Category Archives: Landscapes

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 15 July 2021

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 15 July 2021

Journeys to a Truce: The 11 July 1921 Settlement

This week is the centenary of the signing of the Truce on 11 July 1921 bringing the Irish War of Independence in Ireland to an end. Technically talks had begun in December 1920 but they petered out when British Prime Minister David Lloyd George demanded that the IRA first relinquish their arms. Renewed talks began in the spring of 1921, after the Prime Minister was lobbied by Herbert H Asquith and the Liberal opposition, the Labour Party, and the Trades Union Congress.

From the perspective of the British government, it seemed as if the IRA’s guerrilla campaign would persist indefinitely, with escalating losses in British casualties and in finance. In addition, the British government was confronting acute blame at home and abroad for the measures of British forces in Ireland. On 6 June 1921, the British made their first peace-making act, calling off the strategy of house burnings as reprisals.

On the other side, IRA leaders and in particular Michael Collins, felt that the IRA, as it was then organised, could not continue indefinitely. It lacked arms and ammunition to face down the even regular British soldiers arriving into Ireland.

On 24 June 1921, the British Coalition Government’s Cabinet decided to propose talks with the leader of Sinn Féin. Coalition Liberals and Unionists agreed that an offer to negotiate would strengthen the Government’s position, especially if Sinn Féin refused. On 24 June Prime Minister Lloyd George wrote to Éamon de Valera as “the chosen leader of the great majority in Southern Ireland”, suggesting a conference. 

Sinn Féin agreed to talks. De Valera and Lloyd George ultimately agreed to a truce that was intended to end the fighting and lay the ground for detailed negotiations. Its terms were signed on 9 July and came into effect on 11 July. Negotiations on a settlement, however, were deferred for several months as the British government demanded that the IRA first decommission its weapons, but this demand was ultimately withdrawn. It was arranged that British troops would stay restricted to their barracks.

However, in the three days between the terms being signed and coming into effect, Irish Truce historian Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc details at least sixty people from both sides of the conflict were killed across the country. Such stories appear in the heart of Dara McGrath’s photographic exhibition entitled For Those That Tell No Tales in the Crawford Art Gallery on sites associated with the War of Independence. There is a poignant picture of an execution location of The Lough with associated descriptive text. It was at 8 pm, on the evening of Sunday 10 July 1921, four young unarmed and off-duty soldiers, Private Henry Morris (aged 21) and Corporal Harold Daker (aged 28) of the South Stafforshire Regiment and Sappers Albert Camm (aged 20) and Albert Powell (aged 20) of the Royal Engineers were seized by a patrol of seven Volunteers. The Volunteers had been searching an area from Donovan’s Bridge along the Western Road in search of a suspected civilian informer. Executed on the northern side of The Lough, the four bodies were dumped at Ellis’s Quarry on its southside. All four were found blindfolded and shot dead.

The only surviving account of the executions by a Volunteer participant is the official report sent to IRA Headquarters. It simply reads: “We held up four soldiers and searched them but found no arms. We took them to a field in our area where they were executed before 9pm”. It has been suggested that the killing of these men was a personal reprisal by the IRA for the murder of Volunteer Denis Spriggs just two days earlier on 8 July. Private Morris was from Walsall and served in the East Kent Regiment during the First World War. He is buried in Ryecroft cemetery, Walsall. Corporal Daker was the son of William and Mary Daker. He is buried in St Ann’s Churchyard, Chasetown, Walsall. Sapper Albert Camm was from Holland Street in Nottingham. Sapper Powell was the son of Arthur and Jane Powell of Abbott Road, London. He is buried at Nunhead, All Saints Cemetery in Southwark.

On the advent of the Truce, Michael O’Donoghue, Engineer Officer with the 2nd Battalion of Cork No.1 Brigade remarks in witness statement (WS 1741) of the Bureau of Military History of a new-found freedom and an almost too good to be true scenario;

“Now came July, and with the scorching summer heatwave came rumours of peace and negotiations for a cease fire. Then before we had time to realise what was happening, as everything moved so suddenly, the Truce was upon us on a July 11th 1921 at midday. Overnight everything was changed. The fugitive rebel army, the IRA, was recognised as Ireland’s national army by the British Government. There was an uneasy peace. ‘Twas hard, even for the IRA themselves, to credit that the fortunes of war had changed to such an extent. we could now move everywhere in town and country. We exulted in our new found authority and importance. Everywhere the people regarded us as heroes and hailed us as conquerors and turned our heads with flattery, adulation and praise. We were youngsters in our teens and early twenties, and who could blame us if we got intoxicated with all the hero worship and rejoicings. Even those people who had maintained a cautious neutrality, standing on the ditch during the War of Independence, now rushed to acclaim us and to entertain us”.


1108a. Execution location site for four British soldiers, 10 July 1921 at northern side of The Lough, Cork, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

Cllr McCarthy: Ballybrack Woods Stream Needs to be Protected, 9 July 2021

Cllr Kieran McCarthy has asked Irish Water that Ballybrack Woods stream needs to be protected more from pollution outbreaks as witnessed in recent weeks. Cllr McCarthy noted: “I was very disappointed to see the pollution outbreak in the stream. Much work has been done by volunteers such as Douglas Tidy Towns, citizens environment activists and Cork City Council to protect this gem of a green space within the heart of Donnybrook”.

 “Irish Water has got back to me and have completed their site investigation; the water quality is back to normal and whoever the culprit was and has stopped pouring a chemical or chemicals into the stream. Many thanks to everyone for raising the pollution incident so quickly. Irish Water at this point have not formally discovered who the culprit was, so one needs to be legally careful on naming anyone.  I’d ask though that all users of the woods and the Mangala just keep an eye out for future pollution incidents and report them just as fast”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.

In correspondence to Cllr McCarthy, Irish Water confirmed that a site inspection of the wastewater infrastructure was undertaken in the Calderwood/Ballybrack area on 7 July following Irish Water receiving this report. The wastewater infrastructure at Calderwood Road and the Ballybrack Walkway were inspected and was observed to be operating normally. A full walk through check of the Ballybrack Stream was undertaken – there was no evidence of pollution (no gross solids, no ragging, no evidence of third party discharges) on the date of the visit.

The wastewater network was inspected along the route of the pollution incident. This was observed to be operating normally. In addition, a member of the public advised the team during the site visit that construction work in the area may be the cause as they had observed similar incidents over recent weeks. From these investigations Irish Water have noted: “it would appear that the most likely source of this issue would appear to be related to third party activity in the area. However Irish Water are unable to formally confirm this issue”. The wastewater infrastructure in the area is fully operational and is operating normally.

Press, Cllr McCarthy: Protecting Atlantic Pond a Must, 8 July 2021

8 July 2021, “Local Councillor Kieran McCarthy said sites such as the Atlantic Pond must be protected from all forms of chemicals. ‘It is good news in the long run to see new measures being put in place to protect waterways such as the Atlantic Pond’, Procedural oversight’ blamed for Cork beauty spot being sprayed with weedkiller,

Kieran’s Quote:

“It is good news in the long run to see new measures being put in place to protect waterways such as the Atlantic Pond. There is quite an array of bird diversity at the pond and I always feel the location is often an under appreciated blue space for the wider city. On any given day, there are many people who walk around the pond and you’d often see people snapping photos of the birdlife in the pond especially the cygnets and herons. There is large local interest in the condition of the Pond. I continue to lobby for information panels and seasonally arranged nature walks.

The Atlantic Pond and Cork Lough possess the widest variety of freshwater species. Apart from being a really important blue space for bird diversity, the Atlantic Pond is also an important green space due to its adjacent woodland for many woodland bird species too. More and more at City Council level, we are hearing when green space and blue space exist side by side, species richness and abundance grows. So sites like the Atlantic Pond need to be protected more from all forms of chemicals”.

Cork City Reflections (2021, Co-written, Amberley Publishing)

One hundred years ago in Ireland marked a time of change. The continuous rise of an Irish revival, debates over Home Rule and the idea of Irish identity were continuously negotiated by all classes of society. In Cork City Reflections, authors Kieran McCarthy and Daniel Breen focus on the visual changes that have taken place in the port city on Ireland’s south-west coast. Using a collection of historic postcards from Cork Public Museum and merging these with modern images they reveal how the town has changed over the decades. Each of the 180 pictures featured combines a recent colour view with the matching sepia archive scene.

The authors have grouped the images under thematic headings such as main streets, public buildings, transport, and industry. Readers will be able to appreciate how Cork City has evolved and grown over the last century but also how invaluable postcards can be in understanding the past. In an age where digital photography and the internet have made capturing and sharing images so effortless, it is easy to forget that in the decades before the camera became popular and affordable, postcards were the only photographic souvenirs available to ordinary people.

Read an Irish Examiner interview with Kieran: Cork City Reflections: New book merges old postcards with modern images (
Buy the book here: Cork City Reflections – Amberley Publishing (
 Cork City Reflections by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen (2021, Amberley Publishing)
Cork City Reflections by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen (2021, Amberley Publishing)

Cllr McCarthy: Forward Planning Essential for Former ESB Marina Site, 1 July 2021

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed discussion and forward planning on the decommissioned Marina power station in Cork city. “It was great to hear about formal confirmation this week that planning between the ESB, Cork City Council and the newly formed Land Development Agency in relation to possible future uses of the site is ongoing. For me the ESB site is one of four sites in South Docks, which have a lot of built and cultural heritage – the others being the old Ford Factory site, former Odlums Building and the R & H Hall grain silos. All four sites have been highly influential in the development of south docks historically plus also are iconic symbolic structures in the area. It would be a real pity to lose their presence in the future of south docks.

“I would like to see the future of South Docks with a mixture of old and new building stock, so that the area has a nuanced sense of place. For me as well, I would encourage any future development to work with the Council to create a riverside walk on the south docks, so that The Marina greenway would potentially lead and connect all the way into the city, and hence linking to walks just west of the city centre – all in all creating an iconic routeway all along the city’s River Lee sections with public health advantages, scenery and other uses in abundance”. concluded Cllr McCarthy.

Read more here on future of ESB Marina Site:Former Marina power station eyed up for housing (

Cllr McCarthy: New Native Saplings Planted on Blackrock Castle Walkway, Late June 2021

Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed the sponsorship by Coillte of new native saplings at the Blackrock Castle Walkway. Cllr McCarthy remarked: “In total this year, up to 1,200 trees were planted by Cork City Council Operations (Parks) this year. Cork Chamber are sponsoring another 200 of the 1,200 native trees being planted this year and have committed to at least two more years of sponsorship at €3,000k per year. This is a very generous contribution as it assists with increasing tree cover throughout the City”.

 Outgoing Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh said: “The Coillte trees planted are a representation of all primary and secondary schools in Cork City and speak to our past, present and future. The Lord Mayor’s Oak Tree Initiative 2021 symbolises the resilience, sustainability and growth synonymous with our schools”.

Coillte Supply Chain Manager, Dominic Joyce said: “Coillte is delighted to support such initiatives as they inspire future generations and increase awareness of the important role that trees play in mitigating climate change, improving habitats, increasing biodiversity and providing sustainable and renewable building materials. We are delighted to be associated with the Lord Mayor’s initiative to commemorate the independence struggle 100 years ago in this novel and environmentally friendly way”.

Saplings were also planted Glen River Park, Bridevalley Park, and the Curraheen Walkway. Plaques have been installed near the new trees and a QR code will direct  people to the Cork City Council commemorations site, where further details of the initiative will appear.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 10 June 2021

1103a. Empress Place, Former Black and Tan Barracks 1921, Summerhill North, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 10 June 2021

Journeys to a Truce: A Crown Interrogation

In mid-June 1921 Seán Healy, Captain of A Company, 1st Battalion, Cork Brigade No.1, was elated at the prospect of bringing off a successful ambush against crown forces. He had plans completed for a large ambush on a patrol of Black and Tans whose daily beat brought them through Silversprings Lane in Tivoli. About thirty fully armed Black and Tans passed through it every evening. The Company considered this lane as an ideal place for an ambush. The hills on both sides were heavily wooded, which would provide ample cover for the men. A-Company company were only awaiting sanction from their Brigade Officer-in-Command. However, events did go according to plan.

In his Bureau of Military History witness statement (WS1479), Seán recalls that at 11am on the morning of 14 June, Seán was in the Parcels Office at the Glanmire Station (now Kent Station) when two British Intelligence officers, in mufti, entered and he was trapped and arrested. He notes of his arrest: “I had no way of escape, being taken unawares. The railway station had been surrounded by military and police. I was placed under arrest and marched from the station to the nearby Black and Tan Barracks at Empress Place, under a heavy escort. When climbing the long flight of stone steps leading from the Lower Road to Empress Place, I felt that my race was run…It was obvious that I was in for a rough time. Heavy fighting was taking place in most parts of the country at that time. The enemy was being attacked on all sides. The Dublin Custom House was burnt down a short time previously. The temper of the Crown forces was very high”.

When Seán was taken into the police barracks he was handed over to the Black and Tans by the military, as a temporary arrangement – the British Intelligence Officer Lieutenant Dove remarking that he would call back him back later. Seán was pushed into an office and the sergeant insitu demanded his name and address. Seán gave him the required information and his particulars were recorded. The sergeant then ordered two of his men to search Seán. They removed his coat, vest and shoes.

Seán remarks of being interrogated: “We had strict orders from G.H.Q. to remain silent during interrogations and to refuse to recognise the enemy Courts. Next questions were: “Are you a member of the I.R.A.? Another one of the Murder Gang? Where were you born? How old are you? What occupation do you hold? Where does your father reside? Knowing that the military officers were calling back for me again, I played for time and informed the interrogators that I would not answer any questions until my solicitor was present”.

Seán was then handcuffed and removed to a military lorry which was waiting outside and was conveyed to Victoria Military Barracks. Before leaving Empress Place, the military took possession of Seán’s belongings, which had been taken from him by the police. The lorry halted outside the main gates of the military barracks which were then opened by a sentry and Seán’s lorry was admitted. All alighted from the lorry and an orderly wrote down the usual particulars.

Sean was then un-handcuffed and escorted to the Intelligence Office: He remarks: “I was again searched and subjected to an interrogation by three Intelligence officers. Your name? Your address? Your occupation? Are you a Sinn Féiner? Did you take part in any of the attacks against our forces? What do you know about Sinn Féin dispatches being sent on railway trains? What business had you and three other Sinn Féiners outside the Cork University at 9am on a certain morning? etc, etc”.

The Intelligence Officer had information that Seán was prominent in Cork IRA Brigade No.1 and that he held the rank of an officer. It now became quite clear to Seán that a spy had given information against him. He again claimed privilege not to answer any questions until his solicitor Mr. Healy, solicitor, South Mall was present.

Seán was abruptly told that this was a military inquiry and under Martial Law they had a means of making him talk. The interrogation lasted about half an hour. After leaving the Intelligence Office, Seán was taken to a prison cell where he was kept in solitary confinement for three days and nights. The weather was exceptionally warm so that bed clothes did not bother him. The only ventilation in the cell was a small window, which was about ten feet from the ground and strongly protected with iron bars. The only furniture in the cell was the plank bed on which there was one army blanket.

A notice was crudely hand-printed on the wall over the cell door – “All who enter here are doomed men”. This was evidently done for a joke by some of the soldiers who were guarding the prison. Seán describes that he slept very little on those nights; “I was expecting visits from the Intelligence officers, who frequently took out their prisoners during the late hours for further interrogations, but for some inexplicable reason they did not interfere with me at night. The thought of the ordeals that confronted me did not help to induce sleep. Realising that if any of the various charges which could be brought against me were proved, torture, the firing squad, then the release by death, would be my end, I prayed that I would be strong enough to stand up to them all”.

To be continued next week…


1103a. Empress Place, Former Black and Tan Barracks 1921, Summerhill North, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Cllr McCarthy’s Upcoming Cork Harbour Festival Events, June 2021

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy will host three events for the upcoming Cork Harbour Festival. Two of the events focus on the rich history of the city’s bridges and the third focuses in on the history and sense of place on The Marina. The events and dates are as follows:

– Bridges of Cork, Online Talk by Kieran, Tuesday 8 June 2021, 7.30pm-8.30pm, FREE:

This zoom presentation explores the general development of the city’s bridges and why they were historically so important and are still so important in connecting the different parts of Cork City together. Details of the link for the talk are available at

– Bridges of Cork, Heritage Treasure Hunt, hosted by Kieran, Saturday 12 June 2021, 1pm, FREE, self-guided walk:

This treasure hunt is all about looking up and around and exploring the heart of Cork City whilst exploring the stories and place of the city centre’s bridges. Suitable for all ages, approx 2hr, with mixed footpaths on city’s quays.Meet Kieran at National Monument, Grand Parade, Cork, between 1pm-1.15pm on Saturday 12 June, to receive the self-guided treasure hunt pack, no booking required. Bring a pen.

– The Marina, Self Guided Audio Trail with Kieran, 4 June 2021 -14 June, FREE:

A stroll down The Marina is popular by many people. The area is particularly characterized by its location on the River Lee and the start of Cork Harbour. Here scenery, historical monuments and living heritage merge to create a rich sense of place. The audio tour will be available here to stream live on your smartphone from 4-14 June 2021. Details of the link for the audio trail are available at

Cllr McCarthy: Marina Park Phase 1 Opening Delayed Until Late September 2021

In a recent reply to a question posed by Cllr Kieran McCarthy at the mid May City Council meeting, Cork City Council have noted revised the completion date of phase 1 of Marina Park. Due to Covid 19, delaying construction works, the completion date is now late August/early September this year. The revised opening date is late September/early October.

Cllr McCarthy noted: The phase one works comprise the construction of a new public car park at the Shandon Boat Club end of the Marina, as well as a new cycle lane and pedestrian walkway – these are all now completed. One can also see that the installation of perhaps the most eye-catching part of the project – a noticeable red steel pavilion on the site of, and replicating, the central hall of the former Munster Agricultural Showgrounds. The sides of the pavilion will not be enclosed, and there will be possibilities for coffee pods and outdoor seating and arts and crafts”.

“Another feature will include water jets for children to play in as well as the provision of public toilets. The public can now see the sunken lawn areas and the diversion of a watercourse, as well as new pathways – all of which are taking shape at present. The project is a e.10m investment into the area, of which nearly came from EU Urban Sustainable Funds, which are part of the EU’s structural funds and are a crucial source of funding for cities”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.