Monthly Archives: December 2019

“Evening Echo” Lighting Installation at Shalom Park, 29 December 2019

“Evening Echo” Lighting Installation at Shalom Park

Sunset – Sunday 29th December 2019
Shalom Park

Lighting Sequence:
9th Lamp on : 4:21pm
Sunset : 4:31pm
9th Lamp off : 5:01pm

Evening Echo is a public artwork by New Zealand artist Maddie Leach. It is sited on old gasometer land gifted by Bord Gáis to Cork City Council in the late 1980s. This site was subsequently re-dedicated as Shalom Park in 1989. The park sits in the centre of the old Cork neighbourhood known locally as ‘Jewtown’. This neighbourhood is also home to the National Sculpture Factory.

Evening Echo is an art project generated as an artist’s response to the particularities of place and locality. Now in its ninth year, the project continues to gather support from the Cork Hebrew Congregation,Cork City Council, National Sculpture Family, Bord Gáis and its local community.

The project is manifested in a sequence of custom-built lamps, a remote timing system, a highly controlled sense of duration, a list of future dates, an annual announcement in Cork’s Evening Echo newspaper and a promissory agreement. Evening Echo is fleetingly activated on an annual cycle, maintaining a delicate but persistent visibility in the park and re-activating its connection to Cork’s Jewish history. Intended to exist in perpetuity, the project maintains a delicate position between optimism for its future existence and the possibility of its own discontinuance.

This year the last night of Hanukkah is Sunday the 29th December and offers the only opportunity to see the tall ‘ninth lamp’ alights until next year. The cycle begins 10 minutes before sunset, which occurs this year at 4.31pm, and continues for 30 minutes after sunset when the ninth lamp is extinguished.

The Evening Echo project is an important annual marker that acknowledges the significant impact that the Jewish Community had in Cork. Moreover this artwork, illustrates the precarious balance and possible disappearance of any small community existing within a changing city. Evening Echo continues as a lasting memory of the Jewish community in Cork city, and remains as a comment on the transient nature of communities and the impacts that inward and outward migration brings to the character of all cities.

Cork City Council wishes to acknowledge the essential role played by the Rosehill family of Cork in support of this artwork.

The event will be live-streamed by the Cork City Council on

The Blessing of a Candle

The Blessing of a Candle

Cllr Kieran McCarthy

Sturdy on a table top and lit by youngest fair,
a candle is blessed with hope and love, and much festive cheer,
Set in a wooden centre piece galore,
it speaks in Christian mercy and a distant past of emotional lore,
With each commencing second, memories come and go,
like flickering lights on the nearest Christmas tree all lit in traditional glow,
With each passing minute, the flame bounces side to side in drafty household breeze,
its light conjuring feelings of peace and warmth amidst familiar blissful degrees,
With each lapsing hour, the residue of wax visibly melts away,
whilst the light blue centered heart is laced with a spiritual healing at play,
With each ending day, how lucky are those who love and laugh around its glow-filledness,
whilst outside, the cold beats against the nearest window in the bleak winter barreness,
Fear and nightmare drift away in the emulating light,
both threaten this season in almighty wintry flight,
Sturdy on a table top and lit by youngest fair,
a candle is blessed with hope and love, and much festive cheer.

Kieran's Christmas Candle

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

1028a. Bantry House, present day



Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 19 December 2019

Gems From West Cork


My new book, 50 Gems of West Cork (Amberley Publishing, 2019) book explores 50 well-known gems of that beautiful region. Below is an abstract from two of my favourite sites – Bantry House and Bantry Bay.


Gem 30, A Chequered Past – Bantry House:

   The elegant Bantry House defines the character of the adjacent local town. The house inspired the town’s development and the pier and vice-versa. The Archaeological Inventory of West Cork presents research excavations carried out in 2001 in an area directly west of the present house. Here the remains of a site were discovered of a deserted Gaelic medieval village and a seventeenth-century English settlement. Excavations revealed the foundations of the gable end of a mid-seventeenth-century house. This was in turn overlain by a more substantial and better-built rectangular structure, interpreted as a timber-built English administrative building. A palisade trench, dug late in the sixteenth or early in the eighteenth century, immediately pre-dated this building. According to the excavator, this had presumably created a stockade foundation around the early plantation settlement. Sixteenth-century cultivation ridges were also uncovered. These had cut into the foundations of a fifteenth/ sixteenth-century Gaelic domestic structure.

   The area seems to have been abandoned in the middle of the seventeenth century and all available cartographic and documentary evidence indicated that no subsequent building or landscaping had taken place. The narrative of the old sites fell out of memory.

   The earliest records for the next phase of the site date from circa 1690 and describe land deals between Richard White and the Earl of Anglesey, which established the basis of the Bantry House Estate. The records, which are in the archives of the library of University College Cork, include information about the ownership of land and property on the family’s Bantry, Glengarriff, Castletownbere and Macroom estates. The Whites built a detached five-bay two-storey country house over a basement, circa 1710.

   In 1816, Richard White was created first Earl of Bantry. Prior to his marriage, he toured extensively on the continent, making sketches of landscapes, vistas, houses and furnishings, which he later used as inspiration in expanding and refurbishing Bantry House. The White family throughout the nineteenth century intermarried with other well-known landed families including the Herberts of Muckross House, Killarney, and the Guinness family of Dublin. Inspired by his travels and contacts, in 1820 Richard invested in the construction of new six bay two bow ended additions to the old country house as well as adding elaborate landscaped gardens complete with outbuildings, stables and gate lodges. In 1845 new bow-ended wings were also added.

William White, the 4th and last Earl of Bantry, died in 1891. Ownership of the estate then passed to his nephew, Edward Leigh, who assumed the additional name of White in 1897. His daughter, Clodagh, inherited Bantry House and estates on the death of her father in 1920, and in 1927, she married Geoffrey Shellswell, who assumed the additional name of White. Clodagh Shellswell-White died in 1978 and the ownership of the house and estate passed on to her son, Egerton Shellswell-White. Today the house and gardens still belong to the White Family and are open to the public to explore and engage with.


Gem 31, An Expedition into the Past – Stories from Bantry Bay:

  Information panels on Bantry’s town square champion Ireland’s nationalist past and define the layout of the square and which history a visitor engages with first. The panels describe the collective memory of the campaign of Theobald Wolfe Tone in the interests of the United Irishmen and their quest for independence of this country. He journeyed to Paris at the beginning of the year 1796 to court the French to help with rebellion against the British in Ireland. There he met General Hoche, the brilliant French commander. On 16 December a fleet of 44 vessels and 15,000 men under General Hoche and Admiral Morard-de-Galles set sail from Brest.

  The expedition was ill-fated from the start; for it was but a day at sea when the frigate Fraternite carrying Hoche and Morard-de-Galles, got separated from its companions and never reached the Irish shore. A dense fog arose, and Bouvet, the Admiral-in-Command, found he had only eighteen sailing ships in his company. Two days later, however, he had 33, and he steered direct for Cape Clear Island. Land was sighted on the 21 December, and though a rough easterly breeze was blowing, 16 vessels succeeded in reaching Bantry Bay. Twenty ships remained outside battling hopelessly against the gale and were eventually driven off the coast. A landing was impossible and Wolfe Tone, aboard the gunship Indompitable spent his cold Christmas on the Bay. On the night of 25 December an order came from Bouvet to quit the assault and put to sea. It was decided to land in the Shannon Estuary, but rough weather was increasing. The squadron put to sea and returned to France. It was the 27 December and the end of the Bantry Bay Expedition. Of the 48 ships that left Brest on 16 December 1796, only 36 returned to France. The rest were either captured by the English Navy or wrecked.

   The ship La Surveillante was considered unseaworthy for the return journey and was scuttled by its crew in Bantry Bay. Its crew and all 600 cavalry and troops on board were transferred safely to other French ships in the fleet. According to the National Wreck Inventory, the three masted La Surveillante was built in Lorient in 1778 and carried 32 guns. The vessel had successful naval engagements with British warships during the period of the American War of Independence (1775–82). The wreck of La Surveillante was discovered in 1981 during seabed clearance operations following the Betelgeuse oil tanker disaster. One of La Surveillante’s anchors was trawled up by fishermen and put on display in Bantry. In 1987 two 12-pound cannons were raised from the wreck, and in 1997 the ship’s bell was lifted, which is now currently on display in Bantry Armada Centre, at Bantry House.


Happy Christmas to all readers of the column.

Missed one of the 51 columns this year, check out the indices at Kieran’s heritage website,

Kieran’s three 2019 books – 50 Gems of West Cork, The Little Book of Cork Harbour and Championing Cork: Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019 are now available in Cork bookshops.



1028a. Bantry House, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

1028b. Bantry Bay, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

1028b. Bantry Bay, present day

Cllr McCarthy Wins National Book Award, December 2020

Nicholas Tarrant, Executive Director ESB, Engineering and Major Projects, Mary Liz McCarthy, Dr Kieran McCarthy, winner of the Mary Mulvihill Publication / Media Award 2019, and Paul McMahon, President, IHAI.IHAI Awards 2019 sponsored by ESB, Venue ESB Archive, St Margaret's Road, Finglas, Dublin. Wed 11th Dec 2019 - Photograph by

  Cllr Kieran McCarthy has won the Mary Mulvihill Media Award of Best Publication at the prestigious Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland (IHAI) Awards 2019.

   Kieran’s was recognised for his heritage work in Cork and for his publication “The Little Book of Cork Harbour (2019, History Press)”. The book presents a myriad of stories within the second largest natural harbour in the world. This book follows on from a series of Kieran’s publications on the River Lee Valley, Cork City and complements his Little Book of Cork (History Press, Ireland, 2015). It is not meant to be a full history of the harbour region but does attempt to bring some of the multitudes of historical threads under one publication. However, each thread is connected to other narratives and each thread here is recorded to perhaps bring about future research on a site, person or the heritage of the wider harbour. 

   Paul McMahon President of IHAI adds: “Kieran’s extensive list of publications have been meticulously well researched and well presented and have made a very significant contribution to providing a better understanding of Cork’s industrial past and history. IHAI are also delighted with the continued and invaluable sponsorship of these IHAI Awards from ESB which seek to give recognition to individuals and organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to promoting and safeguarding industrial heritage on an all-Ireland basis. It is important that we both recognise and celebrate achievement. We also wish to congratulate ESB on the development of their new Dublin Archive as it will be a wonderful resource for all those interested in the social development of this country and more particularly those interested in industrial history.”

   Nicholas Tarrant, ESB Executive Director Engineering and Major Projects hosted the awards evening. Welcoming guests and congratulating the award winners, he says: “The Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland was created by people of vision and commitment and the fruits of earlier efforts have served to create a notable increase in awareness of our rich industrial past.  The Association recognises that we should not only have a sense of shared ownership for our past but it is something we strive to safeguard and celebrate. It is also ESB’s pleasure to host the awards in our new Archive. A landmark development for ESB, it represents a tangible delivery to both celebrate and safeguard our history and heritage which forms part of the story of the industrial, commercial and social development of Ireland.”


Nicholas Tarrant, Executive Director ESB, Engineering and Major Projects, Mary Liz McCarthy, Dr Kieran McCarthy, winner of the Mary Mulvihill Publication / Media Award 2019, and Paul McMahon, President, IHAI.IHAI Awards 2019 sponsored by ESB, Venue ESB Archive, St Margaret’s Road, Finglas, Dublin. Wed 11th Dec 2019 – Photograph by

Cork City Council to commemorate first Council elected by proportional representation with Special Meeting in January 2020

Cork City Council will hold a Special Meeting on 30 January 2020 to commemorate the first meeting of Council elected by proportional representation – the first of a programme of events in Cork to mark the 1920 centenary, a pivotal year in the city’s history and the birth of the nation.

Under the steerage of Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. John Sheehan and a cross party committee of Elected Members, a rich and varied programme of events is planned for 2020 which is roundly described as ‘Cork’s 1916’, so seismic was it in the second city’s history.

The Special Meeting will mark the centenary of the first Council elected by proportional representation and the first Council elected by universal suffrage, the first Council with a Republican majority.  At that meeting, the Council pledged its allegiance to Dáil Éireann, a moment of huge national significance.

This commemorative event will take place at Council Chamber at City Hall at 6.30 p.m.  Former Lords Mayor, TDs, Senators and Elected Members will read excerpts from the minutes of the January meeting 100 years ago.

A musical piece will open the meeting and a reception will be held at City Hall that night with leading members of the city’s business, voluntary and community sector invited.

Lord Mayor, Cllr John Sheehan said “The election of a Republican majority Council and Republican Lord Mayor changed everything, not just in Cork but nationally.  It gave a democratic mandate to Tomás MacCurtain and later Terence MacSwiney so that their deaths later that year were a direct blow to the citizens and not just the deaths of activists in the armed struggle.”

“2020 is a very important year for Cork.  The Special Meeting in January will raise the curtain on a year of commemorative events in Cork City, marking the fundamental role played by Cork in the struggle for independence.”

Over the course of next year, Cork City will commemorate the death of the city’s two martyred Lord Mayors, Terence MacSwiney and Tomas Mac Curtain and the Burning of Cork City.  The Burning of Cork by Crown Forces devastated the city in December 1920, destroying more than 40 business premises, 300 residential properties, Cork City Hall and Carnegie Library, hugely impacting the local economy.

This Special Meeting of Cork City Council will be streamed on

McCarthy: Stronger Cycling Strategy Needed

    Cllr McCarthy at a recent Council meeting asked that a dedicated Cycling Officer be put in place to develop a more joined-up cycling strategy in the city. Currently there is a Council officer, which cycling forms part of their wider work programme within the Directoratate for Community, Culture and Place-Making. The work varies from involvement in City wide public sustainable travel events such as European Mobility Week and the Bike Week as well as some road safety and promotion initiatives.

 Cllr McCarthy noted; “Earlier this year, I noted publicly that the narrative around cycling in the city is broken and a lot more joined up thinking needs to happen. We need to create a stronger cycling strategy. For me we are only scratching the surface with the potential of cycling in the city. A dedicated Cycling Officer can bring a lot more to joined up thinking. Unfortunately, as well in the Council Chamber there are only a few voices in the Council Chamber who speak about the need for cycling. This is due to the variety of funding needs, needed for the city’s wards. Funding around estate resurfacing and footpath renewal is still recovering from the economic collapse”.

 “The second element is that there is no local funding pot in Cork City Council to develop safe cycling infrastructure. At the budget estimates meetings last September, the Council had to choose between repair of footpaths or a local cycling funding pot. The majority wanted footpath repair, which is fair enough – but we shouldn’t be in a situation, where one has to choose between two important pieces of infrastructure”.

  “Much of the funding for cycling infrastructure is highly dependent on central government funding. The Coke Bike Scheme and its expansion is also dependent on sponsorship nationally. At this moment in time without an uplift in interest in the Council chamber and in local funding, the development of cycling in the city will remain at a snail’s pace for the foreseeable future, which is very regrettable”, noted Cllr McCarthy.

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

1027a. Three Castle Head, present day


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 12 December 2019

Gems From West Cork


My new book, 50 Gems of West Cork (Amberley Publishing, 2019) book explores 50 well-known gems of that beautiful region. Below is an abstract from two of my favourite castle sites – Three Castle Head and Ballinacarriga Castle.

 Gem 28, Upon the Ramparts of Ruins – Three Castle Head:

  Located on a western headland above the Mizen Head is what is known as Three Castle Head. Spectacular in its location, Dun Locha or Dunlough or Fort of the Lake sits atop the brink of a 100-metre cliff face on the site of an ancient promontory fort. In its day it was an important strategic location with 360 degree views of the landscape. Historical information signs on the approach to the castle point to an annal record that it was constructed by Donagh O’Mahony in 1207. He is reputed be a scholar and traveller on pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Archaeologists have also noted that the extant ruins are more fifteenth century in date and possibly were added to an earlier structure.

  According to the Archaeological Inventory of West Cork, the castle’s location is all about creating maximum defence. The three towers of this edifice are connected by a rampart wall of some 20 feet in height, one of the highest medieval walls still intact in Ireland. Walls extend from the edge of the cliff eastwards to the lake. Dry stone masonry was used in its construction. The geology of the area is metamorphic, which supplied relatively flat and regular stone. Quarried from nearby, the stones were not cut but utilised as they were.

   Tower number one by the lake was three stories high, with a main arched entrance. Tower number two was of a similar height, also with a spiral staircase, and has an interior archway at ground level that led either to a separate room below or was the entrance to a souterrain leading to the sea, utilising the natural crevices in the rock. The third tower or the tallest tower, 10-15 metres in height, also had three stories. Within its space, the ground floor had several loophole windows. Above the second level are two arches, which support a stone ceiling. It had uppermost ramparts for observation and defence.

   There are 40 acres behind the castle known as the Island to explore as well. On foot it is rough terrain but the visitor is met with spectacular views of the Mizen Peninsula and the Beara Peninsula.

Gem 45, A Personalised Past – Ballinacarriga Castle:

   The four-storey Ballinacarriga Castle adjacent Ballinacarriga Village and near Ballineen is very accessible. Built on a rocky outcrop sometime in the sixteenth century, the castle is associated with the Hurley family. In 1585 Randal Hurley married Catherine Cullinane and their marriage is commemorated on the inside of one of the fourth-storey windows. The arched door and the cut corner stones have long since disappeared being appropriated for the construction of a nearby mill which has since been demolished. The castle contained a great hall resting on an arched floor, which was lit by two ornamental windows, the casing of which still exists. The south window has carved figures which seem to represent figures at Crucifixion. One is clad in ecclesiastical garb, the palms of the hands extended, and one supports the shaft of a cross.

  There are also Instruments of the Passion, and figures which may represent St John, Blessed Virgin and St Paul as well as decorative panels. On the first floor, there are carvings of a figure and five rosettes said to represent Catherine O’Cullane and her children. On the third floor are carvings, which include the inscription “1585 R.M.C.C.” (Randal Muirhily [Hurley] and his wife Catherine O Cullane).

  On the external face of the eastern wall of the castle is inserted a carved stone, bearing a representation of a grotesque stone carved figure known as a Sheela-na gig. Sheela na gigs are figurative carvings of naked women exhibiting an embellished vulva. They are architectural grotesques found all over Europe on castles, cathedrals, and other buildings. The highest concentrations can be found in Ireland, Great Britain, France and Spain, sometimes together with male figures. Ireland has the greatest number of surviving Sheela-na-gig carvings. There are circa 165 recorded extant examples in Ireland. The carvings could have been utilised to protect against demons, death and evil. They are often positioned over doors or windows, presumably to protect these openings.

  The Ballabuidhe Horse Fair dates back to 1615, when a Charter for it was granted by King James 1 to Randal Óg Hurley of the castle. The fair is steeped in history, tradition and antiquity. It is still one of Ireland’s greatest annual horse fairs, to be held on the streets, and where buyers come from all over Ireland and Cross-Channel too.

50 Gems of West Cork (Amberly Publishing, 2019) by Kieran McCarthy is available in any good Cork bookshop. Kieran is also showcasing a series on some of the gems on his facebook page, Cork, Our City, Our Town.

An earlier book this year The Little Book of Cork Harbour (History Press, 2019) is also available in bookshops as well as Championing Cork: Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019 (Cork Chamber of Commerce, 2019).


1027a. Three Castle Head, Mizen Peninsula, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

1027b. Ballinacarriga Castle, near Ballineen, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)


1027b. Ballinacarriga Castle, present day

Cllr McCarthy: New Marina Park Timeline Unveiled

    The first phase of Marina Park in Cork’s Marina district is now proposed to open in late 2020. Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed the recent positive response to his question on the City Council floor to the Director of Operations, Valerie O’Sullivan of Cork City Council – that there is now a clearer timeline to have Marina Park, the public park to circulate the new Pairc Uí Chaoimh, in place and open by the end of 2020. The tender assessment process for phase one which is for layout and foundations will be finalized before Christmas according to the Director of Operations.

  Commenting Cllr McCarthy noted; “there has been much frustration by locals and officials alike that it has been a difficult tender process. Marina Park will be one of the newest recreational jewels in the crown of amenities to serve areas such as Docklands, Ballinlough, Ballintemple and Blackrock. The Marina and Atlantic Pond are two of the most visited amenities in the city. Both have a long history and have served Corkonians for decades.

“It’s important now that the Marina Park project is kept on track and funding put aside to progress it beyond phase one and onto phase two, which includes a large playground. Marina Park is recreational project I have high up on my priority work list”, noted Cllr Kieran McCarthy.

Cllr McCarthy: Enhancement of Ballinlough Playground Facilities a Must


    Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has called for an enlarged playground in Ballinlough. The Councillor cited through a motion on Cork City Council’s meeting agenda that large-scale demographic change and younger families moving into the area means that enhancement of playground facilities must be considered.

   Cllr McCarthy noted; “The call for a larger playground in Ballinlough is one which has been on my work list for many years. During the economic downturn, items such as playgrounds were not deemed on a priority within the Council’s yearly budgets. Consequently, there has been a large built up demand across the city for more neighbourhood playgrounds”.

“During my canvass in Ballinlough this year I witnessed that in every third or fourth house in the housing estates of Ballinlough are young families just starting off their journey in the area. Ballinlough Swimming Pool Park has a very small playground, which many young parents in the area would like to see extended calls for the enhancement of small playground facilities are heard regularly in the Council. The Council needs to respond to the needs of families and the new City Development next year needs to reflect family needs as well”, noted Cllr McCarthy.

     In response to Cllr McCarthy’s motion at the recent South East Local Area Committee, Director of Services in Operations Valerie O’Sullivan wrote that an enhancement of Ballinlough Swimming Pool Playground will be considered for the 2021 Council Budget to be set later next year.