Category Archives: Landscapes

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 24 September 2020

1067a. Project page on the local history of the Vikings in Cork from Our Lady of the Lourdes NS student 2019/20 (picture: Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 24 September 2019

Launch of Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project 2020-21

Covid-19 has brought many challenges to every part of society and never before has our locality being important for recreation and for our peace of mind. In the past few months more focus than ever has been put on places we know, appreciate and even on places we don’t know but now depend on as we remain grounded in our neighbourhoods and corners of Cork City.

Against the backdrop of Covid-19, the Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project 2020/21 (Cork City Edition) launches in its 19th year and is open to schools in Cork City. Funded by Cork City Council. The Project is an initiative of the Cork City Heritage Plan.

The project is aimed at both primary and post primary level.  Project books may be submitted on any aspect of Cork’s rich past. The theme for this year’s project is “Living Through History”, which is a nod to the historic pandemic we are living through.

The Project is open to schools in Cork City at primary level to the pupils of fourth, fifth and sixth class and at post-primary from first to sixth years. There are two sub categories within the post primary section, Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate. The project is free to enter. A student may enter as an individual or as part of a group or a part of a class entry.

   Co-ordinated by myself, one of the key aims of the Project is to encourage students to explore, investigate and debate their local heritage (built, archaeological, cultural and natural) in a constructive, active and fun way. Projects on any aspect of Cork’s rich heritage can be submitted to an adjudication panel. Prizes are awarded for best projects and certificates are given to each participant. A cross-section of projects submitted from the last school season can be gleamed from links on my website, where there are other resources, former titles and winners and entry information as well.

    Students produce a project on their local area using primary and secondary sources. Each participating student within their class receives a free workshop in October 2020. The workshop comprises a guide to how to put a project together. Project material must be gathered in an A4/ A3 size Project book. The project may be as large as the student wishes but minimum 20 pages (text + pictures + sketches). Projects must also meet five elements. Projects must be colourful, creative, have personal opinion, imagination and gain publicity before submission. These elements form the basis of a student friendly narrative analysis approach where the student explores their project topic in an interactive and task-oriented way. In particular, students are encouraged (whilst respecting social distancing) to attain material through visiting local libraries, engaging with fieldwork, making models, photographing, cartoon creating, and making short snippet films of their area. Re-enacting can also be a feature of several projects.

   For over eighteen years, the project has evolved in exploring how students pursue local history and how to make it relevant in society. The project attempts to provide the student with a hands-on and interactive activity that is all about learning not only about heritage in your local area (in all its forms) but also about the process of learning by participating students. The project is about thinking about, understanding, appreciating and making relevant in today’s society the role of our heritage, our landmarks, our oral histories, our environment in our modern world for upcoming citizens. So, the project is about splicing together activity on issues of local history and heritage such as thinking, exploring, observing, discovering, researching, uncovering, revealing, interpreting and resolving.

    The importance of doing a project in local history is reflected in the educational aims of the history curricula of primary and post-primary schools. Local heritage is a tool, which helps the student to become familiar with their local environment and to learn the value of it in their lives. Learning to appreciate the elements of a locality, can also give students a sense of place in their locality or a sense of identity. Hence the Project can also become a youth forum for students to do research and offer their opinions on important decisions being made on their heritage in their locality and how they affect the lives of people locally.  I know a number of students who have been involved in the project in schools over the years who have took their interest further and have gone on to become professional tour guides, and into other related college work.

   The project is open to many directions of delivery. Students are encouraged to engage with their topic in order to make sense of it, understand and work with it. Students continue to experiment with the overall design and plan of their work. For example, and in general, students who have entered before might engage with the attaining of primary information through oral histories. The methodologies that the students create provide interesting ways to approach the study of local heritage. Students are asked to choose one of two extra methods (apart from a booklet) to represent their work. The first option is making a model whilst the second option is making a short film. It is great to see students using modern up todate technology to present their findings. This works in broadening their view of approaching their project.

    This project in the City is free to enter and is kindly funded by Cork City Council (viz the help of Niamh Twomey, Heritage Officer) Prizes are also provided by the Old Cork Waterworks Experience, Lee Road, Learnit Lego Education, and Sean Kelly of Lucky Meadows Equestrian Centre, Watergrasshill ( Overall, the Schools’ Heritage Project for the last eighteen years has attempted to build a new concerned generation of Cork people, pushing them forward, growing their self-development empowering them to connect to their world and their local heritage. Spread the word please with local schools. Details can be found on my website,


1067a. Project page on the local history of the Vikings in Cork from Our Lady of the Lourdes NS student 2019/20 (picture: Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

1067b. Gameboard on Cork historical landmarks created by Eglantine National School student 2019/20 (picture: Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

1067b. Gameboard on Cork historical landmarks created by Eglantine National School student 2019/20 (picture: Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

Cllr McCarthy: Consultation Still Open on Half Moon Lane Entrance to Tramore Valley Park, 21 September 2020

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy wishes to remind the public that consultation is still open on City Council proposals for additional safe pedestrian and cyclist access point to Tramore Valley Park from the South Douglas Road via Half Moon Lane.

The proposed works include new footpaths on Half Moon Lane and South Douglas Road, new signalised junction with controlled pedestrian crossings, the relocation of an existing controlled pedestrian crossing ( southbound), new uncontrolled pedestrian crossings on Half Moon Lane, Cycle stop points on South Douglas Road and Half Moon Lane, new public lighting scheme, new traffic calming measures, improved road markings, new pedestrian and cycle  signage, and carriageway resurfacing.

Plans and particulars of the proposed development, including an Appropriate Assessment Screening Report and an Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Report, are available for inspection until 25 September 2020 at the offices of the Roads and Environment Operations Directorate, City Hall, between 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays. It is by appointment only. Please contact 021-4924041 to make an appointment or by email The plans are also available online at

 Submissions and observations may be made in writing to the Administrative Officer, Parks & Cemeteries Department, Cork City Council, City Hall, Cork. Electronic submissions can be made through  

Cllr McCarthy noted, “Over the ten years, the old landfill site of what is now Tramore Valley Park has undergone a €40m decontamination and remediation process – part of which saw the site capped and landscaped, internal roads and walkways constructed, new sports pitches put down, a BMX track developed, and a large multi-use event space created”.

“The park is just in its first phase of development and this public consultation on a Half Moon Lane opening is about ensuring that family, community and park life all remains at the heart of the southern suburbs. Phases two and three of the park, such as a bridge crossing from Grange, are the next elements to chase now for the future and to engage the public on their perspectives”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.

Kieran’s Question to CE and Motions, Cork City Council Meeting, 14 September 2020

Question to CE:

To ask the CE for an update on progress and final contract work and its complexities associated with the re-opening of Daly’s Bridge? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).


To get a report for the South East Local Electoral area of any future plans for the extension of the Mangala Walk in Douglas (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

That the historic Parliament Bridge be in the mix as the next City bridge to be revamped; its stonework on its balustrades are in poor shape and its lighting is broken (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

Cork City Hall, 2020 (picture: Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

Monkey Puzzle Tree Distribution, 3 September 2020

Collapsed Monkey Puzzle Tree, Mahon, August 2020 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

Over the past few days great progress has been made in relation to the monkey puzzle tree and how best to use it. Following a very productive meeting between O’Callaghan Properties, St. Michael’s Credit Union, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy and Dr Eoin Lettice of UCC, a plan has been developed to distribute the felled iconic monkey puzzle tree back to the community where it was here for approximately 161 years.

It is a beautiful wood and we’ve worked together to make sure it’s used in a variety of forms to commemorate this iconic tree. Crafts people and artists in the area and from Cork City have been contacted about using the wood to create artistic pieces.

A number of local businesses have also expressed an interest in wanting to use the wood to create a featured piece to be displayed within the communities of Blackrock and Mahon. St. Michael’s Credit Union has engaged with a number of local sports clubs and organisations to see if they would like to acquire a piece of this historic tree. A section of the tree will also be provided to University College Cork for educational purposes.

Collectively the decision has been made to also offer blocks sized approximately 30 cm x 23 cm from the tree to members of the public for them to use and remember this iconic tree. This is an initiative that gives the tree back to those from within the Blackrock and Mahon areas who had enjoyed the tree for generations.

Due to limited availability and COVID 19 restrictions we ask people who are interested in securing a piece of this iconic tree to complete the follow short online registration of interest form on this website.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 3 September 2020

1064a. Remains of Cork Gaol at Gaol Cross, 2020 (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 3 September 2020

Remembering 1920: The Hunger Strikers Speak

Maurice Crowe, Adjutant 4th Battalion 3rd Tipperary Brigade, in his Bureau of Military History statement (WS517) was one of those who were on hunger strike at Cork Gaol when Terence MacSwiney stayed for short time before being relayed to Brixton Prison.Having begun on 11 August 1920, the hunger strikes began as a demand for unconditionalrelease. Maurice recalls that in Cork Gaol Cork Brigade member Tadhg Manley of Midleton was incharge of the sentenced prisoners, and member Mick Fitzgerald in complete charge of all the prisoners.

One night, when the hunger strike had been on for about fourteen days, Maurice, Con Neenan of Cork and Tom Crawford of Ballylanders were transferred on stretchers to a hospital in Cork’s Victoria Barracks, where they were to be forcibly fed. However, as the press next day came out very strongly about this, the forcible feeding did not take place. Two nights later, during curfew, they were thrown into a military lorry. Orders were clearly given by the officer in charge – should the prisoners attempt to escape, or should there be any attempt at rescue, they would be shot. They were then taken to a boat called the Heather. Other prisoners on hunger-strike arrived from Cork Prison about thirty in all. The prisoners were given mattresses but with no covering and were put into a corner of the boat.

Arriving at Pembroke at 6pm the following evening eighteen hours after they had started there was a special train waiting for them. Some struggled onto the train from the ship, helping others, but some were too weak and were taken on stretchers to the train. They left Pembroke by train at about seven o’clock that evening, with a strong military escort. The train was shoved into a siding at Reading for about three hours. They arrived at Winchester prison about ten o’clock the next morning. After a week there, the prison staff there made an attempt at forcible feeding. The prisoners from Cork Gaol were still on hunger-strike, but an order was received to go off hunger-strike. They were brought back to Cork a month later.

In Cork Maurice was tried by general court-martial and sentenced to three years’ penal servitude. Later, he was transferred to London’s Wormwood Scrubbs Prison and thence to Parkhurst Convict Prison in the Isle of Wight. In Parkhurst, there were in all forty Irish Republican prisoners, some of whom were sentenced for operating in England. He was appointed IRA Officer-in-Command of the prisoners. Fr Dominic, chaplain to the Lord Mayor of Cork, who had been sentenced to three years and who had just arrived, was appointed Vice Officer-in-Command. They were all put into prison garb and transferred into different working parties.

One morning while out at exercise, all the Irish prisoners, at a given signal, walked together out of the exercise ring, shouted, etc, causing an uproar, arid refused to associate with criminals. They were dragged by the warders into the cells where they tore off the prison garb. They were then put into what is known as the canvas dress and handcuffed to a strap of leather around the waist. Maurice notes in his account;

“We refused to submit to the prison crop but were knocked down and the hair forcibly clipped or torn off. We refused to exercise unless left together, but we were dragged out refusing to walk and dragged in again. They soon got tired of this and, after a week or so, we were all put into one wing, apart from the convicts. We exercised together and brought our own food from the cookhouse. The food baskets and boxes were numbered for the different wings, and our basket had the letters, ‘S.F.’, painted on it, meaning Sinn Féin prisoners”.

Back in Cork Gaol, Michael O’Donoghue, Engineer Officer, 2nd Battalion, Cork No.1 in his Bureau of Military History statement (WS1741) recalls that during September to October 1920, nightly, thousands assembled after 6 pm at the Gaol Cross. Outside the prison they prayed and sang to strengthen the spirits of the men refusing food within. The most generally sung piece was a religious hymn – Father Faber’s typically English composition, Faith of our Fathers. Michael notes of the song: “My own view is that it was chosen to banish any conscientious scruples or theological misgivings, which the hunger strikers within may have had about the moral rectitude of their deliberate abstention from food even to the death”.

For quite a while those outside were able to communicate directly with the hunger strikers each night. Among the crowds were many Cork Brigade No.1 men including signallers. Messages were sent in semaphore from the windows of the prison hospital where the hunger strikers were, and which faced Gaol Cross. Before dusk, white cloth handkerchiefs or pillow covers were used by the signalling prisoner at the window. After dusk, a light was employed to flash brief messages to the waiting crowds below. IRA signallers received the messages and replied in Morse. In this way each night the progress of the struggle inside was relayed in an up-to-the-minute story to the anxious citizens of Cork. The invariable question from the men within was “How is Terry Mac?”. The lads always signalled back the latest news that they had from Brixton. It was an extraordinary moving scene before the grim gates of Cork Prison each night until curfew, usually to 8pm, and earlier at weekends.

Kieran’s new book Witness to Murder, The Inquest of Tomás MacCurtain is now available to purchase online (co-authored with John O’Mahony 2020, Irish Examiner/


1064a. Remains of Cork Gaol at Gaol Cross, 2020 (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

1064b. Remains of Cork Gaol at Gaol Cross, 2020 (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

1064b. Remains of Cork Gaol at Gaol Cross, 2020 (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Cllr McCarthy: Continuance of The Marina Pedestrianisation Welcome but Public Consultation also Important.

“To continue the pedestrianisation of The Marina is very welcome. Up to this year and for many years previously, the pedestrianisation process had been a goal of local councillors and many local residents, and in fairness to Roads officials and the Director of Operations they have responded to public calls.

 During Covid-19 lockdown, the pedestrianisation of the road as a temporary measure was the life-saver for many people who needed the outlet to walk and just take time-out during the 2km and 5km. I have had much correspondence by locals and other Corkonians calling for the continuance of the pedestrianisation beyond the phase 1 temporary measure deadline of the 31 August. Many have emphasised to me the importance of this historic tree-lined avenue to public health and recreational use. I have also received correspondence though that the pedestrianisation process, like the streets in the city centre, should go through a short public consultation process.

 I have had received many concerns about the large amount of cars parked on Blackrock Pier – many parked in an unsafe manner, and I have also had correspondence and worry about the recent flooding of the pathway around the Atlantic Pond and the need to fix the flap, which leaves tidal water in and out. There is a lot of love for The Marina, that is why I think a short public consultation is very important, so the pedestrianisation project can be tweaked if needs be”.

The Marina, Cork, March 2020 (picture: Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

The Marina, Cork, May 2020 (picture: Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

The Marina, Cork, May 2020 (picture: Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

The Marina, Cork, August 2020 (picture: Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

Cllr McCarthy: Douglas Flood Relief Scheme on track for October 2020 Completion.

Press Release: 17 June 2020

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed that the Douglas Flood Relief Scheme is on track in its schedule to be finished this October. The works are being carried out in five separate areas – St Patrick’s Mills, Douglas Community Park, Ravensdale, Ballybrack Woods & Donnybrook Commercial Centre. A report this week from Cork City Council, who are working with the OPW, outlines that the works at St Patrick’s Mills are fully complete. The works and Ballybrack Woods are 99% complete apart from the installation of surface dressing to the maintenance access road. The works through the Community Park are progressing well with the construction of flood embankments, footpaths, gym equipment area and public realm works under way at present.

The works in the community park are currently programmed to be completed at the end of October 2020, but the project team are hoping that this works area can be progressed ahead of schedule. The works through Lower Ravensdale are underway with the installation of sheet piled walls and the installation of the new Church Road culvert, outside Douglas Community Park. Access to Westbrook Gardens will be maintained from Douglas West. Access to the Community Centre and Ravensdale is maintained from the East of Church Road. The associated closure of Church Road is scheduled to be lifted on the 03 July 2020, but may require an extension of time.

Cllr McCarthy noted that much of his correspondence from constituents are serious worries about the cutting down of trees around Church Road; “the programme of works places emphasis on the replacement of trees as well as improving the connectivity and pedestrian routeway from Ballybrack Woods across to Douglas Community Park. In the Community Park, the Contractor cut down less trees than was originally outlined in the public consultation process in the past two years. Trees will be replaced on a one-to-one basis. They will not be as mature as the originals but re-planting will be done with trees that have a 200-250mm girth trunk, which depending on the tree type would be three to five metres tall. The one-to-one replacement ratio in the area along Church Road may not be achieved as the area will have a large paving plaza across Church Road and the river has been widened, but there will be new trees re-planted there. I am watching progress carefully and getting updates from engineers. There is a project website for Douglas (including Togher Works) Flood Relief Scheme at, which has drawings and photograph montages on what the end product will look like”.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 28 May 2020

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 28 May 2020

Remembering 1920: Kilbrittain’s Arson Attack

As the weeks of early summer 1920 progressed, tensions escalated and violence ensued between the IRA and British forces. One additional element of force, which appears more and more in witness statements and across the newspapers of 1920, was the use of arson. It was used on both sides of the conflict especially in the destruction of buildings (and an aspect, which culminated in the Burning of Cork in December 1920).

In May 1920, the burning of old landed estate big houses began and intensified as the war of Independence progressed. Historian James Donnelly in a journal article in Éire-Ireland in 2012 records that burnings of such houses were a common occurrence in County Cork but were rare outside of the county. Fifty Big Houses and suburban villas were burned there before the Truce in July 1921. Forty of the fifty structures were burned throughout Cork from April 1921 onwards to the Truce on 11 July 1921.

On early Tuesday morning 25 May 1920 Kilbrittain Castle, a splendid ancient building, seven miles from Bandon and standing on an eminence overlooking a most scenic spot, was at midnight seriously destroyed by arson.  IRA volunteers were determined to prevent the occupation of the mansions in question by British military or police forces or sought to punish their owners for allowing or encouraging such use. The IRA’s first burning of a Cork Big House was certain to seize public attention because of the sheer size, prominence, and opulence of the Kilbrittain Castle mansion destroyed. The damage was estimated at least £100,000.

 The original Kilbrittain Castle dated from the eleventh century, but the property was extensively re-modelled in the middle ages, and later in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the Stawell family. In 1906 it was the property of Colonel William Stawell and valued at £182. There were 60 rooms in the Castle, which included a ballroom and banqueting hall. The corridors in it were extensive, and in front there was an exceptionally grand lawn and a fine kitchen garden.

From 1913 onwards the castle as residence lay idle. In 1918 the estate was auctioned in Dublin, and the purchasers were based in Cork City Mr. Denis VDoyle of Maryville, Victoria road and Mr Daniel O’Riordan of Clarence Street (now Gerald Griffin Street). They acquired it for a sum of £15,000. Neither of the purchasers, who were well-known Cork citizens, save in the summer, took over the Castle as a residence. The land surrounding the residence comprised over 500 acres of which 200 acres were woodlands and were being harvested – over 40,000 tons of timber. Of this quantity 2,000 tons or thereabouts was cut down and sold. The men, numbering over 20, engaged in this work were accommodated and their families with apartments in the Castle. Some of the felled timber went to Burren pier for shipment to Cardiff and Newport. Other quantities were carted to the nearby railway station at Bandon for transport to Cork, where it was sold. The 300 acres of the estate was good farming land, and this was let to tenants.

On 24 May 1920 the Castle was occupied by the men employed cutting the trees and their families, and it appears they were ordered to leave the Castle by the IRA volunteers and take as much as they could take within ten minutes before the building was to be set on fire.

Denis Lordan, Quarter Master with the Cork No.3  Brigade, 1919-1921, in his witness statement (WS470) held at the Bureau of Military History, outlines that tensions between the local Volunteer battalion and the local Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) were simmering and ongoing for two years previously and that the May 1920 burning should not be looked at in isolation but had a deep historical context.

 Previous to the purchase of the lands by Doyle and Riordan in 1918 a number of families in Kilbrittain village had rented on a yearly basis portions of these lands for tilling and grazing and for many of them it was their sole means of livelihood. When the lands were sold on, the tenants were outbid and felt very much aggrieved by the event. Abortive attempts were made to negotiate peaceful settlements of the dispute and finally a boycott was declared. All those working on the estate in tree felling were to cease work. A certain number of men persisted in working and one day a steam tractor used for hauling timber to Bandon was fired on and one of the workers was wounded. After the shooting affair Doyle and Riordan applied to the British authorities for police protection.

Brigade Staff Officer and member of Cork No.3 Brigade, Michael Crowley in his witness statement, now held in the Bureau of Military History (no. WS 1603), takes up the story that the RIC gave Doyle and Riordan police protection and occupied the castle. The police force sent out day and night patrols into the neighbouring countryside. But observation by Volunteers revealed a set pattern for patrols and they ambushed a patrol of eight men and officer disarming them at Rathclarin, Kilbrittain. A sergeant, however, had time to draw his bayonet and inflicted a severe head wound on Lieutenant Michael O’Neill of Maryboro, Kilbrittain. The nine RIC men though were released.

Further small ambushes ensued across 1919 and 1920. Michael Crowley records that by April and May 1920, his battalion were continually endeavouring to locate RIC patrols, which usually patrolled the countryside for some miles around their barracks. Despite being on the RIC’s most wanted list, they continued to engage and disarm RIC members. However, by August 1920 in the overall picture of County Cork as many as eight infantry battalions (20 percent of the total) and one cavalry regiment were stationed in the county or city (of Cork alone). The historical tensions had been replaced with all-out war.


1050a. Kilbrittain House, c.1910 (source: Cork City Library).

1050b. Section of Ordnance Survey of Kilbrittain Castle estate, c.1910 (picture: Cork City Library)

Cork City Heritage Plan Call Out for Ideas, April 2020

The closing date for submissions for the new Heritage Plan of Cork City Council has been extended to Thursday 30th April.
Express your perspective on aspects of Cork City’s Heritage that you value and want to see understood, enhanced and celebrated.
What are the challenges to heritage and what solutions you think might work?
What ideas do you have for projects that you would like to see done in the city or that you or your group could carry out given the appropriate resources?
The information gathered will feed into Cork City Council’s Heritage Plan, which will guide the implementation of priority Heritage actions in Cork City over the next five years.
The closing date for comments is Thursday 30 April 2020
You can make a submission in the following way:
Use our online portal
Or write to The Heritage Officer, Strategic and Economic Development Directorate, Cork City Council, City Hall, Cork.
The current Cork City Heritage Plan is available to download from
Douglas Street, Cork, April 2020