Monthly Archives: September 2017

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 28 September 2017

914a. SS Inniscarra berthed at Penrose Quay, c.1915


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 28 September 2017

The Wheels of 1917: The Irish Convention in Cork


    In the wake of the Easter Rising, British Prime Minister Lloyd George summoned a convention of representative Irishmen to try to solve the ‘Irish question’. The Convention was first suggested by Lloyd George in May 1917 as a way to break the deadlock around the issue of Home Rule for Ireland. Its membership comprised of the following categories; Government nominees (15 members), Irish episcopate (7), Irish Party (5), Ulster Party (5), Irish peers (2), Southern Unionists (5), Lord Mayors and Mayors (6), County Council delegates (32), Urban district councils (8), Chambers of Commerce (3) and Labour delegates (7) Sinn Fein (members did not attend). From the outset, intentions, reservations and expectations differed considerably. The Nationalist MPs T P O’Connor and Stephen Gwynn came to the conclusion that a Conference might be the Irish Party’s only hope of salvation.

    The Irish Convention was invited to Cork by the Lord Mayor, Thomas C Butterfield. The Cork meeting, the first to be held outside Dublin, was held on Tuesday 24, Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 September 1917. The debate was held at the Crawford Technical Institute at Sharman Crawford Street. The majority of the delegates reached the city on the evening of 24 September by a special train which left Kingsbridge, Dublin at 2 o’clock, and completed the journey in three hours. Between Dublin and Cork one stop was made – it was at Thurles, where Bishop Harty, Archbishop of Cashel, joined the train. At the Glanmire terminus in Cork the delegates were received by the Lord Mayor and members of the Cork Reception Committee, and escorted to motor cars in waiting outside the main building of the railway station. The delegates were motored to their lodgings during their stay in Cork.

    MPs John Redmond and J Devlin did not travel by the special train but reached Cork by motor car shortly after six o’clock. Though no public announcement had been made regarding the delegates’ arrival in the city, a large crowd assembled inside and outside of the station, and extended to the distinguished visitors a very cordial welcome. Three days were allotted to the Cork Convention, and hopes ran high that the visit would help delegates acquire a grasp of political leanings and its challenges in the south of Ireland.

    Every effort was made by the public boards of the city to impress the visitors. Indeed, one of the recreational activities was heading down the harbour and viewing the Lord Mayor engage in the Throwing of the Dart ceremony. One hundred years ago, the ceremony was performed every three years, and was always regarded with interest by Corkonians. A distinguished company always joined the Lord Mayor in asserting the ancient rights of the Mayor as admiral over the port.

   The City of Cork Steam Packet Company’s fine steamer, SS Inniscarra left the Custom House quay about l pm. The Inniscarra, which had a gross tonnage of 1,412, was built at Newcastle by Wigham Richardson, and Co. in 1903. In making the journey down the river the visitors admired the scenery of the river and the buildings and histories on each river bank each with their own narrative of the ancient past, change, struggle and opportunity within the Cork region.

   Spectators noted with interest the preparation work ongoing for the Ford Factory, passed through the sweeping spaciousness of Lough Mahon, admired the big houses and woodlands at Glanmire on the one side and Rochestown on the other. They were inspired by the dockyards at Passage, Rushbrook, and Haulbowline. It was 2pm when the steamer, decked with flags, passed by Queenstown, and the visitor enjoyed the beautiful peal of bells in St Colman’s Cathedral. American and English destroyers, and various other craft moored in the harbour, were also objects of discussion.

    As the ship journeyed out past Roche’s Point, the civic procession made its way to the bow of the ship. There the Lord Mayor, in his robes of office, and wearing the Mayoral Chain, took the Dart in his hand, and saying: “In assertion of the ancient rights of the Lord Mayor and citizens of Cork over all places in and to which the sea ebbs and flows between Cork Head and the Western part of the Port of Cork, and Poer Head on the Eastern part of the, same port, and as far as the Castle of Carrigrohane on the western side of the City of Cork. I now cast this Dart,” he threw the javelin into the sea.

    Ironically eight months later, on 28 May 1918, news broke that the SS Inniscarra bound from Fishguard to Cork had been sunk by a German submarine. All on board were lost except the captain the chief engineer and three seamen who were landed at Queenstown. The captain was injured. The remaining 37 men who were on board went missing. The vessel sank within a very short time after being torpedoed and some of the ropes attached to one of the boats got entangled and the occupants were thrown into the water. One of the survivors succeeded in getting into a boat and was taken on board the submarine. Another reached a raft.



914a. SS Inniscarra berthed at Penrose Quay, c.1915 (source: Cork City Library)

914b. Participants of the Irish Convention on board the SS Inniscarra, 1917 (source: Irish Life, 1917)


Upcoming Walking Tour: Saturday 30 September 2017, Blackrock Village, historical walking tour with Kieran, meet at Blackrock Castle, 12noon (free, duration: two hours, ends near the village)

914b. Participants of the Irish Convention on board the SS Inniscarra, 1917

McCarthy: Display Viking Age Cork


    The recent extensive finds of Viking age houses at the event centre site at the former Beamish and Crawford site has prompted local historian Cllr Kieran McCarthy to call for all remaining ground plans of such houses to be placed under a glass floor, and to be incorporated into the centre’s architectural plans.

    Cllr McCarthy noted: “It is clear that the archaeologist and his team present have done a super job in excavating and recording the site but more thought needs to be done to showcase the finds. This is where the city began its life on the marshy islands. We saw in the 1970s what happened in Dublin on Wood Quay whereby material was excavated but ultimately buried over; and it is still a regret by the academic community in Dublin. Very successful models of incorporating Viking Ages timbers can be seen under glass floors in the Jorvik Viking centre in York in England and across Europe on other heritage centres”.

McCarthy: Prosecution Warranted for Graffiti Tag Artists


    Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has called for tighter controls to curb the recent spate of graffiti which has occurred across the city. In a question to the chief Executive at last Monday night’s Council meeting, Cllr McCarthy stressed that the Council needs to acknowledge more that this type of anti social behavior is very distressing and upsetting for both residents and business owners, and that much more needs to be done. Cllr McCarthy stressed; “Removing graffiti from their premises can be both costly and time consuming”.

   Cllr McCarthy welcomed the prosecution recently by the Gardai of a graffiti tag artist. He also questioned, can the Probation Service be extended in its graffiti removal service to the Cork City Council. It was noted by the Executive that the Service has limited resources and focuses on public/unoccupied or problematic spaces.

   Cork City Council has also in the past worked with other groups, e.g. Reimagine Cork, in relation to the removal of graffiti particularly in the City Centre area.

   A provision has been made in the 2017 Anti- Litter and Anti-Graffiti Awareness Scheme Grant for further projects run in conjunction with key stakeholders. The trust of these projects will be that once will be that once an area has been cleared of graffiti that the local communities, both businesses and residents, would come together and actively maintain a graffiti free zone by tackling instances of graffiti as and when they arise.

   Cllr McCarthy has called for the City Council to bring the ESB into the chamber to question them about the need for a painting maintenance programme for the ESB boxes; “much more commitment needs to be given in cleaning their boxes, which are often a regular source of graffiti attack; there is only so much work the Re Imagine Cork group can do; there needs to be a decent investment in cleaning their infrastructure”.


Kieran’s Question to CE and Motions, Cork City Council Meeting, 25 September 2017

Question to CE:

To ask the CE on the response to the increase to serious graffiti on dwellings and businesses across the City? What is the existing partnership with the external agencies especially the Probation Service to clean graffiti through the community service programme? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)


That the City Council work with the owners of the McCarthy Monument in an effort to get rid of the vegetation on and growing out of the stonework (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

To erect signs on the old railway line walk at the Marina and at Skehard Road to alert users that pedestrians and cyclists need to be mindful of each other’s use of the line (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)

McCarthy’s Upcoming Blackrock Historical Walking Tour


        Cllr Kieran McCarthy will lead a historical walking tour of Blackrock Village on Saturday 30 September, 12noon (starts at Blackrock Castle, two hours, free). Cllr McCarthy notes: “A stroll in Blackrock is popular by many people, local and Cork people. The area is particularly characterised by beautiful architecture, historic landscapes and imposing late Georgian and early twentieth century country cottages to the impressive St Michael’s Church; every structure points to a key era in Cork’s development. Blackrock is also lucky that many of its former residents have left archives, census records, diaries, old maps and insights into how the area developed, giving an insight into ways of life, ideas and ambitions in the past, some of which can help us in the present day in understanding Blackrock’s identity going forward”. More on Kieran’s heritage work is on

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 21 September 2017



Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 21 September 2017

The Wheels of 1917: Arthur Griffith in Cork


     One hundred ago this week the leaders of the National Sinn Fein movement, Count George Noble Plunkett (father of Joseph Plunkett), Eoin McNeil and Arthur Griffith came to Cork as part of a series of Sinn Fein re-organisation rallies in the country’s principal towns and cities. On Sunday 24 September 1917, on the Grand Parade, three meetings were addressed by them and proceedings were described in the Cork Examiner. Countess Markievicz had spoken in Cork some weeks previously on 11 August 1917 (see previous articles).

   The principal platform was erected opposite the offices of the Cork Sinn Fein Executive (56, Grand Parade); there were two other platforms on waggonettes to the right of the National Monument and to the left of the Berwick Fountain respectively. The crowd present numbered several thousand. During the morning contingents arrived by cycle and car from distant parts. The Sinn Fein colours were very present and on the banners there were expressions in Irish of welcome and support.

   Contingents representing Cork City Volunteers, City Wards, Sinn Fein Clubs, Girls’ Volunteer Clubs, together with the following bands; Butter Exchange, Blackrock, and Cork Volunteers were present. Contingents of Volunteers also attended from Whitechurch, Mourneabbey, Ballingeary, Dooniskey, Carriganimma, Kilnamartyra, Mallow, Kanturk, Dungourney, Watergrasshill, Castletownroche, Millstreet, Clogheen, Aghadilane, Douglas, Blackrock, Ballinhassig, Ballinadee, Dunmanway, Skibbereen, Bantry, Ballinagree, Ballyvourney and Clondrohid.

   On the principal platform Liam de Roiste, vice-chairman of Sinn Fein in Cork, presided, and having addressed the meeting in Irish, introduced Arthur Griffith. Arthur was moved by the valour of the Rising participants and wanted to join them but was asked by the leaders not to as it was felt his propaganda skills in the future would be of greater value. After the 1916 Rising he was arrested and imprisoned but he was released at the end of the year.

   Arthur Griffith recalled that his first address to the people of Cork was seventeen or eighteen years previously. He had come with others to organise public rallies to oppose the Westminster Government in seeking recruits for the army, then engaged in fighting the Boer War. He resented the ongoing suggestion made in a variety of press statements that the only safeguard between Ireland and conscription was the presence of an Irish Party in Parliament. He claimed that John Redmond MP, representing Ireland’s interest in Westminster had argued that if Parliament showed him there was any necessity in this country for imposing conscription he would support it. Countering John Redmond, Arthur Griffith argued that Sinn Fein wished for the people to organise and back up the claim of an Independent Ireland to be put before the World War Peace Conference.

    Arthur Griffith refused to join the ongoing Irish Convention, which was meeting to debate Irish self-government. He deemed that three of its conditions it set out should not be conceded. He called firstly that delegates should be elected by the vote of the people of Ireland; secondly that whatever decision that the majority came to, even the establishment, of an Irish Republic, that that decision should be accepted by Westminster; and thirdly that England would pledge herself to the United States and her Allies in Europe to carry out whatever decision was arrived at. He strongly held that the Convention was not a Convention of the Irish people, but of the Westminster Government’s nominees. The Sinn Fein policy is to make Ireland completely independent. They deny all authority or right of England to legislate for Ireland. They were going to the Peace Conference to enforce that demand did not recognise English authority by sending representatives to the Westminister Parliament.

   Arthur Griffith outlined that Sinn Fein proposed to set up a Constituent Assembly representative of the Irish people who were prepared to assemble in the capital of Ireland. He compared Ireland’s case to Hungarian Deputies refusing to recognise the authority of Austria 60 years previously. In the proposed Irish Assembly they would formulate measures for the nation, “to guide and lead the nation in the struggle for their independence, and to set before the Peace Conference their claim for the restoration of Ireland’s national independence”. Arthur outlined; “Ireland should come before the Peace Conference because America was primarily in the war to establish the freedom of the seas. That question would never be solved until the situation of Ireland in Europe is settled. Ireland was the key to the freedom of the seas, became it controlled the Atlantic”.

    Concluding at his platform, Arthur Griffith referred to the upcoming visit of the Irish Convention to Cork (see next week’s column) in the days following his speech, and asked that the Cork people not support it or protest against it. He noted: “Simply let it go by. It may come to a conclusion, or it may not; but with anything that did not give back Ireland its complete independence Sinn Fein would have nothing to do with it; the Convention suggests some form of Government inside the British Empire”. Arthur envisaged that there would be peace in the ensuing months, and predicted that before the summer of 1918 the World War Peace Conference should have met and the future of Ireland will then have been decided.

Looking to read more Our City, Our Town articles from over the years, log onto the index at my website

Secret Cork (2017) by Kieran McCarthy is now available in Cork bookshops or online at


913a. Arthur Griffith (source: Cork City Library)

913b. Eoin McNeil (source: Cork City Library)

913c. Count Noble George Plunkett (source: Cork City Library)


913b. Eoin McNeil


913c. Count Noble George Plunkett


McCarthy: New Access Ramps to Railway Line a Positive Step, September 2017

    Cllr Kieran McCarthy has expressed his concerns that a happier balance needs to be maintained between cyclists and pedestrians on the Old Railway Line. To facilitate improved access, new access ramps between Mahon & the Passage to Docklands Greenway will be complete and ready for use very shortly. The ramps are designed at a shallow gradient to facilitate ease of access for pedestrians & cyclists. The work was funded by the National Transport Authority, designed by Cork City Council Roads Design Office and constructed by McGinty & O’Shea Ltd. A follow-on landscaping contract (sponsored by a local developer) will be undertaken in the coming weeks. This larger project is currently under development with Part 8 Planning, detailed design and construction tendering scheduled for 2018.The overall objective of the package of work is to enhance the attractiveness of the greenway and optimise the number of pedestrians & cyclists using it.

   Cllr McCarthy noted: “The project is phase one of a larger plan to enhance and improve the full length of the Greenway including additional access ramps, widened and improved pavements, public lighting, cctv, landscaping etc. When complete, the greenway will serve as both a recreational and commuter route for cyclists & pedestrians only living in the city centre (or along the route) and working in Mahon”.

    In addition, the Mahon Bus Gate, situated at the eastern end of St Michael’s Drive, is now complete and operational. Mahon Point Shopping Centre now serves as the terminus point for the very popular 202 Route. The terminus is situated in close proximity to the Mahon Point Shopping Centre entrance thereby facilitating passengers comfort and convenience as they can wait within the Centre until their bus arrives.

    Cllr McCarthy notes; “I welcome the erection of a real time passenger display panel to inform passengers of the expected arrival time for the next bus. It is great to see national funding being invested into the south-east ward. The Bus Gate was funded by the National Transport Authority, designed by Cork City Council Roads Design Office and constructed by McGinty & O’Shea Ltd.