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27 Jul 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 27 July 2017

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Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article, 27 July 2017

The Wheels of 1917: Revolutionary Women of Cork’s Northside

   The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School will be held in the Shandon area of Cork City from Tuesday, 1 August to Saturday, 5 August 2017. The programme is now online at www.motherjonescork.com. The Cork Mother Jones Commemorative committee was established in 2012 to mark the 175th anniversary of the birth of Mary Harris / Mother Jones in Cork, Ireland. After a highly successful festival marking that anniversary it was decided to make the festival an annual event marking the life and legacy of Mother Jones.

   Although famous in other parts of the world, especially in the United States of America where she was once labelled “the most dangerous woman in America”, Cork born Mary Jones (née Harris) – or Mother Jones as she is perhaps more widely known – was virtually unknown and certainly not recognised as yet in her native city. The aim of the festivals and activities of this committee has been to get better recognition for Mother Jones in Cork and beyond.

  On Wednesday evening, 2 August at the Mother Jones Festival, Anne Twomey of the Shandon Area History Group will speak on the topic of Revolutionary Women of Cork’s Northside, 1916-1923. The Shandon Cumann Na mBan group after 1916 provides a touchstone   for many of the women. Below is an abstract from the notes the festival committee and Anne Twomey.

  At the centre of the Cumann Na mBan group was Lil Conlon and her sisters. Lil was an unrelenting worker who carried out varied tasks during the troubled period. She later wrote a book Cumann Na mBan and the Women of Ireland 1913-1925 in which she pitched the question “What did the women of Ireland do anyway?”

   Kate “Birdie” Conway, whose early career was as a professional operatic singer, later became a founder member in Cork of Cumann Na mBan and afterwards Shandon Branch president. She played a huge role from 1914 to 1922. Kate was born in Carrigaline and studied at the Cork School of Music under its principal A Teur, and took elocution lessons from J W Flynn. She developed a great soprano voice and gained the attention of the Cork Operatic Society with whom she performed. She embarked on a professional operatic career under the stage name Mlle Del Rita. One of her first professional leading roles was in Sir Charles V Stanford’s Shamus O’Brien (1896) in which she co-starred with Joseph O’Mara. She appeared at venues in Europe and North America before retiring prematurely from the professional circuit around 1900. Her last public appearance was in 1914 at the old Cork City Hall at a charity concert. She was involved in Conradh na Gaeilge in Cork from its foundation and was a pioneer of the Cumann na mBan movement, being president of the Shandon Branch at the time of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921. She chose the pro-Treaty side in the civil war and dedicated much time to the well-being of the Free State army in the 1920s. She also devoted much of her time to the Magdalen Asylum, Sunday’s Well. Bridie died at Golden Grove, Douglas Road, Cork on 21 February 1936 and is buried in Carrigaline. Today she is remembered by a very colourful stain glass window in the entrance portal at the Ballinlough Church in Cork city. This was presented by her brother Maurice Conway in her memory. The window depicts the Little Flower to whom the deceased lady had a lifelong and enduring devotion.

   Across in Blackpool, Peg Duggan and her sisters Sarah and Annie, living at 49 Thomas Davis Street, operated an escape network for those on the run for years. Her flower shop on Parliament Street was a centre of Volunteer/IRA activity until closed by order of the British authorities. She was among the first on the scene of the murder of Lord Mayor Tomas MacCurtain in Blackpool on 20 March 1920. She rendered first aid and comfort for his widow, children and extended family.

  Emma Hourigan who lived nearby at 45 Maddens Buildings was very active, running intelligence, putting up posters, campaigning and organising.

   In the very heart of Cork City in St Augustine Street stood the innocent paper shop run by the Wallace sisters who were members of the Irish Citizen Army. This unassuming premises was effectively the intelligence post office for the volunteers and the IRA for 5/6 years. Nora and Sheila Wallace’s heroic and invisible contribution to the revolution is only now surfacing from the shadows.

  Other Cumann na mBan members included Margaret Lucey who typed drafts of Terence MacSwiney’s book Principles of Freedom. MacSwiney’s sisters Mary and Annie spent their entire lives working for the achievement of a Republic.

  Young Kitty Daly was very active; she took part in the burning of Macroom Railway Station and was involved in the ambush of a British officer near the present St John’s School.

  Geraldine Sullivan (Neeson), was Muriel Murphy’s bridesmaid at her marriage to Terence MacSwiney on 9 June 1917. She transported explosives on her person around the city.

  Nora O’Sullivan was actively involved and bravely hid and carried weapons for volunteers, who were subject to constant searches.

   To learn more, check out the details of Anne Twomey’s talk on Wednesday 2 August, 7.30pm, Maldron Hotel, Shandon.


905a. Mary Harris, aka Mother Jones (source: Cork City Library)

905b. Centre glass panel is Kate “Birdie” Conway Memorial Window, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Ballinlough, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)


905b. Centre is Kate Conway Memorial Window, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Ballinlough, present day


21 Jul 2017

Survey, Cork City Council, July 2017

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    Do you live in Cork City Centre? Is it the perfect place to live or can you see room for improvement? Of course it isn’t. Would you like to help shape Cork City Council’s future actions and priorities in the City Centre? If so the City Council would like to hear from you. Cork City Council is conducting a survey of City Centre residents to better understand how people feel about living in the City Centre and what residents consider to be the key issues affecting life in City Centre neighbourhoods.

  The City Council wants to know how you rate living in the City Centre, as well as what you think of the quality of green space, streets and spaces, and whether there are areas that you don’t feel safe in. Are you affected by noise pollution? The City Council also wants to understand how well City Centre communities are working together – do you feel that you are well-connected into City Centre networks / communities, and are part of decision-making generally. These are all matters that the City Council would like to explore but you will also have the opportunity to flag your top three issues – whatever they are. Pat Ledwidge, Deputy Chief Executive of Cork City Council, said “Cork City Council needs those who live in the City Centre to help us prioritise our action and investment –this City Centre Neighbourhood Survey is that critical first step to enable us to understand people’s experiences of living in the City Centre. We have 400 responses so far but we would like to hear from as many people as possible and we encourage residents to take 6 minutes of their time to fill out the questionnaire and tell us what it is like living in Shandon or any other City Centre area. This is the start of a new focus on improving quality of life in City Centre neighbourhoods”.

   Why bother? This survey is the first step towards developing a Cork City Centre Neighbourhoods Strategy that will be developed in partnership with City Centre neighbourhoods to identify actions to help improve the quality of life for those living in the City Centre. This might, for example, mean finding creative solutions to provide more green space. The City Council hopes to prepare the strategy over the next year following completion of the survey and a pilot neighbourhood strategy.

   Whether you live on the City Centre Island, Shandon, South Parish or other areas of the City Centre the City Council wants your opinions. If you aren’t used to doing online questionnaires then you can find copies of the questionnaire at local venues, including: Nolan’s Butchers on Shandon Street; Saint Luke’s Post Office; Albert Road Post Office; Saint Peter’s on North Main Street; Alchemy and Mouse Cafe on Barrack Street; South Parish Community Centre and Cork Flower Studio on Douglas Street. Community Associations, such as Shandon Area Renewal Association (SARA), and others, are also helping to get the word out on the ground.

    Cork City Council aims to ensure, as far as possible, that the overall response is representative of all people in the City Centre (e.g. age groups / areas of the City Centre). The deadline is 7 August 2017. Please look up the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ccnhoodsurvey

Further details can be obtained from:
Jeremy Ward, Senior Executive Planner, Planning Policy Section, SPED, Cork City Council. Jeremy_ward@corkcity.ie  / 021-492-4450

20 Jul 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 20 July 2017

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904a. Eamon deValera, 1916


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article, 20 July 2017
The Wheels of 1917: Jubilation and Commemoration


    July 1917 was an eventful month for Cork City with important happenings being listed in the Cork Examiner. The Cork Improvement Bill or the Ford Plant project finally received Royal Assent and became law. The solicitor of Cork Corporation Mr Galvin made the official announcement at a Corporation meeting on 12 July. The Lord Mayor, Thomas Butterfield led the congratulations and heralded a new era of industrialisation. Officials and Councillors present called for the works to start as soon as possible.

   By Saturday 21 July at the Cork City Assizes, Mr Justice Pim noted that the work in the old Cork Park had started and that men were actually at work preparing the site. Judge Pim hoped for increased prosperity in Cork; “I live in the hope that this enterprise is only the forerunner of others, which the present project will call into existence, and that the old and famous city of Cork will become more prosperous and famous. Gratitude and honour is given to the man in a foreign country in the time of his success and fortune had not forgotten his old motherland and the country, which gave his father birth”.

    Of political significance was the election of Éamon de Valera as an MP in East Clare. This was a by-election caused by the death of the previous incumbent Willie Redmond, brother of the Irish Party Leader John Redmond who had died fighting in World War I. De Valera joined the Irish Volunteers at their first meeting in 1913. He took part in the landing of guns from the Asgard in July 1914. He commanded the Boland’s Mills garrison in Dublin during the 1916 rising. After the surrender, he was sentenced to death, but later it was decided to sentence him to life imprisonment instead. In prison, de Valera began to show his leadership qualities. He was released from prison in June 1917.

    Late on Wednesday evening, 11 July 1917 many sub-agents and representatives of the two MP candidates returned to Ennis after the close of the poll to determine with any accuracy the chances of the opposing candidates. It was quite clear from the outward signs, that de Valera’s supporters considerably outnumbered those of his opponent Patrick Lynch, the Irish Parliamentary Party Home Rule candidate. De Valera won his seat gaining over 5,000 votes.

  On the front steps of the courthouse the High Sheriff made his second formal announcement of the return of Mr de Valera. It was received by sustained public cheering and the waving of many Republican flags. De Valera spoke a few words in Irish first, and as then continuing in English crying out “England has her answer”. This was part of his continued call to abandon constitutional agitation in the form of the Irish Convention (which was due to begin in late July 1917) and to turn to physical force.

  De Valera expressed his gratitude to the electors of East Clare for returning him and his pleasure at being elected for such an historic constituency. There were a number of personal encounters, but the force of police, around the town of Ennis acted as a powerful deterrent against anything in the shape of a general outbreak. Bands of Sinn Féin representatives in organised formation marched through the streets at intervals, all carrying substantial sticks or cudgels. At the Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis in October 1917, De Valera was elected President of the party and at the end of the same month he was elected President of the Irish Volunteers. His first arrival to a Sinn Féin rally in Cork was on 8 December 1917.

   This month, 100 years ago, a discussion also began on the commemoration on the executed Easter Rising leaders. On 16 July 1917 the Round Room in the Mansion House, Dublin was filled to capacity as the leaders of Sinn Féin demanded that the bodies of the Easter Rising leaders so that they can be given a Christian burial. Fifteen leaders of the Rising were shot in the fortnight after the Easter Rising. Fourteen were executed in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin whilst Thomas Kent was executed in his native Cork. The bodies of the 14 were taken to Arbour Hill military prison in Dublin for burial. The remains of Thomas Kent remained in Cork Prison. The manner in which their burials were conducted caused widespread anger at the time, with Bishop Thomas O’Dwyer stating that the British had denied the men a Christian burial by burying them in unconsecrated ground. No compromise emerged.

   OPW historic records outline that from 1928, the Department of Defence suggested that the OPW erect a suitable memorial in Arbour Hill Cemetery to commemorate the leaders of the Easter Rising buried there. Finally, in 1937, T J Byrne, then principle Architect at the OPW, relented. The matter was delayed until 1948, when the Department of Defence eventually passed responsibility for the plot to the OPW. By this time, Arbour Hill Cemetery was a place of pilgrimage, although it was not officially open to the public. In 1949 extensive re-landscaping took place and the present design was submitted by the Department of Defence, the government, the Arts Council and by the OPW. It was approved in January 1954, the memorial park opened in 1955, and the memorial wall by Michael Biggs was completed in 1964.

July Historical Walking Tours:

Thursday, 27 July, The Friar’s Walk, with Kieran; discover Red Abbey, Elizabeth Fort, Callanan’s Tower and Greenmount area; meet at Red Abbey tower, 6.45pm (free)

Friday 28 July, The Lough and its history, with Kieran; meet at the green on northern end of the Lough, Lough Church end, 6.45pm (free)



904a. Éamon de Valera, 1916 (source: Waterford Museum)

904b. Cadets stand to attention around the plot of the 1916 Leaders in Arbour Hill, Dublin, present day (source: Irish Defence Forces)


904b. Cadets stand to attention around the plot of the 1916 Leaders in Arbour Hill, Dublin

19 Jul 2017

Cllr McCarthy: Atlantic Pond, Tests Return No Indications of Pollution

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  Cllr Kieran McCarthy has called for that any future plans for the Atlantic Pond area to continue to protect this historic amenity and its environs. At recent City Council meetings concerns were raised with regards to flooding and possible pollution at the Atlantic Pond.

   On foot of the issues raised an initial inspection of the Atlantic Pond was undertaken by the Director of Recreation, Amenity and Environment and Parks Section. The results of this initial inspection indicate that the recent flooding, which occurred in the area at high tides, due to the malfunctioning non-return valve at the pond outlet to the river, has resulted in the brackish salt water causing some “wilting” of the vegetation in the areas that were flooded i.e. the green areas and island. It is the view of the Parks Department that the trees and shrub vegetation will fully recover however some of the lawn areas may need to be reseeded. At present a more detailed examination of the soil and vegetation is being arranged in order to verify these initial findings.

  Cllr McCarthy noted: “it has been pointed out to ward councillors by the Director of Recreation, Amenity and Environment that at this point in time there is no evidence that the issues seen at present in the Atlantic Pond are associated with pollution or other such harmful substance in the water. It has also been confirmed that there is no link between the issues being experienced at present and those that occurred in January 2017 has been found”.

   In January 2017, there was a discolouration issue in one of the rivers feeding the Atlantic Pond. Cllr McCarthy continued; “this incident was fully investigated by the Environment & Recreation Directorate however the source of the discolouration could not be identified despite significant survey and investigative works. The water samples analysed in January during the discolouration incident did not contain any harmful substances in the water and no negative impacts on either plant or animal life were recorded associated with this incident”.

18 Jul 2017

Cllr McCarthy: Much work to be done before Bessboro should be sold

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   The selling of Bessboro House and ground is a cause for concern, according to local Cllr Kieran McCarthy. “Any developments should wait for the Mother and Baby Home Commission to finish their work; so everyone has the range of testimonies before them and that informed decisions can be made on the future of such sites such as Bessboro”.

“The house and parts of its environs are earmarked for development in the Mahon Local Area Plan but historically we are dealing with a late eighteenth century house and estate with a vast history. The order of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary set up the Bessboro Mother and Baby Home in 1924 and it lasted till 1996. It is estimated that 8,000 to 10,000 girls and women passed through its doors. In recent years, media reports, secured from the HSE, have revealed the extent of infant mortality in the mid twentieth century – rough estimates highlight that there are 1,200 children are buried in the graveyard in Bessboro”.

   Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed comments by Minister Katherine Zappone of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs who last week called for open and consistent communication with former residents of the Irish Mother and Baby Homes on the matters of concern to them. The Minister has committed that the updates will be published in the Mother and Baby Homes section on the Department’s website on the first Friday of every month. Cllr McCarthy has agreed with the Minister’s comment that the public need to have access to the same information at the same time. Minister Katherine Zappone recently invited former residents and their supporters to participate in a facilitated consultation process following the publication of the Second Interim Report of the Commission of Investigation. Over 100 people participated in the initial event on 30 June reflecting the high level of interest in engaging with this process.

  Cllr McCarthy continued; “I have called for arrangements for further events to be hosted in locations outside Dublin and across the country. Fourteen Mother and Baby Home and three County Homes are under scrutiny with the Mother and Baby Commission. It is highly important that as many people have an opportunity to have their say on their issues of concern on such Homes”.

18 Jul 2017

Pictures, Laya City Spectacular, Fitzgerald’s Park, 15-16 July 2017

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Great weekend of fun at Laya City Spectacular, Fitzgerald’s Park, 15-16 July 2017, thanks to all the organisers,

Laya City Spectacular event, Fitzgerald's Park, Cork. 17 July 2017

Laya City Spectacular event, Fitzgerald's Park, Cork. 17 July 2017

Laya City Spectacular event, Fitzgerald's Park, Cork. 17 July 2017

Laya City Spectacular event, Fitzgerald's Park, Cork. 17 July 2017

Laya City Spectacular event, Fitzgerald's Park, Cork. 17 July 2017

17 Jul 2017

Science for All, European Committee of the Regions Debate

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  Cllr Kieran McCarthy, a member of the European Committee of the Regions advocates for pan-European inclusion of science and innovation in school curricula.

On 12 July, during the 124th plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions, members hosted Mr Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation who presented some possible directions for the future evolution of the Horizon 2020 programme.

  Speaking on behalf of the European Alliance group, which he is Vice President of, Cork City Councillor Kieran McCarthy stressed the need to break the silos between disciplines, policies and programmes and the need to inspire Europe with mission-driven research and innovation.

  Mr McCarthy called for a more central role for the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and a better connection between the work done there, the research within the Horizon 2020 programme and the innovation elements of the cohesion policy.

  Secondly, Mr McCarthy, who also authored the CoR opinion on “Building a European Data Economy,” talked about the crucial importance of inspiring Europe and capturing public imagination in science and innovation. He argued that ten per cent or more of future funding should go to publicity and science and innovation must form a core part of school curricula across every member state and local authority area. Giving the example of Cork City Council’s Lifetime Lab in Cork he concluded; “It must be a science for all. Science and innovation is the future of Europe. And the future of Europe document must reflect this going forward as well”.

  Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly €80 billion of funding available in the period between 2014 and 2020. Currently, the programme is undergoing its mid-term view with vivid debates on its post-2020 evolution and, in particular, its relation to the EU’s cohesion policy.

Caption: Cllr Kieran McCarthy addressing Commissioner Carlos Moedas and the European Committee of the Regions Plenary in the hemicycle of the European Parliament


13 Jul 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 13 July 2017

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Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 13 July 2017

July Historical Walking Tours


Wednesday 19 July, Shandon historical walking tour with Kieran; discover the history of one of Cork’s oldest streets woven with tales of castles, butter and historical churches; meet at North Gate Bridge at end of Shandon Street, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)

  There are multiple layers of history around the Shandon quarter. Amongst them is the story of the great butter market. By the mid eighteenth century, the native butter industry in Cork had grown to such an extent due to British empire expansion that it was decided among the main city and county butter merchants that an institution be established in the city that would control and develop its potential. These ‘Committee of Butter Merchants’ located themselves in a simple commissioned building adjacent to Shandon. The committee comprised 21 members who were chosen by the merchants in the city. In May 1770, it was decided by the Cork Committee that all butter to be exported from Cork was to be examined by appointed inspectors – the quality and weight of the butter and the manner of packing.

Thursday 20 July, 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, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)

   Sunday’s Well was a famous landmark through the ages and the adjoining district took its name from the well. In 1644, the French traveller M de La Boullaye Le Gouz, visited Ireland. In the account of his journey he writes: “A mile from Korq [Cork] is a well called by the English, Sunday Spring, or the fountain of Sunday, which the Irish believe is blessed and cures many ills. I found the water of it extremely cold”. Charles Smith in his second volume of his History of Cork, mentions “a pretty hamlet called Sunday’s Well, lying on a rising ground…here is a cool refreshing water, which gives name to the place, but it is hard, and does not lather with soap”. Antiquarian Thomas Crofton Croker described the well as well; “Sunday’s Well is at the side of the high road, and is surrounded by a rude, stone building, on the wall of which the letters HIS mark its ancient reputation for sanctity. It is shadowed over by some fine own ash trees, which render it as a picturesque object”. Writing later still John Windele says of the well; “Early in the mornings of the summer Sundays may be seen the hooded devotees with beads in hand, performing their turrish or penance, besides this little temple”.

  The historic landmark is no longer visible. At the beginning of 1946, the adjoining roadway was widened and improved, it was necessary to remove the stone building covering the well, and to run the road over the well. However, to mark the site, the stone tablet bearing the inscription, “HIS, Sunday’s Well, 1644”, which had been on the building, was placed on the wall adjoining the road. Rounds are no longer paid there.

Thursday 27 July 2017, The Friar’s Walk, with Kieran; discover Red Abbey, Elizabeth Fort, Callanan’s Tower and Greenmount area; meet at Red Abbey tower, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)

   This historical walking tour begins on Red Abbey square and explores the area’s medieval origins and the impact on the area. In such a small corner of the city, post medieval Cork and the story of industrial housing can be told, as well as stories of St Stephen’s School, Callanan’s Tower, Elizabeth Fort and the Gallows at Greenmount.

   The central bell tower of the church of Red Abbey is a relic of the Anglo-Norman colonisation and is one of the last remaining visible structures, which dates to the era of the walled town of Cork. Invited to Cork by the Anglo-Normans, the Augustinians established an abbey in Cork, sometime between 1270 AD and 1288 AD. It is known that in the early years of its establishment, the Augustinian friary became known as Red Abbey due to the material, sandstone, which was used in the building of the friary. It was dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity but had several names, which appear on several maps and depictions of the walled town of Cork and its environs. For example, in a map of Cork in 1545, it was known as St Austins while in 1610, Red abbey was marked as St. Augustine’s. The adjacent street names of Red Abbey Street, Friar’s Street and Friar’s Walk also echoes the days of a large medieval abbey in the area.

Friday 28 July 2017, The Lough and its history, historical walking tour with Kieran (new tour); discover the legends and stories of the Cork Lough, meet at the green on northern end of the Lough, Lough Church end, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)

   This is a new walking tour, which explores the Lough, its heritage and the rich surrounding history of this quarter of the city. This amenity has witnessed eighteenth century market fairs as well as ice skating to nineteenth century writers and nursery gardens to twentieth century cycling tournaments and the rich and historic market garden culture.

Kieran’s National Heritage Week historical walking tours for August are also now posted at www.kieranmccarthy.ie under the walking tours section.


903a. View of Shandon Street Festival, June 2017 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

903b. Depiction of Skating on the Lough by artist Daniel Maclise, c.1830 (source: Cork City Library)


903b. Depiction of Skating on the Lough by artist Daniel Maclise, c.1830

11 Jul 2017

Laya Healthcare City Spectacular Festival, 15-16 July, Fitzgerald’s Park

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   The Laya Healthcare City Spectacular festival in Fitzgerald’s Park will have you gazing at amazing performers as they loop, hoop, flip and twist before your eyes! Jugglers, break dancers, mysterious magicians and many more will keep the fun going going for a weekend of world class, award winning street performances. This annual family event is just amazing,

More details at this link: http://www.cityspectacular.com/cork


10 Jul 2017

Resurfacing update,Ballinlough Swimming Pool Carpark and Hill, July 2017

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   Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed the recent announcement by the Recreation and Amenity Directorate of Cork City Council to provide funding of e.300,000 to resurface and to deal with drainage issues on Douglas Pool hill and carpark; Cllr McCarthy noted; “it goes without saying it has been a very difficult and frustrating process to unlock funding from the City Council to deal with one of the roughest patches of road in the city”.

   Cllr McCarthy highlights; “I have made multiple calls over the years to the Chief Executive to invest in this long standing problem; sometimes one would wonder what is the point of people paying property tax if all of it ends up being spent on salaries and not on enhancing municipal services and resolving issues such as road resurfacing within localities”. On raising the issue of the pool area in recent weeks at Council meetings, Cllr McCarthy has been given a tentative start date of this September with completion to take a few weeks.