Monthly Archives: July 2023

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 13 July 2023

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 13 July 2023

Kieran’s July Historical Walking Tours

My summer walking tours of Cork’s historic suburbs and parts of the city centre continue for July. To encourage engagement, the tours have been free for many years.  There is no booking required. Just show up on the day.

Thursday evening 13 July 2023, From Canals to a Mayoralty Chain, The Making of Eighteenth Century Cork, meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm (free, 2 hours, no booking required for all tours).

For nearly five hundred years (c.1200-c.1690), the walled port town of Cork, built in a swamp and at the lowest crossing point of the River Lee and the tidal area, remained as one of the most fortified and vibrant walled settlements in the expanding British colonial empire. However, economic growth as well as political events in late seventeenth century Ireland, culminating in the Williamite Siege of Cork in 1690, provided the catalyst for large-scale change within the urban area. The walls were allowed to decay and this was to inadvertently alter much of the city’s physical, social and economic character in the ensuing century.

            By John Rocque’s Map of Cork in 1759, the walls of Cork were just a memory- the medieval plan was now a small part in something larger – larger in terms of population from 20,000 to 73,000 plus in terms of a new townscape. A new urban text emerged with new bridges, streets, quays, residences and warehouses built to intertwine with the natural riverine landscape.

Economically, in the eighteenth century, the city was booming. By 1730, the population had increased to 56,000, by 1790, the population of the urban area was 73,000. This was a large increase since a population of 20,000, one hundred years previously in 1690. The settlement’s reliance on the harbour and hinterland maintained a lucrative provision trade. Cork comprised on average forty per cent of the total export from Ireland with just over seventy per cent of this total sent to the European mainland. The list of countries included; Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, Great Britain including the coastal islands, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Barbadoes, Turkey and Greenland.

Cork held eighty per cent of the Irish export to Englands’ American colonies. The main ports include Carolina, Hudson, Jamaica, Montreal, Quebec, New England, New Foundland, New York, Nova Scotia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and the West Indies. Exports were also sent to New Zealand and the Canaries. By 1800, Cork was reputed to be the most note-worthy transatlantic port.

Wednesday evening, 19 July 2023, Cork and the River Lee, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork City; meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm (free, 2 hours, no booking required for all tours).

This tour explores the city’s earliest historical phases and its connection with the riverscape. Cork City city possesses a unique character derived from a combination of its plan, topography, built fabric and its location on the lowest crossing point of the river Lee as it meets the tidal estuary and the second largest natural harbour in the world. Indeed, it is also a city that is unique among other cities, it is the only one which has experienced all phases of Irish urban development, from circa 600AD to the present day. 

Friday evening, 21 July 2023, Shandon Historical Walking Tour; explore Cork’s most historic quarter; meet at North Main Street/ Adelaide Street Square, opp Cork Volunteer Centre, 6.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required). 

Tradition is one way to sum up the uniqueness of Shandon Street. Despite being a physical street, one can stroll down (or clamber up !), the thoroughfare holds a special part in the hearts of all Corkonians.  The legacy of by-gone days is rich. The street was established by the Anglo-Normans as a thoroughfare to give access to North Gate Drawbridge and was originally known as Mallow Lane.

Shandon Street locals identify with the special old qualities of the street. Different architectural styles such reflect not only the street’s long history but also Cork’s past. The chosen sites in this guide are fascinating markers of the street’s development through the ages.

For nearly 250 years, the bells of St. Anne’s Church have rung out over Cork City. Consequently their fame has spread all over the world especially with the immortal words of Rev. Francis Mahony’s poem “The Bells of Shandon” echoing behind their history; “With deep affection and collection, I often think of those Shandon Bells, whose sounds sounds so wild would, in days of childhood fling round my cradle their spells”. Fr. Prout was the pen name of Fr Francis Mahony, a regular cleric,who spent many years of his childhood living nearby, listening to the bells. Even in death, Fr Prout did not have travel far as his remains lie in a family vault close to the foot of the steeple.

Saturday afternoon, 29 July 2023, Views from a Park – The Black Ash and Tramore Valley Park & Surrounds, historical walking tour; meet at Halfmoon Lane gate, 2pm (free, duration: 90 minutes no booking required). 

Historically William Petty’s 1655 map of the city and its environs marks the site of Tramore Valley Park as Spittal Lands, a reference to the original local environment and the backing up of the Trabeg and Tramore tributary rivers as they enter the Douglas River channel. We are lucky that there are also really interesting perspectives on the area recorded through the ages, which have been great to research.


1210a. Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy with the 1787 mayoralty chain, present day (picture: Cork City Council).

Vernon Mount Bridge Name, 11 July 2023

Press Release: Lord Mayor McCarthy Welcomes New Bridge Name

Cork’s new 4m wide pedestrian and cycle path bridge, connecting Grange to Tramore Valley Park, has been officially named Vernon Mount Bridge. Lord Mayor Cllr Kieran McCarthy would like to thank all members of the public who made submissions during the selection naming process.

Over a period of a month, a total of 598 nominations were received from the public through a naming submission process set up by Cork City Council.

Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Kieran McCarthy noted: ‘Many thanks to the general public for engaging in the naming process. This process has been used in recent years, for example in the naming of Mary Elmes Bridge. It is a process that my colleagues and I will continue to use, knowing that it provides the public an opportunity to be involved in shaping the culture and history of the city. This new amenity will provide much-needed connectivity for the residents of Grange and Frankfield, enhancing the active travel offering in the city.

The 63-metre pedestrian/cycle bridge and the adjoining kilometre-long cycle/ pathway will provide connectivity between Grange/Frankfield and the southern suburbs and will support residents, students, and commuters to opt for active travel and thereby reduce traffic congestion.  

Funded by the National Transport Authority (NTA), the kilometre-long pathway will provide a public amenity for local residents through the wooded area south of Grange Road, allowing direct access across the N40 dual carriageway to Tramore Valley Park via the new pedestrian and cycle-only bridge.  

The four-metre-wide pathway will also support people with mobility needs and will include environmentally sensitive public lighting. The bridge and pathway are due to be opened to the public in the Autumn.

To mark the naming of the new bridge, Kieran will conduct a historical walking tour of Tramore Valley Park and the Black Ash story on Saturday afternoon, 29 July. Meet at the Halfmoon Lane gate, at 2pm. The tour is free and no booking is required. 

Lord Mayor’s Column, The Echo, 8 July 2023

Got Cork!

In Cork 1863, a letter is dispatched to the UK to a young architect letting him know he was successful with his design proposal for a new cathedral.

William Burges, the newly appointed architect of a new St Finbarr’s Cathedral, immediately and proudly remarked in his diary, “Got Cork” and with that embarked on a remarkable piece of building work, a voyage of discovery into the origins of Cork history. He created an iconic structure relevant for his time and forged a structure as it was seen at the time as [quote] “worthy of the name cathedral”.

Proudly as Cork’s newest Lord Mayor I can write in my own diary “Got Cork”. Such a term “Got Cork” has always stayed with me through many years since my first reading of them.

William was tasked to be a guardian of a key part of the city’s heritage – to carry out a project, with multiple roles – some of which included remembering and representing a legacy, projecting and re-animating the origins story of the city’s patron Saint Finbarr.

William built upon past legacies of former churches, He assembled striking architectural designs in a historic medieval style. He managed a team, and most interestingly conducted archaeological excavations and move skeletons and burials because the new cathedral was twice the size of the church it was replacing.

Whereas I have not been entrusted to build a Cathedral or to move graves (!), I do feel, that City Hall is Cork’s in our own political cathedral where “Got Cork” takes on new meanings– it is a space of guardianship, representation and inheritance.

A Chain of Symbols:

In the recent ancient ceremony of handing over the chain to myself, that strong sense of guardianship is ever present. There is a guardianship over the chain as an object of high symbolism – firstly a gold medallion with the city’s coat of arms and its Latin inscription Statio Bene Fida Carinis or translated A Safe Harbour for Ships.

Secondly there is a portcullis showcasing the ancient water gate of the medieval walled town of Cork thirdly the SS chain links symbolising sacredness and guardianship, and lastly the medallion inscription where 1787 marks its creation.

Then there is the guardianship of how this chain links the past to our present, almost seamlessly – that one could argue that the chain links are not just physical links but if it could speak it has seen the highs and lows of Cork history from boom to bust and vice versa. The chain has been a witness to it all in its over 230-year history…to the creation of the term of Lord Mayor in 1901 with Daniel Hegarty to the tragedies of office holders such as Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney and then woven into a myriad of personal connections by those who have engaged with office holders.

 There is the guardianship on how its essence the chain projects the city into the future as debated during the recent boundary expansion scheme. That of all the elements of those contentious debates, which emerged a few short years ago was that the chain and its societal connection meant much to the people of Cork.

Indeed, when you mix the guardianship elements of the past, present and future, one gets a strong mix of high emotion and a deep attachment to the title of Lord Mayor of Cork, and one that is not lost on me as someone is passionate Cork history and all things Cork.

So dear readers I hope you go on the journey with me over the next year plus if you want to follow me on social media, check out Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Some highlights from week one:

24 June, It was really great to meet Erguestine Andria who organised a celebration for Madagascar Independence Day in Fitzgerald’s Park – lots of celebration of diversity and multiculturalism on the afternoon.

24 June, Great to meet Prof Maggie O’Neill, Department of Sociology and Criminology, UCC at the Festival of Belonging, which explored the global refugee crisis and the challenges facing Cork and Ireland in the years ahead.

26 June, The annual formal visit by the Lord Mayor to the historic English Market.

29 June, The first of the five exciting contemporary public art works has been launched. The project is funded by Fáilte Ireland under the Urban Animation Scheme.

30 June, University College continues its contribution to thinking & implementation of best practices to meet Climate action; its new holistic Sustainability & Climate action plan furthers their green campus. Great methodologies as well for businesses & public bodies to pursue.

30 June, Remembering the legacy of Canon Donal Linehan at Newbury House in Mayfield, where a building is now dedicated to his work, ideas and writings.

1 July, An afternoon of prize giving and fun at the Vibes & Scribes Lee Swim. Very well done to all the swimmers, the lead sponsor Joan Lucey, organisers, volunteers, and supporters of the swimmers!! It was also my first time “DJ-ing” for an hour! The Lord Mayor’s job contract is very diverse ! Thanks to Anthony Fleming for helping me with the tunes! 

2 July, An afternoon with Inclusive Dance Cork, which is a pilot training programme that began in Sept 2022, open to individuals interested in learning inclusive dance methods. The programme was conceived out of an absence of formal inclusive dance training in the country.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 6 July 2023

1209a. Horse jumping at Cork Summer Show, Cork Showgrounds, Ballintemple, late 1920s (picture: Munster Agricultural Society Archives).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 6 July 2023

Recasting Cork: The Cork Summer Show Resumes

After its cancellation in 1922, the Cork Summer Show run by the Munster Agricultural Society came back for its three days, 3-6 July 1923, in the Cork Showgrounds in Ballintemple. The previous year there were difficult logistical issues due to the ongoing Civil War and the near impossibility of transporting livestock in particular across destroyed roads and rail infrastructure. The 1923 edition was an ideal situation to get the show back ‘on the road’, to show the progress and potential of farming in the Irish Free State and to profile the need for improved farming methods.

The principal aim for the 1923 edition was to encourage Irish producers and exporters to adopt the best modern methods and by taking advantage of the expert guidance and instruction insitu at the show as well as becoming more aware of what competition was out there and what approaches to marketing that are taken.

Editorials in the Cork Examiner more than once referred to the idea that the prosperity of the country depended to a very large extent on the ability to place products in the market in such a way that they will hold their own in competition with the products of competing countries. A Cork Examiner editorial on 4 July refers to Denmark’s continuous success in farming exports deserved the serious attention of Irish agriculturalists. Despite, its physical size being smaller than Ireland and that most of its soil was less fertile than the generality of Irish land and considerable areas were marshland, Danish dairy produce and eggs commanded the readiest sale and the best prices in the British market place.

Reference is also made to a successful Danish business model whereby there were close inter-working between producer and distributor, the employment of up to-date methods, and the “rigid elimination of the unfit article from the products intended for export”. Products did not leave Denmark if the quality could not be guaranteed, with the result that their products enjoy an “unenviable reputation for excellence”.

The editorial relates that Ireland derives a considerable portion of her export revenue from eggs. But Irish methods of placing eggs on the market are inferior to those adopted in Denmark. Danish eggs were always clean, which was not always the case in terms of Irish eggs. There was also a lack in appreciation of the importance of packing and display. A marketing section of an education section of the Summer Show illustrated the difference between cases of eggs cleaned and properly packed and others where negligence and glovelines were apparent.

The same thoroughness distinguished the grading of Danish butter. A government mark called the “Lurmark” was affixed to every consignment leaving the country. Its presence was a guarantee that the butter was made in pasteurised cream does not contain more than 16 per cent of water and was all round good quality.

The editorial further relates that the Danish creamery societies pledged themselves to the most stringent rules for the milking, feeding, and general treatment of the cows and permit inspection at any time by an officer of the society. The rules also provided for general cleanliness, especially in regard to the vessels used. The faithful following of the rules rendered possible the production of a commodity of invariable and uniform quality, which was maintained irrespective of the season. Such a brand was a large threat to the diminishing brand of butter at the Cork Butter Market.

The July 1923 Cork Summer Show was well attended. The different railway companies issued tickets at reasonable fares and large numbers from the country districts availed of the travel discounts. There was much to entertain the visitor. The horses and the jumping were, of course, the main feature, but there were also classes for swine, poultry, butter, flowers and vegetables. The display of agricultural implements and machinery was deemed extensive with a nod to the best modern utilised methods. The industrial exhibits of Cork manufacturers were a notable feature of the show and aimed to highlight the progress of such exhibits. Boot making, slate making, candle making, hosiery, Garage and touring, engineering, bicycle sales and farm machinery making companies from Cork and its region, as well as Ford Company car, tractor and truck products, were the core Irish products being celebrated by their display. 

The Irish industrial section of the show, organised by the Cork Industrial Development Association, was deemed a large success with almost 50 different lines of Irish manufactured goods on exhibit. Exhibitors came from Dublin, Wexford, Roscommon, West Cork and from the city.

The Cork Examiner deemed that the most interesting exhibit of all was the instructive display made by the Department of Agriculture on the art of packing. The Cork Municipal School of Art had an exhibit showing proficiency in lace, leatherwork, and needlework. There were great music programmes provided by the Greenmount Industrial School, the Butter Exchange, and the Lee Pipers’ bands. There were also Irish competitions, which attracted a great deal of attention. They included story-telling, recitations, dialogues, singing and dancing.

A Cork Examiner editorial on 6 July 1923 expressed the hope that by summer 1924, the agricultural affairs of the county would be so largely improved as to admit and present a better display of cattle and poultry, and that flower, fruit and vegetable show may also be added. There was further commentary that there was a need to improve the processes of cultivation of vegetables – especially those of intensive cultivation – were not as well understood as they ought to be in Cork. A great deal of profitable work for market gardeners remains to be pursued.


1209a. Horse jumping at Cork Summer Show, Cork Showgrounds, Ballintemple, late 1920s (picture: Munster Agricultural Society Archives).

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy’s upcoming July historical walking tours (all tours free & no booking required):

Wednesday evenings, 12 & 19 July 2023, Cork and the River Lee, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork City; meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm.

Thursday evening 13 July 2023, From Canals to a Mayoralty Chain, The Making of Eighteenth Century Cork, meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm.

Friday evening, 21 July 2023, Shandon & its History; meet at North Main Street/ Adelaide Street Square, opp Cork Volunteer Centre, 6.30pm. 

Saturday afternoon, 29 July 2023, Views from a Park – The Black Ash and Tramore Valley Park & Surrounds, meet at Halfmoon Lane gate to Tramore Valley Park, 2pm.