more at the ensuing All Ireland Convention and the effect of the oath overall.

Missed a column last year, check out the indices at Kieran’s heritage website, www.corkheritage.ie

Kieran is also showcasing some of the older column series on the River Lee on his heritage facebook page at the moment, Cork Our City, Our Town.


986a. Aerial view of former Cork Showgrounds, Ballintemple, with GAA Grounds, 1972; the grounds show the pre Pairc Uí Chaoimh site and a pitch which served the Cork GAA from 1892 to 1976 until the first stadium was constructed (source: Munster Agricultural Society Archives)

986b. Pairc Ui Chaoimh Crowd, Cork-Kerry Football Match June 2012 (source: Kieran McCarthy)


986a. Pairc Ui Chaoimh Crowd, Cork-Kerry Football Match June 2012


26 Feb 2019

Cllr McCarthy Launches his Local Election Campaign

Posted by admin. Comments Off

    Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has confirmed his attention to run in the forthcoming local elections in May. He has once again chosen to run in the south east local electoral area of Cork City which includes the Douglas area. Theough the City boundary expansion, the south east area will extend from Albert Road through Ballinlough, Ballintemple, Blackrock, Mahon and will now take in Douglas Village, Donnybrook, Rochestown and Mount Oval districts.

  First elected in 2009 Cllr McCarthy has won two terms of office in Cork City Hall on an Independent platform. He has a broad range of interests from culture and history to community development, city planning, village renewal environmental issues and regional development.

   In launching his manifesto this week he outlined his vision across five policy areas- developing more recreational and amenity sites with specific interests in opening Tramore Valley Park and Marina Park in the short term, moving Cork to run again to attain the EU Green Capital award, marketing the City Centre and village renewal, local government reform and financial accountability, and continuing his suite of community projects.

  Over the past ten years Cllr McCarthy has created and curated several community projects including local history programmes in local schools, a youth community talent competition, a youth Make a Model Boat project. He also founded Cork City Musical Society for adults. He also runs historical walking tours regularly across over 20 Cork City suburban sites and is the author of over 20 books on Cork’s history.

  At the launch of his campaign Cllr McCarthy noted: “Over the past ten years I have gained much experience in local government. I continue to fight my corner for an effective City Hall which can answer the needs of my constituents. The boundary extension offers an exciting but challenging time for Cork. My website and social media sites showcase my work pursued and achieved over the past decade. It also sets out my stall of interests and what an Independent strong voice can offer local government plus a vision for Cork City’s future in working with local communities. Collaboration with local people is very important to me. I look to meeting people again at the doors over the next few weeks”.

21 Feb 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 21 February 2019

Posted by admin. Comments Off

985a. GPO Cork, c. 1910 from K McCarthy & Dan Breen’s Cork City Through Time (2012)


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 21 February 2019

Tales from 1919: A Postal Service in Debate


     Before the advent of the First World War 250,000 people were employed in the British Postal Service. At the end of the 1917, 75,000 employees were released by the Postal Service for war service. By February 1919 despite the war being over rebuilding the employee base of the postal service was difficult. One hundred years ago, on Sunday afternoon 16 February 1919, a mass meeting of the Irish various associations representing Post Office employees was held in the Council Chamber in Cork City Hall. The Chamber was thronged with people.

    The meeting aimed to articulate claims for increased wages and better working conditions, which were being put forward by the various executives. It was the first occasion of which the several federations in the service made conjoined demands. The details of the debate were published in the Cork Examiner in the days that followed. Concerns about temporary contracts, the minimum wage, equal pay for men and women and child labour all came up for discussion. There were several resolutions passed, the content of which, would take several more years and decades to come to fruition.

  Opening the debate, the Chairman, Mr E Cussen expressed regret that representatives of some of the associations were anxious to be present and speak at the meeting but were laid up with influenza. He then asked the crowd, “If there is to be reconstruction in the Post Office, did they wish to have things rebuilt in the old order of things, or did they not desire something new and something more perfect?”. He outlined the various social, political, and economic changes taking place as a result of the war and dwelt on the effect of these changes on what he called the “democracy of the world”.

   Mr Cussen emphasised the principle that “one class should not grow rich on the exploited labour of the other, and that the meeting claimed self-determination not in a political sense, but in the right to determine the conditions in which they gave their labour”. He continued that as employers of a great public service the employer should continue to take their place by the side of the general workers in the matter of improvement of wages and general conditions. Those present at the meeting, he highlighted, had no desire to go beyond the claims of the general workers, but they were not going to lag behind.

   Mr J D Donovan of the Irish Association of Post Office Clerks (AIPOC) proposed a resolution about a wage increase; “That this mass meeting of Post Office employees demands an immediate general increase of permanent wages of not less than 150 per cent over pre-war rate, with an absolute minimum adult wage of 50s per week, and equal pay for men and women”. He pointed out that despite the complexity and work placed on all members of the services, the conditions, relatively speaking, were not much improved from those obtaining in pre-war days. The resolution was seconded and unanimously adopted.

   Mr Whelan of the Postmen’s Federation moved a motion to reduce the varying long working hour week; “That this mass meeting of Post Office employees urges the various staff associations to press for shorter working hours generally in all branches, of the service, and the abolition of split duties except, for the usual mid-day meal interval”. He quoted instances to prove that instead of 43 hours a week, in some branches of the service, noticeably some postmen, had a working week of 72 hours. Mr J McGann of the AIPOC seconded the resolution and outlined the conditions of child labour in the Post Office – as long as 50 hours a week being demanded in addition to four hours in school attendance.

   On the proposition of a Mr Britt, a resolution was adopted urging the executives of the various associations to press their demand for the adoption by the Department of the “principles of joint control”, recommended by the Whitley Committee. In 1917, to make sure that worker and industrial relations were kept positive during the war, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons John Henry Whitley chaired a committee that produced a report on the Relations of Employers and Employees. He proposed a system of regular formal consultative meetings, which became known as the Whitley Councils. The Councils were created due to the establishment of the Shop Stewards Movement. The Councils aimed to put in place effective arbitration mechanisms.

   Mr D Kennefick of the Engineering and Stores Association, in seconding Mr Britt’s resolution, stated that at a conference of Post Office engineering staffs a resolution to press for the adoption of the Whitley Report had been carried by 10,000 to 200 votes, illustrating the strong support of Post Office employees in relation to the report and Whitley Councils.

   Mr John McAuley (Supervising Officers’ Association) detailed the hardships suffered by men who had given long and faithful service, and who would now have to struggle to make ends meet on a pension of half their pre-war value with a purchasing value of less than a quarter of their wages on retirement. He also demanded that any adjustment of pensions should be retrospective over the war period. Overall, the City Hall meeting lasted several hours with more questions than answers emerging.

Missed a column last year, check out the indices at Kieran’s heritage website, www.corkheritage.ie

Kieran is also showcasing some of the older column series on the River Lee on his heritage facebook page at the moment, Cork Our City, Our Town.



985a. GPO Cork, c. 1910 from K McCarthy & Dan Breen’s Cork City Through Time (2012)

985b. Present day GPO, Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork (picture: Kieran McCarthy)


985b. Present day GPO, Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork

14 Feb 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 14 February 2019

Posted by admin. Comments Off

984a. Map of Colonial West Africa 1920


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 14 February 2019

Tales from 1919: The Society of African Missions


    On 10 February 1919, Bishop Broderick, Vicar Apostolic, Western Nigeria held his first ordinations at the African Missions Church, Blackrock Road. The new Prelate of the African Missions was a native of County Kerry, having been born in Kilflynn in 1882, and was the first Vicar Apostolic of Western Nigeria. Twenty-seven postulants to Holy Orders were anointed at his hands on Blackrock Road. One hundred years ago, regular printed references appear in local newspapers as to the donations made for the Society of African Missions by Cork citizens and the merchant class.

   The presence of the Society’s churches on Blackrock Road and in Wilton showcase near 140 years of living amidst the communities of Cork suburbs. The society is also blessed with a rich archive of documentation. Archivist Edmund Hogan has documented the history in his book The Irish Missionary Movement, A Historical Survey, 1830-1980 (1990).  The Society was established in 1836. The Founder was a young French man, Bishop Melchior Joseph de Marion Brésillac who had spent 14 years as a missionary in India. Yearning to do more, Pope Pius IX commissioned him to set up missions on the West Coast of Africa. Many attempts had been made there previously, but there was little success. By 1858, Bishop Brésillac was ready to make his first attempt, sending two priests and a brother to Freetown, Sierra Leone. Arriving at Freetown in the beginning of May 1859, the Bishop found the city in the grip of a deadly yellow-fever epidemic. He contracted the disease and passed away after six weeks. The project passed to Fr Augustine Planque.

   By 1861 the Holy See directed the missionaries to Dahomey in French Colonial West Africa, a land deemed safe enough for the European from the yellow-fever epidemic.  Of the three missionaries who set out, only two arrived, for one died and was buried at Sierra Leone. However, the missions was supplemented with others and missionary stations were opened. Soon they were prepared to go to other sections of their vast territory, which at that time stretched from the Volta in the Gold Coast, to the Nile River. Huge difficulties were prevalent – from racial, linguistic, to physical, religious, to the shortage of all kinds of supplies. The Congregation of Our Lady of Apostles was founded by Fr Planque in 1876 to supplement the work of the existing male missionaries.

   The arrival of the Society of African Missions in Ireland may be attributed to the advent of the missionaries to Nigeria. Nigeria was coming under the control of England, and English as a language was needed by those wishing to minister there. English-speaking priests were a necessity. This idea was that of Fr James O’Haire, a missionary from South Africa, who had met some of the African Missionaries. He suggested opening a foundation in Ireland and offered to go himself, even though he was not a member of the Society.

   In 1876 Fr O’Haire arrived in Cork and, with the permission of Cork Bishop William Delaney, acquired a house at Lough View, Mayfield. Several African Missionaries were then sent from Lyons France to join him and considering that he had done all that he could, Fr O’Haire departed. Fr Devoucoux, who was then in charge, transferred to another house nearby. But even this accommodation was not enough.  In 1879 he acquired the site in Blackrock Road and, joining in the work himself with the students and workmen, within eighteen months had erected St Joseph’s Church and house. In 1884 a Swiss priest, Fr Joseph Zimmerman, later a well-known figure in Cork, arrived to take charge and his enthusiasm for the project speeded up the expansion. Young men were recruited, given a secondary education and then sent to Lyons to study Philosophy and Theology.

   In 1888 the Wilton property was acquired and to it students were transferred from Blackrock Road. This latter property was handed over to the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles to serve as a temporary convent.

  Once the church at Wilton was built over 1895 and 1896, Fr Zimmerman set about organising the affairs of the Society in Ireland with a view to the eventual erection of an Irish Province. Religious persecution had broken out in France and this made him all the more determined to prevent the Irish section of the Society from becoming embroiled in French affairs.

   In 1899 correspondence began between Fr Zimmerman and Mr Llewellyn Blake, later Count Blake. Between 1900 and 1906 Father Zimmerman received £20,000 from him as bursaries for training students. In 1905 his house and property at Ballinafad, County Mayo, was given to the Society. The canonical requirements for a Province now existed: three separate houses, financial security, and the ability to find their own vocations. As a step towards such a new Province Fr Zimmerman first requested the Irish students should be trained entirely at an Irish Seminary.

   Between 1880 and 1910 over two hundred students entered the preparatory houses in Ireland at Blackrock and Wilton; forty-two, maybe a few more, went on to Lyons. At the opening of the Society’s Province in May 1912 there were twenty Irish Fathers of over 270 priests and 30 brothers in the wider Society of African Missions. The work one hundred years was also documented in The African Missionary, which was published every two months by the Society on Blackrock Road.

Missed a column last year, check out the indices at Kieran’s heritage website, www.corkheritage.ie

Kieran is also showcasing some of the older column series on the River Lee on his heritage facebook page at the moment, Cork Our City, Our Town.



984a. Map of Colonial West Africa 1920 (source: Cork City Library)

984b. St Joseph’s Church, Society of African Missions, Ballintemple (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

984c. Stained glass window with an African Missions theme at St Joseph’s Church Ballintemple, sponsored by the local Flaherty family (picture: Kieran McCarthy)


984b. St Joseph's Church, Society of African Missions, Ballintemple