Category Archives: Landscapes

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 7 December 2023

1231a. Kieran with The A-Z of Curious County Cork, Waterstones, St Patrick's Street, Cork.
1231a. Kieran with The A-Z of Curious County Cork, Waterstones, St Patrick’s Street, Cork.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 7 December 2023

Kieran’s Cork Books for Christmas

It’s only a few weeks to Christmas. There are two publications of mine, which readers of the column might be interested in to buy as Christmas gifts. Both were published in the past eighteen months and are available in Waterstones, Vibes and Scribes, and Easons.

My new book, The A-Z of Curious County Cork, published by History Press UK (2023) has been born out of my own personal curiosity for many years now to venture off the main roads of County Cork to explore the curiosities of cultural heritage in County Cork. There are approximately 120 stories from different corners of County Cork. From the A-listing of Apparition to the Z listing of Zeal.

The added task of picking over one hundred curiosities of County Cork was also going to be a challenge. It is difficult to define what a curiosity is. Such a distinction varies from one person to another. The importance of a curiosity in one locale may also not be a curiosity to another locale. The stories within this book, and which I have chosen and noted as curiosities are ones, which have lingered in my mind long after I found them or brought me down further ‘rabbit holes’ of research.  

Being the largest county in Ireland, Cork has the advantage of also having the largest number of cultural heritage nuggets. However, with that accolade comes the conundrum of what nuggets to pick from. With any A-Z of anything it does not cover every single aspect of a particular history but this book does provides brief insights into and showcases the nuggets and narratives of cultural interest that are really embedded in local areas. It also draws upon stories from across the county’s geography.

Much has been written on the histories of County Cork. There is much written down and lots more still to be researched and written up. The County is also blessed with active guardians of its past. In particular, there is a notable myriad of local historians and historical societies, which mind the county’s past and also celebrate and even commemorate it through penning stories in newspaper articles, journals, books and providing regular fieldtrips for the general public. There is also the impressive heritage book series on County Cork, published by the Heritage Unit of Cork County Council.

In addition, this book builds on the Little Book of Cork (2015) and the Little Book of Cork Harbour (2019), both History Press publications. This book can also be read in one go or dipped in and out of. I encourage though that once you have read it bring it out into the historic county of Cork to discover many of the curiosities up close and personal.

Celebrating Cork (2022, Amberley Publishing) explores some of the many reasons why Cork is special in the hearts of Corkonians and visitors. Itbuilds on my previous publications – notably Cork In 50 Buildings, Secret Cork, and Cork City Centre Tour – all published by Amberley Publishing. 

Celebrating Cork takes the reader on a journey through the known and unknown layers of Cork’s history and ‘DNA’. It has chapters about its layered port history, the documents and maps that define its sense of identity, the arts and crafts movements that can be viewed within the cityscape, its statues and monuments, its key institutions and charities, its engineering feats and certain elements of why Cork is known for is rebel nature. 

This book focuses on different topics again of Cork’s past and places more focus on elements I have not had a chance to write upon and reflect about in the past. With more and more archival material being digitised it is easier to access original source material in antiquarian books or to search through old newspapers to find the voices championing steps in Corks progression in infrastructure, community life or in its cultural development.

   Cork’s construction on a swampland is important to note and the knock-on effects of that of that in terms of having a building stock that is not overly tall. Merchants and residents throughout the ages were aware of its physical position in the middle of a marshland with a river – and from this the hard work required in reclaiming land on a swampland. I like to think they saw and reflected upon the multitudes of timber trunks being hand driven into the ground to create foundational material for the city’s array of different architectural styles.

Cork is a stronghold of community life and culture. Corkonians have a large variety of strong cultural traditions, from the city’s history, to sports, commerce, education, maritime, festivals, literature, art, music and the rich Cork accent itself. Celebrating Cork is about being proud of the city’s and its citizens’ achievements. This book at its very heart is a nod to the resilience of Cork to community life, togetherness and neighbourliness.


1231a. Kieran with The A-Z of Curious County Cork, Waterstones, St Patrick’s Street, Cork.

Third round of public consultation on the Sustainable Transport Corridors for Cork

Third round of public consultation on the Sustainable Transport Corridors for Cork

The National Transport Authority has launched the third round of public consultation on the Sustainable Transport Corridors earmarked for development as part of the BusConnects Cork programme.

The latest round of public consultation centres on the Preferred Route Options which have been identified. These preferred route options brochures are available to view and download below. This comes following the first round of public consultation on the Emerging Preferred Routes between April and June 2023.

Following the first and second rounds of public consultation, the NTA has been reviewing the submissions made by the public and engaging constructively with 35 residents’ , business and special interest groups across the city. Community Forums were also established for each corridor to enable a two-way dialogue with local communities to help inform the review process.

The closing date for submissions is Monday, 18 December 2023

View here now: Sustainable Transport Corridors | Busconnects

Lord Mayor’s Column, 24 November 2023

Christmas in Cork:

Christmas is an annual stroll down memory lane. It is part of our heritage – our way of life. The ghosts of Christmas pasts are religiously recalled as we prepare to be locked in a type of time warp for a fortnight or so. There are other memories that I can remember – the joy of the school holidays. The dark evenings sitting in the back of the car as my mother collected my Dad from work on St Patrick’s Street or Pana. I remember being taken back by the magical, transforming and bright Christmas lights on the narrow Oliver Plunkett Street. From the safety of the car, I also remember the blustery Atlantic winds and the wintry rain as it dislodged Corkonians in their shopping path.

I remember the Christmas trees on the streets and the Crib in the centre of Pana guarded annually by Share supporters. I can recall the huge crowds hoping over the central rails of the street to get to the other side of the street as if the railings provided an annual workout for our jaywalking Cork citizens.

I remember going to Ballyvolane Shopping Centre, when it initially opened and visiting Santa – those were the days, those wonderful and magical Christmases filled with Santa and the associated photos inset in the family photo albums. I remember my father bringing us to see Santa Claus The Movie in the old Capital Cinema.

The panto in the opera House was annually frequented. The opening bars of the entracte transported one to another world. Dames like Billa O’Connell brought me along in the story – you believed – you watched in awe as the battle between good and evil took place and then everyone lived happily afterwards.

Have my childhood memories changed in 35 years? Do I still get inspired and re-inspired. Yep I still do.  It’s difficult not to be re-awakened by Christmas, that season of specialness. Once the street Christmas lights are turned on, the city seems to buzz with anticipation.

The preparation begins weeks before the 25 December and with growing commercialisation gets earlier every year. Contrasting against all that goes with that debate, the Crib on St Patrick’s Street gets pride of place and reminds one of a fortress surrounded by Share collectors who spread out over the city centre engaging Corkonians.

Prepping for Christmas:

This year is no different in Cork in the build-up to Christmas. At the recent launch of Corkmas, I was particularly delighted to see familiar faces from the city’s hospitality, retail and cultural sector as they actually are ‘Christmas in Cork’. They are the smiling faces that welcome us into crowded hotel lobbies and restaurants in the frenzied days before Christmas and the people who patiently advise us as we scurry to find a last minute present for that awkward relative. They are the creatives and makers who nourish our souls at the plethora of pantomimes, music, arts and cultural events that will be staged in the coming weeks.

Christmas in Cork is also all about food, drink and people. It’s about trying to hit the English Market early in the morning so the crowds will be less and then realising everyone thought similarly. It is about catching up with friends and family for food and drinks, promising to make a bigger effort next year and then promptly forgetting the minute you hop on the bus home

It is about bumping into old class and college mates that you haven’t seen in years, and even if you didn’t particularly know them, spending 10 heart-filled minutes catching up on each other’s lives. It’s about spiced beef, warmth, spontaneity, glittering lights, laughter, it’s about Christmas traditions, both new and old.

For the city’s traders, artists and creatives and particularly during the current cost of living crisis and in the face of growing online shopping, the last quarter of the year is often a  ‘make or break’ period. The season often provides them with a crucial buffer that supports them to keep trading and creating through far more challenging times of the year. 

Launching Corkmas:

With this in mind, Cork City Council, working with local creative agency, Babelfís -and having engaged with yourselves- has created the ‘Corkmas’ campaign aimed at firstly encouraging people to think sustainably by supporting local and  secondly celebrating, discovering, and re-discovering the many experiences and traditions, new and old, that make Christmas time in Cork so unique.

As well the iconic ferris wheel on Grand Parade, this year Corkmas introduces a wonderful new winter light experience in the city centre, SOLAS – which I will invite you to experience with me in a few minutes. The SOLAS light and sound experience will run every day of the week until 21 December, from 4pm to 11pm daily. 

On top of that every weekend from 24 November, SOLAS will be a hub of family friendly fun, musical performances, Christmas singalongs and festive entertainment. Many thanks to Fáilte Ireland’s for their support of the SOLAS winter light experience.

Over seven kilometres of lights are being turned on across city streets and 60 Christmas trees lit up by Cork City Council, Cork Business Association (working with traders) and also by independent outlets.

Over the coming days and weeks you will see Corkmas in public spaces, across media (both traditional and digital) and in a campaign with Red FM at Cork Airport to promote the city’s offering to people coming home and to visitors.

A new map, which beautifully illustrates the festive activities taking place across the ‘magical city of Corkmas’, encourages people to get further details on these varied seasonal events at Corkmas has been created to better support, amplify and market what activities there are and striving for a unified voice.

This is only the beginning of Corkmas. It’s a campaign and festive programme that will be built upon in the coming years so that Cork ultimately becomes a destination during the festive season.

So what are you waiting for, Christmas is what you make it no matter what age you are at. Get out and re-witness your youth in the city. Look to the skies and perhaps who will re-awaken your imagination and see a team of reindeer pulling a sleigh with a red suited bloke pushing onwards through the Cork sky…

Check out

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 16 November 2023

1128a. Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Kieran McCarthy with Cllr Michael Looney and Colm Burke, TD with members of Inniscarra Historical Society, October 2023 (picture: F Archer).
1128a. Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Kieran McCarthy with Cllr Michael Looney and Colm Burke, TD with members of Inniscarra Historical Society, October 2023 (picture: F Archer).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 16 November 2023

Launch of Inniscarra Historical Society Journal 2023

The latest journal of Inniscarra Historical Society, Changing Times, has been published and is available in shops throughout Inniscarra. The society was formed in 2017 and has published four journals now to date. Their aim is to further the gathering of historical data and to promote an interest and awareness of local history amongst their members. The 2023 committee consists of Patrick O’Callaghan, Frank Donaldson, David O’ Brien, Kathleen Flynn, Joseph Ambrose and John Lane. Membership is open to all for an annual subscription of only 10 euros. 

A monthly presentation is held on a topic of local history. They organise bus trips to places of historical interest. A selection of their talks in the last year included Con Hayes – The Lusitania Tragedy, Professor Robert Devoy – Historic landscapes of West Cork, the geographical imperatives, Anne Twomey – The Role of Women in Revolutionary Years, and Richard Forrest – Modest Martin, The history of a local mid-Cork river.

In this year’s journal, there are a number of very insightful articles, which range from topics such as histories of Inniscarra’s townlands to cemeteries to census reports to reminiscences of growing up in the parish.

For example Sinéad McSweeney shines a light on Cloughphilip, which translates as the ‘stone house of Philip, was home to a castle, a tower house castle constructed several years after the completion of Blarney Castle. She notes that these tower house castles were built in the style of a square or nearly square tower; “Window sizes were usually very small, due to the fact that in the time of siege warfare, attackers would try to mount the castle with ladders to gain entry. Sometime in the late 1500’s the castle came into the ownership of Donagh MacCarthy who left his mark on the castle with his initials D. C. K., and the year 1590 carved a stone set into an internal wall”.

Sinéad also reveals an interesting letter in 1850 addressed to the Royal Irish Academy from a Richard Caulfield, states that he came across the stone head for Cloughphilip Castle. The writer was deeply concerned because people were searching the castle ruins, and beneath it, digging for gold which was rumoured to be buried there. Caulfield describes the inscription on a stone in the north-east of the castle “D. C. K. 1590” which is at least one-hundred years after the castle was supposedly built.’ Unfortunately, there is no drawing or etching of Cloughphilip castle that survives, or a photograph of the castle ruins.

Colm O’Sullivan highlights the contribution of the O’Sullivan family, Bartholomew Sullivan’s son, James Bartholomew (known as Jimmy Batt, died 1829) having branched from his father’s business at Healy’s Bridge, set up his own paper mill at Dripsey around 1800. He employed hundreds of workers but went bankrupt and he had to restart the business on a number of occasions. The introduction of modern machinery resulted in a negative reaction from the workers who apparently started a fire at the mill in protest at the threat to their jobs. That fire and the economic downturn after the Napoleonic Wars resulted in the mills being sold off in the mid to late 1810s. It would seem that the Sullivan family continued to live in Dripsey for some years before moving to Cork City.

Michael Dorney contributes a very insightful article on antiquities in the Inniscarra locality. In particular Historically, Ireland and indeed Inniscarra was famous for having outdoor roadside grottos or Marian shrines, (shrines to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Rosary). Nobody cant for any distance in Ireland without coming across a roadside shrine. Vast majority are Marian Shrines, although some celebrate local saints or the crucifixion of Christ.

Michael continues to highlight: “In spite of the documented drift away from organised religion that has taken place over the past few decades, these shrines are attended in small groups for regular rosary, praying and adoration. These shrines are almost invariably well-tended, maintained and bedecked with fresh flowers”.

Michael also outlines that some shrines are close to Holy Wells, places associated with local saints but whose origins go back to pagan times and their significance long pre datesdates the shrines themselves. Most of the grottos encountered today date from 1954, which were dedicated by the Vatican as the Marian Year, a year of celebration of and devotion to Virgin Mary.

Michael outlines the Marian devotion: “Probably no other country embraced this year with greater fervour than Ireland. Many baby girls born during 1954 were named Marian, Marion, and Mary. The tradition of devotion to Mary persisted years after 1954, albeit among ever declining number and it is today confined to an older generation. That time there was regular practice of church bells being tolled at Angelus times in honour of Our Lady”.

Still today in every parish like in Inniscarra, there is a dedicated band of local people who maintain the grottos, which have historically become part of our landscape and heritage.

Towards the end of the journal, Sinéad McSweeny returns to reflect on the story of St Ann’s Hill Hydropathic Establishment and guests wo were present as the 1901 census was taken on Sunday 31 March across the island of Ireland. The Hydropathic establishment, the only one on the island of Ireland. which accommodated a total of seventy-two people, twenty-two males and fifty females. She continues to describe an elaborate network of rooms; “The Hydro building had one hundred and twenty-three windows in the front and is most likely made up of the vastly extended original house and what was known as The Home. One hundred and one rooms were listed in this premises as being occupied the night of the census, most likely this figure included guest bedrooms and salt quarters and dormitories”.

Read more of the work of Inniscarra Historical Society at


1128a. Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Kieran McCarthy with Cllr Michael Looney and Colm Burke, TD with members of Inniscarra Historical Society, October 2023 (picture: F Archer).

Kieran’s Lord Mayor’s Echo Column, 11 November 2023

Remember and Renew:

This year marks the final chapter of the national Decade of Centenaries commemorative programme. A wealth of material has already been produced, scores of events have taken place, and a proud legacy is being created for future generations. 

Among the aims of commemorating those remarkable men and women involved in Ireland’s struggle for independence is, of course, to remember them, to recall their contributions to Cork and Ireland, and to reflect upon their extraordinary lives. But most importantly, as our former City Librarian, Liam Ronayne, noted in the early stages of the commemoration; “what is important is the need to understand, to understand what happened and why”.

Community groups, schools and individuals have delved into their local history to produce books, plays, murals, exhibitions, podcasts, recordings and many more engagements to mark the events that happened in our city over 100 years ago. From the ashes of the Burning of Cork in 1920, through the War of Independence and Civil War 1923 we have seen our city grow and prosper to ambitious plans for our future generations.  

To finish out the national Decade of Centenaries on Thursday, 16 November, a special reflection on the decade of centenaries entitled ‘Remember and Renew’ takes place in Cork City. On the day it includes a seminar in UCC Centre for Executive Education between 2pm- 4.30pm, Lapps Quay, followed by a reception in the Atrium, City Hall. Between 5.45-6.45pm, there will be a Special Meeting of An Chomhairle in the Council Chamber, Cork City Hall, and at the Cork City Concert Hall there will be a gala concert between 7pm- 9.30pm.

The concert will be hosted by Cork Playwright Cónal Creedon & presenter Elmarie Mawe who will reflect on the Decade of Centenaries with a night of music, poetry, & film. It will feature The Band of First Brigade, The Cork Fleischmann Symphony Orchestra, Cór Chúil Aodha & Seán Ó Sé.

Launch of Commemorative Jerseys:

Meanwhile this month also coincides with an exhibition in Cork Public Museum. It features the commemorative jerseys of Cork clubs, intercounty sides and international teams with a Cork connection. All those included in the exhibit commemorated Irish revolutionary figures and / or events on their kits during the Decade of Centenaries (and in particular the period of 2016-2023).   A virtual exhibit is available to view at the Exhibitions section on the Cork City Council website A City Remembers.

Seventeen jerseys are featured in the exhibit, which will later go on display at City Library, City Hall and Páirc Uí Chaoimh, along with other Cork areas of sporting and cultural significance. The exhibit is being organised by Cork City Council, along with the help of Cork GAA and Public Museum curator, Dan Breen.

A number of jerseys included feature the images of previous Lord Mayors, Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney. Teams featured include Ballyphehane,  Béal Átha Ghaorthaidh, Brian Dillon’s, Cork Boston GFC, Delany’s, Diarmuid Ó Mathúna’s, Fermoy, Kilmichael, Na Piarsaigh, St. Vincent’s, Thomas McCurtain’s GAA club London, Valley Rovers, and Cork Intercounty. Also included in the exhibit are O’Neill’s commemorative jerseys to Michael Collins and the Easter Rising.

Cork hurlers and footballers provided a notable piece of Cork GAA history as a Rebel team took to the field wearing black jerseys for the first time in 2020. The 1916 commemoration Cork GAA original jersey in blue with a saffron ‘C’ was worn by Cork teams until 1919 when the jerseys were confiscated by the British Army in a raid during the War of Independence.

The exhibition is being co-ordinated by Cork City Council’s Commemorations working group, along with the help of Cork GAA and Public Museum curator, Dan Breen. A virtual edition of the exhibit will launch later in the year.

New Book on Seán French:

Mid-November also coincides with another Cork City Council commemoration publication. The new book is an important reflection on the life and times of Seán French – a 12-term Lord Mayor, councillor and TD. Indeed, for many years Seán’s life has just been reduced in history to a few words and sentences. This book by Dr Aodh Quinlivan and John Ger O’Riordan has done a superb job in rescuing the memory of Seán from being on the reductive history heap in Cork history and in capturing the everyday life of local politics in early twentieth century Cork. The book is rich in historical detail and there is much to learn from reading it from a citizen perspective and from a local politician or public representative perspective.

In Seán’s early months in the council chamber it coincided with the deaths of two Lord Mayors – Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney and a War of Independence spilling out across the streets of the city – and culminating in the Burning of Cork in December 1920 and the destruction of the city’s house of democracy in the shape of Cork City Hall. Such latter and tragic stories would affect the way historians of Cork would tell the story of Cork for the ensuing century to come.

On Seán’s accession to being Lord Mayor of Cork on 30 January 1924 he delivered a short acceptance speech, stressing that improving and progressing Cork had to be the primary duty of all of the elected members. He stated that he had always stayed true to his ideals and that would not change.

However, the nature of politics within the emerging Irish Free State led to a heightened public expectation for improved services and the modernisation of Ireland’s cities, towns and villages – and ultimately the nature of how Local Government did its work had to change. In particular Seán politically led the city in a time of large scale physical and large scale societal change.Even a politician like Seán French could not stop the tides of change which swept through Cork in the 1920s. It is always argued that a week is a long time in politics – no mind several years – and the authors describe the backdrop of Seán’s world in detail. The decades of 1920s and 1930s Cork is showcased here and this book even sets up further frameworks for further narratives to be researched and written about. First Citizen, Seán French, Cork’s Longest Serving Lord Mayor by Aodh Quinlivan & John Ger O’riordan will be available in any good bookshop.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 9 November 2023

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 9 November 2023

Extracts:  The A-Z of Curious County Cork

My new book, The A-Z of Curious County Cork is available in any good bookshop. Published by History Press UK (2023) the book has been born out of my own personal curiosity for many years now to venture off the main roads of County Cork to explore the curiosities of cultural heritage in County Cork. This week’s column shares more extracts from the new book.

Walk: The defeat of the united forces of the Spanish and Irish at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 led to one of the longest and most deadly walks in Irish history. The O’Sullivan Beara Gaelic clan were driven out of the Castletownbere region by the English.

Seeking sanctuary, Dónal Cam O’Sullivan, chieftain of the clan, began the long march to Leitrim on 31 December 1602. He led 1,000 men, women and children, who constituted a large-scale flight of people from the Castletownbere region. In the middle of January 1603, the clan eventually arrived at their destination with only thirty-five people surviving. Many had been killed en route, were overcome by exhaustion, or came down with a lethal illness. Others disconnected from the long walk northwards and settled along the route.

In Leitrim, O’Sullivan requested to unite with other northern chiefs to battle English forces. However, Hugh O’Neil, the Earl of Tyrone sought peace and swore an oath of loyalty to the Crown. O’Sullivan and other Irish leaders sought exile, and made their escape to France and then on to Spain.

Warrior: A beautiful long path with beech trees on both sides now leads to Saint Fanahan’s holy well in Mitcheltown, where pilgrims can reflect on the life of the warrior monk, Fanahan. The ancient Book of Lismore recalls the legendary life and time of a warrior monk named Saint Fanahan, who was born at Rathkealy, Fermoy in the early seventh century AD. His father’s name was Finlog, and the Book notes that he was chieftain of a small number of areas consisting of a few acres of land, and was one of several people who were banished from Ulster. The reason for this, however, is not recorded.

The Book further outlines that when Fanahan was 7 years of age, his family sent him to a monastery in Bangor, County Down. There he was educated as a monk, and his tutor was its abbot, St Comgell. Fanahan pursued his education, and in the years that followed became abbot of the monastery himself.

As a result of his fiery temper, he clashed regularly with his fellow monks and was soon driven away from the monastery. Fanahan and some other monks moved to the province of Munster where Cathail Mac Aedh was king. The king, delighted with his new religious adviser, gave Fanahan free choice of where he wanted to locate a new monastery.

According to the Book of Lismore, Fanahan swapped his ‘good soul’ with the ‘bad soul’ of the King of Desise, which led to Fanahan searching to cleanse his new soul. This quest to repent for his sins led Fanahan to hire seven smiths to produce seven sicles, which Fanahan used to punish himself, thus earning back his place in heaven. The smiths in question refused to be paid, but requested the new monastery be called Brí Gobhann, i.e Smith’s Hill.

The Book of Lismore notes that during Fanahan’s self-punishment campaign, an angel is reputed to have appeared to him asking him to be involved in a quarrel between the King of Meath and his enemies.

Fanahan, alongside the king and his armies, subdued their opponents with ease. There is even a folklore reference that sparks of fire came out of Fanahan’s mouth and were directed towards the enemy, and that his staff had magical powers to move objects.

Fanahan also made time to undertake a pilgrimage to Rome. It is reputed it was here that he made his confession and swore to leave behind his violent ways. Perhaps he knew he was approaching his own death, which happened in 664 AD. Canonised in later centuries, Fanahan’s feast day is on 25 November. His magic staff was secured in the Brigown round tower, where it was highly valued until a storm heavily damaged the tower in 1720.

Wave: Cleena’s Strand is located in between Ross Bay and Galley Head. Just out from the beach is a rock named Carrig Cleena, around which the waters possess a dark hue. Passed down folklore describes that Cleena, or Clíona, was queen of the Munster fairies and banshee of the Desmond kings in the Middle Ages. One legend relates that Clíona was the daughter of Mannanán Mac Lir. He was an Irish sea god. The family is said to have lived in Tír Tairngire, an otherworldly paradise much like Tir na nÓg’ (Land of Youth). In such lands, there was no sadness, no growing old, no dying and it was a place where everlasting youth reigned.

Another tale describes that Clíona eloped from Tír Tairngire with an attractive young warrior named Ciabhán of the Curling Locks. They disembarked at Trá Théite, the strand at Glandore. Ciabhán left her in his boat. A mighty wave came in and she drowned. This wave was later renamed Tonn Chlíona (Cliona’s Wave). The wave is still deemed a loud and immediate harbinger of death for someone.


1227a. St Fanahan’s Well, Mitchelstown, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Speech, The Unveiling of the Michael Collins Statue, 20 October 2023

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy, Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Rena Buckley and Ronan O’Gara unveiling the new statue of Michael Collins. Credit: Darragh Kane
Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy, Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Rena Buckley and Ronan O’Gara unveiling the new statue of Michael Collins. Credit: Darragh Kane

The Parade of Memory

Dear distinguished guests, dear friends, thank you for the invite to address you.

I have three brief messages.

My first message to you this afternoon is all about the power of the rich stories that underpin Cork’s past and Ireland’s past and how this statue adds to the city’s memory bank.

In a historic port city such as Cork, stories swirl around us,

Every few metres there are stories, which stop you, they make you question, make you wonder, make you dream, make you remember, make you curious, make you disturbed, make you explore and make you to not forget – a whole series of emotions, which ultimately make a strong sense of heritage, a strong sense of memory and a strong sense of place

And this afternoon we unveil another story to add to the cityscape.

 On this historic street, Grand Parade we stand on a space with an abundance of stories, memories, and curiosities.

A former rushes and reeds threwn river channel.

A former impressive moat of the eastern walls of the walled town of Cork,

A moat giving access to the small port of the walled town via the grand castles of King’s Castle and Queen’s Castle, now depicted in the City’s Coat of Arms.

South east quadrant of the town wall, c.1600 as depicted in George Carew’s Pacata Hibernia, c.1600; red dashed line is the Grand Parade (source: Cork City Library)
South east quadrant of the town wall, c.1600 as depicted in George Carew’s Pacata Hibernia, c.1600 ; red dashed line is the Grand Parade (source: Cork City Library)

A curious late sixteenth century canon reputed to be from the Siege of Cork in 1690.

A placename with links to Georgian Cork and a toppled King George II statue, a story now immortalised in Sráid an Chapaill Bhuí

A carefully constructed series of arches over the river channel to create this Grand and wide street of the Grand Parade

A bridge named after eighteenth century champion of Cork’s impoverished Nano Nagle

An unfinished but friendly gift of a fountain by judge Walter Berwick in 1860s Cork

A thought provoking National Monument placed in 1906, ten years before the Easter Rising 

A new library emblazoned with an Irish Free State Harp, which replaced a burnt out Carnegie Library.

And the list goes on… influential families who lived and worked on the streets, historical churches such as Christ Church and St Augustine’s, famous shops, cinemas, and public space creation.

So my first brief message that as we unveil this statue and its embodied stories it is important to reflect on how lucky we are in Cork to have a wider heritage and historical contexts, which all add to Cork’s a strong sense of memory and a strong sense of place.

And this statue will also add to Cork’s a strong sense of memory and a strong sense of place.

Discover more on the Grand Parade’s evolution here: History Trail, Grand Parade | Cork Heritage

Grand Parade, Cork, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)
Grand Parade, Cork, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

My second message to you is bound up with narrowing the lens even more to reflect on why the statue is placed on this location and what drew Michael Collins to the street here on 11 March 1922.

 It is important to note the historical context or the time and space of what we remember here especially as all of us Corkonians frequent the Grand Parade regularly.

It was the first political rally that Michael Collins attended outside Dublin to promote support for the Treaty was in Cork City. All of the regional newspapers of the time including the Cork Examiner had media spreads on the rally.

On Saturday afternoon, 11 March, Michael and colleagues arrived to Cork City.

Anti-treaty supporters fired gunshots into the air as Collins passed in his car through St Patrick’s Street towards his accommodation at Turner’s Hotel on Oliver Plunkett Street. This was not a straight forward visit but hindered by security concerns.

During Saturday evening, two platforms set up on the Grand Parade for the rally the following day were damaged.

On Sunday 11 March circa 50,000 people turned up on Cork’s Grand Parade for the rally. Every vantage point was used. At platform no.1, the first speaker was Liam De Róiste, who was followed by Michael Collins.

*View British Pathe footage of Michael Collins addressing the Cork public in March 1922, GREAT CORK TREATY – British Pathé (

The core of Michael’s speech was basically a rebuttal of many of De Valera’s ideas he had presented in previous weeks at his own Anti Treaty rallies across the country.

Michael went onto comment on the Treaty negotiations and the success of the British army leaving the south of Ireland.

In a sense culture and society was physically changing in Cork.

Michael Collins was followed by Seán Hayes, Commandant Seán McKeown TD, Commandant Seán Hayes TD, and Diarmuid Fawsitt. During Seán McKeown’s speech shots were fired during his speech and continued interruptions of shouting was heard all the way to the end of the programme of platform no.1.

The pro Treaty rally hosted by Michael Collins on Cork’s Grand Parade on Sunday 12 March was deemed a success. The following day, Monday 13 March, before taking the afternoon train back to Dublin, Michael took the time with Diarmuid Fawsitt from the Provisional Government’s Ministry of Economics to visit and take a tour of the Ford factory.

At Turner’s Hotel on Oliver Plunkett Street Michael Collins received several deputations – Irish Ex-Servicemen, Tenant’s Association, Cork and District Labour Council and a deputation appeared about the question of advancing funding for premises destroyed in the Burning of Cork.

Their mantras were all about a job of work to do to resolve economic and social challenges, which faced Cork. 

The city had 8,000 people unemployed with a large proportion of whom were artisans, mechanics and unskilled labourers.

So yes there was much excitement for Michael here on 11 March but there were also many questions about the winds of cultural and societal change within Irish society and Cork society and what an emerging Irish Free State would look like.

Indeed, over the ensuing six weekends Michael Collins held political rallies from Skibbereen to Waterford, Wexford, Castlebar, Tralee, and Naas, where questions and answers continued.

Michael Collins giving an oration on the Grand Parade, Cork 12 March 1922 (picture: Cork Examiner)

And my third and last message concerns one of the statements of Michael he gave on this street on 11 March. Towards the end of his passionate speech, he made a noble call about created a better Ireland for future generations.

“We have a chance now of giving our people a better life, we have a chance of doing the things that the people required done. We have a chance that the people shall no longer live the life of beasts.

We have a chance of ending our slums. We have a chance of ending the hovels of some of our country places. We have a chance of making our population happy and health. We have a chance now, not by travelling any soft road, God knows, but by a hard tilted effort to make Ireland something for the next generation, which it was not for ourselves, which it was not for ourselves”.

We are Michael’s next generation. And yes, much was done in the emerging Irish Free State to create a better Ireland. One just even have to look at Cork’s development in the 1920s – rebuilding of the City Centre, clearance of slums, massive social housing projects, economic development of our towns and villages and rural areas, and most all the emergence of a more happy, healthy and hopeful people.

But here we are over 100 years after Michael’s oration here, in a time where a “hard tilted” efforts needs to be made again, for ourselves and for future generations – across elements in particular of housing provision, hospital care, social inclusion, equality, community life, future proofing employment – what Michael called for a centenary ago.

We have a chance in our time to finish what Michael and his compatriots started. And we ow to ourselves to finish the job, work together and to strive forward.

So Dear Friends today, yes we reflect upon our new statue of Michael Collins but it is also to reflect on the cauldron of different simmering ideas or messages.

 It is important to reflect on the wider context on which this statue is to be added to and the rich sense of place the City possesses,

the messages of cultural and societal change abounding in 1922,

and the role of past narratives in our present and our future. That the work of what Michael and his compatriots remains unfinished.

To conclude dear friends, I wish to thank the fundraising campaign committee, my colleague Cllr Shane O’Callaghan for his commitment to championing the story of Michael Collins, and to Michael Holland for his creative skills in forging this beautiful piece of sculptural work. Go raibh míle maith agat.

Unveiling of new Michael Collins statue, Grand Parade, Cork, 20 October 2023 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

Kieran’s Lord Mayor’s Echo Column, 30 September 2023

Celebrating St Finbarr:

This past week marked the 1400th anniversary of Cork’s patron saint’s death. Ceremonies took place in St Finbarre’s Cathedral and will also take place at Gougane Barra. On reflection, it is amazing how much folklore and legend of our patron saint has defined the Cork city’s heritage.

Historically Finbarr’s Life survives in 35 manuscripts and twenty-one copies of the early vernacular life. Finbarr’s written vernacular life has undergone little major change between its earliest and latest extant copies. These date respectively to about 1450 to 1874. Finbarr’s original life seems to have been composed, perhaps as part of a collection, in Cork between 1196 and 1201 AD, some 25 years after the arrival of the Normans in South Munster. This was a time of reform in the Catholic Church.

There are several ways of spelling Finbarr but the most common spelling is as shown. His connection seems rooted in several religious sites across the Lee Valley from source (Gougane Barra) to mouth (Cork City). Finbarr’s Life was composed initially in Latin between 1196 and 1201 AD. His life was transmitted along three principal lines, each marking a major revision of the original text.

Finbarr’s myth endures in the valley and it is the legacy of St Finbarr that gives the city and valley its core spiritual identity and an origins story. Across the valley, there are churches named after Finbarr and a number of memorials depicting the saint in churches in the form of stained glass windows and statues.

An Enduring Figure:

There are several legends that have made it into the city’s main historical narrative. One legend records that the origins of Cork City begins at the source of the Lee in the scenic Shehy Mountains at the heart of which lies the cherished pilgrimage site of Gougane Barra (Finbarr’s rocky cleft). There St Finbarr reputedly established one of his earlier monasteries on an island in the middle of Gougane Lake. Legend has it that he then left to walk the river valley at the mouth of which he established the monastery (at what is now the site of St FinBarre’s Cathedral in Cork City) overlooking Corcach Mór na Mumhan or the Great Marsh of Munster.

Finbarr’s hermitage was located around the area of present-day Gillabbey Street. It grew to be an important religious centre in southern Munster, providing ecclesiastical services in the form of a church and graveyard, and secular services in the form of a school, hospital and hostel. The annal evidence for the school relates that languages such as Latin were taught and that it was one of the five primary sites in Ireland in terms of size and influence. Word quickly spread of the monastery’s valuable contribution to society, and it became necessary to expand the site.

Between 600 AD and 800 AD, a larger hermitage was constructed east of the original site on open ground now marked by St. FinBarre’s Cathedral. It is believed that over the subsequent centuries this hermitage grew to a point where it extended along the northern district of the Lough, and extended on both sides of Gillabbey Street and College Road about as far as the locality now occupied by University College Cork (UCC).

Around the year 623 AD St Finbarr died at the monastery of his friend, St Colman, at Cloyne in East Cork. His body was returned to his hermitage and his remains were encased in a silver shrine. Here they remained until 1089 when they were stolen by Dermod O’Brien. The shrine and the remains have never been recovered. Legend has it that the location of his tomb is just to the southeast of the present cathedral, overlooked by the famous Golden Angel. St Finbarr’s feast day is celebrated on 25 September. As the city’s patron saint he is still greatly revered. The city is lucky to have such a rich cultural heritage.

Meeting Notes from the Lord Mayor’s Desk:

My school visits are ongoing. I have now entered week four of five weeks where the 115 city schools will be visited. Over 40,000 primary and secondary students are engaged over the 26 morning run. Many thanks for the warm welcome so far.

September 28, It was great honour to celebrate the work of the Cork Learning Neighbourhoods over the past year. There are six Learning Neighbourhoods which include Knocknaheeny, Ballyphehane, Mayfield, The Glen, Togher and South Parish. It is important to recognise the importance of the volunteers across the communities who are promoting lifelong learning. There have been diverse and inclusive learning activities that have taken place over the past year. The contribution of the four key partners, CETB, Cork City Council, UCC and MTU are crucial as well as the work of the Learning City Team.

September 27, I formally opened the ETB’s Future of Education conference in the Concert Hall in City Hall. It’s 10 years since Ireland’s 16 Education and Training Boards were established. Following the hugely successful “ETB Day” celebrations earlier this year, ETBs now turn their attention to the future, What does the ETB school, college and organisation of the Future look like? What do our current learners expect and want for the class of 2033? What do we need from our funders, stakeholders and staff to help us get there?

September 26, I launched Cork City Local Enterprise Office’s Autumn/Winter Training Schedule. Cork City has a strong and successful small business sector. At the Local Enterprise Office, Cork City their goal is to ensure the continued growth and success of micro enterprises in the region. Their responsibilities include Fostering a local enterprise culture, maximising the employment potential of small businesses in the region, and providing a range of business support packages to small-scale enterprises including business information & advice, mentoring and training. 

September 24, I launched Cork Walking Week 2023 which took place from the 18th to 24th September. As part of the festival I hosted my historical walking tour of Shandon. The week highlights the stakeholders that are working to make Cork city and county a more accessible and safe place to get out walking and wheeling. Infrastructural developments coupled with determined advocacy for the prioritisation of walking and wheeling will help to break down barriers and normalise walking and wheeling. 

Lord Mayor’s Column, 16 September 2023

Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Kieran McCarthy,

Echo Notes, 16 September 2023

School Visits & the Safe Harbour for Ships:

The annual tradition of visiting the 115 Cork City schools have begun. At this point I am several mornings into the 24-morning itinerary across September and early October. My general messages revolve around story of the City’s coat of arms and that the translation of the latin inscription, Statio Bene Fida Carinis translated as Safe Harbour for Ships idea is one that refers to all of us being on a journey of discovery in our life ship and to always be curious in what interests you. Connected to that my gift to each of the over 40,000 students is a bookmark telling the story of the coat of arms.

Indeed, always creative and always beautiful is one way to sum up the various Cork Coat of Arms creations – from etchings on old maps to the Lord Mayor’s chain to appearing on City Hall flag motifs, to Waterworks, to the Port of Cork boardroom, to the City Library, Fire Engines to Cork GAA jerseys.

It is unknown when the present-day Coat of arms was first used. However, an arms with two towers and ship appears on the side of Munster Plantation President George Carew’s 1601 map of Cork. It is reputed that the towers are a reference to Watergate, which comprised a large portcullis gate that opened to allow ships into a small, unnamed quay located within the walled town. On either side of this gate, two large mural towers, known as King’s Castle and Queen’s Castle, controlled its mechanics. Little evidence remains of the gate, but on the basis that it had to allow access by ships with full masts, Watergate possibly divided in two and opened like a door, rather than being wound up and down by means of a stout chain on a pulley system.

In 1996, when new sewage pipes were being laid on Castle Street, archaeologists found two portions of rubble that indicated the site of the rectangular foundations of Queen’s Castle. A further section was discovered in 1997. During these excavations, sections of the medieval quay wall were also recovered on Castle Street.

A new Mayor’s gold chain was placed on the shoulders of Mayor of Cork Samuel Rowland in 1787. It was voted on by the court of D’Oyer Hundred – or the city’s assembly of freemen.  The sum of £500 was given as a bond by the then Mayor who needed to be paid back, and the money sent onto the London goldsmith. The highlighted medallion has the coat of arms and the Latin inscription Statio Bene Fida Carinis, which means a safe harbour for ships.

In 1825 a pen and ink Sketch by nineteenth century Cork artist Daniel Maclise of the Cork Arms from a stone from the old Customs House, North Main Street, shows a ship between two towers or castles with a sailor, in Elizabethan period dress, and a bird on the rigging. The sketch can be seen in the Cork Public Museum.

The Arms of Cork City were officially registered by the Chief Herald on 23rd August 1949.

“Órdha ar thonntracha mara long trí-chrann fá lántseol dualdaite idir dhá thúr dhearg ar charraigeacha dualdaite ar gach túr bratach airgid maisithe le sailtír dheirg” Leis an Rosc “Statio Bene Fide Carinis.”

“Or, on waves of the sea a ship three masts in full sail proper between two towers gules upon rocks also proper each tower surmounted by a flag argent charged with a saltire of the third” with the Motto “Statio Bene Fida Carinis”.

Nine years later after the official registration in 1957, one of the most striking pieces were created above the entrance to the Cork Harbour Commissioners. The Cork Harbour Board, with a certain amount of ceremony, inaugurated a new symbol in front of their offices to take the place of an old one which was supposed to be a relic of British domination, usually described as the Royal coat of arms. On 8 April 1957, Alderman Seán Casey, TD, Lord Mayor of Cork, unveiled the Cork Coat of Arms over the entrance to the office of the Cork Harbour Board at Custom House Quay.

In Kilkenny limestone, the heraldic design depicts the ancient arms of the city. In the speeches tribute was made to Mr Marshal Hutson, the Cork sculptor, who designed the Coat of Arms, and to Messrs. Thomas McCarthy and Sons, Copley Street, Cork, monumental sculptors, who executed the work. Its erection marks the conclusion of a total reconstruction of the South Jetties, and the completion of the first two stages of the long river wall on the northern side.

Voices of Cork – National Services Day, 2 September 2023

Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project:

Coinciding with the school visits I am launching 22nd year of the Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project. It is funded by Cork City Council and the Project is an initiative of the Cork City Heritage Plan. 

The Project (est. 2002/03) is aimed at both primary and post primary level.  Project books may be submitted on any aspect of Cork’s rich past. Suggested topics are over the page. The theme for this year’s project – the 2023/24 school season – is “Why stories matter”.

The project is led by myself and schools for this year will be provided with a 30-minute YouTube tutorial and further questions may be complied and asked during my visits to schools. The break from the tradition of physical workshops is due to my limited time this year due to his mayoralty duties.

The fourth-class level is open to fourth class students. The primary senior level is open to students of fifth and sixth class. Post primary entrant/s will be placed in Junior Certificate or Leaving Certificate levels. The post primary level is open to any year from first to sixth year. A student may enter as an individual or as part of a group or as part of a class project.

Research and creativity are encouraged in an effort to create relevancy, awareness and appreciation of our local past amongst young people. There are prizes for best projects – trophies, book tokens, digital cameras and school workshops to be won. Certificates will be given to all entrants. More information can be got on my heritage website,

Check out as well the upcoming Cork Culture Night on Friday 22 September 2023 at