10 January 2022, “It is important to acknowledge how far the site has come – from the the old landfill site to what is now Tramore Valley Park and ultimately an investment by Cork City Council with financial partners of over e.40m at this stage. Phase two such as a pedestrian bridge crossing from Grange, is another important addition that is scheduled to come to fruition this year, and this will connect to communities in the heart of Grange and all the way back into Donnybrook”, Cllr McCarthy: Half Moon Lane access to Tramore Valley Park of huge value, Cllr McCarthy: Half Moon Lane access to Tramore Valley Park of huge value (echolive.ie)
Question to the CE:
To ask the CE for an update on the opening of Marina Park and the final cost of its completion and the sources of funding? (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).
That City Library’s Cork Past and Present website be put back together online as soon as possible. It plays a very supportive role in the study of local history and genealogy in the city and region (Cllr Kieran McCarthy).
“The park looks great and will add immensely to The Marina district. It’s been a long two years with construction work stopping and starting due to Covid 19. Phase one works has also comprised 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 and are very well used”.
“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 showgrounds at its cultural height in the twentieth century attracted tens of thousands of people, who enjoyed what the Spring and Summer shows had to offer.
The new park is a modern offering on the site, which will attract citizens from across the city and region. The sides of the pavilion reflecting the society’s former buildings will not be enclosed, and there will be possibilities for coffee pods and outdoor seating and arts and crafts. The project is a e.10m investment into the area, of which nearly e.5m came from EU Urban Sustainable Funds, which are part of the EU’s structural funds and are a crucial source of funding for cities”. The EU source of income will need to be chased once again so that phase 2 of Marina Park can be delivered”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.
11 December 2021, ” “The new park is a modern offering on the site, which will attract citizens from across the city and region. The park or project represents an estimated €10m investment into the area, of which around €5m came from EU Urban Sustainable Funds — part of the EU’s structural funds and “a crucial source of funding for cities”, Cllr McCarthy said, New park in Cork city to open to the public from Monday, New park in Cork city to open to the public from Monday (echolive.ie)
Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,
Cork Independent, 2 December 2021
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. In my new book Cork City Reflections (Amberley Publishing, 2021), Dan Breen and I build on our previous Cork City Through Time (2012) publication as we continue to explore Cork Public Museum’s extensive collection of postcards.
People have been sending, receiving and collecting postcards for well over 150 years. They have always come in a variety of forms including plain, comedic, memorial, and of course topographical. Their popularity reached its zenith in the two decades before the outbreak of First World War when people used postcards for a variety of everyday reasons from ordering shopping to making appointments. Postcards have been described as the ‘social media’ of the Edwardian period as it is estimated that about one billion penny postcards were sold annually in the United States alone between 1907 and 1915.
The old postcards within Cork City Reflections show the city of Cork to be a place of scenic contrasts. They are of times and places, that Corkonians are familiar with. Many of the postcards show or frame the River Lee and the tidal estuary and the intersection of the city and the water. The postcards show how rich the city is in its traces of its history. The various postcards also reflect upon how the city has developed in a piecemeal sense, with each century bringing another addition to the city’s landscape.
Some public spaces are well represented, emphasised and are created and arranged in a sequence to convey particular meanings. Buildings such as a City Hall, a court house or a theatre symbolise the theatrics of power. Indeed, one hundred years ago in Ireland was a time of change, the continuous rise of an Irish cultural revival, debates over Home Rule and the idea of Irish identity were continuously negotiated by all classes of society. Just like the tinting of the postcards, what the viewer sees is a world which is being contested, refined and reworked. Behind the images presented is a story of change – complex and multi-faceted.
We have grouped the postcards under thematic headings like main streets, public buildings, transport, and industry. The highlight of Edwardian Cork was the hosting of an International Exhibition in 1902 and 1903 and through the souvenir postcards we can get a glimpse of this momentous event.
The Little book of Cork Harbour has been published by The History Press (2019). Cork Harbour is a beautiful region of southern Ireland. It possesses a rich complexity of natural and cultural heritage. This is a little book about the myriad of stories within the second largest natural harbour in the world. It follows on from a series of my publications on the River Lee Valley, Cork City and complements the Little Book of Cork (History Press, 2015). It is not meant to be a full history of the harbour region but does attempt to bring some of the multitudes of historical threads under one publication. However, each thread is connected to other narratives and each thread is recorded to perhaps bring about future research on a site, person or the heritage of the wider harbour.
In the book the section, Archaeology, Antiquities and Ancient Towers explores the myriad of archaeological finds and structures, which survive from the Stone Age to post medieval times. Five thousand years ago, people made their home on the edge of cliffs and beaches surrounding the harbour. In medieval times, they strategically built castles on the ridges overlooking the harbour.
The section, Forts and Fortifications, explores the development of an impressive set of late eighteenth-century forts and nineteenth century coastal defences. All were constructed to protect the interests of merchants and the British Navy in this large and sheltered harbour.
The section, Journeys Through Coastal Villages, takes the reader on an excursion across the harbour through some of the region’s colourful towns. All occupy important positions and embody histories such as native industries, old dockyards, boat construction, market spaces, whiskey making and food granary hubs. Each add their own unique identity in making the DNA of the harbour region.
The sections, Houses, Gentry and Estates and People, Place and Curiosities, respectively are at the heart of the book and highlight some of the myriad of people and personalities who have added to the cultural landscape of the harbour.
The section, Connecting a Harbour, describes the ways the harbour was connected up through the ages, whether that be through roads, bridges, steamships, ferries, or winch driven barges.
The eighth section, Tales of Shipping, attempts to showcase just a cross-section of centuries of shipping, which frequented the harbour; some were mundane acts of mooring and loading up goods and emigrants but some were eventful with stories ranging from convict ships and mutiny to shipwrecks and races against time and the tide.
The section entitled Industrial Harbour details from old brickworks, ship buildings to the Whitegate Oil Refinery. Every corner of the harbour has been affected by nineteenth century and twentieth century industries.
The last section Recreation and Tourism notes that despite the industrialisation, there are many corners of the harbour where GAA and rowing can be viewed as well as older cultural nuggets such as old ballrooms and fair grounds. This for me is the appropriate section to end upon. Cork Harbour is a playground of ideas about how we approach our cultural heritage, how were remember and forget it, but most of all how much heritage there is to recover and celebrate.
Both Cork City Reflections (2021) & The Little Book of Cork Harbour (2019), and Kieran’s other books are available in Waterstones, Vibes and Scribes and Nano Nagle Place.
1128b. Front cover of The Little Book of Cork Harbour (The History Press, 2019) by Kieran McCarthy.
“The proposal is to be warmly welcomed. This area of South Docks has been derelict for many years and crying out for a new use. O’Callaghan Properties have proven they can deliver what they say in a timely manner and have been great to draw in large companies into Cork. And to be fair to them, they also take feedback on board. From my perspective I am appreciative so far of their notes in their press releases on their focus on blending in the old Odlum’s Building and finding a cultural use for it. I think such a building will be a very special part of this corner of South Docks – it can be the space to retain the historical memory of the docks, whilst also showcasing modern cultural life in Cork.
I am disappointed though for the grain silos – I think part of them should be retained to add character to the development. I know in my own submission I will be making, I will be focusing in on that and making general comments on the need for place-making. In the past I have been critical of the creation of non-descript glass boxes, which don’t add to any sense of place. But I am grateful that the developers in North and South Docks have done some great restoration work. There is certainly a better balance being struck in retaining the sense of place compared to previous decades. I will be reading carefully the O’Callaghan property proposal carefully once it becomes available to the general public”.
27 November 2021, “In his website about Cork city entitled Cork Heritage, Independent cork city councillor and historian Kieran McCarthy states that Odlums operated their flour mills venture at the docklands from 1965. It followed a long history of milling in Cork, Looking back at the historic Odlums Mills in Cork, Looking back at the historic Odlums Mills in Cork (echolive.ie)
25 November 2021, “The proposal is to be generally welcomed. This area of South Docks has been derelict for many years and crying out for a new use”, said Cllr McCarthy, No glass box on our docks!, No glass box on our docks! | Cork Independent
24 November 2021, Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy said the area proposed for development had been derelict for some time and that the proposals are to be warmly welcomed. He said he believed the redevelopment of the Odlum’s Building could be “a very special part of this corner of South Docks”. South Docks development a ‘further exciting phase’ in Cork’s development, South Docks development a ‘further exciting phase’ in Cork’s development (echolive.ie)
Independent Councillor and local historian Kieran McCarthy gives a zoom talk on this Thursday 25 November, 6.30pm. The topic is on the life and times of nineteenth century engineer Sir John Benson on his Cork works ranging from bridges to waterworks to special sites such as the Berwick Fountain. The talk is hosted by Engineer’s Ireland, Cork Branch, and the Friends of the Crawford. Booking details are here: www.engineersireland.ie/listings/event/7906
The talk reflects on the enormous legacy of engineer and architect Sir John Benson. His work as County Surveyor, Cork Harbour engineer and then City Engineer in Cork from 1846 to 1873 was notable. He was concerned with not only developing a public road network, developing river dredging works programme but also engineering a water supply for the entire city, and ultimately improving the quality of life in the city and region.
Cllr McCarthy noted: “Much has been written on many of John’s well-known works over the years such as the beautiful Berwick Fountain, the red bricked English Market exterior, the striking St Patrick’s Bridge and his work on designing the North Cathedral’s western tower”.
“John was passionate about his work and about Cork. His array of works he was involved in show he was a hard-worker and a visionary for his time. He was also a pioneer in designing National Exhibition buildings in Cork and in Dublin in order to showcase the products of the country. He is also remembered for his extensive railway line work being the engineer for the old Cork-Macroom rail line and the architect for the first Cork-Dublin railway terminus, which existed before the current Kent Station, and part of which still survives and is currently being preserved”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.
Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed Cork City Council’s Parks and Recreation Division undertaking of trials researching various alternatives to herbicides. The research during the past three years has concluded that the alternatives are less effective and more costly. The alternatives included steam jet application, electric strimmer and organic herbicides. The disadvantage of the alternatives is that the control increases from one operation per year up to four for any one of the alternatives. That said the alternatives are by far more environmentally friendly in terms of greater biodiversity and pollinator friendly amenity areas.
Cllr McCarthy noted: “The Marina and The Atlantic Pond areas are core areas I have had phonecalls on and questions on the use of herbicide. The Roads Department are cognisant of general concerns regarding the use of glyphosate and have been conducting trials in the last three years with contractors using non-glyphosate products. These trials have incrementally ramped up to the point that in 2021 these trials cover 140km of the public road network, i.e., 28% of the road network. In the coming months, an evaluation of these trials will be completed with respect to effectiveness and costs, with a view to expanding the overall percentage of network treated with non-glyphosate products in 2022”.
“Providing the trials are deemed successful, contractors with effective non-glyphosate products are available, and costs match Council budget allocation, it is the Roads Departments intention to proceed with non-glyphosate products in the future treatment of the City’s road network”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.
Kieran McCarthy gives a zoom talk on Nineteenth Century Engineer Sir John Benson on his Cork works ranging from bridges to waterworks to special sites such as the Berwick Fountain.
Thursday 25 November, 6.30pm, with Engineer’s Ireland, Cork Branch, and the Friends of the Crawford. Booking details here: www.engineersireland.ie/listings/event/7906
Kieran notes: “The talk reflects on the enormous legacy of engineer and architect Sir John Benson. His work as County Surveyor, Cork Harbour engineer and then City Engineer in Cork from 1846 to 1873 was concerned with not only developing a public road network, developing river dredging works programme but also engineering a water supply for the entire city, and ultimately improving the quality of life in the city and region.
Much has been written on many of John’s well-known works over the years such as the beautiful Berwick Fountain, the red bricked English Market exterior, the striking St Patrick’s Bridge and his work on designing the North Cathedral’s western tower.
John was passionate about his work and about Cork. His array of works he was involved in show he was a hard-worker and a visionary for his time. He was also a pioneer in designing National Exhibition buildings in Cork and in Dublin in order to showcase the products of the country. He is also remembered for his extensive railway line work being the engineer for the old Cork-Macroom rail line and the architect for the first Cork-Dublin railway terminus, which existed before the current Kent Station, and part of which still survives and is currently being preserved”.
Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,
Cork Independent, 11 November 2021
Journeys to a Truce: A Daring Escape from Spike Island
A very insightful exhibition on some of the key Irish War of Independence figures from Passage West town takes place in the town’s museum at present. One of the figures presented is Henry O’Mahony, who in November 1921 as well as six others made a daring escape from the Internment Camp in Spike Island.
Henry was born in Passage West and attended the local national school. At the age of sixteen, he was indentured as an apprentice engine filter in Haulbowline dockyard where he continued to work after his apprenticeship was over.
Henry joined the IRA in 1917 and became Company captain and Deputy Commandant of the 9th Battalion, Cork No.1 Brigade. He was active in politics and was elected on the Sinn Féin ticket to the first meeting of the newly formed Passage West Town Commissioners on 14 July 1920. Five days later he was elected chairman of the body.
Not long afterwards Henry was arrested in Glenbrook and was one of 500 prisoners interned in Spike Island. At the next meeting of the town commissioners a few days later the clerk stated he had received a letter from the chairman stating that circumstances prevented him from attending meetings for the time being.
Henry in his Bureau of Military History account (WS1506) outlines his escape through tunnels and a boat escape on 10 November 1921. Henry, with six other Volunteer Officers, Maurice Twomey, William Quirke, Tom Crofts, Dick Barrett, Paddy Buckley and Jack Eddy got away under cover of darkness. Henry notes: “We tunnelled through a wall surrounding the prison which was the inside of a moat. We then scaled the outside wall by means of a timber ladder made from the joists of the flooring of the prison which we had by then wrecked. We made our way to the coast and eventually to the pier where we saw a guard on duty. When the guard left, Eddy waded out and brought to the pier a boat into which we tumbled into and, with the aid of a storm, succeeded in reaching Cobh and safety”.
The Passage West Exhibition also has more detailed descriptions of the escape by Volunteer William (Bill) Quirke. It took two full months to complete the plans – each member of the group of seven detailed for the escape attempt had certain tasks to complete. They worked in shifts making notes, charts to the changes of the moon, the height of the tide and, above all the operation of the search lights. A rope ladder was made from rungs of chairs and electric light flex. It was a range of seven men or try to escape.
On 10 November 1921 at 5pm, the group crowded into a hole in the wall at the back of one of the blocks and entered an old used passageway leading to the moat. The stones were immediately replaced by comrades. They then crouched in silence listening to the walk of the sentry as he marched to and fro on his regular beat above their heads. In addition it was a while and stormy night.
Bill relates in his account: “Now the accuracy of our time chart was put to the test. We knew it was only a matter of minutes before the searchlights started and that we must get over the second wall before going into the limelight, so to speak. It was an anxious time…Each time the sentry clicked his heels, which meant he was about to march back on the return beat, one of the two men dropped over the parapet and onto the island proper…We were all over the second wall and had the ladder clear when the torchlight swing into action”.
With very slow stages the group reached the boat on which they had planned to make their escape only to find that it would take a steam engine to shunt it to the water’s edge. Bill remarks that the group had heard about the boat from some prisoners who were taken out in a barbed wire cage to bathe during the summer. They went to an old outhouse to review the situation when a further complication arose. A soldier and a girl came in. It was an hour before they left. They were not aware of the group’s presence.
The group moved to the water’s edge and worked their way around the island to the pier. They knew that some boats were usually anchored on either side of the pier. Two pier guards marched briskly towards them but did not see them.
When the guards had gone some distance, the group made for a boat only to find that it was chained and locked. Two further boats were tried with a similar result. It was time for quick action. One by one they slipped across the pier and down the steps at the other side. Again, the first two boats were chained to the pier – but there was still another boat apparently anchored out abit from the others. Jack Eddie, from Ardmore, swam out to investigate. He came back and reported that it was anchored with a rope. Silently he entered the water again with a knife between the teeth.
Bill relates: “Jack swam out; cut the rope and paddled with her alongside. One by one way we took our seats. Dick Barrett beside me. Moss Twomey from Fermoy and Henry O’Mahony were in the next seat. Paddy Buckley from Mitchelstown and Tom Crofts from Cork were in the next while Jack Eddy steered”.
The group narrowly missed the patrol boat and they thought they were safely away when on came the big search light. It stopped in the water just a few feet short of the boat. Henry O’Mahony directed their course and at 3am they scrambled ashore at Cobh. Each one then began their journey back to their home area.
The Irish War of Independence Exhibition is currently open in Passage West Museum. More information on opening times from this website, www.passagemuseum.ie.
1125a. Henry O’Mahony in a peaked cap, centre back of this old photograph from Spike Island Internment Camp (source: Spike Island Heritage Centre).
1125b. View of interior of Passage West Museum, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).