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Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 28 April 2022

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 28 April 2022

Journeys to a Free State: The Potential of the Port

In the spring of 1922, the Cork Harbour Commissioners commissioned Mr George F Nicholson, chief engineer of the Port of Seattle, to come to Cork in order to research and write up a paper on the challenges in the development of the port of Cork in the short term. George gave a public lecture in Cobh on his work in March 1922. His work was also discussed at length in the meetings of the Cork Harbour Commissioners across the Spring of that year.  He pitched a need to invest two million sterling (€145 million today) to modernise port facilities.

In the public lecture, George emphasised the fact that, he was an outside engineer and had no local connections. The Port Commissioners of Seattle granted George a leave of absence, without pay, for from four to six months. The Cork side were interested in the story of the Port of Seattle. The concept of that port had just come into existence on 5 September 1911, by a vote of the people of the Port District. It was created with a view to recovering public control over the waterfront of Seattle. Port construction commenced in 1913 with the establishment of a home port for the local fishermen.  From the beginning, the importance of recognising the waterfront with railroads, warehouses, and industrial sites was crucial.

The Seattle terminal was finished in 1914 and became the Northern Pacific Fishing Fleet’s home of operations. By 1916 Seattle had six separate deep-draft terminals, comprising one for grain and one for refrigerated goods, and a storage facility that held nearly one million gallons of vegetable oil. Seattle swiftly became the leading port on the West Coast in terms of the dollar value of its imports and exports, and it reigned unchallenged in Washington for decades.

George was employed to see if any learnings could be brought from Seattle to Cork Harbour. He opened his talk in Cobh saying that his opinion was unbiased, and his recommendations were made from a purely engineering and traffic standpoint. At the outset, he thought that Cork Harbour should be made a national port, if not the national port of Ireland, by the new Provisional Government. Mr Nicholson stated that the Lower Harbour should be given preference in the future development work, especially developing the rail connections and deep water shipping.

George advocated very strongly in his lecture that the City of Cork and town of Cobh consolidate as one city under one corporate limit. This, he argued, was necessary for the “successful development of Cork Harbour as a whole”. Cork Harbour, he detailed, had a fine opportunity in its new development work, to install more efficient facilities than the surrounding European Ports. But harmonious co-operation between the two communities, acting as one city, with the Harbour Board was vitally essential.

George called for Cork and Cobh to learn from the serious mistakes made by other ports in this regard. He referenced the Atlantic Coast Ports of North America who profited by the mistakes made by the older European ports. In the previous fifteen years the Pacific Ports of North America had learned by the mistakes made by the Atlantic ports.

George pointed out that the upper river harbour in Cork city was not capable of accommodating the evolving size of ships that large steamship companies were standardising upon. There was also a great need at Cork for – (1) transit sheds, where goods could be stored in transit and protected from the weather; (2) shipside tracks, so that freight could be loaded direct between ship and railway wagons without man handling; and (3) mechanical freight handling equipment lor the economical handling of grain, coal, and all miscellaneous cargo.

George highlighted the importance of the entrance channel to the lower harbour was of first and prime importance. He noted that was no use in erecting modern facilities inside the harbour if steamers could not reach them in any kind of weather and at all stages of the tide.

George deemed that the deep water quay at Cobh was impossible for a number of reasons: (1) There was no room for future expansion, there were only 46 acres available, including a large portion of White Point, while at Cuskinny Bay there were several hundred acres. There were also issues in turning large vessels around rocks and at points in the main channel.

The place of Cuskinny Bay as a terminal site for the lower harbour was detailed in the lecture. George proposed that a modern terminal should erected there, and that any boat, large or small, could then berth there in the worst gale. He noted: “The Cuskinny pier would be the means of getting back the mail business going to Northern England and Scotland, as many hours would be saved. Also it would result, in the attracting of new commerce. When you have the passenger traffic, you will also obtain considerable freight traffic”.

George concluded by showing very interesting stereo views of the modern port of Seattle. It was clearly shown in these views the excellent terminals constructed in that port in the previous years at a cost of £3m; as well as the great assortment of mechanical freight handling equipment for which Seattle was noted. It had the reputation of owning and operating more labour-saving devices, in comparison with its number of terminal facilities, than any other port in the United States and Canada. 

In the months that followed, George’s report was sidelined due to the Irish Civil War, but the creation of extra terminal space was kept on the Harbour Commissioner’s agenda but only became a physical reality in the mid to late twentieth century. One could argue that the Ringaskiddy port development in today’s context was inspired by a multitude of reports such as the Nichols report commissioned through the past century.

Caption:

1148a. Postcard of Cork Harbour from Queenstown, now Cobh c.1910 from Cork Harbour Through Time by Kieran McCarthy & Dan Breen.

Kieran’s Press, Shakey Bridge & YouTube, 23 April 2022

23 April 2022, “Speaking in relation to the success of the trending video which has clocked up close to two million views on YouTube, Mr McCarthy said it has been wonderful to see the increased international recognition for one of Cork’s loved heritage pieces”, Nostalgia: Almost 100 years later Cork’s Shakey Bridge hasn’t lost its charm, Nostalgia: Almost 100 years later Cork’s Shakey Bridge hasn’t lost its charm (echolive.ie)

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 21 April 2022

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 21 April 2022

Journeys to a Free State: Disbanding the Royal Irish Constabulary

The establishment of the Irish Constabulary was begun by the Irish Constabulary (Ireland) Act 1836. Previous to this, the Irish police force at the time of the Act of Union of 1800 was still comprised only of small units of sub-constables. Originally, the prime role of the Royal Irish Constabulary was upholding the peace, which involved the suppression of armed rebellion, religious riots or agrarian disturbances. Their position was extended when it took on the functions of the Revenue Police, which involved “inquiries on behalf of departments of state, collected agricultural statistics, enforced the fishery laws and performed a variety of duties under the laws relating to food and drugs, weights and measures, explosives and petroleum”.

In 1867, the Irish Constabulary was renamed the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). After 1916 it faced the effect of the violence from the Irish War of Independence. 

Following the formation of the Irish Free State in early 1922, on 31 March 1922, the disbandment of the Royal Irish Constabulary began in southern Ireland. They were to be replaced by the creation of the Irish Free State’s Civic Guard. Approximately 7,000 RIC men, excluding officers, awaited disbandment in Ireland with many waiting to evacuate barracks in various parts of the country. Of these, between 4,000 and 5,000 were focussed in the Dublin and Kildare area.

 Britain’s National Archives in Kew, London records that pensions were paid by the Paymaster General in London, and the service records of members of the force passed to the Home Office which were subsequently transferred to The National Archives. An annual sum of £1,500,000 was put aside for their pensions. This sum was guaranteed by the British parliament and, under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, all or part of it was to be provided by the Irish government.

In Cork, in early April 1922, there was ongoing fallout from the murder of a former member of the RIC who was shot dead on a crowded Cork City street on 25 March. Retired William Gloster, a former sergeant, returning to his home at Elizabeth Fort was passing through the southern end of South Main Street at 1.30 pm when a group of young men shot him at least six times.

On 12 April 1922, the handing over of the city’s RIC Barracks began. There was considerable activity in the vicinity of the Bridewell and Tuckey Street when both those barracks, as well as the annexe on the latter, on the Grand Parade, were handed over by the RIC to an officer of the IRA from Dublin. At 11am, District Inspector Riordan, Union Quay attended at the Bridewell, where he was met an IRA officer from Dublin, and some local IRA officers. There, with the assistance of Head Constable Nestor and Sergeant McCoy, the station sergeant, an inventory of the property being left was made. By 11am the RIC walked out, leaving an IRA guard in charge.

The party then proceeded to Tuckey Street, where District Inspector Riordan again handed over the barracks to the IRA officer. Then the annexe on the outer side of Tuckey Street, and overlooking the Grand Parade was visited, and a like process was gone through. Large crowds remained outside both barracks during the process of evacuation, but there were no disturbances. The police from both barracks then went to Union Quay.

The other three barracks were evacuated the following day on 13 April – the barracks an Empress Place on Summerhill North, Elizabeth Fort and Union Quay, with its annexe at Moore’s Hotel at Morrison’s Island. These were handed over to the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Donal Óg O’Callaghan.

Union Quay took more than two hours to complete the checking of the inventory before it was officially handed over by Captain Moran to the Lord Mayor. It was a large spacious building of modern brick, built and capable of affording accommodation to upwards of 150 men. Before they were completely departed at Union Quay. Constable Lowry, the men’s representative, approached the pressmen present, and said he had desired on behalf of the old city force to express their gratitude to the people of Cork. Some of them has been in the force for over 30 years.

From early morning, the RIC were busily engaged in removing luggage to the City’s Custom House Quay, where the steamer, SS Lady Wicklow, was berthed. The vessel was specially chartered for the conveyance of RIC members to Dublin. The steamer hosted 20 officers, 400 police, with all their luggage and equipment on board.

At the quayside, City Councillor and Home Rule supporter Sir John Scott was present and noted that he had been present when the barracks were handed over to the Lord Mayor for Cork Corporation. He noted that he had experienced a feeling of pleasure and also of regret – pleasure of meeting once more members of the RIC, and regret when he came to think that they were leaving the city. Continuing he paid a fine tribute to the officers and members of the force, and wished then “every good luck, long life and prosperity in the future”. At the close of Sir John Scott’s address, a policeman who said he was of the oldest members of the force, expressed thanks, and called for three cheers for Scott. 

In mid-May 1922 disbandment commenced at Cork’s Victoria Barracks.

Caption:

1147a. Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Donal Óg O’Callaghan receiving the keys of the Union Quay barracks, Cork, 13 April 1922 (W D Hogan Collection, National Library of Ireland).

Cllr McCarthy: BusConnects Cork Infrastructure a Real Challenge, 20 April 2022

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has called for more meaningful consultation with local people when it comes to the emerging BusConnects Project. This week more information was revealed that a proposal is being pitched to provide bus and cycle lanes in both directions on Douglas Road.

Initial proposals pitch that Douglas Road would be made one-way outbound only for general traffic. Inbound traffic would be required to use other routes. A new bridge is proposed to connect Grange Road to Carrigaline Road over the scenic Mangala Valley. Additional road widening is proposed required on Ballycurreen Road, Grange Road and Carrigaline Road.

These are parts of the twelve sustainable transport corridors proposed in different parts of the city, each designed with the aim of making the bus system operate more efficiently and to encourage more people to cycle by enhancing infrastructure. In places, it is proposed to acquire parts of the garden space of houses plus land in front of commercial properties, to allow the bus and cycle facilities to be provided.

Cllr McCarthy raised the lack of partnership with members of Cork City Council at this month’s meeting of the Council’s Roads and Transportation Strategic Policy Committee. Cllr McCarthy noted: “I appreciate the ambition of BusConnects Cork but what is happening is that proposals are being pitched in a way, I feel, that are being set in stone before proper consultation. I am not happy at all with the partnership between the National Transport Authority and the elected member. There is a format of let’s just inform the local public reps of what we’re doing instead of partnering with them”.

“There was also a recent consultation with the general public on network routes and there has been no feedback to those myriad of concerns from the general public yet, which were brought to my colleagues and I. The communications and partnering up piece really needs to improve. Within the initial proposals, there are also nods to CPO-ing garden space and eliminating trees. Working with local people is really crucial; otherwise there is a real fear the Council chamber could dismiss proposals without effective discussion”, concluded Cllr McCarthy”.

BusConnects Cork entails a €600m investment and includes nine measures which will transform Cork’s bus system, making public transport more useful to more people. A number of the initiatives are already underway including the redesign of the Bus Network in the Cork metropolitan area, which had two rounds of public consultation during 2021. The feedback received by the NTA during these consultations will inform the basis for a Final Redesigned Bus Network.

Currently there are only 14km of bus lanes are currently being provided. The proposed sustainable transport corridors includes approximately 75km of new bus lanes, multiples of the existing provision, and aspiring to reduce journey times by bus by on average 15 minutes across the proposed 12 corridors.

More information is at www.busconnects.ie/cork

Kieran’s Press, Tom Scott & Daly’s Bridge, 19 April 2022

19 April 2022, “Several of us, engineers, local councillors, local media, promoted the story of the bridge until we got funding for the repairs, and now someone with this huge international social media presence has recognised that. The fact that it’s had over one million views in just 24-hours is incredible, said Cllr McCarthy”, Cork’s Shakey Bridge goes viral as 1.2m watch video shot by YouTube star Tom ScottCork’s Shakey Bridge goes viral as 1.2m watch video shot by YouTube star Tom Scott (irishexaminer.com)

19 April 2022, “The video, entitled ‘The Bridge that must Legally Wobble’, features stunning drone footage of the beloved bridge in addition to comments from local historian and Independent Cork city councillor, Kieran McCarthy”, WATCH: Cork’s Shakey Bridge goes viral thanks to YouTuber,  WATCH: Cork’s Shakey Bridge goes viral thanks to YouTuber (echolive.ie)

McCarthy: Third Draft of New Cork City Development Plan Out to Public Consultation, April 2022

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed “Our City, Our Future”, third draft of Cork City Development Plan, which has gone out to public consultation It which provides an overarching framework to help shape the transformation of the City over the next six years by supporting the creation of 20,000 homes and 33,000 jobs.  

Cllr McCarthy noted: “It provides an exciting and opportunities driven transformative blueprint for Cork as the city sets out upon an exciting phase of growth and change – with sustainability, quality of life, social inclusion, and climate resilience at the plan’s core.  This is the first City Development Plan to include the new city areas such as Douglas, Donnybrook and Rochestown taken in under the 2019 city boundary extension. So there has been a chance to consolidate thinking on improving the quality of life not just in those areas but also in the inner suburbs of Ballinlough, Ballintemple, Blackrock, Mahon and South Docklands”.

 At a meeting of Cork City Council on 15 March 2022, the Elected Members considered the Draft City Development Plan and the Chief Executive’s Report on submissions received.  It was resolved at that meeting by the Elected Members of Cork City Council to amend the Draft Cork City Development Plan 2022-2028.

 Cork City Council Chief Executive, Ann Doherty said: “This next phase of public consultation follows widespread listening and engagement with stakeholders in the first and second rounds of public consultation. I’d like to thank everyone who made a submission to date. We have engaged with a broad church of stakeholders reflecting the diversity of Cork City and the work of the Elected Members on the ground in our city’s communities and this engagement has been integral to the whole process.”

 Cork City Council invites submissions on the Proposed Alterations to the Draft Development Plan. This is the third stage of formal public consultations. Submissions can be made online at https://consult.corkcity.ie/ 

The Draft Cork City Development Plan 2022-2028 is available to view at www.corkcitydevelopmentplan.ie

Kieran’s Question to CE and Motions, Cork City Council Meeting, 11 April 2022

Question to CE:

To ask the CE for an update on the repair of the bicycle hire station on Morrison’s Island by the College of Commerce? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

Motions:

That an urban animation scheme be prepared for and created for Robert Street (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

That Cork City Council calls upon the Minister of Housing to debate and secure that in the private housing market vendors are obliged to supply a current engineer’s status report to potential buyers, and that vendors are obliged to provide evidence of ownership prior to the house being placed on the market; that these latter measures be implemented in order to limit the exposure and costs of buyers in the private housing market (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 7 April 2022

1145a. Picture of Upnor, Cork Harbour, c.1922 (picture: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 7 April 2022

Journeys to a Free State: The Capture of the Upnor

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.

On 29 March 1922, the Upnor, which was a British arms ship, was captured by members of the Cobh IRA company. It was departing Cork Harbour with its second load of arms, which amounted to 400 rifles, 40 machines guns, hundreds of thousands of rounds of .303 ammunition and numerous crates of high explosive. A plan was devised to capture the ship. Michael Burke, Officer in Command of Cobh IRA wrote an account of the raid on the ship.

In March 1922, Michael was in Cork attending a parade in honour of the late Tomás MacCurtain when he was informed that the Brigade Officer in Command, Seán Hegarty, wanted to see him before he returned to Cobh. He met him and the Brigade Staff (Cork No I Brigade) when he was told that a British War Department vessel, named Upnor, was landing warlike stores in Haulbowline for delivery at Woolwich Arsenal. Michael was told to make arrangements for her capture at sea. After her capture she was to be taken to Ballycotton where she would be unloaded. The Brigade would arrange for the unloading and transport of the cargo.

Michael was also advised to contact one of his men in Haulbowline who would let him know when the Upnor was putting to sea. He was then to phone the All-For-Ireland Club, Emmet Place, Cork where the Brigade Staff were standing by. He outlines in his account; “Returning to Cobh, I detailed a man to get in touch with our representative in Haulbowline and inform him that he was to send me word when the Upnor was ready to leave, whilst towing a barge. I then organised a crew to man the boat which was to proceed after the Upnor. Several of the men I recruited were not members of the IRA”.

A week or so elapsed and then word was sent that on 29 March the Upnor was sailing at 11am that day. She was known to carry hundreds of rifles, machine guns and many hundred boxes of ammunition, Verey lights and suchlike war stores. Michael got in touch with Brigade HQ immediately and soon a car came from Cork with about fifteen Cork IRA men, amongst whom were Mick Murphy, Tom Crofts and ‘Sando’ Donovan, all Brigade Officers. Mick Murphy carried a Lewis gun.

With the Cork men was a sea captain named Collins who was to take over the captaincy of the Upnor when she was captured. He was not an IRA man. Arrangements previously made to commandeer a boat to follow the Upnor to sea did not materialise but luckily the tugboat Warrior had berthed at Deepwater Quay, Cobh that day about noon.

Michael and his crew boarded her and found the captain had gone ashore. Putting his own crew aboard they went in search of the captain. He describes: “We could not put to sea until we located him; if we put to sea and he returned to the quay to find his boat missing he would report the fact to the Admiralty and the alarm would be given”. Michael describes that they searched hotels and shipping offices in the town and eventually found him in the very last office we tried. They took him prisoner and placed him under an armed guard in the Rob Roy Hotel.

The time was now gone 2pm and the Upnor had at least two hours or more of a start on them. Michael and his crew gave chase. He describes: “We got aboard the Warrior with Captain Collins in charge of her and made for the open sea. Our lads worked so hard on the engines that the original crew, who were aboard, were afraid the boilers would burst and they offered to do the job themselves. We agreed to this”.

Leaving Cobh Harbour Michael told Captain Collins to strike a course for Waterford. He had no idea of what was afoot and did as he was told. When they got outside the harbour there was no sign of the Upnor so he asked the Captain to alter course for Portsmouth. He did this. They sailed on the Portsmouth course for several hours and just as dusk was falling, they sighted the Upnor and her escort of two armed trawlers.

The trawlers were about two miles from the Upnor and in front of the Upnor. She was making slow speed as she was towing a barge. Michael describes that they closed in on her; “One of our lads shouted to her captain to stop, saying we had an important message for the captain at the same time waving an official looking envelope. She stopped. We lowered a boat and a few of us went aboard her. We produced our guns and held up the captain and any of the crew in sight. Mick Murphy ordered the captain, at the point of a Lewis gun, to leave the bridge”.

Meanwhile the Warrior had pulled alongside the Upnor and a further party of lads came aboard the latter. Darkness had now fallen. They were from thirty to forty miles off the Irish coast and the British trawler escort had gone ahead oblivious of the fact that the Upnor with its precious cargo had changed hands. The journey to Ballycotton was uneventful. Michael details: “We tied up at the pier at about 4am on 30 March 1922 and the task of unloading commenced. There were upwards of one hundred lorries of all kinds and the same number of men, all from the Cork Brigade, waiting to unload and take away the cargo and it was not until about 6pm that the last lorry left the pier”.

Just as they were preparing to leave Ballycotton on the last lorry a grey shape loomed up at sea. It was the British man-of-war searching for the missing Upnor. Apparently the Upnor’s escorts tried to make contact with her and failing to do so informed the British naval authorities that something was amiss.

Caption:

1145a. Picture of Upnor, Cork Harbour, c.1922 (picture: Cork City Library).

Cllr McCarthy’s Historical Walking Tours Return

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy is to restart his free historical walking tours during the month of April. This month’s tours will be of South Docklands, Fitzgerald’s Park, and The Marina. Cllr McCarthy noted; “It’s been a long wait since the last walking tours I conducted for the general public. It’s been a long two and a half years. In the meantime, I have pursued more research of some of my area tours and have posted them up under my revised history trails section on my Corkheritage. ie website”.

“My Marina tour is one I have tried to sharpen and get more information on and reflect more on its development. The three areas I am re-starting with are all relatively close to each other, but do have their own unique sense of place, their own cultural and built heritage, their own historic angles, and add their own stories to how the city as a whole came into being”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.

Full details of Kieran’s April tours are below, 

▪ Saturday 9 April 2022, Cork South Docklands; Discover the history of the city’s docks, from quayside stories to the City Park Race Course and Albert Road; meet at Kennedy Park, Victoria Road, 2pm, as part of the Cork Lifelong Learning Festival (free, duration: two hours, no booking required). 

  • Sunday 10 April 2022, Fitzgerald’s Park: The People’s Park, meet at band stand, 2pm, in association with Rebound Arts Festival and as part of the Cork Lifelong Learning Festival (free, duration: 90 minutes, no booking required). 
  • Saturday 16 April 2022, The Marina; Discover the history of the city’s promenade, from forgotten artefacts to ruinous follies; meet at western end adjacent Shandon Boat Club, The Marina, 2pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required).