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2 Aug 2019

Douglas Flood Relief Works

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Cork City Council, in collaboration with Cork County Council and the Office of Public Works (the funding authority for the scheme), intends to undertake engineering works along the Ballybrack Stream, Grange Stream and Tramore River with the objective of reducing the risk of flooding in the areas of Douglas.

The Scheme is designed to provide protection to the design standard of 1 in 100 year rainfall/1 in 200 year tidal event.

McGinty & O’Shea Ltd has been awarded the works contract (€5.5m) for construction of the Douglas Works package and the works are due to commence in August 2019.

The works contract has been divided into 5 areas as shown in Plate 1 below. With the exception of Area 1, works in rivers are constrained to the months of May to September (inclusive) as required by the planning permission and Inland Fisheries Ireland. Also, following the principle that the works cannot increase the flood risk during the construction phase, instream works will start downstream and work upstream.

The works will be constructed on private property in a number of locations. The project team have been liaising with these property owners over the last 2 years to facilitate the construction of the works under agreement.

The following table gives an indication of the types of construction in the relevant areas. All time frames are provisional and subject to clarification by the Contractor.

General Construction Activities.
Area 1 – St Patrick’s Mills
Construction of flood defence wall.
Likely timeframe for Construction – Winter 2019

Area 2 – Douglas Community Park
Construction of flood defence wall and river bank stabilisation. River widening and regrading. Hard and soft landscaping.
Likely timeframe for Construction – Autumn 2019

Area 3 – Church Rd
Replace culvert, river widening and flood defence walls.
Likely timeframe for Construction – Summer 2020

Area 4 – Ravensdale and Ballybrack woods
Replace access bridges, river widening and flood defence walls. Course screen in Ballybrack woods.
Likely timeframe for Construction – Summer/ Autumn 2020

Area 5 – Donnybrook Commercial centre.
Replace culvert, river regrading and course screen.
Likely timeframe for Construction – Autumn 2020

Works to Douglas Community Park:

It is intended that works commence in Douglas Community Park in the August 2019, however this is to be confirmed by the Contractor.

The Contractor will install safety barriers along the west edge of the cycle track and this half of the park (between the cycle track and the river) will be out of public use for the duration of the works in Area 2. It is estimated that the works to the park will take approximately 5-6 months to complete.

Due to the extensive planned works to Douglas Community Park and Church Road, the opportunity was taken by Cork County Council Architects Department to deliver a public amenity outcome from the Flood relief works. This was as envisioned in the Douglas Land Use Transport Strategy 2013 (DLUTS) to deliver public Realm outcomes for the community.

The river will be visually opened to the park to create a pleasant riverside walking and viewing areas which are accessible and safe. Quality materials and bespoke furniture will be incorporated to provide place making and flexible use of public space for community events.

The widening of the river and the replacement of the left bank with a gabion wall (on private lands) reduces the space allowable for replanting of trees. To account for this, relocation of proposed trees and scrubs was designed in cooperation with a Landscape Architect Consultant to create screening and sheltering at appropriate locations. Where possible, existing trees will be retained and incorporated into the revise layout plan. Selections of scrubs and grasses are included to compliment the tree planting.

Compensation replanting will also be provided in other areas of the community to account for any net loss of trees to the park/Church road. The location of these areas will be identified in consultation with Cork City Council Parks Department and the Tidy Towns Association.
An information poster has been designed to inform the local community and park users of the project and the proposed finish for the park.

For more information on the development of the scheme please visit www.DouglasFRS.ie

1 Aug 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 1 August 2019

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1008a. Andrew Carnegie, 1913



Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 1 August 2019

Tales from 1919: Death of a Library Philanthropist


   On 11 August 1919, almost one hundred years ago, a good friend of Cork’s library service passed away in Lennox, Massachusetts, USA.  Mr Andrew Carnegie, funder of many Irish libraries and Cork City Library passed away after a brief illness – after contracting bronchial pneumonia. Mr Carnegie was born at Dunfermline in Scotland on 25 November 1835 and emigrated to the United States in 1848. He settled in Pittsburgh and was for thirteen years in the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. He worked for some time as an iron moulder, rising stop by step until he controlled great steel rolling mills in that city.

   Andrew acquired immense wealth and then came to the conclusion that wealth was simply held in trust for the benefit of the community. He conceived the idea that the best way to benefit the community was by educating them, and as all could not attend high schools or universities, he endowed libraries, believing in the concept that the best university was a good library.

   Not only did he give funding towards to the foundation of libraries, he gave immense sums for education in Scotland and America and built and endowed the Peace Palace at The Hague. He also founded the Carnegie Hero Fund for the recognition of bravery in saving life. When he retired from active participation in business, Andrew Carnegie wrote several volumes, including An American Four-in-Hand in Britain (1883), Round the World (1884), Triumphant Democracy (1885), The Gospel of Wealth (1901), The Empire of Business (1902), Life of James Watt (1905), and Problems of Today (1908).

   The announcement of Mr Carnegie’s death on 11 August 1919 was received with feelings of deep regret in Cork City and several parts of Munster. Throughout, the south of Ireland many people were in receipt of the awards made by the Carnegie Hero Fund. Numerous acts of bravery have been recognised by this Fund and gifts in recognition made.

   Andrew Carnegie invested though in 660 public libraries across Britain and Ireland alone at the turn of the twentieth century. On 21 October 1903 the foundation stone of the Cork Carnegie Library was laid by Andrew Carnegie and afterwards on the same day he received the Freedom of the City. Andrew’s action in providing the citizens of Cork with a sum of £11,000 for the erection of the library at Anglesea Street, and a sum of £1,000 towards the furnishing of the building was greatly appreciated. The new library was to replace a public library (est. 1892) within the School of Art on Nelson’s Place. The new Carnegie Library was located on Anglesea Street next to Cork City Hall and had a lifespan for only 15 years, until 1920.

   A description in the Cork Examiner in 1905 describes that the style was Elizabethan with an elegant front with a beautiful entrance, balcony, and tower as added attractive features. At the main entrance from Anglesea street was a vestibule, which opened into a large open hall, the floor of which was laid as a terrazzo executed by Italian workmen. Beyond this and in line with the entrance was “the lending department, furnished in the most up-to-date manner”.

   The central portion of the building was lit mainly from the roof light. To the left, of the lending Library was the newsroom. Lined along the sides with neatly designed newspaper stands, the floor space being occupied by tables for the renders. The corresponding area to the left of the lending department was devoted to the reference library. A space in the southern side was partitioned off into a storeroom or workplace for the library attendant. Flanking the entrance on the ground floor were the librarian’s offices on the left, and the ladies’ rending room on the right, and over these respectively were the Librarian’s apartments and the juvenile reading room.

    The Library was lit by gas and specially designed pendants and brackets were fitted up in the reading rooms for the comfort of patrons. The heating and ventilation were on the Plenum system – the heating chamber being at the northern side of the library adjacent to the Municipal Buildings. The heated air was controlled by means of a fan driven by an electric motor and was taken by underground ducts to the various rooms. Practically the entire sum of £11,000, which Mr Carnegie provided for the establishment of the Library was been absorbed into the work.

   On 12 December 1920 the Carnegie Free Library on Anglesea Street in Cork was destroyed by a fire — lit by Black and Tans, members of the British Crown Forces — as well the adjoining City Hall, and large sections of the city centre especially St Patrick’s Street. The burning of the Library left the city without a public library service until 1924, when premises were provided on a temporary basis for a library in Tuckey Street. That service was transferred in 1930 to new premises behind a new Hiberno-Romanesque facade at nos. 57-8 Grand Parade.

   The redevelopment of the library service in the 1920s was due largely to the herculean efforts of the then librarian, James Wilkinson.  Post the 1920 burning, James Wilkinson issued an appeal for book donations which yielded an extraordinarily generous response from the national and international community.  The accession ledgers in which acquisitions to stock were recorded continue to be housed by the Central Library’s Local Studies Department and make for fascinating insight into the history of reading in Cork City.


1008a. Andrew Carnegie, 1913 (source: Cork City Library)

1008b. Carnegie Library, Anglesea Street, Cork, c.1900 (source: Kieran McCarthy)

 1008b. Carnegie Library, Anglesea Street, Cork, c.1900

29 Jul 2019

Daly’s Bridge Repair Work to Start, July 2019

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Cork City Council Press Release

Cork City Council, in conjunction with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, is set to begin works on the repair and restoration of Daly (Shakey) Bridge during week commencing 12th August 2019.

The estimated €1.7 million works on the city’s iconic bridge will address extensive corrosion and damage to the heritage structure.  Daly (Shakey) Bridge is unique in Ireland as the only surviving pedestrian suspension bridge of its type and age.

Rehabilitation and conservation works on the main steel structure of the 50.9 metre suspension bridge will include:

  • Vegetation removal, cleaning and graffiti removal

  • Phased dismantling of the latticed deck for removal off-site for grit-blasting, repair & repainting before reinstatement

  • Removal and replacement of timber decking

  • Repair and repainting of existing lattice towers in-situ;

  • Replacement of suspension cables;

  • Phased re-erection of the restored bridge structure;

  • Upgrade approach ramps including railings, surfacing and landscaping;

  • Removal and repair of cast iron railings (south bank);

  • Installation of new public lighting to approach ramps and bridge structure;

  • General ancillary works.

It is intended that the works will extend the life of this important heritage structure and protect and improve an important public amenity.

It is expected that the works will be completed and the bridge reopened to pedestrians by Easter 2020.

Pedestrian Access:

  Pedestrian access to Daly (Shakey) Bridge and its approaches will be prohibited throughout the works. The existing alternative pedestrian route between Ferry Walk and Sunday’s Well Road via Mardyke Walk/Western Road/Thomas Davis Bridge (near the Sacred Heart Church) /Sunday’s Well Road will be maintained.

  Access to the existing riverside pedestrian walkway between Fitzgerald’s Park/Ferry Walk and Western Road/ Thomas Davis Bridge will be also maintained subject to normal time restrictions.

Design/Construction Team

   Cork City Council appointed a multi-disciplinary Design Team with experience in the repair and rehabilitation of heritage and protected structures. This Design Team includes RPS Consulting Engineers, with offices in Ballincollig, JCA Conservation Architects, based locally at Sunday’s Well Road, Corrosion Solutions & Inspection Services from Dublin as well as in-house expertise.

  Cork City Council recently appointed L&M Keating Ltd. of Kilmihil, Co. Clare, as main contractor for the works. L&M Keating Ltd. has recently completed construction of the Mary Elmes Bridge providing pedestrian and cyclist access between Merchant’s Quay and St. Patrick’s Quay in Cork City.

Work Chronology:

   It is anticipated that works will commence in mid August. The contractor’s site compound will be setup on the south bank of the river at Ferry Walk, directly adjacent to the north western corner of Fitzgerald’s Park.

   The main bridge structure will be dismantled in sections, as per originally assembled, and lowered onto a barge. This will make the handling and transportation process more manageable and safer. The barge will be moved to the south bank where each of the sections will be lifted separately onto a flatbed transporter and taken to the off-site specialist workshop.

  Once delivered to the specialist workshop, each of the bridge sections will be extensively cleaned with all corrosion removed.  Defective steelwork will be repaired followed by the application of a protective coating and layered repainting under factory conditions. In accordance with Conservation Best Practice the guiding philosophy for these works will be to conserve as found.  It is intended to return the bridge to site in sections as previously removed and re-erect as per the dismantling process in reverse.

   Once the main bridge structure has been dismantled and removed, both remaining bridge towers will be encapsulated to prevent any material from entering the adjacent watercourse. Works to each tower will be undertaken in-situ, commencing with extensive cleaning and removal of corrosion. Defective steelwork will be repaired followed by the application of a protective coating and layered repainting. During the same time period, the existing suspension cables will be removed and replaced with new cables currently being manufactured in Italy.

   Dismantling the bridge for repair off-site under factory conditions is considered best practice and has been undertaken successfully on a number of similar bridge schemes across Europe.


Notes to Editor:

   Daly (Shakey) Bridge is a single-span steel suspension bridge which spans the north channel of the River Lee in Cork City and provides pedestrian access between Sunday’s Well to the north and Fitzgerald’s Park and Ferry Walk in the Mardyke area to the south.

   Completed in 1926 and opened in 1927, it was constructed by the London-based David Rowell & Company of Westminster in London to a specification of Stephen W. Farrington, the then Cork City Engineer. It was then, and still is the only suspension bridge in Cork City. Built to replace an old ferry crossing at the location, the bridge takes its official name from Cork businessman James Daly, who contributed to the cost of construction.

   Daly’s Bridge is included on Cork City Council’s Record of Protected Structures (PS722) and is recorded on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (ref. 20866038), where it has Artistic, Historical, Social and Technical categories of special interest, and a Regional significance rating.


Daly's Bridge, Cork

25 Jul 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 25 July 2019

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1007a. Portrait of Mary Harris aka Mother Jones

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 25 July 2019

Mother Jones Festival and Summer School 2019


      The eighth Spirit of Mother Jones festival and Summer School will take place in and around the Shandon Historic Quarter from Wednesday 31 July until Saturday 3 August 2019.  The festival celebrates the life and achievements of Cork woman, Mary Harris. She was born in the Shandon area in 1837 and went on to become Mother Jones, known as the “most dangerous woman in America” due to her activism on behalf of the miners, and exploited workers.

    Over 30 events will be held, and will include dozens of participants from the US, UK and from all over Ireland. Events include the summer school itself as well as a host of singers, poets, films, book launches, music and the traditional toast at the Mother Jones plaque to conclude the festival. One of the principal highlights will be the very first performance and recreation on the streets of Shandon of the historic March of the Mill Children led by Mother Jones in July 1903.  In cooperation with Cork Community Art Link and the Blarney Street Foróige group, the Festival committee have organised a pageant to celebrate this huge event in US history, which highlighted the exploitation of young children who were forced to work in the mines, mills and factories of America at the beginning of the twentieth century.

     Of local Cork interest is the talk on John Swiney, the United Irishman whose woollen shop on Shandon Street was the headquarters of the United Irishmen in Cork in the 1790s. This year coincides with the 175th anniversary of the year of his death. Historian Dr Kieran Groeger will provide an account of this amazing character, lost in Irish history.

    John Swiney was born in Cork on 7 August 1773 and as a young man along with the Sheares Brothers and many others he became interested in the radical ideas and writings such as The Declaration of the Rights of Man emanating from the French Revolution. He joined the increasingly active United Irishmen in Cork. A woollen draper by trade, his shop was located near the junction of Shandon Street and Blarney Street. This shop became a centre of operations, an unofficial headquarters for the United Irishmen in Cork City and witnessed many coming and goings of activists in the mid-1790s. Citizens of Cork witnessed much civil unrest in this period with transportation for life being the regular punishment for persons administering the oath of the United Irishmen.

   Some 4000 men in Cork city had joined the United Irishmen at that time and John Swiney was one of the main leaders. Indeed, John Swiney had earlier joined Lord Donoughmore’s Loyal Cork Legion and militia to learn about military tactics.  He effectively operated as an intelligence officer for the United Irishmen, which was then seeking assistance from the French government for an invasion. On the ground he campaigned against tithes and linked up to the agrarian land disturbances especially in East Cork at this time. However, the Cork United Irishmen was riven with spies, his activities and his shop were watched by the authorities. He was arrested on 28 March 1798 while visiting Roger O’Connor in Cork Jail. On the same day, two soldiers from the Dublin County Militia were executed in the City. James Murphy and Patrick Halvey were charged with sedition, found guilty and shot at the camp field on the present day Mardyke. John Swiney had earlier distributed handbills among the militia asking them to refuse to execute their colleagues. John’s importance was such that he was immediately transported to Dublin on 29 March.

    John Swiney was eventually sent to the bleak Fort George outside Inverness in Scotland as well as twenty other leaders of the United Irishmen including Roger O’Connor (the father of Chartist leader, Feargus O’Connor) and Arthur O’Connor of West Cork, Thomas Russell (born in Dromahane, Co Cork) and Thomas Addis Emmet, whose father Dr Robert Emmet worked among the poor of Cork for many years.

     John Swiney’s shop on Shandon Street was purchased by Cornelius Swiney of Coolroe who continued to trade in woollen goods from the premises. After more than three years in prison John was released and banished from Ireland and sent to Hamburg in Germany. However, he had not given up on his dreams of a rebellion. A year later, John Swiney slipped quietly back to Cork following an invitation from Robert Emmet to lead Cork in the 1803 uprising. Amidst the disaster and retribution which followed the brief uprising in Dublin, the authorities arrested over 40 people in and around County Cork.  John Swiney found refuge in Cork City, probably with the help of Cooper Penrose at Woodhill (Sarah Curran and Lord Edward Fitzgerald both found refuge there) and fled again from Crosshaven in Cork Harbour to France where he delivered the news to Thomas Addis Emmet in Paris of his brother’s recent execution in Dublin. Along with many other Irish refugees after the failed rebellions, John joined the Irish Legion established by Napoleon in 1803 and was given the rank of captain.

 John Swiney died in October 1844 and is buried in the cemetery of St Martin-Des-Champs in Morlaix.

    The talk entitled “The Extraordinary Life of John Swiney, the United Irishman from Shandon” by Dr Kieran Groeger will take place at 2.30pm Thursday 2 August 2019 at the Cathedral Visitors Centre. See www.motherjonescork.com for more information on other events.


1007a. Portrait of Mary Harris/ Mother Jones (source: Robert Shetterly)

1007b. Mother Jones plaque at Shandon, unveiled in 2012 (source: www.motherjonescork.com)


1007b. Mother Jones plaque at Shandon, unveiled in 2012

23 Jul 2019

Ursuline Convent SHD An Bord Pleanála, 22 July 2019

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Ursuline Convent Housing works have been granted permission :( by An Bord Pleanála with 16 pages of conditions- thanks to all locals who fought the case.

There was a concerted huge effort by residents in Blackrock and surrounds asking for the scaling back of the development- People are not against housing but there have been huge concerns on the traffic which will move through a small avenue with two local schools and onto an even narrower Blackrock Road; there were other concerns as well regarding the visual design and the building heights – it seems to me that housing density is ruling the decision making process – that the ruling is the more apartments and houses the better on a small site.

The upcoming review of the Strategic Housing Development cannot come sooner enough in my opinion. For me I just find the voices and concerns of local people are being lost in the decision-making process.

Ursuline Convent SHD Decision Document, July 2019

21 Jul 2019

First Call Out: Cllr Kieran McCarthy’s National Heritage Week 2019

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Saturday 17 August 2017 – Historical Walking Tour of Cork City Hall with Kieran, 11am, ticketed (free, part of Cork Heritage Open Day; duration: 75 minutes; details at www.corkheritageopenday.ie)

Sunday 18 August 2019, Cork Through the Ages, An introduction to the historical development of Cork City with Kieran; meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours).

Monday 19 August 2018, Shandon Historical Walking Tour with Kieran, explore Cork’s most historic quarter; meet at North Gate Bridge, Shandon Street, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours).


Tuesday 20 August 2019, The Victorian Quarter; historical walking tour with Kieran of the area around St Patrick’s Hill – Wellington Road and McCurtain Street; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)


Thursday 22 August 2019, The Lough and its Curiosities; historical walking tour with Kieran; meet at green area at northern green of The Lough, entrance of Lough Road to The Lough; 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours)

Friday 23 August 2019, Douglas and its History, historical walking tour with Kieran in association with Douglas Tidy Towns; Discover the history of industry and the development of this historic village, meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre, 6.45pm (free, duration: two hours, circuit of village, finishes nearby).

Saturday 24 August 2019, Park Stories, Historical walking tour of Fitzgerald’s Park with Kieran, explore the history of Cork’s Mardyke, which is celebrating its 300th birthday this year; meet at band stand in park, opposite Cork City Museum, 11am (free, duration: two hours).

18 Jul 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 18 July 2019

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1006a. Plan of Cork Waterworks, c.1900


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 18 July 2019

Tales from 1919: The Work of the Waterworks


    In the western corner of the Old Cork Waterworks on Lee Road lies a weighing scales for deliveries of coal. Coal came up a back cobbled laneway into the complex. One hundred years ago in mid-July 1919 Cork Corporation’s Waterworks committee met with councillors. The Resident Engineer Mr Michael O’Riordan reported that the coal contractor had just delivered about 240 tons of Lancashire coal from the Collins Green pit. After using some of it, he stopped delivery, finding it very difficult to keep up the steam pressure needed to drive the engine room. In his view it was the worst coal ever supplied to the pumping station. The contract was for the best double-screened Welsh Tredegar steam goal, and the contractor informed him that he could not get it due to shortage.  Mr O’Riordan felt that the case should be brought before the Coal Controller, Dublin, to ask him to explain the railways in Cork were being supplied with Welsh steam coal, whilst the Waterworks, was not.

   Mr H G Burgess, Director of Cross-Channel Transportation and Coal Controller’s Department, wrote to the secretary of the Waterworks Committee noting that no restriction had been placed on the transportation to the Southern Coal Company of double screened Tredegar Monmouthshire steam coal. The company had in 1919 exported 2,345 tons more coal more than in the corresponding period of 1917. He deemed there was no excuse why the stocks of the Cork Waterworks had not been kept up. He claimed that the Southern Coal Company may have wrongly distributed their coal and there were unlimited supplies. Mr Burgess further relayed that he was to write to his Cork representative – Mr Buckley, 118 Patrick Street, Cork to go into the whole question with Mr Young, secretary of the Southern Area Coal Control Committee.

   Resident Engineer Michael Riordan began his career as a draftsman on Haulbowline Island under the British Regime. He won the post of Resident Engineer at the Cork Waterworks in an open job competition. During his period of work he was directly responsible for many important changes in the system being wrought by the City Engineer, Mr Henry Cutler and his successor Mr J F Delany. One of the changes was the installation of large turbines upon which the city was largely dependent for its excellent supply of water.

   Reports from the work of the Waterworks from 1900 to 1912 survive in Local Studies in Cork City Library and are supplemented by historical research by Dr Colin in his great book, The Industrial Archaeology of Cork City. In a report in spring 1902 the then City Engineer, Henry A Cutler, detailed to the waterworks committee of the existing state of the pumping machinery plant. He highlighted that the Cornish engine boilers were “unfit for further use” and were being “worked at risk”. Mr Cutler supplied tables showing the functioning of both the water and steam-powered plant. In 1902 Mr Cutler’s findings were agreed with by J H Ryan, president of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland, and Henry Davey, a mechanical engineer. Both were asked by the waterworks committee to investigate the condition of the pumping station. They noted that the steam plant was “of an obsolete and antiquated description, and from long wear and tear is in a very bad condition, requiring constant and careful attention to keep it in a working order”. In concluding their report, they further observed that the existing arrangements for supplying the city with water were “not only unsatisfactory, but critical”.

   In acting on Mr Cutler’s advice, the Waterworks committee by September of 1902 was already receiving tenders for the new pumping engines – Triple Expansion Vertical Engines. Robert Merrick, a Cork iron founder, made arrangements with Combe Barbour of Belfast to provide him with the necessary engines which he would install using local labour. Merrick had tendered for the manufacture of the engines and met the committee’s wish that a local manufacturer should receive this most important project. It was not until mid-1904 that the two large engines were under construction at Combe Barbour’s Belfast works. The engines were completed by 1905 but as late as April 1906 only one of the low-level engines had been installed, whilst that of the second was underway. By August 1906 all of the work had almost been completed. In February of 1907 that the old plant was finally shut down, and the new steam plant became fully operational.

   In 1919 the total population of the city supplied with water was 91,250. The area supplied was divided into four districts, three of which, North, Centre and South Districts derived their supply from a Low-Level Reservoir. The Fourth district, which was the high-level district was supplied from the High-Level Reservoir. Circa 4.3m gallons per day were extracted from a culvert connected to the river complete with a filtration system of sand and gravel. The demand for general domestic use in the city alone was in excess of three million gallons. Nonetheless, the filter tunnel was able to cater for the demand of the city up until 1928, by which time four rapid gravity and sand filters had been added to the system. By 1919, through leaks and wastage, the Waterworks department estimated that almost 50 per cent of the supply was wasted and Waterworks reports record continuous attempts to inform the population of the need to conserve water for the proper running of the city’s water supply.

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


1006a. Plan of Cork Waterworks, c.1900 (source: Old Cork Waterworks)

1006b. Triple Expansion Vertical Engines at the Old Cork Waterworks, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

12 Jul 2019

Update, Event Centre, July 2019

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BAM submits significant further information on the Cork Events Centre- a long drawn out saga, which is hopefully getting closer to its end game.


11 Jul 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 11 July 2019

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1005a. Mr Edward Grace of Messrs Ford’s Tractor Works sits on the first Fordson tractor to roll off the assembly line, 3 July 2019

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 11 July 2019

Tales from 1919: The First Fordson Tractor


    In late June 1919, citizens of Cork welcomed the announcement that Mr Edward Grace, Managing Director with a party of engineers from Messrs Ford’s Tractor Works had arrived in Cork to expedite the completion of the Marina factory. There were visible signs of big developments at the works. The glass roof on the newly erected iron work was making rapid progress as well as the installation of the large amounts of glass work in the main buildings. The First World War was deemed responsible for the building delay. Many cargoes of materials such as steel fell victim to submarines attacks off the Irish coast.

    By 3 July 1919, the first Ford tractor left the assembly line. An obligatory commemorative picture was taken at the time. In addition, the Cork Examiner carried a notice that from 30 June 1919 hours and pay were posted up at the office of the tractor works. The work hours were Monday to Friday inclusive, 8am to 4.30pm with a half hour lunch break from 12.30 to 1pm. Saturday’s hours were 8am to 12pm. The total working hours were therefore 44 per week. The minimum rate per hour paid at the works for men over 18 were 2s 5d with a share of profits per hour set at 3d. The total rate per hour was 1s 8d. For boys under 18, wages were 6d per hour with share of profits set at nil. Profit sharing was based on good conduct and was paid at the discretion of the company. It was also subject to employment for at least six months. Male office staff over 18 were paid 1s 5d per hour and a share of the profits at 6d per hour. Female office staff over 18 were paid 1s per hour with 3d share of the profits. Girls under 18 in the office were paid per hour with no share of the profit.

   By the end of 1919, 303 Fordson tractors had been built at the Cork factory. During 1920, which was the first full year of production, 3,626 tractors were produced. The sum of £327,000 was also spent on a machine shop, foundry expansion, new wharves and equipment. The sale of the Fordsons was primarily in Ireland and Britain. Large numbers were shipped to Bordeaux, Cadiz, Copenhagen, Romania and the Near East.

   In April 1920, the acquisition of Henry Ford & Son, the company, from the Ford family by directors of the Detroit Ford Company, meant disorganisation in sales strategies. Fordson tractors that were previously sold by specialist dealers were now been sold by car and truck agents with limited knowledge of the product. The tractor venture became more and more uneconomical. World markets also suffered depression and many European countries adopted a protectionist approach. Tariff and currency barriers also made exporting difficult. Political unrest on the Irish scene hampered the consistent arrival of workers to the plant every day.

   Edward Grace, managing director, realising that it was uneconomic and unwise for the Cork factory to rely on tractor production noted a number of home truths. The high cost of establishing the Cork factory and maintaining an efficient work force meant that it was cheaper for European distributors to buy Fordson tractors in New York and ship them across the Atlantic, rather than purchase them in Cork. Grace’s solution to the profit problem was logical. Manchester needed extra production facilities for Model T cars. Cork had a machine shop and foundry that were not being used to their full capacity. To get parts made in Dearborn, Michigan would have been cheaper but freight costs from the States was more expensive than exporting from Cork to Britain where there would be no import duty. This was due to Ireland’s part of the United Kingdom.

   By August 1921, the foundry at the Cork plant was producing all Manchester’s cast-iron requirements, including the engine. However, in 1921, tractor output from Cork fell to 1,433. The plant could only operate economically with 1,600 men. The 1918 Corporation lease of the land had specified that Fords provide work for 2,000 Cork workers. In February 1922, Cork Corporation ordered the Company to comply with the terms of the lease or face expulsion. The directors of Henry Ford & Son opposed the rationale claiming that the economic and political climate had changed radically within three years of the company setting up in Cork. Cork Corporation backed down from their requests.

    During the rest of 1922, the Cork company narrowed its tractor operation by clearing its stocks and building another 2,233 Fordsons. On 29 December 1922, the 7,605th Cork-built tractor came off the line. Edward Grace assembled all the equipment used in Tractor manufacture and shipped everything to Dearborn, Michigan. The Cork factory now focussed on being an assembly plant, producing cars for the Irish market. In fact, in the early 1920s, whilst a Ford factory was being built in England, Cork also manufactured components for the home and export markets. Cork manufactured Model T parts and supplied both UK’s Trafford Park and the Continental Ford Plants with all their requirements of engines and rear axles up until 1927 when the European production of the Model T ceased.


Upcoming historical walking tours:

Saturday 13 July 2019, The Victorian Quarter; historical walking tour with Kieran of the area around St Patrick’s Hill – Wellington Road and McCurtain Street; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 11am (free, duration: two hours).

Sunday 14 July 2019, 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, 2.30pm (free, duration: two hours).



1005a. Mr Edward Grace of Messrs Ford’s Tractor Works sits on the first Fordson tractor to roll off the assembly line, 3 July 2019 (source: Cork City Library).

1005b. Workers in the machine shop of Messrs Ford’s Tractor Works in August 1921 (source: Cork City Library).


1006b. Triple Expansion Vertical Engines at the Old Cork Waterworks, present

10 Jul 2019

Kieran’s Historical Walking Tours, 13-14 July 2019

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Saturday 13 July 2019, The Victorian Quarter; historical walking tour with Kieran of the area around St Patrick’s Hill – Wellington Road and McCurtain Street; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 11am (free, duration: two hours).

Sunday 14 July 2019, 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, 2.30pm (free, duration: two hours).