Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy is to restart his free historical walking tours during the month of April. Tours will be of the old Cork City workhouse site on Douglas Road in St Finbarr’s Hospital, the Shandon quarter, and the Barrack Street/ Friar’s Walk area respectively.
Cllr McCarthy noted; “This year my talks and walks reach their 30th year. There have been many walks given since my teen years. I have pursued more research than ever in recent years as more and more old newspapers and books are digitised these have allowed greater access to material and hence more material to create historical walking trails of some of Cork’s most historical suburbs”.
“I am also trying to sharpen the tours I have and to create new ones in a different suburb. The three areas I am re-starting with for the 2023 all have their own unique sense of place, their own cultural and built heritage, their own historic angles, some really interesting ‘set pieces’ and add their own stories to how the city as a whole came into being; they also connect to the upcoming 2023 Cork Lifelong Learning Festival”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.
Full details of Kieran’s April tours are below:
Saturday 1 April 2023, Shandon Historical Walking Tour; explore Cork’s most historic quarter; meet at North Main Street/ Adelaide Street Square, opp Cork Volunteer Centre, 2pm, in association with the Cork Lifelong Learning Festival (free, duration: two hours, no booking required).
Sunday 2 April 2023, The Cork City Workhouse; learn about Cork City’s workhouse created for 2,000 impoverished people in 1841; meet just inside the gates of St Finbarr’s Hospital, Douglas Road, 2pm, in association with the Cork Lifelong Learning Festival (free, two hours, on site tour, no booking required)
Saturday 15 April 2023, The Friar’s Walk; Discover Red Abbey, Elizabeth Fort, Barrack Street, Callanan’s Tower & Greenmount area; Meet at Red Abbey tower, off Douglas Street, 2pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required).
Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has called for more consistent and meaningful communication between the NTA and Residents Groups. Proposals for 12 Sustainable Transport Corridors including Maryborough Hill to Douglas Road for BusConnects Cork were published in June 2022 as part of the first round of public consultation. The consultation closed in early October last year.
Following the first round of public consultation, the NTA has been reviewing the almost 3,000 submissions made by the public. The BusConnects Cork team has also met with 33 residents’ and business groups across the city since summer 2022 with meetings ongoing. The engagement process has resulted in a number of revisions and alternatives to the initial proposals and these will inform part of the next round of public consultation for people’s feedback.
However Cllr Kieran McCarthy has noted that some of the feedback has been haphazard; “I am hearing that some residents groups in the Douglas area have had multiple meetings and others have had none. The communication process must be consistent. We will entering phase 2 of the public consultation process in early April and it important that compromises and alternatives, where relevant are actually discussed and explored – otherwise the consultation element is just a tick the box action”.
“I remain deeply worried for the built and natural heritage of several areas of the NTA plans. The decision to omit the bridge proposal over the Mangala is welcome but the thought of kilometres of trees and garden space being ripped out along route ways such as Douglas Road, Boreenmanna Road and Well Road is very worryingly indeed. Hence why meaningful dialogue is very important between stakeholders”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.
In the first two months of 1923, there were some important movements in the reconstruction narrative in Cork City Centre. It was just over two years on from the Burning of Cork in December 1920. By early January 1923, only a few buildings had been rebuilt – namely the Munster Arcade buildings off Oliver Plunkett Street and several buildings on the side streets. However, no rebuilding work had started on St Patrick’s Street.
In the first week of January 1923, the general conditions governing a competition for designs was published for the reconstruction of a new City Hall. Cork Corporation’s Law and Finance Committee oversaw the competition, which was limited to architects living and practicing in Ireland. Mr Lucius O’Callaghan FRIAI was appointed by the Corporation to act as assessor. The prize for the best design was £500, second, £200, and the third £100. The style of architecture and the materials to be employed were left to the discretion of the competitors, but it was essential that the buildings would be of “good architectural character, expressive of their purpose, and without unnecessary elaboration”. It was desired that Irish materials be used as far as possible.
One of the preferrable conditions was that the new assembly hall or concert hall should have seating accommodation for 1,400 persons. Provision was also to be made for a platform for concerts, lectures to accommodate 150 persons, space for organ, retiring rooms. There should also be a suite of rooms for the Lord Mayor, accommodation for caretaker, and better accommodation for staff. That being said correspondence was received by the Corporation that funding for the rebuilding of City Hall was still not in place at central government level.
By early February 1923, a large number of compensation claims in Cork had been considered by the Shaw Commission or the Compensation (Ireland) Commission – a joint partnership between Westminster and the Irish Free State, where Westminster paid up through the Irish Free State. A total of 31 assessors were employed on the commission. The commission considered damages to goods and property. Indeed, the new chairman Sir Alexander Wood Renton was about to take over from Lord Shaw, who had stepped down from his chairman role. By mid-February over £400,000 in compensation for destroyed goods, in particular, had been settled for Cork businesses affected by the Burning of Cork.
In mid-February 1923 at a meeting of the Corporation’s Cork Reconstruction (Finance) Committee, Thomas Kelleher and John Sisk, representing the builders who had contracts in connection with the reconstruction scheme, appeared before the Committee. Mr Kelleher highlighted to the committee that the position of the contractors was becoming practically intolerable owing to the treatment from the financial point of view that has been meted to them by the Irish Free State Government. In order to advance progress on rebuilding schemes, the Government were paying for large parts of the reconstruction in Cork. The members of the committee knew that in ordinary commercial life when an architect or engineer gave a certificate for work done on foot of a contract that they were paid in a few days and sometimes within twenty-four hours. The position was that some certificates running back as far as the previous October 1922 had not been paid – there was £15,000 due on these certificates alone. Unless some arrangement was made towards expediting payment there would be no alternative for the contractors but to stop work.
It was on the suggestion of the Reconstruction Committee that these works were started, but now the contractors felt let down financially. Mr Kelleher, builder, noted that he has read in the press some months previously that certificates had been passed for payment for £6,000 to the Munster Arcade, a job, which had been completed but for which the contractors had not yet got a received a penny from central government who was administering payment.
Certificates for £15,000 were, Mr Kelleher understood, now in the hands of the Committee or the Town Clerk, and the builders were entitled to certificates for practically a similar amount or the work that had been done since October 1922. He deemed it futile to look for certificates for a second instalment when the first had not been honoured.
The Chairman J Kelleher, Town Clerk, said that as far as the committee were concerned they fully appreciated the position of the builders. He believed himself that the government were simply playing with the matter.
At the meeting, it was also discussed how much of the Shaw Commission payments could go towards or supplement actual construction. The vast amount of the almost half a million pounds claimed by business establishments for the replacement of stock did not even in many instances afford full compensation to the proprietors for the loss of goods that were destroyed by fire.
In the immediate days following the meeting, a deputation representing Cork Corporation i.e. Jeremiah Kelleher, Town Clerk, and Cllr John Horgan went to Dublin to raise concerns and questions. There they met Cork TD Robert Day and proceeded to the offices of the Shaw Commission. There they were informed that the amounts already paid in respect of compensation to Cork traders were for stock and other effects destroyed, and that the balance of the money awarded, and which was being withheld was in respect of buildings, and would be paid on the architect’s certificate according as the work of rebuilding the destroyed premises was proceeded with.
Messrs Day, Kelleher and Horgan also interviewed the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance in connection with a recent letter dealing with the stoppage of the payment of awards in compensation claims for actual re-building.
What became apparent in late February 1923 was that the Minister of Finance would pay for the actual physical building work after it was built but the initiative rested with the owners of destroyed properties to get the work started. The worry by Corporation officials was that large scale business establishments with available cash flow could embrace successfully such a government initiative. An architect’s certificate weekly or monthly would bring government money in appropriate and welcome tranches. However, for the smaller shopkeeper the challenge remained where would they get own resources to be able to start work.
1190a. Advertisement for Munster Arcade, Cork, 1925, from Guy’s Directory of Cork (source: Cork City Library).
This weekend the award ceremony of the Discover Cork Schools’ Heritage Project 2022/23 takes place at the Old Cork Waterworks Experience. A total of 30 schools in Cork City took part in the 2022/23 school year, which included schools in Ballinlough, Beaumont, Blackrock and Douglas and with a reach to Glanmire, Ballincollig, and inner city suburban schools as well. Circa 1,000 students participated in the process with approx 250 project books submitted on all aspects of Cork’s local history and it cultural and built heritage.
The Discover Cork Schools’ Heritage Project is in its 21st year and is a youth platform for students to do research and write it up in a project book on any topic of Cork history. The aim of the project is to allow students to explore, investigate and debate their local heritage in a constructive, active and fun way.
Co-ordinator and founder of the project, Cllr Kieran McCarthy noted that: “It’s been a great journey over twenty years of promoting and running this project. Over the years, I have received some great projects on Cork landmarks such as The Marina to Shandon to villages such as Douglas but also on an array of oral history projects – students working closely with parents, guardians and grandparents. I’ve even seen very original projects, such as this year I received a history trail on streets of Cork pavements. The standard of model-making and in recent years, short film making – to go with project books – have always been creative”.
The Project is funded by Cork City Council with further sponsorship offered by Learnit Lego Education, Old Cork Waterworks Experience and Cllr Kieran McCarthy. Full results for this year’s project are online on Cllr McCarthy’s heritage website,
The Cork Dockers’ Strike, which began Monday 15 January 1923 and extended all the way to early February 1923, was a quest for better terms and wages within a national pay agreement for transport workers in southern Irish ports. The Cork dockers, coal, shipping carmen, and storemen sections of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, took a ballot on the proposed national pay deal reduction of 1s per day for full time workers and a pro rata reduction for tonnage workers.
Over a 1,000 Cork dockers picketed operations that were being carried out on Cork City’s quays. The scheduled sailings of the cross-channel boats were cancelled. Trade was diverted from the port of Cork. In particular heavy losses by those involved in the cattle trade began. In the immediate few days after the strike was called, a consignment of 750 mixed cattle awaited shipment for Birkenhead, UK. The consignees estimated that the loss of the non-sailing of one steamer called the SS Classic on the Birkenhead route at £1 per head, through loss of markets and deterioration of meat.
By an arrangement entered into with the strike committee the unloading of three vessels with cargoes of flour was allowed to proceed, as was also the discharge of the steamer Benwood from Derry with potatoes. A strong guard of national troops patrolled Penrose Quay, and only persons on business were permitted to pass in the direction of the shipping companies’ premises.
Apart from the jobs of dockers, many more connected jobs and firms were also affected. The Cork Examiner on 18 January 1923 outlines that between the south and north channels, there were close on a dozen steamers of good average tonnage tied up, with cargoes awaiting discharge. Permits were granted for the loading of a few vessels during the day. These goods mainly comprised of flour.
The deadlock created many difficulties for local firms. For example, the practice of the Metropole Steam Laundry, Lower Road, and the practice of the company to draw their own coal supplies for the use of the laundry, resulted in the laundry shutting and one hundred employees being laid off.
The Greenboat goods service conducted by the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway Company was not allowed run. Since the damage and enforced cessation of railway facilities the service had proved to be of great benefit to the residents of the lower harbour. Even though, the crew were members of the National Union of Railwaymen, they had no differences with their employers.
Another ship, the Lady Kerry was undischarged and was unable to resume her outward sailing. However, the work of taking off her 175 sacks of mails was undertaken by national troops and the sacks were conveyed under escort to the Cork GPO.
On 19 January 1923, whilst there was no national troops patrol in the vicinity, a Fordson motor lorry conveying Mr Edward Grace, the manager of the extensive Ford Works on South Docks, went to the point where the SS Glengarriff was berthed to collect one of his employee’s personal possessions. Mr Grace, on alighting from the motor lorry, was at once surrounded by a strong picket of the strikers, and the drivers of the lorry was meanwhile threatened against assisting in the removal of any goods from the steamer.
A very heated an animated discussion ensued. In defiance of the anger around him, Edward Grace forced his way onto the gangway of the vessel. After an interval of about 15 minutes, he reappeared on the gangway with a bag of soft goods on his shoulder.
Proceeding to leave the vessel, Mr Grace was held up when midway up the gangway missiles were thrown at him. He immediately took out a revolver and pointed the weapon at the strikers. The strikers maintained possession of the gangway and prevented him from coming ashore.
In the meanwhile the driver of Mr Grace’s motor lorry drove off in the direction of Railway Street, with the aim of getting national troops assistance, but was outmanoeuvred by a section of the crowd. They brought the vehicle to a standstill in Alfred Street, where it was set on fire.
Mr Grace was eventually permitted to leave the vessel and sought refuge in one of the offices of the City of Cork Steam Packet Company stores. National troop soldiers came on the scene and Mr Grace was escorted from the quays.
Tensions remained heightened throughout the strike negotiation talks. On 22 January 1923, a conference between employers and docker representatives were held at the Cork Employer’s Federation at the South Mall. The conference was initiated by the Cork Workers’ Council and Fr Thomas Dowling (before he left for America; see last week’s article). The officials of the Workers’ Council who were present suggested some arrangement might be arranged whereby work could be resumed pending further conferences on the National pay deal for dockers and that such terms would not apply to Cork. The proposals were not responded to at first by the Ministry of Labour within central government, which left the strike ongoing until 1 February.
On 1 February in the offices of the Ministry of Labour in Dublin’s Edward Street, Irish Ship owners and the Irish Trade and General Workers Union struck an agreement on the restoration of the reduction of one shilling per day and the restoration of the pro rata reduction for tonnage workers.
1187a. View from St Patrick’s Bridge of St Patrick’s Quay and the North Channel of the River Lee, c.1900, from Cork City Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen.
The next and exciting final phase of Cork’s new Marina Park is on course to begin this summer with advance works to take place over the coming weeks, Cork City Council has confirmed.
With the next phase of the 70 acre Marina Park on course to begin this summer, advance works are taking place over the coming weeks.
A long-term ambition of Cork City Council, the completed park will be six times larger than Fitzgerald’s Park and equivalent in size to Dublin Zoo. Phase 1 of the park (14 acres) was officially opened in June 2022.
Just 2.5 kilometres from the city centre, Marina Park is a key economic driver and catalyst for Cork Docklands. This next and final phase of Marina Park will extend from The Atlantic Pond to Church Avenue and will accommodate picnic areas, adventure play areas, new paths, a preserved marshland zone and the restoration of several architectural heritage sites. It will deliver high-quality public space and landscaping while protecting and enhancing the natural heritage and biodiversity of the area.
To facilitate the development of woodland trails and paths, some trees and scrub must be removed in the coming weeks. Ten trees will be removed to facilitate construction of the approved park design and a further 16 trees will be removed as they are diseased or dead and hence pose a safety concern. Extensive new tree planting (70+ trees) forms part of the next stage of the park, based on expert biodiversity and landscape advice, with a focus on biodiverse native planting.
The Marina Park works will include:
The upgrading and creation of accessible, formal and informal paths and trails throughout the park.
The restoration and preservation of heritage structures within the park and the creation of a heritage trail to highlight the unique history of the marina
Improvements works to the Atlantic Pond area including the removal of the existing concrete edging and replacement with a selection of hard and soft landscapes, improved seating provision and replacement of the existing concrete bridge.
The provision of a nature playground as well as various play areas throughout the park
The ecological management of the meadows, woodlands and marsh areas to promote and increase the biodiversity of the area embracing and enhancing the existing natural assets of the site including the Atlantic Pond, the Marsh, mature woodland, and open meadow areas
Provision of sensitive public lighting and feature lighting
Other associated works including park furniture, points of interest, wayfinding etc.
Building on last week’s column, in early autumn 1922, the Irish Civil War also happened within the satellite area of the city, where surprises attacks on National Army troops were regular by Anti-Treaty IRA members. But in particular the damage inflicted on key infrastructure points was high.
The Cork Examiner reported that on 31 August, Macloneigh Bridge, near Coolcower demesne, about two miles from Macroom was blown up by Anti-Treaty IRA members. This was the last bridge through which connection was maintained between Macroom and Cork on the south bank of the River Lee valley.
During the early hours of 2 September 1922, the Anti-Treaty IRA members blew up Dripsey bridge, and the people of Macroom area now had to come to Cork by Berrings and Cloghroe, as other bridges in the same area in the northern bank of the River Lee valley had been removed by explosives.
In early September 1922 the directors and managers of the railway services in the South of Ireland made efforts to maintain to some degree lines of communication with important centres in the country served from Cork. It was repeatedly highlighted that the wholesale destruction of railway bridges and lines was causing the unemployment of hundreds of menand inconvenience on large communities in wide agricultural districts. In early September 1922 due to damage the Cork-Macroom line had to close just beyond Ballincollig at Kilumney.
In East Cork, the loss of the East Ferry floating bridge, which was highly damaged, caused serious inconvenience to passengers and traffic from the Cobh side of the river to the Midleton and surrounding districts, where a considerable amount of communication was carried on. Rare pictures shows the bridge to be two pontoons arranged catamaran-like, decked over and fitted at either end with a landing ramp. The overall pontoon was chained-hauled between its two terminals of sorts. The bridge, which was the property of Mr Eugene McCarthy, East Ferry, was entirely constructed by him several years previous to 1922.
Using Mr McCarthy’s floating bridge locals could convoy livestock from the south of Midleton to Cove (now Cobh), at a considerably lower rate than if the stock were to be conveyed via Midleton by road. By September 1922 traffic by the latter route or road was cut off owing to the destruction of the bridge at Belvelly. The East Ferry route was the only one left. The damage to the floating pontoon to be repaired included the construction of new gangways, and the fact of the bridge had been beached after the chain was cut, caused several, leakages in the boat, and with the repairing of the chain, in all, the cost of repairs amounted to a considerable figure for Mr McCarthy.
The Cork Examiner records that on 7 September 1922 passengers on the Muskerry Railway were held at gunpoint by Anti-Treaty IRA members. Since the partial blowing up of the Leemount bridge, the railway company, for the convenience of the public ran a train from Cork to the Leemount bridge at Carrigrohane while a train was also run from Coachford and Blarney to meet it. At Leemount bridge passengers got out of the trains and crossed the bridge on foot, thus exchanging trains there. The trains then returned, one to the city and the other going on to Coachford.
About 11.30am on 7 September the train from Coachford arrived at Leemount with a large number of passengers. However, it was held up by several armed Anti-Treaty IRA members who compelled the passengers to pass between two men with revolvers for inspection. All the passengers passed through this inspection. The IRA members then removed all the mails from the train and took them across the fields towards Leemount.
On 10 September in the early morning the blowing up of the road bridge by Anti Treaty IRA members near Dunkettle station on the Great Southern and Western Railway branch line, Cork-Cobh, and Cork-Youghal. The familiar old bridge was completely blown away, all that remained were the stone piers. It was a swivel bridge, but seldom was there necessity to open it. Spanning the river stretching along to Glanmire, the only parts of the bridge left were the cylinders which are smashed and broken. It was believed that mines were laid at either end of the bridge and were set off simultaneously.
The Cork Examiner also highlighted that the destruction of the railway lines serving the southern and western coasts reduced the towns of south and West Cork, and practically all the towns of Kerry led to a large shortage of food supplies. The inland centres were even harder hit, and the enterprising shopkeepers of the towns along the coast organised alternative means of transit to the railway system. There were in all between fifty and sixty motor boats and steamers plying between Cork city and the southern and western towns and villages, including Limerick, Tralee, Kenmare, Goleen, Sneem, Cahirciveen, Skibbereen, Union Hall, Cape Clear, Sherkin Island, Schull, Castletownbere, Baltimore, Clonakiltv, Bandon and Courtmacsherry.
Ranging from ten to fifty tons, the boats brought and took the merchandise, which formerly came over the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway and the Kerry branch of the Great Southern and Western Railway. Cargoes from West Cork and Kerry arrived at the city’s South Jetties and included pigs, bacon, butter, eggs and fresh fish. The return cargo consisted of flour, meal, bran, groceries, salt, and the products of the local breweries and distilleries.
It is recorded that in early September twenty-five motor boats and ten steamers arrived on one day and having unloaded their cargoes of foodstuffs took with them supplies for the shopkeepers of the western County Cork towns. The boats arrived in all hours of the day and night and unloaded and re-loaded within twenty-four hours.
1171a. Eugene McCarthy’s wooden river ferry or pontoon with horse and cart on board at East Ferry, c. 1910 from Cork Harbour Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen.
As a public representative for the south east of Cork City and having two and a quarter bus corridors in my area, it’s difficult to know where to start with my representation.
At the outset I do acknowledge the need for improving the city’s public transport. Indeed, I was one of the core political members, who connected the European Commission to Cork City with regard to the Horizon Europe mission of being 100 Climate Neutral Cities by 2030. So, I am acutely aware of the steep uphill journey the city has to travel to be climate neutral and to work closely between the public and all the stakeholders involved to make sure a strong partnership is maintained.
To be honest at this moment in time I see a very fragmented partnership between the general public and the stakeholders involved in Cork Bus Connects. That partnership and dialogue seriously needs to improve if this epic project is going to get across the line.
To begin with in early July the scatter gun communication to the public via unsigned two-page documents, circulated in a hit and miss way to directly affected houses especially those whose gardens may be part of a CPO process, led to much mistrust and much frustration of the consultation process. Mistrust and frustration has led to further mistrust and frustration. So yes, there is a sense of “you are taking my land” in many cases but moreover there is a case of “you are not reaching out enough to me”.
Coupled with that I have found that the multitude of people who have contacted me unable to read the series of produced maps and unable to digest the many devils in the detail of the different corridors. In effect, I have spent three months in a continuous loop trying to get information to local people via flyering, knocking on doors and hosting a multitude of public meetings – many on the side of affected roads.
Having a public consultation in mid-July led to many local people just becoming aware of the proposals when they came back from holidays in early September. The obligatory ads on bus stops and in newspaper gave nothing of the depth of the detail in the proposals. The info meetings in Nemo Rangers and the subsequent for the bus corridors in my area led to further feedback around the lines of the NTA “don’t know what they are doing”. The engineers who were present were not briefed enough on how to temper the public frustration. So, I remain adamant in my call for the communication team to resign or be completely overhauled.
I have received some positive feedback from the zoom meetings, but the overall feedback I am getting is that because of the scale of the proposals, the NTA should have offices in the heart of affected communities, so people can meet people face to face as these dramatic proposals are being negotiated over the next two years. It is not good enough that the process is being conducted from board rooms of sorts in Dublin. If the NTA are really serious about Bus Connects Cork in Ireland’s second city, the need for a publicly accessible office is crucial.
The various compulsory purchase order proposals are of serious concern to all my constituents and the amount of these proposals is a high price to pay for the implementation of Cork Bus Connects. Having a good garden is a core historical part of suburban design in Cork through the past few decades. Coupled with that the stone encircling walls are unique as well the trees and hedgerows. The overall proposal to remove over 1,000 trees between Ballinlough, Douglas and Grange is high handed environmental vandalism at its worst and I what I deem a very serious attack on Cork’s historic suburban sense of place and quality of life. I acknowledge that there would be replacement but would take several years for said replacement trees to catch on and ecosystems to catch on.
Indeed, even the thought of 1,000 trees literally being culled has emotionally upset many people by the vision of an almost urban ruinous tree landscape. In an age where trees, biodiversity and wildlife are core aspects of National, regional and local climate action plans, the proposal pitch, for example, to build a bridge across Ballybrack Woods or the Mangala is very disappointing. That this is deemed a proposal has painted a picture to many of my constituent of lack of caring of the importance of ecology and biodiversity to a suburb such as Douglas or to Cork City. The same sentiment could be applied to the proposals to wipe out biodiversity along Douglas Road, Boreenmanna Road and Well Road.
There is a very clear worry on the removal of on-street car parking, which needs a lot more public consultation.
There are many devils in the detail of Cork Bus Connects. I sincerely ask a way improved partnership with the general public. I ask that a detailed response be given to each maker of a submission, and a complete over haul of the communication process. The current mistrust and frustration, even anger needs to be negotiated with empathy and fairness for all involved.
30 September 2022, “Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy said: ‘The tree line on Boreenmanna Rd in particular is incredible. It’s quite beautiful at autumn time and it would be an environmental travesty if those trees were actually cut down’ “, Road-widening plans prompt ribbon protest on Boreenmanna Road, Road-widening plans prompt ribbon protest on Boreenmanna Road (echolive.ie)