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21 Jul 2019

First Call Out: Cllr Kieran McCarthy’s National Heritage Week 2019

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Saturday 17 August 2017 – Historical Walking Tour of Cork City Hall with Kieran, 11am, ticketed (free, part of Cork Heritage Open Day; duration: 75 minutes; details at www.corkheritageopenday.ie)

Sunday 18 August 2019, Cork Through the Ages, An introduction to the historical development of Cork City with Kieran; meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours).

Monday 19 August 2018, Shandon Historical Walking Tour with Kieran, explore Cork’s most historic quarter; meet at North Gate Bridge, Shandon Street, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours).

 

Tuesday 20 August 2019, The Victorian Quarter; historical walking tour with Kieran of the area around St Patrick’s Hill – Wellington Road and McCurtain Street; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)

 

Thursday 22 August 2019, The Lough and its Curiosities; historical walking tour with Kieran; meet at green area at northern green of The Lough, entrance of Lough Road to The Lough; 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)

Friday 23 August 2019, Douglas and its History, historical walking tour with Kieran in association with Douglas Tidy Towns; Discover the history of industry and the development of this historic village, meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours, circuit of village, finishes nearby).

Saturday 24 August 2019, Park Stories, Historical walking tour of Fitzgerald’s Park with Kieran, explore the history of Cork’s Mardyke, which is celebrating its 300th birthday this year; meet at band stand in park, opposite Cork City Museum, 11am (free, duration: two hours).

18 Jul 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 18 July 2019

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1006a. Plan of Cork Waterworks, c.1900

 

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 18 July 2019

Tales from 1919: The Work of the Waterworks

 

    In the western corner of the Old Cork Waterworks on Lee Road lies a weighing scales for deliveries of coal. Coal came up a back cobbled laneway into the complex. One hundred years ago in mid-July 1919 Cork Corporation’s Waterworks committee met with councillors. The Resident Engineer Mr Michael O’Riordan reported that the coal contractor had just delivered about 240 tons of Lancashire coal from the Collins Green pit. After using some of it, he stopped delivery, finding it very difficult to keep up the steam pressure needed to drive the engine room. In his view it was the worst coal ever supplied to the pumping station. The contract was for the best double-screened Welsh Tredegar steam goal, and the contractor informed him that he could not get it due to shortage.  Mr O’Riordan felt that the case should be brought before the Coal Controller, Dublin, to ask him to explain the railways in Cork were being supplied with Welsh steam coal, whilst the Waterworks, was not.

   Mr H G Burgess, Director of Cross-Channel Transportation and Coal Controller’s Department, wrote to the secretary of the Waterworks Committee noting that no restriction had been placed on the transportation to the Southern Coal Company of double screened Tredegar Monmouthshire steam coal. The company had in 1919 exported 2,345 tons more coal more than in the corresponding period of 1917. He deemed there was no excuse why the stocks of the Cork Waterworks had not been kept up. He claimed that the Southern Coal Company may have wrongly distributed their coal and there were unlimited supplies. Mr Burgess further relayed that he was to write to his Cork representative – Mr Buckley, 118 Patrick Street, Cork to go into the whole question with Mr Young, secretary of the Southern Area Coal Control Committee.

   Resident Engineer Michael Riordan began his career as a draftsman on Haulbowline Island under the British Regime. He won the post of Resident Engineer at the Cork Waterworks in an open job competition. During his period of work he was directly responsible for many important changes in the system being wrought by the City Engineer, Mr Henry Cutler and his successor Mr J F Delany. One of the changes was the installation of large turbines upon which the city was largely dependent for its excellent supply of water.

   Reports from the work of the Waterworks from 1900 to 1912 survive in Local Studies in Cork City Library and are supplemented by historical research by Dr Colin in his great book, The Industrial Archaeology of Cork City. In a report in spring 1902 the then City Engineer, Henry A Cutler, detailed to the waterworks committee of the existing state of the pumping machinery plant. He highlighted that the Cornish engine boilers were “unfit for further use” and were being “worked at risk”. Mr Cutler supplied tables showing the functioning of both the water and steam-powered plant. In 1902 Mr Cutler’s findings were agreed with by J H Ryan, president of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland, and Henry Davey, a mechanical engineer. Both were asked by the waterworks committee to investigate the condition of the pumping station. They noted that the steam plant was “of an obsolete and antiquated description, and from long wear and tear is in a very bad condition, requiring constant and careful attention to keep it in a working order”. In concluding their report, they further observed that the existing arrangements for supplying the city with water were “not only unsatisfactory, but critical”.

   In acting on Mr Cutler’s advice, the Waterworks committee by September of 1902 was already receiving tenders for the new pumping engines – Triple Expansion Vertical Engines. Robert Merrick, a Cork iron founder, made arrangements with Combe Barbour of Belfast to provide him with the necessary engines which he would install using local labour. Merrick had tendered for the manufacture of the engines and met the committee’s wish that a local manufacturer should receive this most important project. It was not until mid-1904 that the two large engines were under construction at Combe Barbour’s Belfast works. The engines were completed by 1905 but as late as April 1906 only one of the low-level engines had been installed, whilst that of the second was underway. By August 1906 all of the work had almost been completed. In February of 1907 that the old plant was finally shut down, and the new steam plant became fully operational.

   In 1919 the total population of the city supplied with water was 91,250. The area supplied was divided into four districts, three of which, North, Centre and South Districts derived their supply from a Low-Level Reservoir. The Fourth district, which was the high-level district was supplied from the High-Level Reservoir. Circa 4.3m gallons per day were extracted from a culvert connected to the river complete with a filtration system of sand and gravel. The demand for general domestic use in the city alone was in excess of three million gallons. Nonetheless, the filter tunnel was able to cater for the demand of the city up until 1928, by which time four rapid gravity and sand filters had been added to the system. By 1919, through leaks and wastage, the Waterworks department estimated that almost 50 per cent of the supply was wasted and Waterworks reports record continuous attempts to inform the population of the need to conserve water for the proper running of the city’s water supply.

 Kieran’s new book The Little Book of Cork Harbour (2019) is published by The History Press and is available in Waterstones, Vibes and Scribes and Easons.

Captions:

1006a. Plan of Cork Waterworks, c.1900 (source: Old Cork Waterworks)

1006b. Triple Expansion Vertical Engines at the Old Cork Waterworks, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

12 Jul 2019

Update, Event Centre, July 2019

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BAM submits significant further information on the Cork Events Centre- a long drawn out saga, which is hopefully getting closer to its end game.

https://www.echolive.ie/corknews/Bam-submits-significant-further-information-on-the-Cork-Events-Centre-30d2e133-e8fd-46e7-b4a1-2f5ea55c2f43-ds

11 Jul 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 11 July 2019

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1005a. Mr Edward Grace of Messrs Ford’s Tractor Works sits on the first Fordson tractor to roll off the assembly line, 3 July 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 11 July 2019

Tales from 1919: The First Fordson Tractor

 

    In late June 1919, citizens of Cork welcomed the announcement that Mr Edward Grace, Managing Director with a party of engineers from Messrs Ford’s Tractor Works had arrived in Cork to expedite the completion of the Marina factory. There were visible signs of big developments at the works. The glass roof on the newly erected iron work was making rapid progress as well as the installation of the large amounts of glass work in the main buildings. The First World War was deemed responsible for the building delay. Many cargoes of materials such as steel fell victim to submarines attacks off the Irish coast.

    By 3 July 1919, the first Ford tractor left the assembly line. An obligatory commemorative picture was taken at the time. In addition, the Cork Examiner carried a notice that from 30 June 1919 hours and pay were posted up at the office of the tractor works. The work hours were Monday to Friday inclusive, 8am to 4.30pm with a half hour lunch break from 12.30 to 1pm. Saturday’s hours were 8am to 12pm. The total working hours were therefore 44 per week. The minimum rate per hour paid at the works for men over 18 were 2s 5d with a share of profits per hour set at 3d. The total rate per hour was 1s 8d. For boys under 18, wages were 6d per hour with share of profits set at nil. Profit sharing was based on good conduct and was paid at the discretion of the company. It was also subject to employment for at least six months. Male office staff over 18 were paid 1s 5d per hour and a share of the profits at 6d per hour. Female office staff over 18 were paid 1s per hour with 3d share of the profits. Girls under 18 in the office were paid per hour with no share of the profit.

   By the end of 1919, 303 Fordson tractors had been built at the Cork factory. During 1920, which was the first full year of production, 3,626 tractors were produced. The sum of £327,000 was also spent on a machine shop, foundry expansion, new wharves and equipment. The sale of the Fordsons was primarily in Ireland and Britain. Large numbers were shipped to Bordeaux, Cadiz, Copenhagen, Romania and the Near East.

   In April 1920, the acquisition of Henry Ford & Son, the company, from the Ford family by directors of the Detroit Ford Company, meant disorganisation in sales strategies. Fordson tractors that were previously sold by specialist dealers were now been sold by car and truck agents with limited knowledge of the product. The tractor venture became more and more uneconomical. World markets also suffered depression and many European countries adopted a protectionist approach. Tariff and currency barriers also made exporting difficult. Political unrest on the Irish scene hampered the consistent arrival of workers to the plant every day.

   Edward Grace, managing director, realising that it was uneconomic and unwise for the Cork factory to rely on tractor production noted a number of home truths. The high cost of establishing the Cork factory and maintaining an efficient work force meant that it was cheaper for European distributors to buy Fordson tractors in New York and ship them across the Atlantic, rather than purchase them in Cork. Grace’s solution to the profit problem was logical. Manchester needed extra production facilities for Model T cars. Cork had a machine shop and foundry that were not being used to their full capacity. To get parts made in Dearborn, Michigan would have been cheaper but freight costs from the States was more expensive than exporting from Cork to Britain where there would be no import duty. This was due to Ireland’s part of the United Kingdom.

   By August 1921, the foundry at the Cork plant was producing all Manchester’s cast-iron requirements, including the engine. However, in 1921, tractor output from Cork fell to 1,433. The plant could only operate economically with 1,600 men. The 1918 Corporation lease of the land had specified that Fords provide work for 2,000 Cork workers. In February 1922, Cork Corporation ordered the Company to comply with the terms of the lease or face expulsion. The directors of Henry Ford & Son opposed the rationale claiming that the economic and political climate had changed radically within three years of the company setting up in Cork. Cork Corporation backed down from their requests.

    During the rest of 1922, the Cork company narrowed its tractor operation by clearing its stocks and building another 2,233 Fordsons. On 29 December 1922, the 7,605th Cork-built tractor came off the line. Edward Grace assembled all the equipment used in Tractor manufacture and shipped everything to Dearborn, Michigan. The Cork factory now focussed on being an assembly plant, producing cars for the Irish market. In fact, in the early 1920s, whilst a Ford factory was being built in England, Cork also manufactured components for the home and export markets. Cork manufactured Model T parts and supplied both UK’s Trafford Park and the Continental Ford Plants with all their requirements of engines and rear axles up until 1927 when the European production of the Model T ceased.

 

Upcoming historical walking tours:

Saturday 13 July 2019, The Victorian Quarter; historical walking tour with Kieran of the area around St Patrick’s Hill – Wellington Road and McCurtain Street; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 11am (free, duration: two hours).

Sunday 14 July 2019, Sunday’s Well, historical walking tour with Kieran; discover the original well and the eighteenth-century origins of the suburb, meet at St Vincent’s Bridge, North Mall end, 2.30pm (free, duration: two hours).

 

Captions:

1005a. Mr Edward Grace of Messrs Ford’s Tractor Works sits on the first Fordson tractor to roll off the assembly line, 3 July 2019 (source: Cork City Library).

1005b. Workers in the machine shop of Messrs Ford’s Tractor Works in August 1921 (source: Cork City Library).

 

1006b. Triple Expansion Vertical Engines at the Old Cork Waterworks, present

10 Jul 2019

Kieran’s Historical Walking Tours, 13-14 July 2019

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Saturday 13 July 2019, The Victorian Quarter; historical walking tour with Kieran of the area around St Patrick’s Hill – Wellington Road and McCurtain Street; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 11am (free, duration: two hours).

Sunday 14 July 2019, Sunday’s Well, historical walking tour with Kieran; discover the original well and the eighteenth-century origins of the suburb, meet at St Vincent’s Bridge, North Mall end, 2.30pm (free, duration: two hours).

10 Jul 2019

Kieran’s Comments, Dereliction debate, Cork City Council meeting, 9 July 2019

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For me the derelict site fine has become too blunt an instrument to deal with dangerous buildings in older parts of the city. At this moment is time, landowners are fined 3 per cent per year of the land value. However, it was heard during a Council finance committee meeting last week that under five per cent of the fines can be only drawn down by the Council due to many long term derelict sites in limbo with their legal title and in NAMA.

There are over 100 registered derelict sites in Cork City, which have been identified as derelict and unsightly and whose landowners have been fined. It’s an absolute disgrace that some owners have left their buildings in such a state over decades. I have no problem with someone who genuinely cannot develop their premises for financial reasons and who board up their building accordingly plus then develop when they can- But I have a huge problem with landowners with no sense of civic responsibility, who let their properties fall into disrepair and who create rotting concrete wildernesses”.

Even in my own ward from Ballinlough to Donnybrook, there are empty properties- where the owners seem to have disappeared. Many could be turned back around into housing units. Many are the ongoing concern of neighbours – fearful of rodents or fire or generally bringing down the calibre of an area. There must be quicker mechanisms to cut through the red tape- especially legal title and NAMA related properties.

There is a need to have a proper inner-city renewal plan. For too long places like North and South Main Street, Shandon, Barrack Street & Blackpool are limping on….indeed only for the Shandon Area Renewal Area group, volunteers, Cork Community Art Link…Shandon Street would be further down the road of dereliction…indeed such groups have added to the creative hub of the city. We need to build more of such groups.

Barrack Street is more or lost except for the traditional pubs that survive on student trade.

It always seems to me that there is no vision for such streets, no way forward. Shandon Street should be recognised officially as key heritage quarter.

History is oozing out of these areas.

And I see this week as well its two years since the burning of the former St Kevin’s Hospital. it is still now an abandoned and burned heap of heritage with no plan for it…the city needs a vision for such heritage markers.

The city centre needs to the core attractive place to live, work and visit; to safeguard, protect and enhance the built heritage and promote a sustainable, diverse and integrated residential and business community.

9 Jul 2019

Douglas Cemetery Maintenance

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Update  on maintenance at Douglas Cemetery from Parks and Recreation, Cork City Council

“Cllr McCarthy, In relation to Saint Columba’s cemetery in Douglas. We acknowledge that the maintenance at the cemetery needs to be addressed.

We are currently reorganising resources to tackle the work in this cemetery to bring it back up to an acceptable standard. As you can understand we are still in an adjustment period for the expanded city and are planning further maintenance works to commence in this cemetery tomorrow.

The large bins at the cemetery were collected last Friday and we are awaiting delivery of new suitable bins from our supplier. The remaining litter will also be rectified shortly”.

9 Jul 2019

Kieran’s Question to CE and motion, Cork City Council Meeting, 9 July 2019

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Question to the CE:

To ask the CE for an update on the progress of the successful Urban Redevelopment Funding projects, and also a listing on those projects, which were not successful? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

Motions:

That the public lighting on Wallace’s Avenue, Ballinlough be improved (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

That the City Council give consideration to the CPO-ing of the derelict Lakelands Bar on Avenue de Rennes, Mahon as it is in a very poor condition and there has been no sign of redevelopment for many years (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

In light of dereliction, traffic and spatial planning challenges that a Douglas Village Local Area Plan be created (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

That the City Council appoint a dedicated Cycling Officer in order to build a positive narrative on the benefits of cycling and associated cycling community projects (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

7 Jul 2019

McCarthy: Longterm Dereliction Not an Option

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Press Release

Cork City Council must act upon derelict sites through compulsory purchase order especially if they are long term blights on the landscape, says Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy.

In recent City Council debates on dereliction in Cork City, Cllr McCarthy has voiced concern again that the derelict site fine has become too blunt an instrument to deal with dangerous buildings in older parts of the city. At this moment is time, landowners are fined 3 per cent per year of the land value. However, it was heard during a Council finance committee meeting last week that under five per cent of the fines can be only drawn down by the Council due to many long term derelict sites in limbo with their legal title and in NAMA.

Cllr McCarthy noted: “There are over over 100 registered derelict sites in Cork City, which have been identified as derelict and unsightly and whose landowners have been fined. It’s an absolute disgrace that some owners have left their buildings in such a state over decades. I have no problem with someone who genuinely cannot develop their premises for financial reasons and who board up their building accordingly plus then develop when they can- But I have a huge problem with landowners with no sense of civic responsibility, who let their properties fall into disrepair and who create rotting concrete wildernesses”.

“Even in my own ward from Ballinlough to Donnybrook, there are empty properties- where the owners seem to have disappeared. Many could be turned back around into housing units. Many are the ongoing concern of neighbours – fearful of rodents or fire or generally bringing down the calibre of an area. There must be quicker mechanisms to cut through the red tape- especially legal title and NAMA related properties”, continued Cllr McCarthy.

4 Jul 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 4 July 2019

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Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 4 July 2019

Tales from 1919: Alfred’s Interventions

 

    In late June and early July 1919, the Cork Sinn Féin Executive arranged a series of public lectures aimed at increasing local activism whilst critiquing Westminster social policies in Ireland. The lectures were delivered by Professor Alfred O’Rahilly (1884-1969) to an interested audience, in the Council Chamber of Cork City Hall. Obituaries across various national newspapers for the professor in 1969 detail he was a native of Listowel and was educated by the Holy Ghost Fathers at Blackrock College, south of Dublin. Eamon de Valera was one of his contemporaries in the college. Having obviously a vocation to the priesthood. Alfred chose to join the Jesuits on leaving school and after the usual period of novitiate he went to Stonyhurst. His studies in philosophy there resulted in the award of a Roman Doctor of Philosophy. He was still with the Jesuits when he entered the old university college conducted by them in Dublin under the Royal University. There Alfred widened his earlier courses in modern languages to concentrate on science. Before long he was to receive a Doctor of Science for his large project on electro magnetics. However, he left the Jesuits to form a new career as a militant layman.

    In 1914 a vacancy arose as a lecturer in mathematics in University College Cork under Bertram Windle’s presidency. Professor Windle at once welcomed Alfred and his ability and training. In a few years, Alfred had become Professor of Mathematical Physics. He was elected Registrar of the College in 1920, and much of his constructive work within the college was pursued during the ensuing 30 years under the presidency of Dr Merriman (whom he succeeded as President in 1943).

    In the late 1910s Alfred became intensely concerned with social reform and economics and with the ardent narrative of younger nationalists. His theological and philosophical training enabled him to become a spokesman for Sinn Féin when ecclesiastical censure was threatened. He was always prepared to challenge authority and military repression in Ireland when he disagreed with it. He was elected to the Cork Corporation, and as a member of it in 1920 he proposed the election of Lord Mayor MacCurtain and afterwards of Lord Mayor MacSwiney (to replace him). Alfred took charge of the public funerals for both Lord Mayors, in defiance of all forms of British intimidation.

    Professor Alfred O’Rahilly’s lecture on 27 June 1919 at Cork City Hall was written up in the Cork Examiner and focused on the topic of “Co-operation in a Republic”. He pointed out that the ideal of a Republic was very vague and negative, and that there was great need for constructive and positive aims. In his personal view was that the “Irish Ireland” had been lacking in social and economic thought – that what confronted Ireland’s future was a lack of trained ability and competence and business knowledge and organising ability. Co-operative thinking and bringing people together in business and enact a form of “democratic control”.

    On Tuesday 1 July 1919 Professor O’Rahilly’s lecture was entitled “Some Suggestions for a Sinn Féin Labour Policy”.  He pointed out that there was really no Labour programme policy in Ireland, and, except as regards the land, there never was. For many reasons, it was high time to produce a coherent policy. He outlined that Ireland was the victim of centralisation policy with powers taken away from counties, towns and cities. As a contrast to the English system he gave the example of Switzerland, whose area was half that of Ireland, whose population in 1919 was half a million less. Professor O’Rahilly outlined that Switzerland was a Federal Republic and consisted of twenty-two sovereign States. He suggested that Ireland should have a federalism system at work; “Each county and each large county borough should be autonomous. We in the rest of Ireland should make it clear that we have no desire whatever to interfere with, say, Belfast and its prosperity. Similarly, Cork is quite competent to manage its own affairs, and has as much right to independence as Antrim”.  The ideal should be not be a bureaucracy in Dublin, but “ample local liberty, and in the Irish capital (a) a National Council elected by adult suffrage, and (b) a Council of States or counties with, say, two deputies from each”.

    Professor O’Rahilly’s second focus at his July lecture was the quest for sovereignty of the people. He proposed that a referendum should be held, whereby, for example, eight counties, or 30,000 voters, could insist that any legislative Act passed by the National Assembly must be submitted to the direct vote of the people for ratification or rejection.  The power of such an initiative, for example, would mean that the Transport Workers could draft a Bill, without consulting the Government.

   Professor O’Rahilly also dealt with some social and industrial projects, in particular with housing, drink control, and education. He noted that one of the most pressing needs in Ireland’s future would be the organisation of a system of national credit for the financing of now or neglected industries, and the utilisation of Irish resources. He considered that foreign capital constituted a danger, “as Irish capital was being artificially drained out of the country”.

July Walking Tours:

Saturday 6 July 2019, The City Workhouse, historical walking tour with Kieran; learn about Cork City’s workhouse created for 2,000 impoverished people in 1841; meet just inside the gates of St Finbarr’s Hospital, Douglas Road, 12noon (free, duration: two hours, on site tour, part of Friends of St Finbarr’s Hospital garden fete).

Saturday 13 July 2019, The Victorian Quarter; historical walking tour with Kieran of the area around St Patrick’s Hill – Wellington Road and McCurtain Street; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 11am (free, duration: two hours).

Sunday 14 July 2019, Sunday’s Well, historical walking tour with Kieran; discover the original well and the eighteenth-century origins of the suburb, meet at St Vincent’s Bridge, North Mall end, 2.30pm (free, duration: two hours).

Caption:

1004a. Professor Alfred O’Rahilly, c.1944 as President of University College Cork, now on display in the Aula Maxima in the college (picture: Kieran McCarthy)