Monthly Archives: September 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 26 September 2019

1016a. St Patrick's Street, Cork, c.1919 from Cork Its Chamber and Commerce



Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 26 September 2019

Tales from 1919: A World of Inflation


     One hundred years ago this week, debate ensued in the local press of the need for future development in the Cork City and the region. It was ten months since the end of the First World War plus a city-wide carpenters strike for better wages across the city had just been resolved. The local economy was recovering and Cork architects and builders were confident of a busy season ahead in their building trade. However, several did have big concerns about house prices and rising inflation. They detailed that several new works were likely to be started, but that many of these would be almost entirely confined to remodelling and improving of business premises, offices, and stores. They did not anticipate that dwelling-house building would be undertaken, except on a very small scale.

    The building of houses as a speculation or investment was regarded as being out of the question. Cork architects noted that their clients, when they explored the cost of building, went no further with the work they had been contemplating. In an interview with a Cork Examiner journalist an unnamed city contractor was asked for his views regarding the prospects of the building trade in Cork. He related that with the exception of city firms who were able and anxious to improve their business premises, there would be little else done, as the “prices of all building material and the cost of labour made the prospects of building dwelling houses by private enterprise very remote”.

    Cement, which was only 30s a ton before the war, was now £6 10s. Bricks, which were then 45s a 1,000, were now 63s. Sand was 2s 2d a ton, now it was 6s. Locks, glass, water pipes, nails, and other materials had quadrupled in prices. Steel has gone from £7 10s to £17 a ton. The average hire of a man and horse, which before the war was 6s a day was now on average 25s.

    Builders in Cork had plenty of work on their hands. Whether some of the works, which were held up by the strike, would be resumed before the Spring of 1920 was a matter depending to some extent on the amount of labour available. Many carpenters left Cork during the summer of 1919 and found employment elsewhere, but now that an attractive wage was being paid in Cork it was likely that the greater number of them would return.

    Mr James F McMullen, architect – another interviewee – noted that the best part of the year had been wasted by the strike, and the builders would now, owing to winter weather and short days, be at a great disadvantage. Some of them have already decided, he added, not to resume certain contracts until the following Spring.

    Mr William H Hill, architect, detailed that a great many projects remained held up owing to the unsettled political state of the times. His opinion was that a fall of more than 15 per cent in prices was not likely to come for a great many years but still called for investment into Cork; “There is a great need in Cork for many new buildings; there is need for properly designed modern offices; there is a need for up-to-date restaurants and hotels; but the greatest, need of all is housing for every class of the community – that is urgently required”.

    In Mr Hill’s opinion he felt that middle-class housing in Cork was both “expensive and bad”, whilst comparing the same housing stock with many places in England, but particularly with America. He thought that the working-class housing, except for a few “fairly modern blocks”, was “more than deplorable”. He hoped that when new housing projects were undertaken that “they would be not merely a step in advance of the hovels we have at present, but will bring Cork right up to date in the matter, so that our houses will compare favourably with the best houses in England and America”.

   Mr Daniel A Levie, architect, when asked for his views, argued that house building would remain slow until they could be let at an economic rent. In pre-war days a house, which cost £600 to build, was let at about £30 per year. A house in 1919 cost £1,200, and hence naturally the owner would require a rent of £60 per year.

    Mr Bartholomew O’Flynn, Builder, detailed that the cost of building in 1919 was two and a half times that of pre-war days. All kinds of material had gone up enormously, and so had builders’ wages. With regard to the matter of house-building, he said people if they wanted housing schemes must be prepared to pay a greatly increased rent. The houses that were proposed to build under the Housing of the Working Classes Act should, he added, “be good, enough for anyone,” and he thought a tradesman with his current wages would be prepared to pay 15s a week for these houses.

   The Local Government Board had also issued regulations with regard to new social housing. Certain specifics had to be provided for under the Act – a certain area for each room, a certain height for each floor – so that their cubic capacity would be greater than any artisans’ dwellings built by private enterprise or by the Corporation of Cork.

Kieran’s book The Little Book of Cork Harbour (2019) is published by The History Press and is available in Waterstones, Vibes and Scribes and Easons.


1016a. St Patrick’s Street, Cork, c.1919 from Cork Its Chamber and Commerce (source: Cork City Library)

1016b. Grand Parade, Cork, c1919 from Cork Its Chamber and Commerce (source: Cork City Library)


1016b. Grand Parade, Cork, c1919 from Cork Its Chamber and Commerce

Cllr McCarthy: Calls for Further Investment into Douglas Village Area

Press Release:

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy during the summer recess called upon Council planning officials to develop a local Area plan for Douglas Village. Cllr McCarthy noted traffic congestion and empty shopping units prompted him to call for a Village Plan. “I received quite a lot of concern from constituents during my recent canvass that the congestion in Douglas Village needs to be alleviated and calls that more should be done to attract potential new enterprises to the village – as well as that minding the natural heritage of the area whilst creating more pedestrian connectivity from the village through Bracken Woods and the Mangala also came up. These narratives to do more are also very relevant in this early autumn in the context of the recent Douglas Shopping Centre Carpark Fire”.

Responding to Cllr McCarthy’s call and concerns Director of Planning, Ferghal Reidy in a response to the councillor outlined this week – that due to resource constraints it is not possible to prepare a separate Local Area Plan for Douglas at this time. There is a Douglas Land Use and Transport Strategy and a section on Douglas in the Carrigaline Local Area Plan – both of which were prepared by Cork County Council several years before the boundary extension this year, which are still being worked through.

In the 2011 Carrigaline Local Area Plan there was an objective to undertake a Land Use and Transportation Study for the Douglas Area. The Douglas Land Use and Transportation Strategy (DLUTS), which was an integrated approach to land use planning, urban design and transportation engineering for the future development of the village was prepared by Cork County Council in 2014. It also aimed to respond to issues such as dereliction, traffic and spatial planning. The aims and objectives of this Strategy were incorporated as an amendment to the 2011 Carrigaline Local Area Plan and the 2017 Carrigaline-Ballincollig District Local Area Plan.

Infrastructure Improvements in the last few years have seen investment in the Mangala Valley (e710,000), Maryborough Hill phase 2 (e1.5m), Old Carrigaline Road Traffic Calming Scheme (e150,000), Douglas Community Park (e130,000), widening of N40 under bridges (e520,000), Donnybrook Hill Pedestrian Enhancement Programme 2016-17 (e220,000), South Douglas Road to Tramore Valley Park Pedestrian and Cycle Link (e250,000), and design costs for Grange Road to Tramore Valley Park Pedestrian and Cycle Link (e190,000).

While many of the infrastructure objectives of DLUTS have been achieved there are a number of significant proposals outstanding which would greatly enhance traffic and access in the area: The East-West Link bridge from the Carrigaline Road to the Grange Road across the Mangala Valley; and the corridor from the Rochestown road to the Airport Road via the Grange Road was also being assessed prior to the transition boundary.

The Draft Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy 2040 also aims to alleviate and improve traffic movement in the village- to be sure that Douglas is served by the 206 High Frequency Bus Service with services every 15 mins and to have the area part of the Cork Cycle Network Plan 2017.

The Carrigaline-Ballincollig Local Area Plan has also invested nearly e4m into the urban fabric of Douglas Village.

Commenting on the report Cllr Kieran McCarthy highlighted that “Cork City Council, has committed, based on attaining funding, to implement the remaining objectives of the Douglas Land Use and Transport Strategy and then to create a local Area Plan as part of the new city development plan to be compiled this year and next. Objectives will be reviewed and updated as part of the preparation of the next City Development Plan. Douglas and surrounds needs further investment to alleviate the traffic congestion but also I wish to keep the focus on the liveability, look and character of the village as well”.

Cllr McCarthy: Lakeland’s Bar Site – Use it or Lose it

Press Release:

Calls from Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy to compulsory purchase order the derelict Lakeland’s Bar site on Avenue De Rennes have been rejected by planning officials in City Hall at the recent South East Local Area Meeting. Cllr McCarthy noted; “this site is in a very poor condition and is an eyesore in the area; it is also the key in unlocking the regeneration of the area around it and a key to furthering the Mahon Local Area Plan. There is not a community meeting that goes by in Mahon whereby the concern and frustration of locals is not vented about this site”.

Cork City Council in response to Cllr McCarthy’s motion acknowledges the poor condition of the Lakelands Bar site and the need for the removal of dereliction. To this end, a number of solutions are being considered by the Council. 

Paul Moynihan, Head of Corporate Affairs has argued in his report to Cllr McCarthy that a compulsory purchase order is not considered appropriate at this time; “Acquisition of the site, without a clear plan for its use, would simply mean that the dereliction would fall upon the Council”.

Council Officers from Place-making, Property Services, and Strategic and Economic Development are currently considering the wider Avenue de Rennes area, including the Lakelands Bar site, and will develop the Council’s position over the coming months. The site is on the Derelict Site Register, with levies accruing. Should the site be compulsory purchased at a later-date, these levies can be deducted from the purchase price.

In response Cllr McCarthy has noted; “this site has remained derelict and unattended to for many years. The look of the building on the outside is atrocious. If there is no plan by the owner, he or she should put the site on the open market. There have been petitions and calls for a public library in Mahon and affordable housing; the site adjacent to the building has also been subject to illegal dumping from other sources. The adjacent car park also remains in limbo and is in dire need of resurfacing. Such conditions completely jar against the very positive work of Mahon Community Centre and the Mahon Community Development Project and the community work of the local schools. The owner of the derelict site needs to use it or lose it. The local people of Mahon deserve better than what is currently there”.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 19 September 2019


1015a. Former site of 1919 Sinn Fein Headquarters, 56 Grand Parade



Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 19 September 2019

Tales from 1919: An Independence War Intensifies


    One hundred years ago, British forces attempted to re-emphasise their control over the country, often recoursing to random reprisals against republican activists and the civilian population. An unofficial government plan of reprisals commenced in early September 1919. In Fermoy 200 British soldiers looted and burned the principal businesses of the town, after one of their members – Private William Jones – a soldier of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry who was the first British Army death in the campaign had been killed in an armed raid by the local IRA on 7 September 1919.

    Meanwhile in Dublin, the Michael Collins’ IRA Squad continued its campaign of killing Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) intelligence officers. Established in July 1919 the Squad’s campaign was based on information gleamed by an active web of spies among sympathetic members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police’s (DMP) G Division and other vital divisions of the British administration

     Continued local and regional agitation by the IRA led to the 10 September 1919 proclamation signed by the Viceroy, Chief Secretary suppressing Sinn Féin Clubs. The proclamation also covered Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan, and the Gaelic League. The County of Cork and the City of Cork was focussed on as well as seven other districts – Dublin City, County Dublin, Tipperary South Riding and North Riding, Limerick City and County Limerick, and County Clare. The proclamation declared such association to Sinn Féin to be dangerous, and they were accordingly prohibited and suppressed. Within days a proclamation was spread to prohibition and suppression within thirty-two counties and six county boroughs of Ireland of Dáil Éireann. The order was signed by the Chief Secretary and General Sir Frederick Shaw, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in Ireland.

    The Cork Examiner details that on 12 September members of the Cork RIC, accompanied by parties of military, left Union Quay Barracks moving to enforce the Order issued for the suppression of the Sinn Féin and other organisations. The Sinn Féin clubs in the city were visited between 9am and 12noon, at which the police carried out a very exhaustive search of the rooms at each centre, with soldiers with fixed bayonets stood at the door. The police were also armed, some with carbines and others with revolvers.

   The raids were not altogether unexpected by Sinn Féin Clubs in Cork, and in most cases anything that was deemed advisable to remove from the rooms of the clubs had been removed shortly after the issue of the proclamation.

    The north side of the city was the first district to receive RIC attention, and the only articles they thought worth taking from premises there were six haversacks. The Shandon Street Sinn Féin Club, Coburg Street Sinn Féin Club, and rooms at Watercourse road were carefully searched, and a visit was also paid to the shop of a Mr D Curtin in that district.

    The Thomas Ashe Club, which was situated on Charlotte Quay (now Fr Mathew Quay), came in for an exhaustive inspection. It was after 12noon when the party reached it. The soldiers, about twenty in number, ranged themselves along the hall leading from the door to the stairs, and with fixed bayonets waited until the police had completed their examination of the contents of the rooms.  Here a dummy rifle, one of a dozen, was taken possession of, together with a number of membership cards. The flooring of a small apartment used as a bathroom was torn up, but there were no finds. The apartments occupied by the caretaker, Mrs Horan, next received attention, the bedding being carefully examined without result. Mrs Horan was reminded by the search party that the Sinn Féin organisation had been proclaimed, and she was ordered to remove her furniture as speedily as possible.

     The Grand Parade Club at 56 Grand Parade, which was the headquarters of the Sinn Féin party in Cork, was searched about 11am. About twelve soldiers in charge of an officer, and a number of police searched the premises. There was no one on the premises at the time, and the doors of the rooms, which were locked, were broken open. The search occupied about an hour. Soon after the soldiers and police had withdrawn members of the club arrived, and one of them at once wrote and placed on the window a card bearing the words, “Business as Usual”.

            Whilst the inspection was in progress, the doors of the rooms were damaged in the forced opening. A half-dozen dummy rifles which had been stored in a room on the second storey remained untouched, but the picture of Thomas MacDonagh, who was executed in 1916, and that of Joseph McGuinness, MP, were removed from the walls and destroyed. A different party visited the Cumann na mBan rooms on the South Mall.

Over an hour’s stay was made at the premises of Mr Wickham, tinsmith, Merchant’s Quay, the search proving futile. Another house visited was that of Mr Lucy, vintner, Pembroke Street, was the same result.

The residence of Mr Liam De Róiste, MP, was amongst the houses searched by the police and military. They spent a considerable time in the house and took with them a number of Sinn Féin pamphlets. Among other houses visited were those of Mr Patrick Corkery, Friar Street, and Mr Sean O’Sullivan, Abbey Street. Nothing, however, of any consequence was declared to be found.


1015a. Former site of 1919 Cork Sinn Féin Headquarters, 56 Grand Parade (pictures: Kieran McCarthy)

1015b. Protruding building onto present Fr Mathew quay above red cars is the site of the former Sinn Féin Club of 7 Charlotte Quay

Kieran’s September Historical Walking Tours

Saturday 21 September 2019, Stories from Blackrock and Mahon, historical walking tour with Kieran, meet at entrance to Blackrock Castle, 11am, (free, 2 hours, finishes near railway line walk, Blackrock Road).

Sunday 22 September 2019, The Battle of Douglas, An Irish Civil War Story, historical walking tour with Kieran, from carpark and entrance to Old Railway Line, Harty’s Quay, Rochestown; 2pm, (free, 2 hours, finishes near Rochestown Road).



1015b. Protruding building onto present Fr Mathew quay above red cars is the site of the former Sinn Féin Club of 7 Charlotte Quay

Cllr McCarthy: Moves afoot to Re-open Douglas Library


    Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has highlighted that re-opening Douglas Library is a must in the short term for Douglas Village. At the recent Culture, Community and Place-making Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) of Cork City Council Cllr McCarthy noted; “Douglas Library is a focal point in the village and has a high membership with adults and in particular younger people using it. It also hosted a large number of weekly community events, which attracted a lot of interested local people”.

   Cork City Council officials fear the damage caused to Douglas library following the recent shopping centre fire is worse than first imagined, with over 40,000 books and other items covered in soot from the blaze. The local authority is working on creating a replacement service for the library, but staff do not yet know the amount of the damage to computers and other electronic equipment in the library.

   Cllr McCarthy noted: “Information given to me at the recent SPC and to those present noted that currently a cost analysis is being done to see what books can be saved and cleaned and what books need to be destroyed. The Library Service is also seeking advice from the Department of Local Government and sought an urgent meeting to see what rescue funding mechanisms are available”.

   Mr Liam Ronayne, City Librarian, has articulated that the library’s position on the first floor of the Douglas Village Shopping Centre put it in close vicinity to where the blaze commenced on 31 August, meaning the facility has also suffered damage from the thousands of litres of water poured into the car park to extinguish the fire. The contents of many books are covered in a film of soot throughout the Library, worse in the northern side of the building nearer the car park. All of the stock, over 40,000 items, has been covered in soot, both along the edges and inside the individual books. Unfortunately, the delay in getting access meant that it is going to be more problematic to try and alleviate the situation.

   Fortunately, Mr Ronayne has said there are no items of high value in Douglas Library, and that all stock was for borrowing by local patrons meaning there are no irreplaceable books there. The Chief Executive of Cork City Council Ann Doherty has given a commitment to have a replacement service as soon as is physically possible.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 12 September 2019

1014a. Project page on the local history of St Patrick’s Bridge from Our Lady of the Lourdes NS student 2018.



Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 12 September 2019

Launch of Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project 2019-20


   The advent of the new school year coincides with the seventeenth year of the Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project. Brochures have been sent to all Cork City schools including the schools within the newly extended city areas. Launched again for the 2019/20 school term, the Project is open to schools in Cork City at primary level to the pupils of fourth, fifth and sixth class and at post-primary from first to sixth years. There are two sub categories within the post primary section, Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate. The project is free to enter. A student may enter as an individual or as part of a group or a part of a class entry. The County edition unfortunately has been discontinued temporarily.

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

    Students produce a project on their local area using primary and secondary sources. Each participating student within their class receives a visit and free workshop in October 2019. The workshop comprises a guide to how to put a project together. Project material must be gathered in an A4/ A3 size Project book. The project may be as large as the student wishes but minimum 20 pages (text + pictures + sketches). Projects must also meet five elements. Projects must be colourful, creative, have personal opinion, imagination and gain publicity before submission. These elements form the basis of a student friendly narrative analysis approach where the student explores their project topic in an interactive and task-oriented way. In particular, students are encouraged to attain material through visiting local libraries, engaging with fieldwork, interviews with local people, making models, photographing, cartoon creating, making DVDs of their area. Re-enacting can also be a feature of several projects.

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

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

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

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


1014a. Project page on the local history of St Patrick’s Bridge from Our Lady of the Lourdes NS student 2019.

1014b. Model on the Shaky Bridge from Our Lady of the Lourdes NS student 2019.

1014b. Model on the Shaky Bridge from Our Lady of the Lourdes NS student 2018.