Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 18 April 2024

1249a. Nicholas O'Dwyer, c.1924 (source: National Library, Dublin).

1249a. Nicholas O’Dwyer, c.1924 (source: National Library, Dublin).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 18 April 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – The Cork Corporation Inquiry

On 21 August 1924 in the Council Chamber of the Cork Corporation, Mr Nicholas O’Dwyer, Chief Engineering Inspector Local Government Department, opened a sworn inquiry into the performance of the duties of Cork Corporation.

Limerick born Nicholas O’Dwyer (1895-1956) studied engineering at University College, Dublin, graduating in 1916, and followed a post-graduate course from 1916 to 1917. He was involved in the independence struggle, in which he played an active role as brigade engineer and battalion commander in the East Limerick Brigade. On 8 February 1921 he was appointed an engineering inspector in the pre-Truce Department of Local Government. On 1 July 1922 joined the staff of the new Ministry of Local Government with the same rank.

Under his chairmanship Nicholas O’Dwyer conducted the inquiry into Dublin Corporation across March and April 1924. Such a story and the dissolution of that Corporation has been written about in depth by UCC scholar Dr Aodh Quinlivan. Aodh has also penned a book on the Cork inquiry.

Amongst those present at the Cork inquiry in August 1924 were – The Lord Mayor, Councillor Seán French and members of the Cork Progressive Association. The Cork Examiner in opening the proceedings, notes that Nicholas O’Dwyer read his instructions, which were “to conduct an inquiry into the performance of their duties by the County Borough Council of Cork”. He then dealt with the procedure to be followed at the inquiry. Any ratepayer or representatives of the ratepayers who desired to give evidence would get a full opportunity of doing so. It was his intention to grant an adjournment so that each side would be enabled to prepare its case for presentation at the inquiry. Presentations would also be examined on oath.

Mr Donegan, solicitor for the Cork Progressive Association, asked if the inquiry included evidence of neglect of duty of members of the Corporation. Nicholas O’Dwyer replied that the inquiry would deal with every function of the members of the Corporation.

Mr Barry St J Galvin, City Law Agent, represented the Corporation of Cork. He noted that the perspective the Corporation took was that if they could reasonably believe there would be an “impartial, bona-fide” inquiry, nobody would welcome it more than the Corporation. They believed that the record of their work and the manner in which it was carried out compared very favourably with any Corporation that had managed the affairs of Cork in unbroken sequence since the twelfth century.

Mr Galvin highlighted that certain individuals in Cork had “openly boasted for twelve months back that they would put the Corporation out of office”, and that promises had been given by the Government,“or a highly-placed individual in the Government, that the Corporation was to go out of office”. On behalf of the Corporation, he protested in the strongest manner possible against what they regarded as the “tyrannous action or the Government in deciding in advance to do away with the Corporation of Cork…we were ashamed and humiliated that the Progressive tail was able to wag the Government to the extent that this inquiry should be called”.

Mr Galvin continued that the officials of the Corporation would be at Inspector Nicholas O’Dwyer’s disposal and the records would be before him. Evidence would also be produced to show that “the Corporation had done its work fairly and honestly, and if certain action were taken, it would be for the people of Cork to judge”.

Mr Donegan said he was surprised at the remarks of Mr Galvin. He highlighted that he represented the Cork Progressive Association, whose membership included the merchants and ratepayers of the city, and the vast majority of the ratepayers of Cork welcomed the inquiry. 

Mr Donegan noted that he was seriously concerned with what might be described as the maladministration of the affairs of the city by the present Corporation. He outlined that the Association would put forward as the ‘acid test’ the recent report of the auditor of the Local Government Department, which showed that every department under the control of the Corporation appeared to have been worked on “very reckless and extravagant lines”. He continued “No department showed a profit, but every department a loss. Members of the Cork Progressive Association who would come forward, not in a spirit of antagonism to members of the Corporation, or anyone else, but as public spirited citizens anxious to do a public duty”.

Mr Donegan, on behalf of his members, desired to draw attention to such matters as the disgraceful condition of the roads and the state of the streets, the lack of attention to them and heavy expense that had to be borne in connection with them. He argued that the principal streets were laid with wood pavement at considerable expense, but the condition of those streets had been allowed to deteriorate owing to no supervision or proper attention being devoted to them; “We require a treatment of creosote and sand every two years in order to protect them from the ravages of the weather, and if they got such treatment they would last for a considerable number of years and at a small cost. They have not been so treated, and they were developing pot holes”.

Mr Donegan outlined that he would also critique the extravagant way in which several departments of the Corporation were carried out. One “reckless point of extravagance” he raised was in connection with the burning of the Municipal Buildings and the Carnegie Library by the Black and Tans; “The walls of those handsome and massive buildings wero left standing, and those buildings could have been reinstated, but he was instructed that the massive that constituted the main front wall of the Municipal Buildings was broken up, and workmen wore employed for a considerable time at such work at great expense to the city, though such demolition was wholly unnecessary”.

The Nicholas O’Dwyer inquiry met for nine days with a number of councillors and commercial merchants being interviewed. To be continued…


1249a. Nicholas O’Dwyer, c.1924 (source: National Library, Dublin).

Kieran’s April Tours:

Sunday 21 April, Douglas and its History, historical walking tour; meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre, 1.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required, circuit of village, finishes nearby). 


Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 11 April 2024

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 11 April 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – Calls for a City Administration

Set up in early June 1923, the Cork Progressive Association was formed by businessmen in Cork City. Their intention was to support proper schemes for the housing of the working classes, to lobby for the completion of land purchases, to improve and cheapen transport, and secure resilient administration in the public service. In particular they were dissatisfied with the politics at play at national and local level post the Irish Civil War, which limited progress in Cork Corporation.

By early spring of 1924, the Association’s strong calls for a proper and effective Cork Corporation led them to call for a national inquiry to look at the business and workings of the Corporation. An inquiry came to pass later in August 1924 but the journey to such an action is worth of reflection.

On 1 February 1924 Mr T F O’Leary presided at the weekly meeting of the Executive Committee of the Cork Progressive Association, in their offices at 40, Grand Parade. The Cork Examiner editorial summarised the view of the Association expressed views ranging from dissatisfaction with reforms to lack of street cleansing to problems with water supply; “Great dissatisfaction was again expressed at the manner in which the affairs of the Cork Corporation were being administered. Not only is there excessive waste in almost every department of the Corporation, but the officials are often transferred when they endeavour to carry out reforms. The streets for months past have been kept in a filthy condition; the scavenging is not satisfactory and excessively costly, the water is reported as impure, and the whole system is defective”.

The question of high rates was also raised; “The rates are now so high – in fact, even higher than last year – that the burden on the city is almost unbearable, and there is a universal feeling that the Government, in order to protect the ratepayers, should at once appoint a Commission of Experts to inquire into the whole of municipal administration”.

Over the next few weeks, the Cork Progressive Association explored the business management schemes for some towns in England and the United States. By 22 February 1924, their first collection of data of sites in the latter countries was presented to their Executive Committee. The committee was interested in the uniformity and administration and the non-clashing of one department with another and the saving in expenses. It was found that in some of these places a manager was appointed to carry out the general administration and necessary public works in conjunction with municipal representatives, all under one head, and coordinated.

A letter was read from the Town Clerk’s office in Leeds. There the City Council in 1914 authorised the appointment of a commercial manager that of a Mr JB Hamilton who also ran the cities tramways services. He did not superintend the work of the Corporation, but was responsible for the coordination of conditions of labour in the various departments. He also controlled the highways and cleansing departments. Mr Hamilton as commercial manager acted as an executive officer of the General Purposes Committee of Leeds council. That committee was appointed for the purpose of dealing with hours, wages and conditions of labour of all workmen employed in the Corporation departments.

The commercial manager obtained uncollated information as to comparable work in other towns and the conditions pertaining to private employers in the city and with trade unions where standard rates of pay have been established. The letter continued; “The information has been invaluable to the committee in assisting them to maintain uniformity of treatment between the various departments of the corporation and outside employment. The commercial manager is also responsible for the distribution and supply of labour to the various departments and the arrangement has been found beneficial in observing any over staffing issues”.

Amongst the correspondence read was a letter from Mr Earl C Elliott, President of the City Managers’ Association, United States. Established in 1914 as the City Managers’ Association, it worked with the National Civic League with support from US President Theodore Roosevelt, and others. The organisation’s core aim was to help professionalise local government and create reforms to reduce corruption. In 1924, the organisation changed its name to the International City Managers’ Association.

Mr Elliott in his letter to the Cork Progressive Association noted that the Association was correct in the assumption that a number of important cities in the United States were being administered by a city manager, under what was known as the Commission manager form of government. It was a form followed, in a general way through methods and organisations used by American business corporations. A small non-partisan Board of Directors was elected by the people at stated intervals; “The Board of Directors employ an executive, who is called ‘City manager.’ and who is in complete charge of the administration of the affairs of the city. The directors’ function is legislative only. The Manager employs and removes all men who are employed or dismissed, and has complete control, under the Board of Directors. of the enforcement of the ordinances and the conduct of the city’s affairs”.

  The letter continued that more than 300 cities in the United States and Canada were operating under the Commissioner form plan. It was found to be equally successful in a City of a million inhabitants and in a city of 2,000 inhabitants. Mr Elliott noted in his letter that the idea is growing very rapidly in the United States; “It would appear now that within a comparatively short time most of the important cities will be operating under the plan. Of all cities that have tried the plan in the United States, less than half a dozen have abandoned it”.

The Cork Progressive Association kept pressure on central government until an inquiry was called into the governance of Cork Corporation and this began in August 1924 (more in the next few weeks).


1248a. Offices of Cork Progressive Association were just on the right of this c.1920 postcard (source: Cork City Reflections by Kieran McCarthy & Dan Breen).

Kieran’s April Tours (free, two hours):

Sunday 14 April 2024, The City Workhouse, historical walking tour, meet just inside the gates of St Finbarr’s Hospital, Douglas Road, 1.30pm, free, two hours, on site tour

Sunday 21 April 2024, Douglas and its History, historical walking tour, meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre, 1.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required, circuit of village, finishes nearby). 

Kieran’s Historical Walking Tours, April 2024

Sunday 14 April, The City Workhouse, historical walking tour, meet just inside the gates of St Finbarr’s Hospital, Douglas Road, in association with Cork Lifelong Learning Festival, 1.30pm, free, two hours, on site tour, no booking required.

Sunday 21 April, Douglas and its History, historical walking tour; meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre, 1.30pm finishes nearby, no booking required.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 4 April 2024

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 4 April 2024

Launch of the Ballycannon Boys Memorial Park

This article is another follow up of articles I have written in recent years on the Ballycannon Boys memorial. In recent weeks the Ballycannon Boys Memorial Park, created by local community group of Clogheen/ Kerry Pike Community Association, has been unveiled. The park complements the nearby memorial (1945) and honours the memory of six young IRA men that were killed by Black and Tans on 23 March 1921.

The six men killed were Daniel Crowley of Blarney Street (aged 22), William Deasy of Mount Desert, Blarney Road (aged 20 years), Thomas Dennehy of Blarney Street (aged 21 years), Daniel Murphy of Orrey Hill (aged 24 years), Jeremiah O’Mullane of Blarney Street (aged 23), and Michael O’Sullivan of Blarney Street (aged 20 years).

The new and detailed information panels in the park highlight that early in the morning of the 23 March, a number of lorries left police barracks in Cork loaded with Black and Tans, British born recruits to the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) who wore khaki uniforms & the black belts and caps of the RIC. The Black and Tans were feared for their ruthlessness and lack of discipline. The lorries drove out to Kerry Pike where the Tans dismounted and made their way silently over the road, crossing the fields, approaching and surrounding the O’Keeffe farmyard. They banged on the front door demanding admittance, and having woken the terrified household began searching the house, then spread out to search the outbuildings, catching the six young men asleep and unarmed in the tack room next to the stables.

What happened next is contested, but it appears that some of the six young men were dragged outside and mistreated as the police demanded to know where they had hidden their arms. There was an attempted break-out as they tried to escape through the surrounding fields. But a cordon had been posted and one by one the young men were picked off in a hail of high velocity rifle fire and revolver bullets. Some of the bodies were horribly mutilated, some showed marks of having been shot at close range.

When the firing ceased, six bodies were wrapped in blankets and carried down to the road, through the field, where they were loaded in the lorries and brought back to the military barracks. According to evidence given later by Cornelius O’Keeffe, who was taken prisoner and brought along, one of the victims was still alive when put into the lorry.

The Ballycannon tragedy must also be viewed in the broader context of what was happening elsewhere. During the eight months leading up until the Truce of July 1921, there was a spiralling of the death toll in the conflict, with 1,000 people including the RIC police, British military, IRA volunteers and civilians, being killed in the months between January and July 1921 alone. This represents about 70% of the total casualties for the entire three-year conflict. In addition, 4,500 IRA personnel (or suspected sympathisers) were interned in this time.In the middle of this violence, the Dáil formally declared war on Britain in March 1921. Between 1 November 1920 and 7 June 1921 twenty four men were executed by the British.

On 19 March 1921, four days before the Kerrypike incident Tom Barry’s 100-strong West Cork IRA unit fought a large-scale action against 1,200 British troops – the Crossbarry Ambush. Barry’s men narrowly avoided being trapped by converging British columns and inflicted between ten and thirty killed on the British side. About 100 Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteers escaped an attempt by over 1,300 British forces to encircle them. During the hour-long battle three to six IRA volunteers were killed.

Michael Murphy who was a Commandant in the 2nd Battalion Cork No. 1 Brigade in his witness statement for the Bureau of Military History (WS1547) noted that in the case of the Ballycannon six that information was given to the military by a former comrade of the boys, a man named Patrick “Cruxy” O’Connor; “All our intelligence service vas alerted for information leading to the person who ‘tipped off’ the British as to the location of the Volunteer dugout. Finally, the informer was discovered to be a man named Connors who was actually a comrade of the murdered Volunteers at one time and who, possibly for monetary reward, decided to sell his friends”.

Michael writes that Patrick O’Connor went into hiding in the military barracks, Cork. Day and night, a watch was kept for him by Volunteers, but he never left the barracks. Eventually, we got word that he had gone to New York and, immediately, contact was made ‘with Cork men there to locate him. He was duly found and his address sent on to the Cork Brigade.

Michael notes of the New York assassination attempt; “Two Cork Volunteers Danny Healy and Martin Donovan from my battalion were sent out to New York. They watched for Connors, noted the times of his coming and going from his residence and, one afternoon when Connors opened the door of the house in which he lived, he was confronted by Healy and Donovan carrying revolvers”. Patrick managed to recover from his wounds. He moved to Canada, married an Irish immigrant and had a daughter. He died in 1952, at age 60.


1246a. John Mulcahy, historian, speaking at the launch of the Ballycannon Boys Memorial Park, 23 March 2024 (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 28 March 2024

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 28 March 2024

Leo Murphy’s Shaving Kit 1921

Recently Cork Public Museum marked the return to Cork of a small shaving kit used by Commandant Leo Murphy who died at the hands of Crown Forces during the War of Independence in 1921. 

Leo Murphy had been targeted by Crown Forces for his role as Commander of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Cork Brigade and his involvement in numerous notable IRA activities in the area, including the killing of British intelligence officer Captain Joseph Thompson in November 1920. He was shot and killed by soldiers from the Manchester Regiment during a surprise raid on a secret IRA meeting at O’Donovan’s Pub (now O’Shea’s) in Waterfall, on the outskirts of the city, on 27 June 1921. As Murphy lay dead at the side of the road, his pockets were searched, and the contents kept as ‘souvenirs of war’.

One of the items removed was a small personal shaving kit used by Leo Murphy while on the run. It ended up in display in the Manchester Regiment Museum in the town hall of Ashton-under-Lyne, in Tameside, Greater Manchester. The museum recently closed, and the Manchester Regiment Collection passed to the care of the Portland Basin Museum in Tameside.

Last year, Cork Public Museum Curator Dan Breen contacted his counterpart in the Portland Basin Museum, Rachel Crnes to enquire about the possibility of arranging the loan of the shaving kit for display in Cork. 

The descendants of Walter ‘Leo’ Murphy came to the museum for a private viewing of the shaving kit before it goes on public display. The shaving kit will be displayed in the museum’s War of Independence exhibition, By Every Means at Our Command, alongside one of Leo Murphy’s hats, which was previously donated to Cork Public Museum.

  Leo Murphy was born in his family’s The White Horse public house in Ballincollig in 1901. In 1917, he joined the Irish Republican movement and became a youth member in Fianna Éireann. In 1920 Cork Volunteer Headquarters sent Leo as a quartermaster, organiser and military trainer to the 3rd Battalion. The training consisted mostly of drill at first for the purpose of discipline and as the Company gradually increased in strength by twos and threes from the original six it was able to be organised on a proper basis.

Tim Herlihy in a witness statement (W810) for the Bureau of Military History, describes that he was a former founder members of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Cork Brigade. Tim outlines that in the autumn of 1920, after Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, had died on hunger strike in Brixon Prison in London, the 3rd Battalion in force attended his funeral in Cork. It was reckoned that the Battalion paraded over 500 strong.

At this time after nightfall shots were fired occasionally about 200 yards from the Military Barracks at Ballincollig just to keep the military guessing. Tim further explains that the usual patrols followed, but there was an Intelligence System in operation in the Barracks, carried out by the local Volunteers. They sent out word to the Volunteers prior to the military moving out of the Barracks.

Tim highlights that there was a Captain Thompson, Intelligent Officer Manchester Regiment, who used to go into shops and houses in Ballincollig village brandishing a revolver and saying that if anything happened to him “the village would go up”. In November 1920, Thompson was seized at Carrigrohane on his motor bike and shot dead, his arms and bike being taken”. No reprisals took place but there was tension for a while. Captain Thompson was shot dead by Leo Murphy and two other Volunteers on the Model Farm Road. Thompson had previously violently raided Leo Murphy’s mother’s house.

Thompson was succeeded as Intelligence Officer by Captain Vining. It was he who shot Leo Murphy on 27 June 1921, just a fortnight before the Truce. Leo Murphy was then Officer-in- Command, 3rd Battalion, having succeeded Tim Herlihy, who was taken prisoner by the British.

On acting on information supplied to him on Leo Murphy’s movements, he and approx five other British Officers drove up in a car to Donovan’s public house at Waterfall one evening and surrounded the house. Tim Herlihy in his statements relates: “There were about forty-four in all in the pub, the great majority of whom were elderly men who had been attending a bowling match in the locality. Of all the crowd there were only a few Volunteers. Two of them escaped, but Leo Murphy, who tried to shoot his way out, was shot dead. Another Volunteer, Charlie Daly, who was unarmed, was taken away by Captain Vining and his party and his dead body was found at Douglas the next morning. He had been shot. Daly belonged to the 2nd Battalion (Cork City)”.

In mid-January this year, as Lord Mayor, I travelled with Dan Breen to Tameside to officially receive the shaving kit taken by Captain Vinning and the Manchester Regiment and to bring it home to Cork. I visited Dukinfield Town Hall and was greeted by Dublin-born Deputy Mayor of Tameside, Cllr. Betty Affleck, and executive leader, Cllr. Gerald Cooney (also of Irish descent).

Cork Public Museum Curator, Dan Breen on the occasion noted: “Cork City Council and Cork Public Museum would like to acknowledge the help and support given to the handover by their colleagues in Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council and the Portland Basin Museum. The return of the shaving kit to Cork brings closure to one chapter of Irish War of Independence but it highlights the complex history shared by the cities of Cork and Manchester and acknowledges the potential for future collaborations to better understand it”

From his early days in Fianna Éireann, Leo Murphy’s story was one of courage and resilience. His promotion to quarter master of the 3rd Battalion by the age of nineteen in 1920, is an indication of his leadership qualities and the high esteem in which he was held by all within the Cork IRA. The commemoration of his life and times in our time shines a spotlight on his leadership and sacrifice. It also, through the Tameside Museum side, showcases why we need to keep searching for objects and documents associated with our War of Independence to make sure the full story is told.

My sincere thanks to Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council for their courtesy and co-operation and to Cork Public Museum for their consistent guardianship of Cork’s past. The shaving kit can be viewed by the public at Cork Public Museum.


1246. Shaving kit of Leo Murphy, 1921 (picture: Cork Public Museum).

Lord Mayor Cllr McCarthy Launches his Local Election Campaign, 23 March 2024

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy, Independent, has confirmed his attention to run in the forthcoming local elections on Friday 7 June. He has once again chosen to run in the south east local electoral area of Cork City which includes the Douglas area. The south east area extended from Albert Road through Ballinlough, Ballintemple, Blackrock, Mahon and takes in Douglas Village, Donnybrook, Rochestown and Mount Oval districts. 

First elected in 2009 Cllr McCarthy has won three terms of office in Cork City Hall on an Independent platform. In launching his manifesto this week Cllr McCarthy outlined his vision across five policy areas – developing more recreational and amenity sites, moving Cork to become net zero in Carbon emissions, marketing the City Centre and village renewal, local government reform and financial accountability, and continuing his suite of community and history projects. 

At the launch of his campaign Cllr McCarthy noted his broad range of interests from community development, city planning, culture and history, village renewal environmental issues and regional development. “Over the past fifteen years I have gained much experience in local government and in particular during my year as Lord Mayor. In City Hall, I continue to fight the corner of my constituents . My website and social media sites showcase my work pursued and achieved over the past decade. It also sets out my stall of interests and what an Independent strong voice can offer local government plus a vision for Cork City’s future in working with local communities. Collaboration with local people is very important to me”.

“Over the past fifteen years I have created and curated several community projects including local history programmes in local schools, a youth community talent competition, a youth Make a Model Boat project. I also founded Cork City Musical Society for adults. I also run free historical walking tours regularly across over 25 Cork City suburban sites.  Against the backdrop of very busy Lord Mayor’s schedule I look forward to meeting people again at the doors over the next few weeks, and if anyone would like to help with my campaign in any shape of form, it would be greatly appreciated”, concluded Lord Mayor Cllr McCarthy.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 21 March 2024

1245a. Cork Milling Company's Marina Mills, 1936 (source: Cork City Library).
1245a. Cork Milling Company’s Marina Mills, 1936 (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 21 March 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – Grain Silos at South Docks

It is the end of an era as the iconic grain silos are currently being demolished on Cork’s South Docks. The site has a rich history and heritage dating back over 200 years.

By 1810 Cork had become a big market for flour especially with brewers and distillers. The milling trade has passed through a complete revolution in the process of manufacture during the previous forty years. Up to the years 1875 to 1880 the only method of manufacturing flour was grinding by millstones, the wheat being ground between two flat circular stones.

Cork National Flour Mills: Between 1875 and 1880 Cork became one of the first milling centres in Ireland to adopt the roller process. A number of well-equipped mills in the City and County were constructed, in which some 70,000 tons of wheat were milled annually, and in addition, close on 90,000 tons of maize were ground. A large and landmark mill and warehouse complex known as the Cork National Flour Mills on Cork’s South Docks was built in 1892. The building was revamped, c.1935.

Cork Milling Company: By the time of the Irish Free State government, the Cork Milling Company was formed and took over the Cork National Flour Mills site. It was greatly influenced by the imposition of tariffs on foreign-milled flour, and the Government’s invitation to put up mills within the emerging Free State. The Cork Milling Company, Ltd. comprised John Furlong & Sons (1920) Ltd., Marina Mills, Cork, J. and R Webb, Ltd., Mallow Mills, Mallow and Glandalane Mills, Fermoy; T Hallinan & Sons (1932) Ltd, Avoncore Mills, Midleton; and J W MacMullen & Sons, Ltd., Cork.

New Offices: In September 1932, in order to accommodate adequately their staff, the Cork Milling Company opened new offices on Victoria Quay. The building was erected on an almost triangular site with two street frontages, and the main entrance was placed on the more important Victoria Road. Externally the building has modern tendencies which are accentuated by the shape of the site and the treatment of the first floor. Internally the ground floor was designed to accommodate a very large staff in the general office, which has a floor area of 1,700 sq. feet, with three directors’ rooms in addition.

New Plant: The work of preparing the plans for a building capable of housing a modern flour-milling plant was entrusted to the noted Cork architects, Messrs Chillingworth and Levie, and in September 1933 work began on the erection and completed in July 1934. The contractors for the building were Messrs. John Sisk and Son. According to the Cork Examiner, although there was an original building on the present site, the work entailed a large amount of engineering skill, and, thanks to the Consulting Engineer Mr J L O’Connell, the reusability of adapting the older premises as a mill, was accomplished. The original walls were supported on timber piles. These walls were raised considerably and the original floor area was doubled. In order to ensure a thoroughly substantial job, a complete framework of steel was raised up within the main walls, each stanchion of which was supported by a concrete pile, the idea being to save the original fabric from damage by vibration.

New Grain Silo: In 1934, the Cork Examiner reported that the construction of a twelve thousand five hundred tons Grain Silo was finished at the Marina Mills, Victoria Quay for The Cork Milling Company.

The Company engaged the services of English engineer Mr William Littlejohn Philip, O.B.E., a consulting engineer, whose very extensive knowledge and experience in storing grain in bulk in deep bins was well-known. He was a world expert in the bulk-handling of grain and coal and designed silos in many parts of the world, including Ireland. The imposing structure on Victoria Quay, built to his designs was an outstanding landmark in Cork for its day.

The huge mass of 600 tons of internal steel structure was completed by Messrs. Smith & Pearson, Ltd. of Dublin. A large number of additional and local hands were employed by the concreting contractors to assist and expedite the process of erection.

The foundations and the entire concrete work on the building, to the designs of the consulting engineer, were carried out by Messrs Peter Lind & Company, Ltd., of London.

The method of concreting entails the pouring in of liquid cement simultaneously over the whole area, so that every twenty-four hours the mass rose four feet, and so on, every day, to the top. Sand came from local pits. Four thousand tons of Granite chips were brought by Steamer from Browhead, Goleen. These chips were mixed with several thousand tons of cement and sand, and this concrete was knitted, into one solid mass by thousands of intermingling re-enforcing rods throughout the whole area of the structure.

Second New Mill and Screenhouse: Constructed of the latest type of re-inforced concrete in 1936, the second mill and screenhouse were both five storeys high. The block of buildings were erected by Messrs. P. J. Hegarty and Sons, Builders and Contractors, Upper John Street. The mill  proper had a slated and glass roof and the screenhouse, where the wheat was prepared for the mill, had a flat roof.

Read more on the history of South Docks at my Cork website under history trails.


1245a. Cork Milling Company’s Marina Mills, 1936 (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article, 14 March 2024

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 14 March 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – Progress at the Victoria Hospital

On 18 March 1924, the 46th annual general meeting report was read at the Victoria Hospital and published in the Cork Examiner. It summarises a period of difficulty in operation during the First World War, War of Independence and Irish Civil War and looks towards the future.

The hospital was originally founded as “The County and City of Cork Hospital for the Diseases of Women and Children” which was opened on Union Quay on 4 September 1874. It moved to 46 Pope’s Quay on 31 October 1876 and to its present site on Infirmary Road on 16 September 1885. In 1901 its name was changed to “The Victoria Hospital for Women and Children”. The first male patients were first admitted in 1914. On 17 August 1914 the Hospital was registered under the Companies Acts, 1908 and 1913 under the name of “The Victoria Hospital, Cork (Incorporated)”.  

On 18 March 1924, when the 46th annual report was read, a reflection was given on the journey travelled since 1914. It was noted: “In our case the period of difficulty was further protracted as at a time when in Great Britain the end of hostilities signalled the prospect of improving conditions, the unsettled of our own country, becoming gradually more acute, left us still facing many of the same troubles that the war had brought to us, and, with the consequent departure of so many of our people, added the unforeseen trial of a seriously depleted subscription list. The difficulties were met, and the gaps filled up by the efforts of the members of our ladies’ committee”.  

The report of the ladies’ committee outlined that every endeavour had been made to keep the housekeeping expenses as low as possible, consistent with giving the patients nourishing food, and so helping their treatment and “restoration to health”; The matron, Miss Hyndman, is noted as always diligent to do all she can for the welfare of the hospital. Mrs Hill continued the working of the Tabitha Guild but with great difficulty, as several members had left Ireland. Only twelve garments had been sent into the hospital compared to 56 in 1921. Quilts for the children’s ward were provided out of the cash raised by the committee. Nods of thanks were given to Mrs Ludlow Beamish, Mrs Babington and Mrs Penrose-Fitzgerald, all of whom had long associations with the hospital. 

The report from the medical and surgical staff was well detailed. The number of admissions to the hospital during 1923 was 428 which was an increase of 96 in the number of admissions since the previous year. The number of outpatients attending the external department increased 2,014 as compared with 1907 during the preceding 12 months. The number of operations performed was 357. This also shows an increase of 66 over the number in 1922. During the year there were 14 deaths occurred in the hospital. Of this number 9 patients at the time of admission were suffering from ailments, which from their nature offered little or no hope of ultimate recovery. 

The medical staff suffered a great loss during the year through the death of their esteemed and valued colleague doctor William Edward Ashley Cummins who for forty years worked in the Victoria Hospital. He died at his home Woodville, Glanmire on 18 October 1923, aged 65. He was also Professor of Medicine University College Cork. Born at Blackrock, Cork in 1858, William was educated in Cork, Belfast and Dublin. His work led him to be President of the Cork Medical and Surgical Society and a member of the British Medical Association; He was also a Senior Surgeon with the County and City of Cork Hospital for Women and Children, a Senior Medical Officer Cork District Hospital, Consulting Physician Lying-in Hospital, Cork, and a Consulting Physician Cork Eye and Ear and Throat Hospital.

In December 1924 in memory of the Professor Ashley Cummins, a cot was endowed in the children’s ward at Victoria Hospital by his friends. The cot bore a brass-plate with the following inscription: “A lasting tribute to the memory of the late Prof. W. E. Ashley Cummins, honorary physician to this hospital for a period of years died 18th Oct. 1923.  This bed was endowed in perpetuity by his many friends and grateful patients”. Mrs Jane Cummins also kindly offered to present a photograph of her husband to be hung on the wall of the children’s ward. 

The doctor with his wife Jane had over ten children. One of the children Iris Ashley Cummins (1894-1968) was born on 6 June 1894 in Woodville, Glanmire. On 22 February 2022, the Iris Ashley Cummins Building (formerly Civil Engineering Building) at UCC was named in her honour. In 1915, she was the first female graduate in Engineering at UCC. In 1924 she began private practice in Cork, continuing until 1927. It is speculated that she was the first woman land surveyor employed by the Irish Land Commission. She was the first female Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland (Assoc. M.Inst.CEI). In addition, she an Irish hockey international player.

In March 1928 the annual general meeting report of the Victoria Hospital, as published in the Cork Examiner, showcased figures taken from the annual reports covering a period of ten years. It showed that there has been remarkably little variation in the number of patients.

Most noticeably by the late 1920s are references to philanthropic funding given for new innovative technologies. The 1928 AGM repots highlights a Mr Leycester’s generous help in enabling the hospital to purchase and commence ultra-violet rays treatment. During the early 20th century a violet ray was a medical appliance used to discharge in electrotherapy. In general, their structure had a disruptive discharge coil with an interrupter to apply a high voltage, high frequency, low current to the human body for therapeutic purposes.

On 1 January 1927, a light-therapy department opened with one lamp working. Phototherapy (light therapy) is used in the treatment of skin conditions. Later in the year it was found necessary to purchase and install a second lamp to cope with the steady increase of patients. 136 individual cases were treated, receiving a total of 1,301 exposures.  

The nature of the cases treated was varied, with use upon cases of tuberculosis of the skin, bones, joints, and glands, rickets, debility, anaemia, and a variety of skin affections. The treatment carried out in this department was deemed similar to departments of much larger institutions in the UK.  


1244a. Victoria Hospital, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).