Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,
Cork Independent, 26 March 2020
Remembering 1920: The Funeral of Tomás MacCurtain
Within just a few hours of his death in the early hours of 20 March 1920, the coffin of Lord Mayor Tomás MacCurtain was carried by hearse from his home in Blackpool to Cork City Hall. Heartrending scenes were witnessed. Men and women knelt down in the street and wept. Such was the intensity of the crowds that sections of Volunteers had considerable difficulty in managing the crowds and local traffic. The streets around Blackpool Bridge became absolutely impassable. Contingents of Sinn Féin members, members of trade and labour bodies, members of Cork Corporation and many more crammed into the area. A pipers’ band played the Dead March on the route to City Hall, and the procession of mourners, extending over two miles in length, included a large number of clergy and public men. The police were withdrawn, from the streets of the city.
Everyone wore the tricolour draped in black, and all the window blinds in the city were drawn as a mark of respect. The 1st Battalion of the Cork Volunteers acted as bodyguard, and at City Hall a party of the men remained to watch over the coffin throughout the night. The business of Cork City Hall was suspended for the removal and the funeral the following day. The Republican Flag was at half-mast above the municipal civic emblem, and on the door of entrance hall appeared, a card bearing the inscription, “Closed in consequence of the murder of Tomás MacCurtain, first Republican Lord Mayor of Cork”.
On 22 March 1920, the Celebrant of the Requiem High Mass at the North Cathedral was the Rev H J Burts CC, Rev R J O’Sullivan CC Deacon, Rev J Aherne, CC Sub-Deacon. Bishop Daniel Cohalan presided.
Upon the coffin was a plate bearing an inscription in Gaelic, translated as “Thomas MacCurtain Commandant, 1st Brigade, Cork, Army of the Irish Republic and Lord Mayor of Cork, who was foully done to death by the servants of the foreigner on March 20, 1920, in the fourth year of the Irish Republic, at the age of 37 years. MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON HIS SOUL”.
Addressing the congregation, Bishop Cohalan put no blame on anyone but shared his condolences with the family and condemned the murder. “Every murder, dear brethren, is a violation of the fifth commandment – the murder of the humblest and poorest member of the community as well as the murder of a head of a State…we have lost the Civic Head of the municipality by the murder of Lord Mayor MacCurtain. It was an awful crime – a most unusual crime is the murder of the Mayor of a city – it was a crime against the law of God and a crime against the city”.
All national and regional Irish newspapers carried the story of the funeral. Many, such as the Cork Examiner, list the public bodies represented at the Church, which reflect the depth of respect for the Mayoralty of the city. Some of the those included the Chairman and members of the Queenstown Urban Council. Queenstown Trade and Labour and Sinn Féin organisations, Mallow Rural and Urban District Councils, Youghal, Clonakilty, Bandon and Skibbereen Councils, North-East Cork Executive Gaelic League, Southern Land Association, Cork Medical Association, and New Ross Urban Council.
Labour bodies at the funeral were: The Transport Union, Typographical Association, National Union of Railwaymen, Ford Factory employees, Bakers’ Society, Tailors’ Society, and the Grocers’ Society. Other organisations in attendance were: The Discharged and Demobilised Soldiers, Irish National Foresters, Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Catholic Young Men’s Society, Commercial Travellers’ Federation, Cattle Traders’ ‘Association, and the All-for-Ireland Club. The processionists also included the staff and students of Cork Grammar School, boys from North Monastery. Sullivan’s quay, and Blarney street Schools, and the Fire Brigade. All Creeds were represented.
The Rev Dr Dowse, Protestant Bishop of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross was represented by Rev. Dean Babington. Rev H Klein, Jewish minister and Officer of Residence, University College was also present, with Mr J T Klein, Secretary of Cork Hebrew Congregation. Mr William O’Brien, formerly leader of the All for Ireland Movement, and Captain Donelan, late Chief Whip of the Irish Party, also attended.
After the High Noon mass, the funeral procession started to St Finbarr’s Cemetery. The coffin was shouldered by six Volunteers in uniform. The Bishop in his carriage came next. The clergy, numbering about a hundred; Christian Brothers and presentation Brothers followed, who wore Sinn Féin mourning rosettes. Then came the Volunteers Piper’s playing “Wrap the Green Flag Round Me”. Behind was Fr Dominic who was the Lord Mayor’s Chaplain, who was accompanied by Cllr Terence MacSwiney and other officers of the volunteers. A carriage laden with wreaths followed and behind them were 25 volunteers, each carrying a wreath. Each wreath comprised an abundance of lilies and daffodils, and long flowing green, gold and white ribbons. The chief mourners walked behind, behind which was members of the Corporation, Harbour Board, and public bodies and organisation. However, the general public comprised over 10,000 people. It took one hour and a half to pass any given point.
From the North Cathedral to St Finbarr’s Cemetery, the distance was just over four miles via King Street, Merchants Quay, St Patrick’s Street, Washington Street, and Western Road. At the Western Road entrance to Cork Gaol, an open space was preserved by Volunteers to enable the political prisoners to obtain a view of the cortege as it passed from their windows.
At the cemetery, Bishop Cohalan blessed the grave. When it was covered, the Last Post was sounded and three volleys of shots were fired.
1041a. Photo of Tomás MacCurtain Lying in State at Cork City Hall, 21 March 1920 (source: Cork City Museum).
1041b. Funeral procession of Tomás MacCurtain on Camden Quay, Cork, 22 March 1920 to St Finbarr’s Cemetery (source: Cork City Museum).
Please see details of announcement that have just been made in relation to the Covid 19 Social Welfare Payments and also the new restrictions which will now be in place until 19 April .
Increase in Covid 19 Special Social Welfare Payment
The Covid 19 Special Social Welfare Payment has been increased from €203 to €350 per week. This payment is also available to self employed people.
Employers to be given a temporary wage subsidy of 70% of take home pay up to a maximum weekly tax free amount of €410 per week to help affected companies keep paying their employees. This is the equivalent of €500 per week before tax
The Covid 19 illness payment is also increased to €350 per week – this is also for people in households who have been asked to self-isolate if 1 person is ill with Covid 19
The full details on this announcement are available https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/a6d8fa-government-announced-new-covid-19-income-support-scheme/
People can apply for forms for these special Covid 19 payments by emailing email@example.com they can also now apply online at https://www.gov.ie/en/service/be74d3-covid-19-pandemic-unemployment-payment/
New Restrictions In place until April 19th
- All theatres, clubs, gyms, leisure centres, hairdressers, marts, markets casinos, bingo halls, betting shops, libraries and other similar places are to shut.
- All hotels and non-essential retail outlets will close – a list of those will be provided.
- All cafes and restaurants should limit to take away and deliveries only.
- All sporting events are cancelled – including those behind closed doors.
- All playgrounds and holiday/caravan parks are to close.
- All places of worship are to restrict numbers visiting.
- All household contacts of someone waiting for a test should restrict their movements.
- All non-essential visiting to other persons homes should be avoided.
- All scheduled cruise ships to Ireland will cease.
- Factories or construction sites should not have to shut – authorities can work with them to make sure physical distancing is possible.
- There will be an increased presence of park rangers and gardaí in parks and public places to ensure that physical distancing is being observed.
- Significantly raise the amount of money available on cashless card transactions.
- All organised indoor and outdoor events of any size are not to take place
- Social distancing, in as far as practicable, is to be ensured between the clients/patients in confined settings, such as:
long term care facilities, either for the elderly or people with special needs;
Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,
Cork Independent, 23 January 2020
Remembering 1920: A Dáil Enquiry Comes to Cork
One hundred years ago this week a research inquiry set up by Dáil Éireann – six months previously – arrived to the steps of Cork City Hall The ensuing event coincided with another stand-off between individuals pushing for a Republic and those upholding Ireland’s place within the British Empire.
On 18 June 1919 Dáil Éireann decreed the appointment of a National Commission of Inquiry into the Resources and Industries of Ireland. Subject to its report, it was planned to establish a National Exhibition of Irish Products and Manufactures and Resources, and that an appropriate figure of £5,000 would be made available for such an event. Dublin man and Sinn Féin Honorary Secretary Darrell Figgis was appointed secretary of this national commission of inquiry. Professor Mary Daly’s work in the Atlas of the Irish Revolution outlines that to attract support across a broad political spectrum 60 experts were approached for their expertise from business, academia, county surveyors and labour leaders. Forty-nine agreed to share their perspectives. Two broad areas were focussed on – food supply and power resources. The first public meeting of the Commission in Dublin was held on 2 December 1919 without any disturbance recorded.
On 22 January 1920 the Commission met at Cork City Hall. The Cork Examiner outlines that several policemen were in possession of the front portion of the building. Hence admission at the entrance fronting Albert Quay was denied to the members of the Commission as they were part of the outlawed Dáil Éireann (since September 1919). They, however, succeeded in baffling the police and got in by the door leading from the Corn Market side. They went in there one by one between ten and eleven o’clock. It was only at 12noon that the police discovered that a sitting was being held within the building. Immediately the Head Constable and some police went to the room where the evidence was being taken and ejected the members of the Commission.
On the same day a delegation from Westminster was due to meet in City Hall to gather its data on industrial resources and opportunities in the region. The delegation, with the Lord Mayor William F O’Connor (a Nationalist member) and the High Sheriff arrived a few minutes after noon. As the Lord Mayor walked through the small crowd that had congregated on the quay towards the door of the City Hall, he was stopped by Mr Darrell Figgis, secretary of the Dáil Éireann commission. Darrell asked him if it was not a fact that he had granted them the use of the Hall for the purpose of holding an inquiry into the resources of the country. The Lord Mayor said that was so and Mr Figgis then said that the police had forcibly ejected them and asked if this was done with the Lord Mayor’s consent. The Lord Mayor said that he had given no such order, and that as far as he was concerned, he desired that they should use it. The Head Constable intervened to say that he had orders not to allow them enter.
The diaries of Liam de Róiste MP and Dil Éireann member outlines his involvement with the bringing of Mr Darrell Figgis to Cork. His diaries can be read in Cork City and County Archives. He met the group the evening before the inquiry meeting at their Cork hotel. He was present that evening when the Head Constable arrived and told the group the Commission would not be allowed to sit at City Hall the following day. It was Liam de Róiste, who had just been elected as a Councillor during the local elections, who brought the group in a side door on the Corn Market side the following day.
After the group were told to leave City Hall, Liam brought the group to the Cork School of Art. He details that the delegation was about ten in number and amongst others included high profile Sinn Féin members and regional experts – Colonel Maurice Moore (retired Connaught Rangers Regiment commander & Sinn Féin member), Professor Alfred O’Rahilly (Cork Sinn Féin councillor & UCC academic), Roger Sweetnam (Sinn Féin MP), Professor Robert Tweedy (a prominent electrical engineer, Thomas P Dowdall (Cork IDA & butter and margarine manufacturer), Andrew O’Shaughnessy (Dripsey Woollen Mills), Mr Edward Lysaght and Labour leader Tom Johnson. Professor of Agriculture at UCC Thomas Wibberley was the first witness who spoke about agriculture and milk production. He was an expert in tillage dairy farming, farm management and the production of animal foodstuffs.
After an hour of debate School of Art, a head constable and constable arrived and sat amongst the meeting for a time before they were replaced by two detectives. The commission went on undisturbed. Mr Figgis and a farmer from Cove, a Mr Bird, spoke about milk production. The meeting adjourned for lunch but on the group’s return they found the door blocked by the police. They then left intending to go the Crawford Technical School. Passing the Court House, Liam brought them into the Cork County Council offices. Some of the clerks there locked the doors and the sitting continued till 8pm. Evidence on meat, milk, wool and other products were taken.
The following day Liam de Róiste reports in his diary that the police occupied the Courthouse and the City Hall. The evidence on fish industries was taken at the delegation’s Cork hotel. The police made a complaint, but the hotel upheld the view that persons not residing in the hotel would not be allowed in.
In the months ahead, further planned meetings across the country were scuppered by the War of Independence. Eventually in 1922, the National Commission of Inquiry into the Resources and Industries of Ireland concluded its proceedings and published reports and elaborate maps on dairying, coal, industrial alcohol, milk, peat, fisheries, stock breeding and water power.
1032a. Darrell Figgis, circa 1920, Secretary of the National Commission of Inquiry into the Resources and Industries of Ireland, 1919-1922, photographed by Joseph Cashman (source: RTE Archive)
1032b. Liam De Róiste, circa 1918 (source: Cork City Library)
The Blessing of a Candle
Cllr Kieran McCarthy
Sturdy on a table top and lit by youngest fair,
a candle is blessed with hope and love, and much festive cheer,
Set in a wooden centre piece galore,
it speaks in Christian mercy and a distant past of emotional lore,
With each commencing second, memories come and go,
like flickering lights on the nearest Christmas tree all lit in traditional glow,
With each passing minute, the flame bounces side to side in drafty household breeze,
its light conjuring feelings of peace and warmth amidst familiar blissful degrees,
With each lapsing hour, the residue of wax visibly melts away,
whilst the light blue centered heart is laced with a spiritual healing at play,
With each ending day, how lucky are those who love and laugh around its glow-filledness,
whilst outside, the cold beats against the nearest window in the bleak winter barreness,
Fear and nightmare drift away in the emulating light,
both threaten this season in almighty wintry flight,
Sturdy on a table top and lit by youngest fair,
a candle is blessed with hope and love, and much festive cheer.
Cllr Kieran McCarthy has won the Mary Mulvihill Media Award of Best Publication at the prestigious Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland (IHAI) Awards 2019.
Kieran’s was recognised for his heritage work in Cork and for his publication “The Little Book of Cork Harbour (2019, History Press)”. The book presents a myriad of stories within the second largest natural harbour in the world. This book follows on from a series of Kieran’s publications on the River Lee Valley, Cork City and complements his Little Book of Cork (History Press, Ireland, 2015). It is not meant to be a full history of the harbour region but does attempt to bring some of the multitudes of historical threads under one publication. However, each thread is connected to other narratives and each thread here is recorded to perhaps bring about future research on a site, person or the heritage of the wider harbour.
Paul McMahon President of IHAI adds: “Kieran’s extensive list of publications have been meticulously well researched and well presented and have made a very significant contribution to providing a better understanding of Cork’s industrial past and history. IHAI are also delighted with the continued and invaluable sponsorship of these IHAI Awards from ESB which seek to give recognition to individuals and organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to promoting and safeguarding industrial heritage on an all-Ireland basis. It is important that we both recognise and celebrate achievement. We also wish to congratulate ESB on the development of their new Dublin Archive as it will be a wonderful resource for all those interested in the social development of this country and more particularly those interested in industrial history.”
Nicholas Tarrant, ESB Executive Director Engineering and Major Projects hosted the awards evening. Welcoming guests and congratulating the award winners, he says: “The Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland was created by people of vision and commitment and the fruits of earlier efforts have served to create a notable increase in awareness of our rich industrial past. The Association recognises that we should not only have a sense of shared ownership for our past but it is something we strive to safeguard and celebrate. It is also ESB’s pleasure to host the awards in our new Archive. A landmark development for ESB, it represents a tangible delivery to both celebrate and safeguard our history and heritage which forms part of the story of the industrial, commercial and social development of Ireland.”
Nicholas Tarrant, Executive Director ESB, Engineering and Major Projects, Mary Liz McCarthy, Dr Kieran McCarthy, winner of the Mary Mulvihill Publication / Media Award 2019, and Paul McMahon, President, IHAI.IHAI Awards 2019 sponsored by ESB, Venue ESB Archive, St Margaret’s Road, Finglas, Dublin. Wed 11th Dec 2019 – Photograph by WovenContent.ie
Cllr Kieran McCarthy has launched his third book of this year – 50 gems of West Cork (Amberley Publishing, 2019). The new book explores 50 well-known gems of the West Cork region and is a culmination of 18 months work. It brings 50 stories together in an accessible manner. It is not meant to provide be a full history of a site but perhaps does try to provide new lenses on how heritage is looked at and the power of construction and collective memory in West Cork.
The new book details 50 key sites detailing how they became the focus of attention and development – and how their stories, memories and the making of new narratives were articulated in an attempt to preserve an identity and/ or communities locally and nationally at sites or to create new identities and communities.
Cllr McCarthy highlights that several sites in the book came into being in the fledging years of the Irish Free State where tourism and story-telling about the nation’s history were highlighted or some sites were created from the burgeoning boom time of 1960s Ireland, where the focus was on developing industry and recreational amenities. For example, the promotion of areas such as Inchidoney Island for more tourism was driven by the Irish Free State’s Irish Tourist Association (ITA), which was established in 1925 to market the young Irish Free State as a tourist destination internationally. Small resorts along the West Cork coastline were developed simultaneously at sites such as Courtmacsherry, Glandore, Bantry Bay, Glengarriff and Berehaven.
The book takes the reader from Bandon to Dursey Island, from Gougane Barra to the Healy Pass. Cllr McCarthy notes; “Researching West Cork, the visitor discovers that each parish has its own local historian, historical society, village council, sometimes a library, tidy towns group, community group and business community who have inspired the collection of stories, the creation of heritage trails and information panels, and the championing of a strong sense of place and identity”.
“Relics from the past also haunt the landscape with prominent landmarks ranging from Bronze Age standing stones to ivy clad ruined houses and castles, churches and old big houses, to beacons, cable cars and lighthouses. All add to the narrative of the spectacle that is West Cork”, noted Cllr McCarthy.
50 Gems of West Cork by Kieran McCarthy is available is any good Cork bookshop.
Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,
Cork Independent, 14 November 2019
Kieran’s New Book, Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019