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).
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 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.
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)
Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy calls on householders with concerns on the proposed BusConnects route from Maryborough Hill through to Douglas Road across Boreenmanna Road and Well Road to make submissions to the consultation process by Monday 3 October on Cork BusConnects.ie.
BusConnects Cork aims to enhance the capacity and potential of the public transport system. It will support the delivery of a low carbon and climate-resilient public transport system in addition to greatly improving accessibility to jobs, education whilst playing a key role in regeneration and improvements to public realm and City Centres.
Cllr McCarthy noted; “The plan is ambitious but proposes dramatic changes to the roadscape in order to future proof public transport across the city. I continue to receive a lot of calls and emails from locals asking for City Council members to intervene but on this enormous set of plans, the democratic powers of local Council members have been dismissed, and the National Transport Authority is now the key decision maker.
“If local residents have questions, they can still contact me. I have heard from many local residents who have concerns on the widening of Douglas Road, Boreenmanna Road, Well Road and Grange Road. It is crucial that those who live along these roads and who are still not unaware of the plans that they log onto Cork BusConnects website and come up to speed with proposals to take strips of front garden space, tree corridors and on-street car-parking”, detailed Cllr McCarthy.
Cllr McCarthy also organised a number of public meetings on the National Transport Authority proposal to place a 20 metre wide bridge to facilitate bus and cars over Ballybrack Woods from Donnybrook Hill to Maryborough Woods as part of the Grange to Douglas Bus Corridor. Cllr McCarthy noted: “This is a shocking act of environmental vandalism. Yes there is a need to improve the nature of public transport in the city and in the south east of the city but not at the expense of demolishing half a woodland to do it”.
Launch of Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project, Year 21
It is great to reach year 21 of the Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project. It is just slightly younger than this column but both this column, the schools’ heritage project (below) and the walking tours are all about popularising more of Cork’s history and story for interested citizens and the next generation.
Over 15,000-16,000 students have participated in the Schools’ Heritage Project through the years with many topics researched and written about – from buildings and monuments to people’s stories and memories.
Never before has our locality and its heritage being so important for recreation and for our peace of mind. In the past two years, more focus than ever before has been put on places and spaces we know, appreciate, and attain personal comfort from.
The Schools’ Heritage Project is aimed at both primary and post primary level. Project books may be submitted on any aspect of Cork’s rich past. The theme for this year’s project is “The Value of the Past”. Funded by Cork City Council, the Project is an initiative of the Cork City Heritage Plan.
The Project is open to schools in Cork City at primary level to the pupils of fourth, fifth and sixth class and at post-primary from first to sixth years. There are two sub categories within the post primary section, Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate. The project is free to enter. A student may enter as an individual or as part of a group or a part of a class entry.
Co-ordinated by myself, one of the key aims of the Project is to encourage students to explore, investigate and debate their local heritage (built, archaeological, cultural and natural) in a constructive, active and fun way. Projects on any aspect of Cork’s rich heritage can be submitted to an adjudication panel. Prizes are awarded for best projects and certificates are given to each participant. A cross-section of projects submitted from the last school season can be gleamed from links on my website, www.corkheritage.ie where there are other resources, former titles and winners as well as entry information.
Students produce a project on their local area using primary and secondary sources. Each participating student within their class receives a free workshop in October 2021. The workshop comprises a guide to how to put a project together. Project material must be gathered in an A4/ A3 size Project book. The project may be as large as the student wishes but minimum 20 pages (text + pictures + sketches).
Projects must also meet five elements. Projects must be colourful, creative, have personal opinion, imagination and gain publicity before submission. These elements form the basis of a student friendly narrative analysis approach where the student explores their project topic in an interactive and task-oriented way. In particular, students are encouraged (whilst respecting social distancing) to attain material through visiting local libraries, engaging with fieldwork, making models, photographing, cartoon creating, and making short snippet films of their area. Re-enacting can also be a feature of several projects.
For over twenty years, the project has evolved in exploring how students pursue local history and how to make it relevant in society. The project attempts to provide the student with a hands-on and interactive activity that is all about learning not only about heritage in your local area (in all its forms) but also about the process of learning by participating students.
The project is about thinking about, understanding, appreciating and making relevant in today’s society the role of our heritage, our landmarks, our oral histories, our environment in our modern world for upcoming citizens. So, the project is about splicing together activity on issues of local history and heritage such as thinking, exploring, observing, discovering, researching, uncovering, revealing, interpreting, and resolving.
The project is open to many directions of delivery. Students are encouraged to engage with their topic in order to make sense of it, understand and work with it. Students continue to experiment with the overall design and plan of their work. For example, and in general, students who have entered before might engage with the attaining of primary information through oral histories. The methodologies that the students create provide interesting ways to approach the study of local heritage.
Students are asked to choose one of two extra methods (apart from a booklet) to represent their work. The first option is making a model whilst the second option is making a short film. It is great to see students using modern up todate technology to present their findings. This works in broadening their view of approaching their project.
This project is kindly funded by Cork City Council (viz the help of Niamh Twomey, Heritage Officer) Prizes are also provided by the Old Cork Waterworks Experience, Lee Road.
Overall, the Schools’ Heritage Project for the past 21 years has attempted to build a new concerned generation of Cork people, pushing them forward, growing their self-development empowering them to connect to their world and their local heritage. Spread the word please with local schools. Details can be found on my dedicated Cork heritage website, www.corkheritage.ie.
1168a. Front cover of 2022-2023 brochure for Discover Cork Schools’ Heritage Project.
Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has launched the Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project 2022/23. The project is in its 21st year and is open to schools in Cork City. It is funded by Cork City Council and the Project is an initiative of the Cork City Heritage Plan.
The City Edition of the Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage 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.
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. The theme for this year’s project is “The Value of the Past”.
Free and important project support in the form of free virtual workshops led by the Project Co-ordinator Cllr Kieran McCarthy will be held in participating schools across September and October 2022. This is a 40 minute workshop to give participating students ideas for compilation and resources.
Free workshop support is also available to schools who have never entered before and wish to have a workshop to see how the project works or to get some perspectives on Cork history. Information on entering this year’s project is on Kieran’s heritage website, www.corkheritage.ie.
Cllr McCarthy noted: “It is great to reach the twenty-first year of the project. Over 15-16,000 students have participated in the project through the years with many topics researched and written about – from buildings and monuments to people’s stories and memories. The Project continues to encourage and work with Cork students in celebrating, highlighting, debating and creating fresh approaches to Cork’s cultural heritage. The Project also focuses on students gaining acknowledgement and self-confidence from their work”.
“In addition, never before has our locality and its heritage being so important for recreation and for our peace of mind. In the past two years, more focus than ever has been put on places and spaces we know, appreciate, and attain personal comfort from”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.
Cllr Kieran McCarthy has launched his September set of public historical walking tours. They will focus on three locations – Ballinlough, Blackpool, and the old Cork Union Workhouse site at St Finbarr’s Hospital.
Cllr McCarthy noted; “These three suburbs have much cultural and built heritage. There are many nineteenth century tales running through these locations. Blackpool has a rich industrial heritage at its heart. Ballinlough has everything from historic graveyards to stories of big house estates to tales of market gardens. Whilst the old workhouse site contains stories from impoverished society and those who struggled to make ends meet”.
“These three locations follow quickly on the back of a successful and recent series of tours for National Heritage Week. It’s great to be able to host physical tours again. The September tours are the last set of public tours till next spring again. I began the public tours in early April and by the time late September rolls around, 22 free public tours will have been given by me this year. All aim to build a sense of civic pride and also just to put a focus on the history and heritage in our own city”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.
Kieran’s September 2022 Tours:
Saturday 3 September 2022, Blackpool: Its History and Heritage, historical walking tour with Kieran; meet at square on St Mary’s Road, opp North Cathedral, 2pm, (free, two hours).
Sunday 4 September 2022, Ballinlough – Knights, Quarries and Suburban Growth; historical walking tour with Kieran; meet at Ballintemple Graveyard, Temple Hill, 2pm (free, two hours).
Saturday 17 September 2022, The City Workhouse, historical walking tour with Kieran; meet just inside the gates of St Finbarr’s Hospital, Douglas Road, 2pm (free, two hours, on site tour).
Journeys to a Free State: The Re-taking of Cork City
Kilkenny-born journalist Frank Geary (1891-1961) had a front row seat of the unfolding Irish Civil War. In 1922 he joined the Irish Independent as a staff reporter. On 3 August 1922, he was sent by his editor to cover the unfolding Civil War in Cork. To get to Cork he had to sail via Liverpool because all Irish regional roads were blocked, but he was then the first to get news out of Cork.
Frank’s notes, which have survived and have been published, recall the landing of the National Army under General Emmet Dalton and their advance to Cork City to clear the retreating Irregulars or Republicans. His account of the days of the Battle of Rochestown is told from his perspective of being in the city and viewing the manoeuvres of the Irregulars as they tried to send reinforcements to Rochestown and the attempt to retain the city.
By Thursday morning 10 August 1922, the Irregulars retreated from Rochestown and blocked the roads at several other points, in order to delay the advance of the National soldiers. Early on Thursday afternoon, the National forces reached Douglas, and the Irregulars commenced evacuating Cork City, which was occupied by the National troops before night fall.
Frank recalls that by mid-Thursday afternoon that there was repeated activity of Irregulars all over the city. Bands of men with rifles flung over their shoulders were marching around. The Imperial Hotel, the County Club and the Ex-Soldiers League had again been vacated. News was being distributed that the National Army were advancing on the city. A Republican War News had been published by Irregulars and was being sold on the streets. It comprised three or four pages of typewritten text.
Frank stood on the opposite bank to Union Quay barracks. Outside the barracks there was an assortment of motor vehicles of all kinds and descriptions – lorries, five-seaters, two-seaters, and bicycles and sidecars. Big crowds still congregated around the quays. A messenger arrived at the barracks. Almost out of breath, he gave a message with desperate haste. Men ran here and there into the building and out of it. A number of the irregulars rushed on to the road. They got around a big five-ton lorry. They pushed it and got it going, and then, splash, it was in the adjacent River Lee.
Frank continues: “The men rush to another car, a fine five-seater. They push it into the river. Another and another and another and yet another meet with similar fates before the horrified gaze of the crowd. Several motorcycles, many of them with sidecars, were pushed into the water. One pretty little two-seater motor car just gets caught in the woodwork on the quay and doesn’t fall. It hangs there, betwixt and between, a funny-looking sight. The whole quayside is now cleared”.
At 3pm, suddenly Frank witnessed a volley of rifle and revolver shots ringing out. People ran and sought refuge in every open door. The volleys were apparently been fired as a warning for, as minutes later there was a loud resounding boom. A dense volume of black smoke burst up from the barracks, followed by the crash of falling masonry. Smoke arose from every window, from every chimney, even from between the very slates. In other parts of the city, there were explosions in other Republican strongholds followed by smoke and fire. Elizabeth Fort, off Barrack Street, the Bridewell in Cornmarket Street, Tuckey Street police barracks, Empress Place police barracks and high up on its hill Victoria Barracks was also in flames.
Frank writes of a city that had fallen and which was destroyed by smoke and the stench of burning buildings: “Cork has fallen. The irregulars are evacuating. As it was in Limerick they are going, going, going! Explosion follows explosion with terrifying rapidity. Cork has been my worst experience from this point of view. Like the waters of many rivers converging into a big lake, the smoke of many fires has converged into one dense mass, which hangs like a deadly pall over the whole city. The air below, as it were, is imprisoned and one stifles with the heat, the oppressive heat, and the acrid smell of burning buildings”.
In the midst of the burning Frank describes that looting had begun, and parades of men, women and children flocked to the burning buildings and take everything they can lay their hands on – motor-bicycles, wardrobes, beds, chairs, tables were amongst the materials looted. People even braved the danger of exploding bullets and bombs, and physically went into the burning buildings and carry away various articles of furniture.
At 4pm Frank describes that there was another big explosion. This one was an attempt to blow up the Parnell Bridge. It was only partially successful. A big gaping hole was blown in the wooden groundwork and part of the steel work was rent asunder and twisted like a piece of paper. Pedestrian traffic over the bridge is still possible.
By 5pm large crowds of citizens thronged the streets. Frank writes that there was not a shop open in the city. At the first explosion all the shops were quickly shuttered and closed down. All the factories and workshops in and around the city were also closed. The tramway service, too, was suspended, and was not resumed that evening. Just before the Irregulars departed they also visited the General Post Office and wrecked the telegraphic department. The telephone exchange was also visited and here the apparatus was also smashed. Several bridges on the main line to Dublin were also blown up hampering any railway communications.
By 7.30pm, the announcement spread that National army troops had arrived and were actually in the city – they were crossing Parnell Bridge. The first of them was preceded by an armoured car. The advance guard came slowly. Frank details that tens of thousands of citizens thronged the thoroughfares to view the scene. The following day Frank travelled onto Waterford by boat to write about his experiences there.
My thanks to Billy Collins for alerting me to Frank Geary’s story.
Kieran’s Remaining National Heritage Week tours:
Thursday 18 August 2022, Views from a Park – The Black Ash and Tramore Valley Park, historical walking tour in association with the KinShip Project; meet at Halfmoon Lane gate, 6.30pm (90 minutes; no booking required).
Saturday 20 August 2022, Douglas and its History, historical walking tour in association with Douglas Tidy Towns; Discover the history of industry and the development of this historic village, meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre, 2pm (no booking required, circuit of village, finishes nearby).
Sunday 21 August 2022, The Battle of Douglas, An Irish Civil War Story, historical walking tour, meet at carpark and entrance to Old Railway Line, Harty’s Quay, Rochestown; 2pm, (free, 2 hours, no booking required, finishes near Rochestown Road).
1164a. Armoured Car with National Army soldiers on Union Quay, Cork, 10 August 1922, photograph by W D Hogan (source: National Library, Ireland).