Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,
Cork Independent, 13 July 2017
July Historical Walking Tours
Wednesday 19 July, Shandon historical walking tour with Kieran; discover the history of one of Cork’s oldest streets woven with tales of castles, butter and historical churches; meet at North Gate Bridge at end of Shandon Street, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)
There are multiple layers of history around the Shandon quarter. Amongst them is the story of the great butter market. By the mid eighteenth century, the native butter industry in Cork had grown to such an extent due to British empire expansion that it was decided among the main city and county butter merchants that an institution be established in the city that would control and develop its potential. These ‘Committee of Butter Merchants’ located themselves in a simple commissioned building adjacent to Shandon. The committee comprised 21 members who were chosen by the merchants in the city. In May 1770, it was decided by the Cork Committee that all butter to be exported from Cork was to be examined by appointed inspectors – the quality and weight of the butter and the manner of packing.
Thursday 20 July, Sunday’s Well historical walking tour with Kieran; discover the original well and the eighteenth-century origins of the suburb, meet at St Vincent’s Bridge, North Mall end, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)
Sunday’s Well was a famous landmark through the ages and the adjoining district took its name from the well. In 1644, the French traveller M de La Boullaye Le Gouz, visited Ireland. In the account of his journey he writes: “A mile from Korq [Cork] is a well called by the English, Sunday Spring, or the fountain of Sunday, which the Irish believe is blessed and cures many ills. I found the water of it extremely cold”. Charles Smith in his second volume of his History of Cork, mentions “a pretty hamlet called Sunday’s Well, lying on a rising ground…here is a cool refreshing water, which gives name to the place, but it is hard, and does not lather with soap”. Antiquarian Thomas Crofton Croker described the well as well; “Sunday’s Well is at the side of the high road, and is surrounded by a rude, stone building, on the wall of which the letters HIS mark its ancient reputation for sanctity. It is shadowed over by some fine own ash trees, which render it as a picturesque object”. Writing later still John Windele says of the well; “Early in the mornings of the summer Sundays may be seen the hooded devotees with beads in hand, performing their turrish or penance, besides this little temple”.
The historic landmark is no longer visible. At the beginning of 1946, the adjoining roadway was widened and improved, it was necessary to remove the stone building covering the well, and to run the road over the well. However, to mark the site, the stone tablet bearing the inscription, “HIS, Sunday’s Well, 1644”, which had been on the building, was placed on the wall adjoining the road. Rounds are no longer paid there.
Thursday 27 July 2017, The Friar’s Walk, with Kieran; discover Red Abbey, Elizabeth Fort, Callanan’s Tower and Greenmount area; meet at Red Abbey tower, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)
This historical walking tour begins on Red Abbey square and explores the area’s medieval origins and the impact on the area. In such a small corner of the city, post medieval Cork and the story of industrial housing can be told, as well as stories of St Stephen’s School, Callanan’s Tower, Elizabeth Fort and the Gallows at Greenmount.
The central bell tower of the church of Red Abbey is a relic of the Anglo-Norman colonisation and is one of the last remaining visible structures, which dates to the era of the walled town of Cork. Invited to Cork by the Anglo-Normans, the Augustinians established an abbey in Cork, sometime between 1270 AD and 1288 AD. It is known that in the early years of its establishment, the Augustinian friary became known as Red Abbey due to the material, sandstone, which was used in the building of the friary. It was dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity but had several names, which appear on several maps and depictions of the walled town of Cork and its environs. For example, in a map of Cork in 1545, it was known as St Austins while in 1610, Red abbey was marked as St. Augustine’s. The adjacent street names of Red Abbey Street, Friar’s Street and Friar’s Walk also echoes the days of a large medieval abbey in the area.
Friday 28 July 2017, The Lough and its history, historical walking tour with Kieran (new tour); discover the legends and stories of the Cork Lough, meet at the green on northern end of the Lough, Lough Church end, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)
This is a new walking tour, which explores the Lough, its heritage and the rich surrounding history of this quarter of the city. This amenity has witnessed eighteenth century market fairs as well as ice skating to nineteenth century writers and nursery gardens to twentieth century cycling tournaments and the rich and historic market garden culture.
Kieran’s National Heritage Week historical walking tours for August are also now posted at www.kieranmccarthy.ie under the walking tours section.
903a. View of Shandon Street Festival, June 2017 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)
903b. Depiction of Skating on the Lough by artist Daniel Maclise, c.1830 (source: Cork City Library)