Monthly Archives: May 2024

Kieran’s Our City Our Town, 30 May 2024

1255a. Cover of Kieran’s new book Cork: A Potted History
1255a. Cover of Kieran’s new book Cork: A Potted History

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 30 May 2024

Kieran’s New Book – Cork: A Potted History

Cork: A Potted History is the title of my new local history book published by Amberely Press. The book is a walking trail, which can be physically pursued or you can simply follow it from your armchair. Cork: A Potted History builds upon my other book from Amberley, Secret Cork, but this time it takes the viewer on a walking trail of over forty sites. It takes a line from the city’s famous natural lake known just as The Lough across the former medieval core, ending in the historic north suburbs of Blackpool.

Starting at The Lough – a Cork gem – which once hosted everything from duels to ice skating and its own tree nursery, the trail then rambles to hidden moats, ancient hospital sites, lost meeting houses, legacies of medieval remnants, across ancient streetscapes to exploring forgotten industrial urban spaces. The book reveals the city’s lesser-known heritage and hidden urban and cultural heritage features.

Places matter in Cork. The city’s urban landscape is filled with stories about its past. With some sites you might stop and contemplate as you’re passing by, and many others might not be given a second look. But a second and even a third look can reveal some interesting historical nuggets and curiosities about Cork’s development. In Cork it always pays to look above the ground floor to shop and house level.

From its marshy foundations at the lowest crossing point of the River Lee, the city spread across its steep suburban hillsides. This book is a cross-sectional journey from the south of the city to its northern prospects, commenting on a rich range of historic spaces, streets and laneways.

The book opens with the Lough and showcases one the city’s key amenities, attracting people from across the city. Many local historians like Richard Henchion and Declan Myers have written on this district, plus areas like Glasheen, Ballyphehane and Togher. This 18-acre freshwater lake was created by the erosion of moving ice during one of the glacial periods, sometime between 10,000 and 2 million years ago. It rests on a bed of limestone running east and west about 60 feet above sea level.

  It is the natural collection basin into which the higher encircling ground is drained. It is also fed by rainwater and by five subterranean streams. The glaciation erosion exposed the underling limestone, an easily dissolvable rock, and the action of the water congealed and became like cement, stopping further water from seeping through the rock cavities  and disappearing underground. Any excess of water is carried away by a gulley into the municipal sewer. In 1659 the population in the immediate vicinity of The Lough consisted of four persons only, all Irish in descent. Some decades later, in 1690, during the Williamite Campaign in Ireland, a detachment of King William of Orange’s army regrouped at The Lough prior to pressing the assault, which became known as the Siege of Cork. In the early eighteenth century, the lands around the lake were deemed commonage lands and rented out by the Corporation of Cork.

Indeed, from 21 October 1732 all ‘black cattle’ that stood in The Lough or on the ground about it in order to cool for slaughtering had to pay 1 penny for every head of such black cattle, a halfpenny for every pig or sheep. No freeman at large was liable to pay any of the duties as long the cattle belonged to such freeman. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when it was frozen, the waters of The Lough hosted skating. Its banks hosted seasonal fairs, with some of the city’s first suburban watchmen running time trials around The Lough, duels and even public punishment also taking place here. On the latter, in 1783, John Dwyer, Calvin Booth, John Fisher and James Ward, regimental foot soldiers who had been court marshalled for desertion, were taken to The Lough to suffer the consequences of their misbehaviour. Dwyer faced the firing squad, but the others got away with 500 lashes and transportation to Africa.

During the nineteenth century Cork-born folklore collector Thomas Crofton Croker (1798–1854) collected the Legend of the Lough. This describes a scrupulous king who disallowed his citizens from obtaining water from his castle well. There followed a reckoning whereby a curse was played out: the castle was flooded out by the well and submerged by a lake, which is now The Lough. Thomas had little school education but did read widely while working in the merchant trade. In 1813, he was apprenticed to a merchant in Cork. He managed to nurture the archaeological tastes he had acquired early on. He had considerable talent as an artist, and from the age of fourteen made several excursions in the south of Ireland, sketching and studying the character of the people.

During his rambles in southern Ireland from 1812 to 1816, Thomas collected legends, folk songs and keens (dirges for the dead). He contributed sketches to local exhibitions and wrote occasionally for a local periodical. On his father’s death in 1818 he went to London, where he obtained an appointment at the Admiralty through the influence of John W. Croker, a friend but no relative. He worked as a clerk in the Admiralty for thirty years.

In 1821 Thomas returned to southern Ireland and formed the plan of a tome published in 1824 called Researches in the South of Ireland. Thomas was twenty-six years of age on its publication. The success of his next work, Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland, published anonymously in 1825, was so marked that he wrote a second series, illustrated by artist Daniel Maclise, which met with as favourable a reception. Both latter works were translated into German and French. They were translated into German by the Brothers Grimm.

Kieran’s Cork: A Potted History is available in any good Cork bookshop.


1255a. Cover of Kieran’s new book Cork: A Potted History

Kieran’s Next Walking Tour:

Monday 3 June, Stories from Blackrock and Mahon, Historical Walking Tour with Kieran of Blackrock Village, from Blackrock Castle to Nineteenth Century Houses and Fishing; meet in adjacent carpark at base of Blackrock Castle, 2pm, free, 2 hours, finishes at railway line walk.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 16 May 2024

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 16 May 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – Daniel Corkery’s The Hidden Ireland

In recent weeks a conference on the life and work of Cork-born writer Daniel Corkery took place. His book, The Hidden Ireland, which was published one hundred years ago in 1924 at its heart was about rejuvenating a discussion on national identity and the place of the Irish language. Daniel was a frequent presenter giving public talks on aspect of the Irish language in Cork in the 1920s. He certainly added to the mix of debates on the culture of the emerging Irish Free State.

A great book by Patrick Maume, entitled Life that is Exile: Daniel Corkery and the Search for Irish Ireland (1993) outlines Daniel’s life. Daniel was born in Cork on 14 February 1878 and was one of five children. His father, William Corkery, represented the fifth generation of Corkery carpenters in Cork. Daniel’s early years were spent at the Presentation Brothers’ South Monastery where he became a scholarship and became a monitor. He was a senior pupil helping to supervise classes as an apprentice teacher. Daniel also suffered from a bone deformity, which left one leg shorter than the other and a stutter, which he cured by self-discipline.

Daniel’s cultural nationalism was deeply influenced by the works of John Ruskin (1819-1900) and Robert Blatchford (1851-1943). John Ruskin was one of the greatest figures of the Victorian age, poet, artist, critic, social revolutionary and conservationist. It was Robert Blatchford’s journalistic experience of working-class life that turned Blatchford into a socialist.

Daniel became a social radical and was always more interested in cultural revival, consistently noting that social regeneration would follow. It was at this point that Corkery moved from a supporter of socialism and joined the Gaelic League in 1901. His view that the Irish language, which he associated with days of poverty and ignorance, began to change.  Daniel began to teach himself Irish initially to fulfil his romantic antiquarianism side and also discovered that the language survived in ways that he did not suspect.

By 1908, Daniel was now a fully-fledged national teacher. At this time, the Gaelic League struggled to survive with members dropping out. Daniel also feared that the League would transform into an active political mass movement and further financial resources would be drained. Hence Daniel, like many other members of the Gaelic League, gave up his spare time to teach classes two evenings a week without pay while knowing almost as little Irish. In 1907 he taught candidates for the first part of the five stage Fleming Companionship in learning the Irish Language. He was studying for the second stage and begun reading many books in Irish.

In the autumn of 1913 Daniel transferred to St Patrick’s National School in Montenotte. He taught the boys drawing, training them to use their eyes by getting them to describe what they had seen on the way to school. He organised a school hurling club, buying red and green jerseys. He taught the boys Irish after school hours. One of his pupils, Michael O’Donovan, who became the writer Frank O’Connor, saw him as a substitute father. Another, Seamus Murphy, the future Cork sculptor, got some sheets of paper and followed Corkery when he went off sketching while the boys played hurling. Daniel Corkery took an interest in him and later helped to get him into the school the Cork School of Art.

Patrick Maume’s book highlights that A Munster Twilight was Daniel’s first collection of short stories. The book was well received on its appearance in December 1916 because of its quiet, evocative style and its reverent handling of patriotic and religious themes. The publication of the Threshold of Quiet in 1917 confirmed his reputation amongst his literary peers.

Before the Easter rising Daniel supported the Volunteers, but he saw no alternative to Sinn Féin’s political leadership and was surprised with many others with the advent of the Easter 1916 rising. After the rising the Gaelic League became a focus for separatist activity; language classes were full, and many league activists became prominent in Sinn Féin. At first Daniel feared the rise of Sinn Féin might swamp the cultural movement. His friend Terence MacSwiney urged him to write only in Irish. Daniel continued to write his stories in English, since he could not handle Irish idiom well enough to write them in Irish. He did begin writing occasional articles in Irish.

Daniel related his concerns to the new situation by the belief that the Gaelic League had prepared the way for Sinn Féin; his stories of the period present the War of Independence as a struggle to recover the Gaelic tradition. His beliefs were further reinforced by the presence of his friends and fellow Gaelic Leaguers such as Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney in Sinn Féin and the IRA. Their deaths Tomás shot in his home by a death squad, Terence dying on hunger strike in Brixton Prison affected Daniel deeply.

In 1918 Daniel resigned his teaching post after being passed over for the headmastership because of his political views. He became a travelling instructor in Irish and Woodwork for the Cork County Technical Instruction Committee. His literary reputation led to the offer of a Sinn Féin candidacy in the 1918 General Election. Daniel felt that he was not suited to political life and he declined the nomination.

During the War of Independence Daniel was disqualified from fighting by his lameness. He remained in Cork writing to the papers in support of the Republicans and continuing to work as a travelling teacher while he wrote The Hidden Ireland. The book, written in 1924, laments the destruction of Gaelic civilisation, where the poet had a recognised place in society.

Kieran’s Upcoming Walking Tour:

Saturday, 18 May, Ballinlough – Standing Stones, Quarries and Suburban Growth; meet at Ballintemple Graveyard, Temple Hill, 11am (free, two hours, no booking required).


1253a. Portrait of Daniel Corkery, c.1920 (picture: Cork City Library).

Lord Mayor Cllr McCarthy Goes Poster Free, 11 May 2024

Ahead of the upcoming Local Elections on 7 June Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy has gone poster free on poles across the south east local electoral area. Kieran noted; “I have been particularly inspired by the work of Douglas Tidy Towns who have advocated the non-postering of posters in Douglas Village. I also have a very keen and active interest and participation in promoting the environment and heritage in the city”. 

“To those asking about if I am still running because they don’t see my poster – As an independent candidate I am very much in the race in this local election in the south east local electoral area of Cork City – I have been canvassing for several weeks at this moment in time. I won’t get to each of the over 15,000 houses in the electoral area, but certainly and against the backdrop of a very busy Mayoralty post, I am daily trying to knock on doors in the various districts of my local electoral area. My manifesto is online at, which champions such aspects such as public parks, environmental programmes, city centre and village regeneration, and the curation of personal community projects such as my historical walking tours, concluded Kieran”.

Read my manifesto here: 2. Kieran’s Manifesto, Local Elections 2024 | Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Kieran McCarthy

Kieran continues his suburban historical walking tour series next Saturday 18 May, 11am with a walking tour of Ballinlough. The meeting point is at Ballintemple Graveyard, Temple Hill, 11am. The tour is free, two hours and no booking is required. Kieran noted of the rich history in Ballinlough; With 360 acres, Ballinlough is the second largest of the seven townlands forming the Mahon Peninsula. The area has a deeper history dating back to Bronze Age Ireland. In fact it is one of very few urban areas in the country to still have a standing stone still standing in it for over 5,000 years. My walk will highlight this heritage along with tales of big houses such as Beaumont and the associated quarry, rural life in nineteenth century Ballinlough and the development of Ballinlough’s twentieth century suburban history”.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 9 May 2024

1252a. New memorial to Seán O'Donoghue, Ballygiblin, Mitchelstown (picture: Kieran McCarthy).
1252a. New memorial to Seán O’Donoghue, Ballygiblin, Mitchelstown (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 9 May 2024

Ballygiblin Memorial to Seán O’Donoghue

A new memorial has been unveiled in Ballygiblin, Mitchelstown to the memory of Seán O’Donoghue (1898-1922), Commandant of the Cork No.1 Brigade, 1st Battalion who was deeply involved in the Irish War of Independence in Cork City.

The associated memorial booklet is now on sale in book shops in Mitchelstown. The text compiled by the memorial committee outlines that baptised as John, Seán was born in Gurteenabowl, Mitchelstown in 1898. He was the 5th child born to his parents William & Nano (nee O’Mahony) O’Donoghue.

On completion of his education, he was employed in the warehouse of Messrs Dwyer, Cork and he lived with his aunt in Roches Buildings. Seán was a member of the Gaelic League, the Lee GAA Club and the Lee Rowing Club. At an early age he joined A Company, 1st Battalion, Cork No 1 Brigade, becoming Quartermaster of the company. He was subsequently promoted to Quartermaster of the Cork Brigade. At the beginning of 1921, he was appointed Commandant of the 1st Battalion.

A loyal and courageous officer, Seán was involved in several engagements with the Black and Tans in Cork and at the signing of the Treaty, he took the Republican side in the Civil War. 

On the afternoon of Saturday, 11 December, the day after Martial Law had been declared, in the south of Ireland, Sean O’Donoghue received word that a party of Auxillaries travelling in two lorries would depart Victoria Barracks that night at 8pm. The report also mentioned the possibility that Captain Campbell Kelly, a British Army intelligence officer based at Victoria Barracks who was known to torture IRA prisoners, would be travelling with them.

The IRA considered Captain Kelly a major threat and were anxious to eliminate him. Armed with this information, O’Donoghue decided to act. Though time was short he managed to muster the following Volunteers: Michael Baylor, Seán Healy, Michael Kenny, Augustine O’Leary and James O’Mahony. He also sent word to Anne Barry to have the grenades ready. As darkness fell, she took them from her home and hid them in the front garden of a house owned by the Lennox family at Mount View on the Ballyhooly Road.

            Under the cover of darkness, the men took up their positions behind the wall between Balmoral Terrace and the houses at the corner of Dillon’s Cross. Michael Kenny took up position at Harrington Square, on the opposite side of the road to the ambush party and within braking distance of the ambush position.

Michael Kenny wore a mackintosh overcoat, scarf and cap to give the impression that he was an off-duty British soldier. His task was to act as a lookout and to slow down the lorries as they approached the ambush position. At approximately 8pm, the two lorries, each containing 13 Auxillaries, left the barracks and drove towards Dillon’s Cross. As the leading lorry approached Harrington Square, Michael Kenny stepped out to the edge of the footpath, put up his hand and signalled the driver to stop. As he slowed down, the second lorry passed, Kenny gave the signal to the men behind the wall. He then made his escape to the IRA hideout in Rathcooney.

At the signal the ambush stood up and hurled bombs at their target. As the bombs exploded, they each drew their revolvers and fired at the Auxillaries, before making their escape. Seán O’Donoghue and James O’Mahony made their way to the Delaney farm at Dublin Hill. Seán was carrying the unused bombs and he hid these on the Delaney land. The two men split up and went on the run.

This ambush heralded a night of arson and terror for the citizens of Cork, culminating in the burning of a large part of the city centre.

The turbulence behind the Pro-Treaty and Anti-Treaty sides took a darker turn when across February, March and April 1922, the IRA, particularly Anti-Treaty elements, began to seize sizable amounts of weapons from evacuating British forces. The steamship Upnor was a small British Army stores carrier of about 500 tonnes deadweight. She was loading at the ordnance stores on Rocky Island with arms and ammunition from the recently disbanded Royal Irish Constabulary for Plymouth when Seán O’Donoghue and his comrades of the 1st Brigade, 1st Southern Division of the IRA got to hear of it.

A well organised and executed operation followed. On 29 March, the Upnor sailed. This was reported by intelligence sources in Cobh and the plan swung into action. The Admiralty tug Warrior, crewed mostly by local men was at the Deepwater Quay in Cobh. Her master was enticed ashore and Captain Jeremiah Collins, a master mariner, IRA officers – Seán O’Donoghue, Dan Donovan, Michael Murphy and Seán O’ Hearty boarded with some volunteers and took the ship to sea some hours after the Upnor.

By means of a ruse, they caused the Upnor to heave to and even though the Upnor‘s master was suspicious, he let them come alongside. Sean O’Donoghue and his contingent boarded and captured the ship and she was brought to Ballycotton at 4am on 30 March. Meanwhile a large number of lorries and cars had been commandeered and brought to Ballycotton. The town had been sealed off and when the Upnor arrived, she was quickly unloaded and her contents dispersed inland.

On 28 September 1922, a party of Irish Free Government’s National Army forces consisting of one officer and ten soldiers had been operating in the Carrignavar, Whitechurch and White’s Cross districts, carrying out searches. At approximately 3.45pm when they reached a point some two miles beyond Dublin Hill, Blackpool, and about a mile from the place where the motors were seized, they were ambushed by Seán O’Donoghue and his comrades, who were in occupation of strong positions and poured a hail of bullets in the direction of the National Army troops, who were forced to halt their cars and alight, proceeding to engage with Seán and company. A brief fight was sufficient to rout them and the soldiers pursued them across country for a considerable distance.

Sadly, Seán O’Donoghue was located, removed from the Delaney family home and killed by the Free State Government troops in a field nearby. His body was brought to Cork by the troops.

A Celtic cross memorial now stands near the Delaney family home at Dublin Hill, Cork. Commadant Seán O’Donoghue’s name is inscribed on this memorial. The new Ballygiblin memorial also recognises Seán’s contribution to the Irish War of Independence and the tragedy of the ensuing Irish Civil War.


1252a. New memorial to Seán O’Donoghue, Ballygiblin, Mitchelstown (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Kieran’s May 2024 Tours

Saturday, 18 May 2024, Ballinlough – Knights, Quarries and Suburban Growth; meet at Ballintemple Graveyard, Temple Hill, 11am (free, two hours)

With 360 acres, Ballinlough is the second largest of the seven townlands forming the Mahon Peninsula. The area has a deeper history dating back to Bronze Age Ireland. In fact it is probably the only urban area in the country to still have a standing stone still standing in it for over 5,000 years. My walk will highlight this heritage along with tales of big houses such as Beaumont and the associated quarry, rural life in nineteenth century Ballinlough and the development of its twentieth century suburban history.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 2 May 2024

1251a. Philip Monahan, Commissioner of the County Borough of Cork (picture: Cork City Library).
1251a. Philip Monahan, Commissioner of the County Borough of Cork (picture: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 2 May 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – Cork Corporation is Dissolved

On 31 October 1924, a deliberation on the performance of the duties of Cork Corporation was delivered to Cork Corporation. Following on from the nine-day inquiry by Mr Nicholas O’Dwyer, Chief Engineering Inspector Local Government Department, the result was dissolution.

The Cork Examiner describes that at a meeting of the Committee of the whole Council was to be held at 12noon in the Courthouse, and as the Town Clerk was on his way to it he was met by Mr Philip Monahan, who handed him the order of the Minister, which at its heart noted that the duties of the Council of the County Borough of Cork are not being duly and effectually discharged by them”. When the Town Clerk arrived in the Bar room, where members of the Council had assembled for the meeting, he informed them that “a moment ago a sealed order, dissolving the Council”, was handed to him by the Commissioner appointed by the Local Government Department.

The property and the several powers and duties of the Council of the County Borough of Cork were to be transferred to Philip Monahan of Drogheda, in County Louth, whom was appointed to perform the duties of the Council. He was to be known and referred to as the Commissioner of the County Borough of Cork. Philip was the Mayor of Drogheda. When the Kerry County Council was dissolved he took over its duties, and had since the dissolution of the West Cork Board of Public Assistance, been acting as Commissioner in their stead as well.

On 7 November 1924 at a special meeting of the members of the Cork Corporation held in the City Courthouse, the Lord Mayor presided and a statement was unanimously adopted and directed to be handed to the press.

The Lord Mayor and members of the Cork Corporation desired to note their strong public protest against the recent order of the Local Government Board dissolving the Borough Council of Cork as being entirely “undeserved and uncalled for and being an insult and an indignity put upon this ancient Municipality”.

The Lord Mayor wished to highlight that at the inquiry, no case of corruption was preferred or proved, no case of extravagant expenditure was proved, no ease of wilful neglect of public business proved, and “no charge was made of neglect, or refusal, to comply with, official suggestions or orders, in fact no suggestion or order of the Local Government Board was ever disregarded or disobeyed”.

The Lord Mayor continued that Members of the Corporation carried on the public business and provided for the essential civic services efficiently and regularly during times of great difficulty and danger and they protested against, and resented, “as being entirely undeserved and unfair the order of the Local Government Board dissolving the Corporation”.

The Lord Mayor highlighted that for several years past the Corporation had been warned and directed not to undertake any works, which would entail the spending of sums of money, except for the most urgent purposes; he noted: “This tied the hands of the Corporation, and prevented them from carrying out various improvements”.

The Lord Mayor wished topoint out that three very important matters, closely connected with the welfare of the city in the future, which had been and were under careful consideration, “with a view to safeguarding the interests of the citizens in the best possible manner”.

Firstly, the appointment of a new City Engineer was in train. Secondly plans and specifications for the erection of the new City Hall had been prepared and passed, and advertisements were widely issued inviting tenders for the erection of the new Municipal Buildings.

Thirdly tenders had been received and were under consideration for some time for an improved water supply, by mechanical sand filtration to supply six million gallons of water per day for the citizens. The cost was about £40,000. That very important work had been delayed in consequence of the continued illness of Mr Delany, the late City Engineer. After inspection it was found that over three miles of old corroded water mains were required to be replaced by new pipes, without delay, as they contaminated the water supply.

The members of the Corporation considered it a retrograde movement that matters of the importance and magnitude of these should be dealt with without the voice of the ratepayers being heard through their elected representatives. They noted: “We are of the opinion that the proper course is not being adopted by leaving these matters in the hands of one gentleman – who is a stranger to the city – and cannot be aware of the requirements which may arise. It certainly is not Government by the people, which is so properly advocated nowadays”.

On 11 November Philip Monahan took up his duties. In the course of an interview with a representative of the Cork Examiner, Mr Monahan observed that for the ensuing weeks he preferred to be a listener rather than a speaker; “My knowledge of Cork problems is superficial, and it will be some time before 1 can discuss them with advantage to your readers. On the question of the dissolution of the Corporation, I can only say that no ono regrets the necessity for it more than the Minister of Local Government. From my reading of the Inspector’s report on his inquiry I feel that in normal times such drastic action might not have been taken. Times, however, are not normal in Cork. The Black and Tan burnings, the depressing effect on trade of the prolonged strike, the loss of trade occasioned by the destruction of the Mallow bridge, have caused a serious shortage of money in Cork homes”


1251a. Philip Monahan, Commissioner of the County Borough of Cork (picture: Cork City Library).