Monthly Archives: April 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 25 April 2019

994a. Grattan Street, present day

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 25 April 2019

Tales from 1919: A Bomb Factory Explosion

    On the morning of 28 April 1919, the site of a Volunteer secret bomb making factory at 33 Grattan Street was rocked by an explosion. It was the location of a three-storey tenement house and of a boot shop run by Andrew Ahern on the ground floor. Michael Tobin, aged about 26 of 15 Batchelor’s Quay, died at the Mercy Hospital on 20 May 1919 as a result of serious burns and shock sustained in an explosion. The wounded Volunteers were Captain Richard Murphy, Quartermaster Seán O’Connell, Paddy Varian, Timothy Hegarty and Jeremiah Downey. Miss C (Bessie) Moore of Anne Street was the wounded Cumann na mBan member. At this facility haversacks were made, gunpowder was ground, and bombs were assembled.

   On 21 May 1919, an inquest was held at the Mercy Hospital where Coroner William Murphy outlined the circumstances of death of Michael Tobin. The results were published in the Cork Examiner. The police authorities and the next of kin’s solicitor appeared. Drs Crosbie and J B O’Regan were present on behalf of the Mercy Hospital medical staff. A jury was also sworn in. Timothy Ring, of the fire station at Grattan Street, was sworn in. He related that he was on duty next to 33 Grattan Street and at about 8pm he heard the crash of glass and an explosion about 50 yards away. He observed that four or five men passing by seemed to be thrown to the other side as a result of the explosion. He at once rang up headquarters, and having notified them, took a fire reel to the scene of the explosion. He saw through the smoke four or five men, one of whom seemed to have his clothing on fire.

   Head Constable William Butler on Corn Market Street went to the house and made an examination of the scene and found a quantity of chemicals and explosives, such as gelignite, and chemicals for making percussion caps and gunpowder were there. The ceiling and walls of the inner room were burned and black, and the glass blown out of the back window.

   Dr J B Regan, house surgeon, stated that the deceased, Michael Tobin, on his admission to the Mercy Hospital was extensively burned over the face, arms, and legs, and was suffering from shock. He died at 1.15pm from heart failure, from burns, shock and sepsis.

   Seeking out further bomb making facilities and ammunition hoarding, early in the morning of 12 May 1919, a force of 10 police and a detachment of 30 military under the direction of Head Constable William Butler carried out a number of wholesale raids for arms and ammunitions in various parts of the city. Four arrests were made in the course of the raids. In all eleven houses were searched in the southern police side of the city, and about the same number in the northern district. In some instances, the police were accompanied by the military with full military equipment, including a supply of trench implements. In most instances, the raids were conducted without opposition or incident, but in some cases, there was a good deal of booing and jeering at the police. In at least one instance stones were thrown at the search parties but nobody was injured. The raids began at 8am and continued well into the afternoon. In the Southern Police District amongst the houses searched were those of Jeremiah and Michael O’Sullivan, father and son, residing in Kyle Street, and Jeremiah Hurley and Cornelius Hurley, brothers, living at 62 St Mary’s Terrace, Greenmount. They were placed under arrest for possessing several rounds of ammunition and military equipment. At 9pm the prisoners were conveyed from the Bridewell to the Cork Male Prison. The four men were to be court-martialled.

   In the city centre, the search for arms also took place in houses in Peter Street, Grattan Street, Paul Street, Hanover Street, Anne Street, Merchant’s Quay, Douglas Street and Evergreen Buildings. In the northern district housing was searched in Blackpool, Blarney Street, Shandon Street, Pope’s Quay, Leitrim Street and the Lower Road.

   At 11pm on 16 May 1919, a party of about half a dozen men entered the North Infirmary and took it upon themselves to remove Timothy Hegarty, a young man who was detained in the institution since Monday 5 May. According to interviews archived on the Bureau of Military History, his fellow injured Volunteers had been brought out and hid by fellow Volunteers in the closing two days of April. On this 16 May occasion the party of men did not wear any disguise. When challenged by staff as to their activity, they replied by producing revolvers but did not intimate any further.

   The two resident doctors, Dr Sheehan and Dr Galvin, were engaged in the female ward above the one in which Timothy Hegarty was. On the ground floor was Resident Student Mr Walsh in the pharmacy, which was closed off from the extern hospital by a locked door. Hearing commotion in the extern he opened the door and was met by the party of men. The student protested against their behaviour and went to inform the doctors. Dr Galvin arrived and warned about the health risks of removing Timothy. One of the party of men asked him to stand aside. Subsequently the men pushed on and went into the ward where Timothy Hegarty was and dressed him a in a big coat, boots and a cap on. On leaving they apologised to the night nurse on duty and to Dr Galvin. They left the scene in a covered-in car. Two were left behind to make sure no telephones were used to alert the police. One of those who left even returned later to get a watch that Timothy had left behind and a book he had lent to another patient in the ward a few days previously.

May Walking Tours with Kieran:

Bank Holiday Monday 6 May 2019, Ballintemple Historical Walking Tour; meet in old Ballintemple graveyard, Templehill, opposite O’Connor’s Funeral Home, 2.30pm (free, duration: 2 hours, finishes on Blackrock Road).

Sunday 12 May 2019, Stories from Blackrock and Mahon, meet at entrance to Blackrock Castle, 2.30pm, (free, 2 hours, finishes near railway line walk, Blackrock Road).

Saturday 19 May 2019, Douglas and its History, meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre, 11am (free, duration: two hours, circuit of village, finishes nearby).



994a. Grattan Street, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

994b. Mercy Hospital, former Mansion House, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)


994b. Mercy Hospital, former Mansion House, present day


Cllr McCarthy’s The Little Book of Cork Harbour Launched


Local historian and Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has launched his newest book entitled The Little Book of Cork Harbour. Published by The History Press, UK, the book presents a myriad of stories within the second largest natural harbour in the world. This is book number 22 for Kieran and it 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.


Cllr McCarthy noted: “The book is based on many hours of fieldwork and also draws on the emerging digitised archive of newspapers from the Irish Newspaper Archive and from the digitalised Archaeological Survey of Ireland’s National Monument’s Service”.


“For centuries, people have lived, worked, travelled and buried their dead around Cork’s coastal landscapes. The sea has been used a source of food, raw materials, as a means of travel and communications and as a place to build communities. Despite this, the harbour has very distinct localities and communities. Some are connected to each through recreational amenities such as rowing or boating and some exist in their own footprint with a strong sense of pride. Some areas such as Cobh and the military fortifications have been written about frequently by scholars and local historians whilst some prominent sites have no words of history or just a few sentences accorded to their development”.


In the book there are sections on, Archaeology, Antiquities and Ancient Towers, Forts and Fortifications, Journeys Through Coastal Villages, Houses, Gentry and Estates and People, Place and Curiosities, Connecting a Harbour, Tales of Shipping, Industrial Harbour and Recreation and Tourism. Cllr McCarthy notes:


“Despite the industrialisation, Cork Harbour is a playground of ideas about how we approach our cultural heritage, how were remember and forget it, but most of all how much heritage there is to recover and celebrate”.


The Little Book of Cork Harbour (2019, The History Press, UK) by Kieran McCarthy is available in Cork bookshops.


Little Book of Cork Harbour Front Cover

Kieran’s Question to CE and motion, Cork City Council Meeting, 23 April 2019

Question to CE:

To ask the CE for a progress report on Tramore Valley Park? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy)


“Mindful of changes in the way the current council is being run from previous years, with more groupings now involved in the rotation of chairs and outside committees, that the standing order governing the replacement of councillors following resignation of their seats (for reasons such as election to the Oireachtas or European Parliament, sickness, death etc) be changed to afford non party members the same rights as the larger parties to nominate their replacements in such eventualities” (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 18 April 2019

993a. Former Victorian warehouse and office building, of Lee Boot Manufacturing Company, c. 1880 & former Square Deal shop, 2005


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 18 April 2019

Tales from 1919: An Irish Industries Fair


    One hundred years ago this week, the Irish Industries Fair was opened in Cork City Hall on Thursday 24 April 1919 by the Lord Mayor of Cork, William O’Connor. The fair was called Tír na nÓg and was an exhibition of Irish-made goods and the display of the manufacturing abilities of the country. It aimed to introduce to the public and to celebrate several commodities from the Irish art and craft movement. All were embedded in every-day life such as dress fabrics, household goals, ornaments, metal work and articles in general demand that were made at home and which gave good employment throughout the country. The editorial in the Cork Examiner lamented that whilst Irish products and manufactures had much success in markets in many other countries, it was still necessary to convince the wider general public to support the brand of “Déanta in Éireann”. The fair also had a light side in terms of several well-arranged features of Irish culture such as fete bands, choirs, concerts, organ recitals, dancing, and swing boats.

   The Lord Mayor, William O’Connor, in his speech spoke about the object of the fair and potential lessons from it in promoting all Irish manufactures; “There is a splendid object lesson in the bazaar. Everything is Irish; every single article in the bazaar is an article of Irish manufacture. That condition spoke well for the future of Cork and for Ireland because it shows what Irishmen can do in their own country. Another object of the fair is to cultivate as it were a desire in the public mind to seek article of Irish manufacture, and secondly, to provide funds for the Cork IDA”.

  The fair was organised by the Ladies Committee of the Cork Industrial Development Association. The concert hall of the City Hall was the venue for various stalls strewn with bunting and decoration devised by Mr P W Daly, a scenic artist. Each side of the hall was walled off with canvass, and this was cut, shaped and printed as to give to each stall a well-defined appearance of a shop or several shops in a thoroughfare. On the stage tea gardens were laid out. The vestibule was given over for amusements. At the organ end the lace and poplin stall was erected in the form of a kiosk. In front of this were two ladies with machine knitters making the famed Duhallow hosiery. The Duhallow factory had only been in operation for one year but was known for its high reputation.

   Across the various stalls, drawn prizes were given to spectators, which also put a focus on high quality Irish crafts. In the woollens section, a special prize was drawn for a costume length of Irish tweed. In the tobacco section, a prize of Peterson patent pipes was up for grabs. In the arts and toys section, a special prize of Irish-made dolls in costume were given away. At the furniture section, a special prize of a mahogany Sheraton kidney shaped writing table with a leather top. In the chandlery stall, a special prize of Irish cutlery was given to a member of the public. In the Irish publications section, a prize of one copy of O’Neill Lane’s larger English-Irish dictionary was given out.

   In other stalls, Cork made candy and confectionary were for sale. Messrs Musgrave showed sweets manufactured in Cork and an interesting display of the goods of this well-known firm of wholesale and retail grocers and provision merchants. There were also exhibits by the municipal schools of Art, Commerce and Technology respectively. The Glengarriff Lace Class of West Cork showed some exceptionally fine samples. Mr Hogan, cabinet maker.

    Cork put on display several mantlepieces made by him. Messrs William Egan and Sons Ltd, jewellers showed magnificent specimens of the splendid work done in their silver factory. The premises occupied by Egan and Sons on St Patrick’s Street comprise two magnificent adjoining shops (both burned down in the Burning of Cork in 1920) – the one at no 32, being devoted to high-class art jewellery, gold and silversmith’s work, and watchmaking; the other being occupied in connection with ecclesiastical furnishing, vestment manufacture, and embroideries, appointments, and sacred utensils of every description. The shops were lit by electricity from dynamo and storage battery power, supplied by a 6-horse power gas engine on their premises, which was also used for the silver-plating factory.

The Lee Boot Company Ltd, another Cork factory, created a special exhibit. Set up by Dwyer and Company, the Lee Boot facility was one of four boot factories in Cork by the 1890s. The industry was highly mechanised and very successful for many years. Footwear production was based on the tanning and related industries in the city.

   Previous to and after the opening of the fair Professor Gmur of the Cork School of Music gave a selection of Irish melodies on the organ, which were appreciated by the public. The items galvanised even further the promotion of the Irish cultural elements of the fair. The pieces included The Maid of Castleraigh, May Day (a hornpipe), Cradle Song, Ancient Clan March, The Last Rose of Summer, Who Fears to Speak of 98? There were also choral items in Irish by the Gaelic choir of the North Monastery. In the evening the fair was well patronised. Special features were the band selections by the Butter Exchange Brass and Reed Band and the Volunteer Pipers Bard. A speech was also made by Sinn Féin MP Liam de Róiste who spoke about the importance of promoting Irish culture especially the Irish language.


Kieran is also showcasing some of the older column series on the River Lee on his heritage facebook page at the moment, Cork Our City, Our Town.

Upcoming Tour:

 Sunday 21 April 2019, Ballinlough Historical Walking Tour with Kieran, learn about nineteenth century market gardens, schools, industries, and Cork’s suburban standing stone, meet outside Beaumont BNS, Beaumont 2.30pm (free, duration: two hours, finishes on Ballinlough Road).


993a. Former Victorian warehouse and office building, of Lee Boot Manufacturing Company, c. 1880 & former Square Deal shop, Lancaster Quay, 2005 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

993b. Sketch of Egan’s Shop, 32 St Patrick’s Street, c.1892 (source: Cork City Library).


993b. Sketch of Egan’s Shop, 32 St Patrick’s Street, c.1892


Kieran’s Speech, Ballinlough Community Association, AGM, 16 April 2019

The Aspiration of Community Building

Ballinlough Community Association, 16 April 2019

Cllr Kieran McCarthy

Congrats on the fiftieth annual general meeting.

Fifty years of service to the general public is a great legacy to have in Ballinlough. The association since then has witnessed a market garden suburb of the city transform into a vibrant what I describe as a small town with a number of key foci like this community space.

Way back 51 years ago at a meeting on 23 April 1968 a committee was elected, and it adopted as its objectives the provision of playing fields, a swimming pool and a community centre with facilities for young people.

This evening we once again reflect on the committee – John Hogan, Dermot Kelly, Jerry Coakley, Michael Collins, Michael McCabe and many more who threw their weight behind the concept of a new association. Indeed, for many years the credit union and the community association shared the old Thornhill House as their headquarters where the first AGM was held.

In the year 1969 the fledging Association bid fairwell to its elder Canon Michael Fitzgerald and embraced the eminent  Canon James Horgan, whose service lasted for 8 years and whose remains are buried in the church grounds. He came to our parish with a strong reputation in 1969 a man of many achievements.  Wherever he was stationed he spent all his life encouraging people “That nothing is impossible”.

While serving in Bantry parish in the 1940s he became famous for helping and inspiring people to build Bantry Boys’ Club, which still stands proudly in his memory.  He was inspirational and led by example.  He would take his collar off and physically get involved, mixing concrete, or laying blocks.  Nothing was impossible to the man.  His reputation preceded him and when he was transferred to Gurranabraher Parish he continued to lead by example. He encouraged all voluntary helpers to give of their time and skills to build the Gurranabraher Parochial Hall.  By the time he reached Ballinlough Parish his health was not good, but his legacy lives on with the Canon Horgan Youth Club.


A Golden Fry

Across the road from the church in 1969, a rebranded fish and chip shop was opened. Frances Kelleher had completed institutional management in college on Cathal Brugha Street in Dublin and was interested in catering. The fish shop before her was owned by Haulie O’Driscoll and in time he rented it to Frances’s sister, Eleanor, who ran it. When Eleanor got married, Frances took it over the business. The late John Barrett of the Orchard Bar suggested she should open a fish and chip shop. There were only 4-5 of them in Cork. She started with a small loan from the bank and with just a tiny little fryer in the front with one pan. As the business was expanding, two years later she contacted people in England about buying a new and larger fryer. She kept adding new foods to the menu to have it different from other chip shops. Most importantly it was a regular customer who suggested the name for the shop, The Golden Fry.


Squash Court

As for John Barrett by April 1969 he was finishing his first four months of having a new squash court attached to the Orchard Bar. In December 1968, the Lord Mayor of the Day, Cllr John Bermingham opened a new squash court at the Orchard Bar in Ballinlough. The game of squash had increased in popularity to such an extent that courts were soon built at GAA clubs and other venues, while the old Court at Fermoy was brought back into use.

Cork Constitution

The Club committee of Cork Constitution (whose pitches had opened in 1953) had envisaged having a spectator stand on the south side of the main pitch and this came to pass in 1969. It incorporated seating for 300 spectators and, underneath, two dressing rooms, showers and toilets. It was built at a cost of £5,000. The stand was named in honour of former club and IRFU President Dan O’Connell, who had died in January. He had been an officer of the club for some 24 years and in his capacity of honorary treasurer had been a major fundraiser down the years. On the occasion of the official opening on 14 December 1969, Constitution played an International XV containing the stars of the day including AJF O’Reilly, Mike Gibson, W J McBride and Syd Millar.



Another asset in the area was the growth of the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI). Years ago Walter (Wally) McGrath, a well known personality in Cork, started a number of scout groups in the mid 1960s, Ballinlough being one with Fr Michael Crowley (now Canon). The group consisted of Beavers, Cub Scouts (Macaoimh), scouts and venturers. It originally started with scouts in 1963 (38th Cork) and split into two groups, 38th and 40th Cork. In 1969, the cub scouts started with the Beavers following in 1987.


Bernard Curtis

On another cultural side Bernard Curtis of this parish and principal of the School of Music will always be especially remembered as a pioneer in recognising the importance of, and then helping to introduce to Europe, the Japanese Suzuki method of teaching strings. On retirement in 1969, Bernard supported the ambition of two of his teachers, Renée and Denise Lane, by persuading primary school principals to allow them teach Suzuki violin in several schools during school hours – eg the ten-year old Eglantine School. He even sourced funds from his own family to help buy the first tiny violins.  Bernard also supported Professor Fleischmann’s International Choral Festival and his expertise contributed greatly to its development.

 Indeed, fifty years ago, there was much vision, belied and “we will do” attitude” and these are elements which need to be remembered and championed going into the future. These are the foundations of building community capacity going forward.

The roots of all these seeds from fifty years ago – the community association, community activities- like the roots of the beautiful blossom trees, which are flowering across our community run deep. The weight of history, past events, glory days, the voices and stories of thousands of individuals who have come through the driveway gates of houses, our schools, our community groups are all important to this area’s identity and sense of place The energy and aspiration of fifty years has survived into our time inspiring many community leaders in our time and they have the potential to inspire more.

In my canvass at present it is very heartening that the older people are being looked after by family and neighbours but do yearn to have a chat to people. The feedback I am getting is that there is certainly a need for a drop-in centre once a week or fortnight – perhaps in this building or in the church. There is certainly a need to hold and continue the work of the Meals-on-Wheels, the bowls Club, our tennis club, and the work of our youth club. The lack of volunteers coming forward is always apparent; we also need to have a chat to the secondary schools on the parish’s borders to build a new audience as such of interested volunteers.

As I enter the last few weeks of my Council mandate for this term, I wish to thank you for your continued courtesy. I have really enjoyed the collaborations on some of the projects attached to the Association here. You always learn something new about yourself in Ballinlough, indeed here is a place where you get stopped on the road for a chat, are challenged, encouraged, supported, helped and always pushed!

I would also like to thank the people of Ballinlough for their interest and support in my own community projects over many years

The Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage or Local history project

The local history column in the Cork Independent, which presents its 1,000th column in 7 weeks, in the 22 books I have been lucky to be published.

The Little Book of Cork Harbour is the latest book on the market two weeks ago.

the community talent competition, which I have auditions for on Sunday 28 April

The Make a Model Boat Project on the Atlantic Pond, which is on Thursday 16 May,

and the walking tours through the city and suburbs there are now 22 of these – developed over the last number of years –

The activities of Cork City Musical Society enters its fourth year.

Best of luck in the year ahead – the more optimism and solutions that are radiated from this hallowed community space and grounds the better in these times. In these AGMs, there should always be the sense of thanks and renewal of spirit.

Go raibh maith agat.