Category Archives: Cork History

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 15 April 2021

 1095a. Present day site of Washington Street ambush (12 April 1921) at the intersection with Little Anne Street, (picture: Kieran McCarthy).
1095a. Present day site of Washington Street ambush (12 April 1921) at the intersection with Little Anne Street, (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 15 April 2021

Journeys to a Truce: The Washington Street Ambush

Patrick Murray was Officer in Command of C-Company of the 1st Battalion, Cork No.1 IRA Brigade. In his witness statement for the Bureau of Military History (WS1584), he describes the Spring activity of an active IRA service unit in the city centre.

Patrick outlines that when the active service unit began, it comprised six members from each of the two battalions in the city. The men on the unit were: Danny Healy, Stephen McSwiney, Jim Barrett, Liam O’Callaghan, Seán Twomey and Patrick Murray from the 1st Battalion; and Florrie O’Donoghue, Jim Counihan, Ned Fitzgibbon, George Burke, Jim Fitzgerald, Peter Donovan and one other from the 2nd Battalion. Seán Twomey was put in charge.

There was a special space/ office in the city dealing with the unit’s intelligence and communications. This office was under the control of George Buckley. Only two or three selected couriers were allowed to know where the office was, for fear of anyone being followed into it.

Of the first few weeks that the active service unit was in existence, Patrick notes: “We were actively engaged watching the movements of military and police. The members of the active service unit took turns in taking up positions along routes which were supposed to be taken by the police and military, but as they did not take any particular route with any regularity, it was often found that they would leave a street just when the military or police came into it”.

The unit’s first ambush occurred on 12 April 1921, just after 10am, when bombs were thrown into a lorry in Washington Street at the junction with Little Anne Street. The bombs failed to explode, and the military returned the fire wounding some civilians. The failure of bombs to explode became a serious problem in the city, as it was realised that, if a bomb did not go off, civilians and the Volunteers themselves would suffer heavy casualties through the retaliation of gunfire. Special men connected with the unit were allocated to the work of inspecting all bombs which were to be used in the city.

Michael O’Donoghue, engineer officer with the 2nd Battalion in his witness statement (WS1741) notes that he was present at the Washington Street ambush describes in his witness statement: “My three companions and myself were armed with revolvers. Our instructions were simple – to cover the retreat of a bombing party who were waiting to attack a military patrolling tender, which passed that way fairly regularly in the morning”.

After the ambush, Michael recalls looking east towards Broad Lane church or the then St Francis Church. “I saw one of our bombers limping along slowly and heavily holding his right side and half supported, half dragged along by a companion. Then, as if from nowhere, a side-car appeared and from it jumped down another of the attacking party. The wounded man is then helped up to a seat on the car, his companion sitting beside him and holding him. The jarvey sat on the opposite side with the other Volunteer behind him. The driver whips up his horse and off they trot in the direction of the Mercy Hospital”.

An official and stark proclamation was published in the Cork Examiner announcing that the competent military authority (Major General Strickland) had ordered the destruction of two large resident business premises near the Courthouse because they had been places where as the announcement noted “rebels and other evilly-disposed persons had consorted to levy war against His Majesty, King George V”.

Michael describes that one of the premises was Macari’s Café, a great resort of College students, where ice cream, minerals, fish and chips, peas and various other choice delicacies in fruit, fish and flesh. Macari himself, his wife and teen-age family were Italians who had settled in Cork pre 1914. It was a popular place for Cork youths especially students of all types, and IRA men were in and out casually every day and at, all times. The British wanted to punish Macari for not reporting to them the “comings and goings” of his clientele.

The other house officially condemned to destruction was Murphy’s public house and provision store round the corner of Messrs Dwyer’s stores near Clarke’s Bridge. The Murphys were a prominent Republican family from the Kinsale area of West Cork.

Michael outlines that the British military cordoned off Washington Street between the Courthouse and Wood Street. Macari’s and Murphy’s were entered by armed soldiers who ordered the occupants outside. Macari’s was blown up first. A demolition squad in khaki entered and set some explosives apparently on top floor. They withdrew to the street where they took cover at a safe distance. There then was a series of explosions and the roof was blown out, sending showers of slates and pieces of wood and masonry flying into the air. When the shower of smoke and dust had subsided the demolition squad again entered this time to complete the job by laying explosive charges on the ground floor.

Michael continues his detail: “Out again with them and back to the safety of the cordon. This time three or four tremendous explosions rocked the interior, completely wrecking everything within. Then the military repeated this programme of destruction in like mariner at Murphy’s. Not a solitary item of furniture or goods were permitted to be taken from either house and both buildings were utterly and completely wrecked in this brutal official reprisal”.

Have a story of relative to tell involved with the War of Independence in Cork, get in touch with Kieran at


1095a. Present day site of Washington Street ambush (12 April 1921) at the intersection with Little Anne Street, (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

1095a. Present day site of Washington Street ambush (12 April 1921) at the intersection with Little Anne Street, (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

1095b. Washington Street and the Courthouse, c.1910 from Cork City Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 8 April 2021

1094a. Glanmire Bridge, c.1910 from Kieran McCarthy and Dan’s Breen’s book, Cork Harbour Through Time.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 8 April 2021

Journeys to a Truce: Dug Outs and Wire Tapping

Seán Healy was Captain of A-Company of the 1st Battalion of Cork IRA Brigade No. 1 Cork and worked in the Parcels Office at Glanmire Road station (now Kent Station). In his Bureau of Military History account (WS1643) he describes in detail the creation of an arms dump in Glanmire and other reconnaissance work.

In Spring 1921 after exploring various places, A-Company decided on a site located in Knocknahorgan Woods, Glanmire. They approached the owner of the land whom they knew to be a staunch supporter of the IRA movement. He readily gave them permission to use his place and assured them the necessary assistance that he could provide in the nature of tools and digging equipment. The chosen place was about 300 yards from the public road and was strongly wooded. The site was also overgrown with briars and furze bushes, and there was a running stream of fresh water nearby.

After cautious reflection, A-Company decided to commandeer some railway sleepers and wagon covers from the Kilbarry Railway Yard, as they had no money to purchase these requirements. The Volunteers employed on the project, being mostly railway employees, were naturally a bit hesitant to interfere with their employer’s property. Sean notes: “If any of us were caught in the act of seizing the Railway Company’s property and the matter reported to the Company we would lose our employment and the Railway Company would, no doubt, have reported the ‘pilferage’ to the British Military authorities when we would suffer court martial at the hands of these people with a probable sentence of a long number of years of imprisonment”.

A-Company proceeded to Kilbarry, after making arrangements with Mr Duggan of Dublin Pike, to have a horse and cart in waiting near the railway yard. They commandeered about two dozen sleepers and three wagon covers without incident and then transported the material to Knocknahorgan.

Seán describes that it was not the company’s intention to use this dug-out as a permanent hide-out. It was to be used only for emergency purposes, on such occasions as when it would not be safe to sleep in the City, or when a big round-up was taking place. It was also to be used as an auxiliary arms dump. They already had an arms dump at The Fisheries on the Lower Road. The keeping of all their guns and ammunition in one place was unsafe.

As quite a number of A-Company men had now been deprived of their employment, there was no shortage of manual labour. Six men took part in the construction of the arms dump. The work had to be swiftly carried out, as the men had to reach their homes each night before the curfew hour approached.

The work of excavation was difficult as they had to dig into the ground to a depth of about eight feet. When completed, the dugout was about eight feet deep by ten feet wide and ten feet in length. They used the railway sleepers as side walls, placed one wagon sheet on top and another on the base, a third was used to lap over the mouth. To enter and leave, it was only necessary to raise the overlapping wagon cover, which was supported by a frame on the inside. The mouth was well camouflaged with overhanging branches. It took about a week to complete the job and, when it was finished, it was reasonably comfortable and dry and able to accommodate about six men. Candles were used for lighting.

Seán describes that A-Company often passed some hours in this arms dump structure where they censored captured British mails, cleaned and oiled guns, and played cards. It proved a haven of rest on nights when they had to sleep there. He describes: “The ventilation was good as we were fortunate in securing some broken drain pipes as ventilators. No noises from the Curfew lorries disturbed our slumbers; no tramp, tramp, of heavy boots of the marching hordes, and no list of names of the occupants, hung on the door by a landlord…It was a complete change to sleeping in a city house which had to conform to martial law regulations; but, of course, we always slept with one eye open, so to speak, with loaded guns within reach”.

Seán also provides insights into the tapping of telephone lines. Post Office linesman Tom Walsh ran a wire from a telegraph pole on Albert Street, which linked up the lines leading into the Black and Tan Headquarters Barracks at Empress Place on Summer Hill North. The pole was adjacent to the Metropole Laundry, and close to the stables of John Wallis Sons, in Railway Street, Cork.

The staff employed by Messrs Wallis Sons and the caretaker in the Laundry, were all helpful. In order to avoid the vigilance of crown enemy forces, A-Company could only operate after business hours or during weekends. The British authorities were well aware that the IRA had some staunch workers in the ranks of the post office staff, and therefore they were very cautious about sending important messages over the public telephone. A-Company worked at it in pairs, always armed and ready to fight if we were trapped, as there was no back-door for escape.

Seán outlines of the messages; “The service messages sent and received were usually of a routine nature. Calls for reinforcements to be sent to different police stations passed fairly frequently. Loyalists and others used the phone for the purpose of reporting suspicious movements of what appeared to be IRA men”.


1094a. Glanmire Bridge, c.1910 from Kieran McCarthy and Dan’s Breen’s book, Cork Harbour Through Time.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 25 March 2021

1092a.  Pat O'Regan, Vice Chair of Clogheen/ Kerry Pike Community Association, with the Ballycannon Monument, March 2021 (picture: Jim O’Mahony).
1092a.  Pat O’Regan, Vice Chair of Clogheen/ Kerry Pike Community Association, with the Ballycannon Monument, March 2021 (picture: Jim O’Mahony).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 25 March 2021

Journeys to a Truce: The Ballycannon Boys

At Ballycannon, Kerrypike lies a memorial (erected in 1945) to the memory of six young IRA men that were killed near the spot on 23 March 1921. Farmer Cornelius O’Keeffe was witness to the killing of the six men. His detailed affidavit appears in the appendix of the witness statement in the Bureau of Military History of Daniel Healy, C Company, 1st Battalion, Cork IRA Brigade No.1.

Aged 21, Cornelius O’Keeffe had a farm of 105 acres, which was situated on the northern side or the high road leading from Cork to Blarney and was approached by a laneway leading from main road. The farmhouse consisted of a kitchen, parlour and four bedrooms. There were also extensive out-offices, barns, and sheds for cattle, also stables. It was one of the safe houses for the IRA.

In his affidavit, Cornelius remembers that on the night of Tuesday, 22 March 1921 about 11.30pm on that night there was a knock at his door after they had all gone to bed. He asked, “Who is there?” and a voice replied, “There are a couple or us [volunteers] going to sleep down in the stables; give us a call at seven in the morning”. He said “alright” and went to sleep.

About 4am, there was a thundering knock at his door. He leapt out of bed and looked out through the window. He saw the police outside. Before he could say anything, they roared at him to open the door. Cornelius relates:

“Just as I rushed downstairs to open the door it was burst open by the police and they said to me “Why the bloody hell didn’t you open the door”? I explained that the delay was due to the lamp not 1ighting. They then asked me if I had any man in the house. I said there was no win there only myself. They asked me if there were any men in the out-house. I said, ‘I can’t tell but the doors are unlocked’. They ordered me back to bed and searched the buds and the other rooms in the house. They then went outside, and I heard then search the out-houses”.

Cornelius was looking out the window and suddenly saw all the police rush up to where the lads or volunteers were sleeping. He went to bed and ten minutes later the police came in and took him out into the yard. There they charged him with harbouring rebels, which he denied. They then took him about 100 yards away from the out-house and gave him in charge to a sergeant and constable of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

One of the Black and Tans present came up to where he was standing with the other policemen and told them that they could find no arms in the house. He was then asked him to tell them where the arms were, and he said he did not know. As they were speaking to him Cornelius heard one of the boys roaring as if he was being tortured;

“I then saw one of the boys being pushed across the field. It was still somewhat dark, and he was too far away to distinguish who it was. The Black and Tan then returned and said, ‘he is showing where the arms are’. They then carried the same boy over to the ditch and brought him back to the stables again. A few minutes after I heard a shot. Then at intervals there were two or three shots and then a volley of shots”.

Cornelius asked the policeman what the shooting was about, and he replied they were only blank cartridges. A report then came up from the other body of police that some of the lads had escaped and to watch out for them. The police with him then prepared to shoot in case anyone would attempt to escape. There were then volleys fired where the boys were.

Cornelius then knelt and said his prayers as he thought his turn would be next. The police near him began shouting to the others not to shoot in their direction for fear they would be shot themselves. Cornelius was sent up for then and taken down to where the boys were. There two lines of Black and Tans in front of the stables so that he could not see who was there. As he was being taken down the field where the shooting took place, he saw two of the boys stretched out, on the grass. He was then taken over the road and down to Kennedy’s public-house at the nearby crossroads.

“There were five police with me – three old RIC and two Black and Tans. After some conversation, in which they accused me of keeping arms on my premises which I denied, I was brought back to Flaherty’s gate and I then saw five bodies being removed from my farm. They were all covered up in blankets. These bodies were placed in a lorry. They then brought out the sixth of the boys who was then alive and as they were throwing him into the lorry he said “Oh, my leg”. There was a bandage around his forehead”. [The sixth volunteer was subsequently killed].

Cornelius was put into the third lorry. They drove him in by Healy’s Bridge and the Lee Road as far as Gale’s quarry. When they got there the first lorry in which the bodies were want on and I did not see it again. He was taken up to the Military Barracks where he was kept in the Detention Barracks until 17 April 1921, and then he was released without any charge being brought against him.

The six men killed were Daniel Crowley of Blarney Street (aged 22), William Deasy of Mount Desert, Blarney Road (aged 20 years), Thomas Dennehy of Blarney Street (aged 21 years), Daniel Murphy of Orrey Hill (aged 24 years), Jeremiah O’Mullane of Blarney Street (aged 23), and Michael O’Sullivan of Blarney Street (aged 20 years).

This week the local community group of Clogheen/ Kerry Pike Community Association will place a wreath at the monument in Kerry Pike. They have also ordered six benches, which will have plaques dedicated to the six young men who were murdered at the location.  

My thanks to Jim O’Mahony of the Community Association for his help and insights.


1092a.  Pat O’Regan, Vice Chair of Clogheen/ Kerry Pike Community Association, with the Ballycannon Monument, March 2021 (picture: Jim O’Mahony).

Cllr McCarthy: Marking MacCurtain’s murder 101 years on

20 March 2021, “Historian and Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy described the former Lord Mayor as a true ‘colossus in Cork history’. ‘His story is peppered with several aspects – amongst those that shine out are his love of his family, city, country, language, comradeship and hope – all mixed with pure tragedy’, ” Marking MacCurtain’s murder 101 years on, Marking MacCurtain’s murder 101 years on (

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 18 March 2021

1091a. Crossbarry memorial, present day (source: Cork City Library)

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 18 March 2021

Journeys to a Truce: The Victory of Crossbarry

By mid-March 1921, British crown forces invariably operated in West Cork in units of not less than three hundred. Consequently, the 3rd West Cork IRA Brigade flying column under the leadership of Commandant Tom Barry was brought to its greatest possible strength by the addition of every available rifle and the limited ammunition they had. The column had a membership of 104 men. It was also not easy to move, conceal, billet and feed a flying column of that strength over a long period, in an area that was then holding down at least five thousand British troops.

Tom Barry assembled the column into seven sections of fourteen riflemen in each section including the section commander. Those seven sections were commanded respectively by Sean Hales, John Lordan, Mick Crowley, Denis Lordan, Tom Kelleher, Peter Kearney and Christy O’Connell.

Barry in his book Guerilla Days in Ireland (1949) recalls that on the morning of 16 March 2021, information reached him that 300 British soldiers were being sent on the following day from Kinsale to Bandon as reinforcements. That night his flying column marched to ambush them at Shippool, half-way between Kinsale and Bandon. British crown forces had set out as scheduled, but after a mile halted and later returned to barracks.

Barry withdrew the column to Skough, just east of Innishannon. Meanwhile a British reconnaissance plane flying low, zoomed along the valley, searching for the column who laid low. At 1am that evening the column arrived at the house of John O’Leary’s, Ballyhandle, and this house became column headquarters. The son of the house, Paddy, was a member of the column.

Two days later at 1am on the morning of 19 March, four hundred troops left Cork, two hundred from Ballincollig, 300 from Kinsale and 350 from Bandon. Later 120 auxiliaries left from Macroom. Still later, troops left Clonakilty and more left Cork. They proceeded by lorries to four points, approximately four miles north-north-east, south-east and west of Crossbarry. They raided and closely searched every house and out house in the countryside. They took many civilians and some unarmed volunteers as prisoners. One of the eastern columns came to the house three miles north of Crossbarry, where Commandant Charles Hurley was recuperating from a bullet wound arising from the Upton ambush. He was killed fighting as he tried to break through the cordon.

Tom Barry had no doubt that they were out-numbered by ten to one at least. He had to determine without delay whether to fight or to evade action. The decision to fight was made. From observations of enemy movements, it was clear that the British force from the west would reach Crossbarry some time before the other British columns. That would even up the opening fight, and he was confident of being able to defeat it and thus smash one side of the encircling wall of troops. This would leave the flying column free to pass on to the west where it could, according to circumstances.

At 3am, Tom Barry spoke to the flying column, giving them a summary of their situation and the strategy of attack for each of the seven sections. He stressed that no section was to retire from its position without orders, no matter how great the pressure and that no volunteer was, in any circumstances, to show himself until the action started.

The column marched off to Crossbarry at 3.30am, and positions were occupied by 4.30am. Seventy-three officers and men were deployed for an attack. The 31 others were to protect their flanks and rear. By 5.30am all these preparations were completed.

About 8am a long line of lorries carrying British troops came slowly on past Christy O’Connell’s flanking section and into the main ambush positions. Twelve lorries were between Mick Crowley’s section in the centre and Christy O’Connell’s flankers, but many more stretched back along the road. The leading lorry came on, but suddenly it halted and the soldiers started shouting. Unfortunately, despite the strictest orders, a volunteer had shown himself at a raised barn door and was seen. The British started to scramble from their lorries, but Tom Barry had given the order to fire.

Volley after volley was fired, mostly at ranges from five to ten yards, at those soldiers and they broke and scattered, leaving their dead, an amount of arms and their lorries behind them. The survivors fled towards the south.

Helping them now was a man named White of Newcestown, who although was not a volunteer, had been arrested that morning and carried as a hostage in the leading lorry. He had a double lucky escape from death as, after escaping the first volley, he was nearly shot dead until he started shouting that he was an Irishman and a prisoner of the British.

The lorries were then prepared for burning and the British dead pulled away from their vicinity. The first three lorries were burning when heavy rifle fire broke out on their left flank, and all volunteers were ordered back to their original action stations. Another British column of about 200 had advanced from the south-east. They were attacked by Denis Lordan’s section. Peter Kearney’s men were moved up to reinforce Lordan’s, and after heavy fighting the enemy retreated leaving a number of dead.

Tom Barry describes in his book that his men did had not long to await the third phase of the engagement, for shortly afterwards the sounds of rifle fire came from their right flank. Here about a platoon of British tried to come in across country but they were met by Christy O’Connell’s Section.

Ten minutes later the fourth development of the action opened. Still another British column came in on their left rear. Numbering about 200, they had entered an old boreen about a mile back, and, keeping close to the ditch as they crept in, they were unobserved for some time. Tom Kelleher’s riflemen were waiting for them and killed a number of them. The remainder hurriedly retired to cover from where they continued to engage our men but some minutes later withdrew.

It was a victory for Tom Barry’s column at Crossbarry. He records though that three column members lay dead – Peter Monahan, Jeremiah O’Leary, and Con Daly, and several others were wounded. The column retired to billets at Gurranereigh, which were fourteen miles due west of Crossbarry, Flankers would have to travel cross-country for at least twelve miles.


1091a. Crossbarry memorial, present day (source: Cork City Library)

Cllr McCarthy, Nostalgia: St Patrick’s Day in Cork through the decades, 13 March 2021

13 March 2021, “Pictures in The Echo archives underscore the joy of previous St Patrick’s Day parades in Cork, which historian and Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy said may have commenced in 1872, albeit with a different focus”, Nostalgia: St Patrick’s Day in Cork through the decades, Nostalgia: St Patrick’s Day in Cork through the decades (

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 11 March 2021

1090a. Pavilion Cinema, St Patrick’s Street, late 1920s from Cork City Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen.
1090a. Pavilion Cinema, St Patrick’s Street, late 1920s from Cork City Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 11 March 2021

Journeys to a Truce: The Opening of the Pavilion

Against the backdrop of the ruins on St Patrick’s Street from the Burning of Cork and the unsettling tit-for-tat violence across Cork City’s streets, the opening of the decorative Pavilion Cinema in early March 1921 was a very different and positive event of that time.

Cinema was a very popular form of entertainment in the 1910s and 1920s. Up to 1921 and before the Pavilion’s construction, Cork could boast having seven cinemas– Picturedrome at the Assembly Rooms on the South Mall, Imperial Cinema on Oliver Plunkett Street, The Washington Cinema on Washington Street, Bellevue at Barrackton, Lido Cinema on Watercourse Road, Lee Cinema on Winthrop Street and the community picture drome at St Mary’s Hall opposite the North Cathedral. The Picture Palace, 40-42 Grand Parade, was also in the course of construction.

The press commentary on 7 March 1921 in the Cork Examiner described the Pavilion as a “super cinema of the very latest, rich in design and finish”. Passing through the imposing and spacious entrance in St Patrick’s Street, two flights of broad marble stairs were ascended from the centre of the hallway. Here was the café and ballroom in a colour scheme of French grey.

The Cork Examiner further elaborates on the design: “The rose du Barri with gold with a fine arrangement of French mirrors and lustre lighting effects, and the artistic workmanship of the ceiling all combine in the richest and most artistic harmony. Then there is the oak panelled smokeroom where one could sit. Here there are lanterns hanging from the oak beams. The construction, ornamental and decorative work of the cinema portion of the buildings are superb in design and colour, while the seating is made to provide the most luxurious comfort”.

Great credit was given to the Dublin architect Thomas Francis McNamara for his design. McNamara was a popular architect who received a considerable number of commissions in the early twentieth century connected with the Catholic church, particularly for buildings in the Diocese of Dromore. He had become architect to the Dublin Joint Hospital Board and was later increasingly engaged in hospital work. His pupils and assistants included Harry Clarke whom he advised to take up art rather than architecture as a profession. McNamara travelled often in France, Italy and Spain. He had a special interest in Hispano-Romanesque architecture, which is an interest he brought to the design of the Pavilion.

The capacity of the Pavilion cinema was 900 people while the tea and smoke rooms could accommodate comfortably 150 persons. The luxurious furnishing was carried out by Cork’s Munster Arcade and the decorating and painting was completed by Messrs John O’Connell, Cork. On the ground floor three shops and managerial offices were fitted in. The entrance to the chief seats were viz – balcony and back parterre is on St Patrick’s Street and the front parterre seats entrance was in Carey’s Lane.

The cinema was originally conceived by T J Moran and other investors. The contractor though was Mr Moran’s firm. Under his direction, the ornamental, decorating and furnishing the theatre and café was carried out. The resident orchestra was under the direction of Dr William George Eveleigh and Signor Grossi, leader and violinist. Dr Eveleigh was an organist in St Finbarre’s Cathedral.

Ferrouccio Grossi was a lecturer in the Cork School of Music on violin, viola, and conductor of orchestra. He was part of a small orchestra of foreign musicians of various nationalities who had been engaged for the Cork International Exhibition in 1902. In the same year, Grossi took up residence in Cork, and with his pianist wife, began a career of concert hosting and teaching, up to 1930.

The Pavilion was to be managed by Mr Fred Harford, formerly of the Abbey Theatre. There he was a long standing actor there and eventually became manager of the venue.

Opening on 10 March 1921, the programme of the new Pavilion Cinema was composed of what was deemed “highest class items” and it included a violin solo by Signor Grossi and music by Dr Eveleigh’s orchestra.

D W Griffith’s “The Greatest Question” was the principal film. Griffith was an American film director and was one of the pioneers of the financing of the feature-length movie. Circa 1919-1920 together with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, he established United Artists, allowing them to plan their own interests, rather than be dependent on commercial studios. By the time he made his final film he had made near 500 films.

Based upon a novel by William Hale, the silent film, The Greatest Question, had a plot about an orphan girl being given shelter by a farm family, but soon finds herself in the hands of a murderous farmer and his wife. The film also had ghostly apparitions and would have been deemed a thriller genre in its day.

The film was supported by one of Burton Holmes interesting travel pictures and also by a comedy entitled “It’s a Boy”. Burton Holmes was the first person to blend travel stories, slides shows and motion pictures into documentary travel lectures, for which he coined the word “travelogue”.  By the turn of the twentieth century Holmes was recognised as America’s leading travel lecturer. Holmes generally spent six months of each year travelling and photographing in various locations. His 1920-21 material for showing in cinemas is listed on his American archive at the US Smithsonian Institution and includes Constantinople Under Allied Control, Jerusalem – Holy City of Three Faiths, Gardens of Allah and the Barbary Coast, Spanish Cities and the Pyrenees, Vision of Venice and the Italian Lakes. Some or all of these may have been shown before the main feature at the Pavilion in Cork in the Spring of 1921.


1090a. Pavilion Cinema, St Patrick’s Street, late 1920s from Cork City Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen.

1090b. Golden Discs, former Pavilion Cinema, St Patrick’s Street, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

1090b. Golden Discs, former Pavilion Cinema, St Patrick's Street, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).
1090b. Golden Discs, former Pavilion Cinema, St Patrick’s Street, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Cllr McCarthy: Repair of Atlantic Pond Valve Essential, 9 March 2021

9 March 2021, “In a reply to a question posed by Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy at Monday evening’s full council meeting, Mr Joyce revealed that Cork City Council was not successful in securing funding last year from central government to proceed with the second phase of repair works”. Atlantic Pond repair works on hold due to funding delay,
Atlantic Pond repair works on hold due to funding delay (

Cllr McCarthy: Call for historic Cork archway that led to offices of creators of Tanora to be relocated, 4 March 2021

4 March 2021, “Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy, who is spearheading the call for the archway to be moved, has reiterated his call to the council to come forward with a plan to bring the historic archway out of its hidden corner and into the public realm”, Call for historic Cork archway that led to offices of creators of Tanora to be relocated,
Call for historic Cork archway that led to offices of creators of Tanora to be relocated (

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 4 March 2021

1089a. Branding for Irish White Cross, 1922 (source: Report of the Irish White Cross to 31st August, 1922)
1089a. Branding for Irish White Cross, 1922 (source: Report of the Irish White Cross to 31st August, 1922)

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 4 March 2021

Journeys to a Truce: The Relief of Irish Distress

In the first week March 1921, members of an American Committee for the Relief of Irish Distress arrived in Cork City. They were hosted by members of Cork Corporation and the Cork Harbour Board, amongst others. Their arrival was a positive one in the context of the narrative of repair after the Burning of Cork and of donating money to the impoverished of the city.

Towards the end of 1920 men and women came together on the invitation of (and under the chairmanship) of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Laurence O’Neill to form the Irish White Cross. They met to consider how it was possible to alleviate the great amount of suffering that, even at that date, had resulted from the Irish War of Independence. The group were representative of practically every section of the political and religious beliefs of the Irish community. They were motivated solely by humanitarian motives.

Independently of the Irish White Cross in Ireland, in December 1920, a Committee for the Relief of Irish Distress was founded in America by Dr William J Maloney, a Republican cause sympathiser. The committee carried out its task in the same humane spirit that had inspired the many charitable organisations that went out from the United States to offer relief in the days of the First World War.

The committee influenced a series of great drives for funds, which were organised throughout 48 States of America. In a short period of time, it had at its command a large sum – approximately five million dollars – for the relief of people in Ireland.

From the establishment of the committee American members of the Religious Society of Friends were prominent in the ranks of its active members. In January 1921, several members of the latter group with experience in relief and reconstruction work in France and other areas devastated in the great war arrived in Ireland. The group comprised Messrs. R Barclay Spicer (Philadelphia), Oren B Wilbur (New York), William Price (Philadelphia), John C Baker (Philadelphia), Walter C Longstreth (Philadelphia) accompanied by Messrs C J France, (Seattle, Washington) and S D McCoy (New York) City. Their aim was to ascertain the nature and extent of American aid necessary for the relief of the Irish people.

During their mission of 49 days, which lasted until April 1921, C J France acted as Chairman, and S D McCoy as Secretary (the latter not returning to America until October 1921). Mr France remained in Ireland until June 1922, acting as a representative of the American Committee in connection with the distribution of the American Fund.

The delegation’s subsequent published report (which in the present day is now digitally scanned and online) outlines that during their visit members visited nearly one hundred communities in Ireland in which acute distress existed. They visited no less than 95 cities, towns, villages, and creameries, in which destruction of buildings or property by the military or police forces of the British Crown has occurred. In the 95 places visited there occurred 95 per cent, of the material damage to property owned by the civil population, which has been recorded during the twelve months ending 31 March 1921.

The places visited range in geographic location from Gortahork, on the extreme north-western coast of Ireland, to Timoleague, on the extreme southern coast; from Dublin, in the east, to Clifden and Aran Islands, in the west.

The delegation viewed the damage personally, and personally collected on the spot evidence as to the value of the property destroyed. In addition, written statements from reliable sources were supplied to the delegation regarding material damage in the small number of afflicted communities which they were unable to visit. They reported forty co-operative creameries, which were totally ruined and which had their whole machinery reduced to scrap-iron; thirty-five were partly wrecked and rendered unfit for work. The delegation reports on the conflict;

“In the course of this conflict at least 2,000 houses – dwelling houses, farmsteads, shops –were utterly destroyed, while about 1,500 were partially destroyed, many of the latter being rendered uninhabitable. In this way nearly 3,000 families were cast on the world homeless, and very often with the loss of their entire possessions. The majority of the victims were of the small farmer class in the country, and, of the shopkeeper and artisan class in the towns. These had little or no resources to fall back upon, and were it not for the aid of the charitable large numbers must have perished from cold or hunger”.

Summarising this data in regard to material damage and personal distress, the delegation reported that the material damage to Irish shop-buildings, factories, creameries, and private dwelling houses, inflicted by the British forces during the previous twelve months, amounted to approximately $20m. Without reductions in the cost of labour and materials they estimated the cost of replacing the buildings would be approximately $25m.

On arrival in Cork City the committee took the time to hear about the economic and fallout and the destitution created from the Burning of Cork event;

“In a city such as Cork it is difficult to estimate with accuracy the number of people who were directly involved in distress by this destruction, but it is safe to take the estimate given in the same report, that close upon 4,000 persons – men, women, and children – had to be relieved by reason of the loss of their employment. The ordinary charitable associations could not cope with the burden thus cast upon them, and the Irish White Cross had to undertake responsibility for their maintenance”.

Following the delegation’s report, over the ensuing 18 months £788,215 was sent to Ireland to be distributed through the Irish White Cross in Dublin and down to parish committees and in the Cork context to the city’s own Distress Committee. A total of £170, 398 was sent to Cork City to be distributed to those effected by the Irish War of Independence.


1089a. Branding for Irish White Cross, 1922 (source: Report of the Irish White Cross to 31st August, 1922)