Category Archives: S.E. Ward Local History

Lord Mayor of Cork, The Echo Column, 12 August 2023

This week coming is National Heritage Week and it celebrates Ireland’s cultural, built and natural heritage. This week’s theme is Living Heritage and the week brings together volunteers, community groups and heritage enthusiasts to share their experience, knowledge culture and practices.

The tours I have chosen for National Heritage Week this year are all important areas in Cork city’s development plus they all have a unique sense of place and identity. I will host seven tours. There is no booking involved and all are free. My tours are the tip of the iceberg, so to spea,k on the array of events on this week in Cork City. Check out National Heritage for more information on talks and walks on the City and its region.

Sunday 13 August 2023, Cork Through the Ages, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork City; meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm (free, two hours, no booking required). 

 Cork City possesses a unique character derived from a combination of its plan, topography, built fabric and its location on the lowest crossing point of the River Lee as it meets the tidal estuary and the second largest natural harbour in the world. This tour explores the city’s earliest historical phases. In particular there is a focus on the walled town of Cork, which would have dominated the swampy estuary of the River Lee. Imagine an eight to ten-metre high and two-metre-wide rubble wall of limestone and sandstone, creeking drawbridges, mud filled main streets and laneways, as well as timber and stone built dwellings complete with falling roof straw and a smokey atmosphere from lit house fires keeping out the damp.

Monday 14 August 2023, Shandon Historical Walking Tour; explore Cork’s most historic quarter; meet at North Main Street/ Adelaide Street Square, opp Cork Volunteer Centre, 6.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required).  

 Tradition is one way to sum up the uniqueness of Shandon Street. Despite being a physical street, one can stroll down (or clamber up), the thoroughfare holds a special place in the hearts of many Corkonians.  The legacy of by-gone days is rich. The street was established by the Anglo-Normans as a thoroughfare to give access to North Gate Drawbridge and was originally known as Mallow Lane. Different architectural styles reflect not only the street’s long history but also Cork’s past.

The name Shandon comes from the Irish word ‘Sean Dún’, which means old fort and it said to mark the ringfort of the Irish family, MacCárthaigh who lived in the area circa 1,000 A.D. The site of this fort is now marked by the Firkin Crane, Dance Cork centre. Nearby St Anne’s Shandon was built in 1722 to replace the older and local church of St. Mary’s, Shandon, which was destroyed in the siege of Cork in 1690 by English forces. In 1750 the firm of Abel Rudhall in Gloucester cast the famous bells of Shandon. On 7 December 1752, the bells were first used and were rung in celebration and recognition of the marriage of a certain Mr Henry Harding to Miss Catherine Dorman. Inscriptions can be found on the bells, which contain messages of joy and death.

Tuesday 15 August 2023, The City Workhouse and St Finbarr’s Hospital; meet just inside the gates of St Finbarr’s Hospital, Douglas Road, 6.30pm (free, two hours, no booking required). 

The Cork workhouse, which opened in December 1841, was an isolated place – built beyond the toll house and toll gates, which gave entry to the city and which stood just below the end of the wall of St. Finbarr’s Hospital in the vicinity of the junction of the Douglas and Ballinlough Roads. The Douglas Road workhouse was also one of the first of over 130 workhouses to be designed by the Poor Law Commissioners’ architect George Wilkinson. 

 Wednesday 16 August 2023, Cork South Docklands, in association with the Cork Jewish Community and Heritage Team; meet at Kennedy Park, Victoria Road, 6.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required). 

Much of the story of Cork’s modern development is represented in Cork South Docklands. The history of the port, transport, technology, modern architecture, agriculture, sport, the urban edge with the river – all provide an exciting cultural debate in teasing out how Cork as a place came into being.  

Friday 18 August 2023, The Northern Ridge – St Patrick’s Hill to MacCurtain StreetHistorical walking tour; Discover the area around St Patrick’s Hill -Old Youghal Road to McCurtain Street; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 6.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required). 

 This is a tour that brings the participant from the top of St Patrick’s Hill to the eastern end of McCurtain Street through Wellington Road. The tour will speak about the development of the Collins Barracks ridge and its hidden and interesting architectural heritage.

 Saturday 19 August 2023, Douglas and its History, 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 (free, duration: two hours, no booking required, circuit of village, finishes nearby). 

The story of Douglas and its environs is in essence a story of experimentation, of industry and of people and social improvement. The story of one of Ireland largest sailcloth factories is a worthwhile topic to explore in terms of its aspiration in its day in the eighteenth century. That coupled with the creation of forty or so seats or mansions and demesnes made it a place where the city’s merchants made their home in. Douglas makes also makes for an interesting place to study as many historical legacies linger in village’s surrounding landscapes.

 Sunday 20 August 2023, Views from a Park – The Black Ash and Tramore Valley Park, historical walking tour; meet at Halfmoon Lane gate, 2pm (free, duration: 90 minutes, no booking required). 

Historically William Petty’s 1655 map of the city and its environs marks the site of Tramore Valley Park as Spittal Lands, a reference to the original local environment and the backing up of the Trabeg and Tramore tributary rivers as they enter the Douglas River channel. We are lucky that there are also really interesting perspectives on the area recorded through the ages.

Come and take a walk with me this week!

National Heritage Week Tours with Lord Mayor Cllr Kieran McCarthy

(All tours free, no booking required, all finish near their original start)

Sunday 13 August 2023, Cork Through the Ages, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork City; meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm. 

Monday 14 August 2023, Shandon Historical Walking Tour; explore Cork’s most historic quarter; meet at North Main Street/ Adelaide Street Square, opp. Cork Volunteer Centre, 6.30pm.  

Tuesday 15 August 2023, The City Workhouse and St Finbarr’s Hospital; meet just inside the gates of St Finbarr’s Hospital, Douglas Road, 6.30pm. 

Wednesday 16 August 2023, Cork South Docklands, in association with the Cork Jewish Community and Heritage Team; meet at Kennedy Park, Victoria Road, 6.30pm. 

Friday 18 August 2023, The Northern Ridge – St Patrick’s Hill to MacCurtain Street; Historical walking tour; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 6.30pm. 

Saturday 19 August 2023, Douglas and its History, in association with Douglas Tidy Towns, meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre, 2pm. 

Sunday 20 August 2023, Views from a Park – The Black Ash and Tramore Valley Park; meet at Halfmoon Lane gate, 2pm.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 6 July 2023

1209a. Horse jumping at Cork Summer Show, Cork Showgrounds, Ballintemple, late 1920s (picture: Munster Agricultural Society Archives).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 6 July 2023

Recasting Cork: The Cork Summer Show Resumes

After its cancellation in 1922, the Cork Summer Show run by the Munster Agricultural Society came back for its three days, 3-6 July 1923, in the Cork Showgrounds in Ballintemple. The previous year there were difficult logistical issues due to the ongoing Civil War and the near impossibility of transporting livestock in particular across destroyed roads and rail infrastructure. The 1923 edition was an ideal situation to get the show back ‘on the road’, to show the progress and potential of farming in the Irish Free State and to profile the need for improved farming methods.

The principal aim for the 1923 edition was to encourage Irish producers and exporters to adopt the best modern methods and by taking advantage of the expert guidance and instruction insitu at the show as well as becoming more aware of what competition was out there and what approaches to marketing that are taken.

Editorials in the Cork Examiner more than once referred to the idea that the prosperity of the country depended to a very large extent on the ability to place products in the market in such a way that they will hold their own in competition with the products of competing countries. A Cork Examiner editorial on 4 July refers to Denmark’s continuous success in farming exports deserved the serious attention of Irish agriculturalists. Despite, its physical size being smaller than Ireland and that most of its soil was less fertile than the generality of Irish land and considerable areas were marshland, Danish dairy produce and eggs commanded the readiest sale and the best prices in the British market place.

Reference is also made to a successful Danish business model whereby there were close inter-working between producer and distributor, the employment of up to-date methods, and the “rigid elimination of the unfit article from the products intended for export”. Products did not leave Denmark if the quality could not be guaranteed, with the result that their products enjoy an “unenviable reputation for excellence”.

The editorial relates that Ireland derives a considerable portion of her export revenue from eggs. But Irish methods of placing eggs on the market are inferior to those adopted in Denmark. Danish eggs were always clean, which was not always the case in terms of Irish eggs. There was also a lack in appreciation of the importance of packing and display. A marketing section of an education section of the Summer Show illustrated the difference between cases of eggs cleaned and properly packed and others where negligence and glovelines were apparent.

The same thoroughness distinguished the grading of Danish butter. A government mark called the “Lurmark” was affixed to every consignment leaving the country. Its presence was a guarantee that the butter was made in pasteurised cream does not contain more than 16 per cent of water and was all round good quality.

The editorial further relates that the Danish creamery societies pledged themselves to the most stringent rules for the milking, feeding, and general treatment of the cows and permit inspection at any time by an officer of the society. The rules also provided for general cleanliness, especially in regard to the vessels used. The faithful following of the rules rendered possible the production of a commodity of invariable and uniform quality, which was maintained irrespective of the season. Such a brand was a large threat to the diminishing brand of butter at the Cork Butter Market.

The July 1923 Cork Summer Show was well attended. The different railway companies issued tickets at reasonable fares and large numbers from the country districts availed of the travel discounts. There was much to entertain the visitor. The horses and the jumping were, of course, the main feature, but there were also classes for swine, poultry, butter, flowers and vegetables. The display of agricultural implements and machinery was deemed extensive with a nod to the best modern utilised methods. The industrial exhibits of Cork manufacturers were a notable feature of the show and aimed to highlight the progress of such exhibits. Boot making, slate making, candle making, hosiery, Garage and touring, engineering, bicycle sales and farm machinery making companies from Cork and its region, as well as Ford Company car, tractor and truck products, were the core Irish products being celebrated by their display. 

The Irish industrial section of the show, organised by the Cork Industrial Development Association, was deemed a large success with almost 50 different lines of Irish manufactured goods on exhibit. Exhibitors came from Dublin, Wexford, Roscommon, West Cork and from the city.

The Cork Examiner deemed that the most interesting exhibit of all was the instructive display made by the Department of Agriculture on the art of packing. The Cork Municipal School of Art had an exhibit showing proficiency in lace, leatherwork, and needlework. There were great music programmes provided by the Greenmount Industrial School, the Butter Exchange, and the Lee Pipers’ bands. There were also Irish competitions, which attracted a great deal of attention. They included story-telling, recitations, dialogues, singing and dancing.

A Cork Examiner editorial on 6 July 1923 expressed the hope that by summer 1924, the agricultural affairs of the county would be so largely improved as to admit and present a better display of cattle and poultry, and that flower, fruit and vegetable show may also be added. There was further commentary that there was a need to improve the processes of cultivation of vegetables – especially those of intensive cultivation – were not as well understood as they ought to be in Cork. A great deal of profitable work for market gardeners remains to be pursued.


1209a. Horse jumping at Cork Summer Show, Cork Showgrounds, Ballintemple, late 1920s (picture: Munster Agricultural Society Archives).

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy’s upcoming July historical walking tours (all tours free & no booking required):

Wednesday evenings, 12 & 19 July 2023, Cork and the River Lee, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork City; meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm.

Thursday evening 13 July 2023, From Canals to a Mayoralty Chain, The Making of Eighteenth Century Cork, meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm.

Friday evening, 21 July 2023, Shandon & its History; meet at North Main Street/ Adelaide Street Square, opp Cork Volunteer Centre, 6.30pm. 

Saturday afternoon, 29 July 2023, Views from a Park – The Black Ash and Tramore Valley Park & Surrounds, meet at Halfmoon Lane gate to Tramore Valley Park, 2pm. 

Incoming Speech, Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy, 23 June 2023

St Finbarr's Cathedral, Cork, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)
St Finbarr’s Cathedral, Cork, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

“Got Cork” – Adventures in the Southern Capital

Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Kieran McCarthy,

23 June 2023

The Diary Entry:

Dear colleagues, [dear TDs, senators], dear Chief Executive, dear family, dear Lady Mayoress, dear Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends;

Cork 1863 – A letter is dispatched to the UK to a young architect letting him know he was successful with his design proposal for a new cathedral.

William Burges, the newly appointed architect of a new St Finbarr’s Cathedral, immediately and proudly remarked in his diary, “Got Cork” and with that embarked on a remarkable piece of building work, a voyage of discovery into the origins of Cork history. He created an iconic structure relevant for his time and forged a structure as it was seen at the time as [quote] “worthy of the name cathedral” [end quote].

And proudly I can write in my diary this evening also “Got Cork”.

Mar sin ar dtús báire, ba mhaith liom mo fíor buiochas do mo mholtóir Comhairleoir Des Cahill agus do mo thaiceoir, Comhairleoir Terry Shannon, an bheirt iar-Ard Mhearaí Chorcaí, agus a chomhghleacaithe daor as do mhuinín a chur ionam, agus as bronntanas dom an noiméad seo “Got Cork”.

Many thanks dear colleagues for your trust in me here this evening.

Such a term “Got Cork” has always stayed with me through many years since my first reading of them.

And this diary entry by William Burges leads to many questions on what it is to “Got Cork”.

William was tasked to be a guardian of a key part of the city’s heritage – to carry out a project, with multiple roles – some of which included remembering and representing a legacy, projecting and re-animating the origins story of the city’s patron Saint Finbarr.

He built upon past legacies of former churches, He assembled striking architectural designs in a historic medieval style. He managed a team, and most interestingly conducted archaeological excavations and move skeletons and burials because the new cathedral was twice the size of the church it was replacing.

Whereas this evening, you are not entrusting me to build a Cathedral or to move graves [I hope not, but I cannot confirm I have read all of the terms and conditions with the role!].

But we are, I feel, in our own political cathedral where “Got Cork” takes on new meanings– we are in a space of guardianship, representation and inheritance.

In our ancient ceremony of handing over the chain at our annual general meeting this evening from Cllr Forde to myself – that strong sense of guardianship is ever present. There is a guardianship over the chain as an object of high symbolism – firstly a gold medallion with the city’s coat of arms and its Latin inscription Statio Bene Fida Carinis or translated A Safe Harbour for Ships,

Secondly a portcullis showcasing the ancient water gate of the medieval walled town of Cork thirdly the SS chain links symbolising sacredness and guardianship, and lastly the medallion inscription where 1787 marks its creation.

 There is the guardianship of how this chain links the past to our present, almost seamlessly – that one could argue that the chain links are not just physical links but if it could speak it has seen the highs and lows of Cork history from boom to bust and vice versa. The chain has been a witness to it all in its over 230-year history;

…to the creation of the term of Lord Mayor in 1901 with Daniel Hegarty to the tragedies of office holders such as Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney and then woven into a myriad of personal connections by those who have engaged with office holders.

 …and then there is the guardianship on how its essence the chain projects the city into the future as debated during the recent boundary expansion scheme. That of all the elements of those contentious debates, which emerged a few short years ago was that the chain and its societal connection meant much to the people of Cork.

And indeed, when you mix the guardianship elements of the past, present and future, one gets a strong mix of high emotion and a deep attachment to the title of Lord Mayor of Cork.

Lord Mayor of Cork's chain (picture: Kieran McCarthy)
Lord Mayor of Cork’s chain (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

A Personal Journey:

And for someone like me, it’s not lost on me what this chain means.

I was the child on the annual Lord Mayor school visits who felt a deep attachment to the essence of the chain and its connection to the sense of place and pride in Cork– something that made me feel proud, made me connect to my city, driven by proud parents and teachers of Cork. Thanks Mum and Dad, and to my sister Deirdre and my brother Aidan for everything.

I was someone who likened the Lord Mayor’s visit to a form of Christmas and that they had some sort of super powers and that the medallion of the chain was an actual key to a rich box of stories and papers of my city. I look forward to seeing it later.

I was the child who wanted to be Lord Mayor when I grew up

I was the teenager who pursued civic education projects of former Lord Mayors– someone who began to research and photograph the city – its buildings and public spaces – and someone who consumed history books written about the city.

I became a someone who has studied and written on the high and lows of Cork history across time encountering mayors and Lord Mayors like ghosts walking across my research of historic books and newspapers;

A someone who created walking tours, a someone who wrote books on this historic city, and ultimately an epic voyage that has led me straight into this hallowed political gladiatorial space to meet and work with you good people,

to work with different Lord Mayors of differing political hues and interests, to learn more about how this city ticks and develops,

to work in the European Committee of the Regions and now this journey has come to this enormous moment this evening.  

So, what my 11 year old self engaged with 35 years ago has brought me on a voyage of epic personal proportions where “Got Cork” has a very high emotional value.

Kieran and his fifth year local history project, Colaiste Chriost Ri, 1993
Kieran and his fifth year local history project, Colaiste Chriost Ri, 1993

A House of Democracy:

But perhaps it is my journey since I joined the Council in 2009 that has been the most enriching.

I have had wow factor memories, deeply worrying memories and very proud memories.

I have been very fortunate to work with colleagues who care deeply about Cork’s communities – its essence and people, who represent its people and neighbourhoods, where every meeting is a chance to make a difference. In my time, some evenings we have won incredible things for this city and during other evenings, we remain pushing forward inch by inch, or stuck, or we have gone back to the drawing board, but we have always remained true to a forward-looking path.

Indeed, in the past four years of this Council as a significant house of democracy, we have achieved so much.

In this Council term alone, we have gone through many challenges – the expansion of the city’s boundaries, which feels like years and years ago, brought us many nights of debates.

In 2019 in a special booklet to mark the boundary expansion of the city the Council commissioned poet Theo Dorgan to reflect on the winds of change  and the related challenges and visions. He wrote:


“Great changes are coming, the worst of the old ways are dust in the wind and the new energies are crackling with light and variousness of daring thought and music. Go on, said one of my brothers, give us a mad vision of Cork in the coming years. That’s Easy I said, it will be the Athens of a new republic, the dream city where a noble past will give birth to a glorious future. He looked at me and said, would you ever cop yourself on. Fair enough I said – getting a bit carried away…but all the same though. What if”.

[end quote].

Again, a sense of “Got Cork” but little did we know what was ahead of us.

We pushed forward through the significant challenges of Covid. We created an online digital platform to enable us to interact. We created a strong Climate Action team. We established a strong Women’s Caucus. We hosted a strong and rich commemoration programme. We passed an ambitious development plan. We found new ways forward to serve in more ambitious ways our respective local electoral areas or neighbourhoods, to placing a focus on our City of Welcomes paradigm, and much much more.

We kept the Council’s work on the road.

This has been due in no small part to your dedication dear colleagues and our strong Executive led by our CE Ann Doherty.

At this juncture I would like in particular like to thank our former Lord Mayors of this Council Cllr Dr John Sheehan, Cllr Joe Kavanagh, Cllr Colm Kelleher and the outgoing Lord Mayor, Cllr Deirdre Forde for leading us through days ranging from “is this our life now sitting 2 metres away from people” to re-opening the city sprinkling it with hope, positivity and charm, to beginning our journey on the development plan, to championing the rebooting of business and community life” and much much more.

We kept this house of democracy going – the importance of guardianship, democracy and representation never wavered.

I am reminded of the words of Tomás MacCurtain in his Lord Mayoralty speech in late January 1920 where he noted:

[quote]: “I expect from the members of the new Corporation a sacrifice of time and a sacrifice, perhaps, of personal interest…that no self-interest would be put before the interest of the community at large”.

[end quote].

 And in our time to each member of this chamber you have made sacrifices to your personal lives to make sure this chamber forges paths forwards through its multitude of its work programmes.

The Hope for Tomorrow:

And so now as we face into the last final 12 months of this Council, there is still much to do. There is much work to finish and much work to start.

And when I say all of that I am very conscious that our citizens and their voices and requests must continue to be listened to, new ideas forged and implemented, and need to be the bedrock of Cork’s DNA building into the future.

In our City, democracy matters. It is renewed every time we have a meeting. It will be renewed with the impending local elections next year.

Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney in his book Principles of Freedom spoke about people gifted with certain powers of soul and body. That it is of vital importance to the individual and the community that one be given a full opportunity to place a value on developing one’s talent, and [quote] “to fill one’s place in the world worthily” [end quote].

He also wrote about the citizen and a hope for tomorrow. As he noted:


“The citizen will fight for that ideal in obscurity, little heeded – in the open, misunderstood; in humble places, still undaunted; in high places, seizing every vantage point, never crushed, never silent, never despairing, cheering a few comrades with hope for tomorrow. And should these few sink in the struggle the greatness of the ideal is proven in the last hour”.

[end quote].

And in a similar vain Eamon de Valera opening this City Hall building and our chamber on 8 September 1936. Addressing the masses, he noted:


“I am sure the people will not shrink from the work that is necessary so that the efforts of the past are not to be in vain. The people of this city have clung tenaciously to their nationality with courage and hope even in the darkest hours. Surely that courage and that hope will not sway them now when the dawn is at hand”.

[end quote].

We will have myriads of meetings ahead of us in our final year where the “hope for tomorrow” can make sure our citizens are the front and centre of our priorities such as reducing homelessness, making sure our construction of our new social housing projects keeps on track, as well as keeping our affordable housing programmes on track, to making sure we are put on a firm footing to be Climate Neutral as part of the EU led Horizon Mission,

We need to keep adding to sustainable mobility plans; we need to keep enhancing the offering of the city centre; we need to make sure we keep creating new amenities, and we need to continue to make sure our communities are future proofed by weaving them with the sustainable development goals and the WHO Healthy Cities project. The list is a long one.

And then we need to sprinkle all those priorities with the energy and ambition that a second city brings or what I call Ireland’s southern capital and one gets an exciting future for our city by the Lee.

Cork City Council is on the frontline in building the future of communities in Cork.  The Council is a story builder, a strategy builder, and a capacity builder.

In addition, one would be hard pressed to find a community within the city’s boundaries and in its outliers that doesn’t have a strong sense of place and identity – where building community capacity, family nest building, ambition and creating opportunities matter, and when compiled create a very strong Cork Inc.

Without doubt my Lord Mayoralty will champion these many priorities but in particular I would like to offer a voice to many of our citizens through my theme of Building our Communities Together and through a pet project I will be calling the Voices of Cork. My interests in heritage, history and education will be at the heart of this project.

So, at our Annual Meeting this evening, we continue to carry with hope, with confidence, with passion, with wit, with leadership, and all of that bound to the city’s hopes and dreams, which burn brightly for the future. This great city keeps moving and the tests of our time demand continuous action.

And so this evening I can proudly inscribe in my diary “Got Cork” with its multitude of meanings that we all continue to explore, engage and push forward with.

To conclude, I am also reminded of the words of two famous composers, Rogers and Hammerstein who once penned the most beautiful lyrics.

“Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I got a wonderful feeling, everything is going my way,

eh, O what a beautiful day”.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh arís ar an onóir seo.


Sunset at St Anne's Church, Shandon, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)
Sunset at St Anne’s Church, Shandon, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 22 June 2023

1207a. Ex-Service Men Housing, unveiled June 1927, in Ballinlough, Cork (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 22 June 2023

Recasting Cork: The Ex-Service Men Houses

One hundred years ago, references are made in an editorial in the Cork Examiner on 20 June 1923 to the challenges associated with the construction of First World War ex-servicemen housing. Concern was noted in Cork that there was a delay in providing housing for ex-soldiers and sailors.

            In many districts throughout County Cork and across Munster, schemes of a limited nature had been in progress. In many cases these houses were already occupied. However as far as Cork itself, with its large population of ex-service men, the editorial describes that the public had not “so far been aware of any steps being taken to provide a suitable scheme of houses for these men”.

The context to the latter concerns was connected to an eight-year old housing programme for ex-servicemen of the First World War. After the war providing cottages & agricultural small holdings were key aims of the British Government’s programme for reconstruction and national reform. Historian FHA Aalen writes in his history article entitled Homes for Irish Heroes, that initially under the Small Holdings Colonies Acts 1916 and 1918, the goal was to settle ex-servicemen on the land in experimental colonies of cooperative smallholders. The scheme was not successful due to a myriad of problems including high prices of buying good agricultural land and constructing housing. That being noted, over 16,800 applications though in England and Wales, out of a total of 56,000 were received.

In the Irish context, providing land with housing though was deemed political interference by Westminster in Irish land speculation. However, through the legal mechanism of the 1919 Irish Land (Provision for Sailors and Soldiers) Act, the Local Government Board could promote co-operation among those settled on the land and it was hoped to create newly established colonies of ex-service men all over Ireland with the guidance of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. Over 10,000 acres were allotted, which made up 360 holdings to ex-servicemen. Initial housing was located in rural areas but also nearby to cities and towns, where ex-servicemen could find work.

Many ex-servicemen’s cottages were constructed along roadsides, either singly or in smaller groups of perhaps four to ten houses. Their important compact estates and garden suburbs, some of them carefully planned, were also built on the outskirts of cities.

Many ex-servicemen’s cottages had a living room, a kitchenette and three bedrooms. Bathrooms were provided when a municipal water supply was available. The bulk of the cottages were two-storeyed with a total area of 600 to 700 square feet, some slightly exceeding 1000 square feet. Concrete block walls, then an innovative method of construction, were widely used in the construction of the cottages. In general, the had a front and back garden.

As a result of the foundation of the Irish Free State, the new measures were short-lived. That being said by the end of 1923, expenditure had exceeded £2 million and almost 2,000 houses had been built (1508 in the Free State and 408 in the north) and several hundred more were under construction. There was a limit of a cost of £400 for a labourer’s cottage of 500 square feet.

The Cork Examiner records that by June 1923 in Charleville 59 houses had been built and occupied, 26 in Mallow, 50 houses in Midleton rural district, including Ballycotton, 19 in Kinsale rural district including Crosshaven, 13 houses at Frankfield, six at Rochestown, four at Passage West, 46 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, and ten in Ardfinnan, County Limerick. Colonel Kirkwood had been busy in Cork inspecting what may be suitable sites for the scheme in the city. He had received valuable assistance from a Captain Penny and Councillor M J O’Callaghan, who is taking a very active interest in seeing the scheme brought to fruition. It was hoped to build a number of houses on three or four sites in the suburbs, which had been provisionally selected.

Post Irish Independence through a unique trust was set up by the governments of the Irish Free State, the United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland. The trust came into being legally on 1 January 1924. In the Irish Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Land Trust, first report, 1924-1926, it is noted that the Trust comprised of a non-political body comprising five members – three appointed by the British government, one by the Government of Northern Ireland, and one from the Irish Free State. 

The Trust, once established, sustained the pace of building. By March 1926, 1692 cottages had been completed in the Free State and 733 in Northern Ireland, making a total of 2425. Amongst these over 200 houses were built in and near Cork city – Fairhill Villas and Kerryhill Road in St Mary’s Parish formed the largest development with 62 houses in blocks of either four or six units along straight avenues.

Considerable estates were also built at Friary Gardens (30 houses) and Friary Road (54 houses) in St Nicholas’ Parish, and at Whitehorn, Douglas Road (44 houses). Smaller developments included Bryan Terrace, Haig Gardens, Knockrea Gardens and Douglas Terrace, all in Ballinlough.


1207a. Ex-Service Men Housing, unveiled June 1927, in Ballinlough, Cork (source: Cork City Library).

McCarthy: Welcome News on All Saint’s Graveyard, Carr’s Hill being handed over to Cork City Council, 21 June 2023

Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed the takeover of ownership by Cork City Council from the HSE of All Saint’s Cemetery in Carr’s Hill.

Cllr McCarthy noted: “It is really great to see the City Council take ownership of this really historic and very important graveyard in Cork’s and in Ireland’s history. There have been many calls in the City Council Chamber and from the general public during the last few years for the graveyard to have a proper maintenance and conservation plan. Whereas the HSE have pursued successful conservation projects in Cork, I feel when it comes to historic graveyards, Cork City Council has more experience; it has concentrated teams focussing on amenity development, heritage and archaeology. Access, the collapse of the historic entrance and stone walls  as well as adding to the information history panels need now to be addressed through utilising local heritage City Council funding and drawing down national conservation funding”. 

Cllr McCarthy continued; “The graveyard’s history goes back to 1847. As St Joseph’s graveyard could not cope with increase in burials during the Great Famine, Fr Mathew suggested to the Cork Union Workhouse Guardians that a new burial ground should be acquired. As a result, land was attained from George Carr, a workhouse official on the road between Douglas and Carrigaline. Thousands of poor men, women and children are buried there with no headstone. This sacred, sad and hallowed ground needs to be cherished, respected, given dignity. It’s a historically sensitive area which needs TLC”.

View Kieran’s short film here:

Kieran’s Submission to Bus Connects , Phase 2, 25 May 2023

The amendments that have appeared in the phase 2 plans are welcome. I remain pro the need for a better sustainable bus service and associated mobility works. Within several neighbourhoods with the south east area of Cork City, which I represent, many of the phase one plans created much deep anger and deep mistrust of the NTA and Bus Connects, mainly because of what I would deem a tokenistic communication campaign.

Whereas the plans for phase 2 are significantly less maddingly in terms of physical changes and consultation with local people, I am still receiving many emails from local people whose general questions, through email to Bus Connects email during this past phase two process, have been left unanswered. I am still calling for a root and branch review of communication to local people. Certainly, I deem it very unfair to send out animation videos into the public realm, which do not show the below and after changes belonging to the phase two proposals.

Boreenmanna Road:

The decision to retain the vast majority of the trees on Boreenmanna Road and the backing down of CPO-ing of small garden units is welcome. The sustainable compromise reached with the resident’s group is positive. Many residents though in the western part of the road are still very much in the dark of plans for local parking and how the narrow Rockboro Road to the South Link will be widened.

Douglas Road:

Despite a series of alternatives being put forward by resident groups, very little change has been made to the initial emerging proposals from the NTA on the physical changes to the Douglas Road roadscape – which includes compulsory purchase orders, culling of front garden biodiversities and the reconstruction of nineteenth century stone walls. To me as a Cork heritage promoter the reconstruction of built and environmental heritage is high end heritage vandalism.

From what I have seen affected local residents on Douglas Road have received letters from the NTA but those slightly off the road have not. So, a lot of people are in the dark, both who live on the road and those who use the road. The NTA animations that have been created do not tell the full story of the destruction in particular of historic walls and trees. The same animations also do not tell the full story for houses affected on Maryborough Hill.

The bus gate concept also needs actual traffic data as traffic will be re-routed into the heart of areas such as Well Road and Ballinlough at peak times, and access to schools on Douglas Road could be non existent. Many local people are very worried about what might happen when it comes to the re-routing of traffic and have many questions.

In addition much work is needed with Douglas Village residents who also remain concerned about the impact of the Bus Corridor on Douglas Village.

Beaumont Walled Garden:

As part of the phase two plans, a proposal has now appeared to turn the interior of the historic 19th century walled garden space adjacent Cherrington, Ballinlough Pitch and Putt Club and Beaumont Park into a car park for the area. In recent years a number of residents have expressed the view that such a space would (once again) make a fine community garden space, and should be rejuvenated as such. The project had even been developed to a point of a physical plan with Cork City Council. So it is very disappointing that after years of idea development that this important community project could now be possibly shelved and that damage would be inflicted on a historic walled garden. I ask that this community garden project be allowed progress.

I ask that the above points are taken into consideration as well as those of my constituents in the south east of Cork City,


Cllr Kieran McCarthy

Kieran’s Historical Walking Tours, June 2023

Tuesday evening, 6 June 2023, Cork and the River Lee, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork City; meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm, in association with the Cork Harbour Festival (free, 2 hours, no booking required for all tours).

Sunday afternoon, 11 June 2023, Cork South Docklands; Discover the history of the city’s docks, from quayside stories to the City Park Race Course and Albert Road; meet at Kennedy Park, Victoria Road, 2pm, in association with the Cork Harbour Festival (free, duration: two hours, no booking required). 

Tuesday evening, 13 June 2023, The Lough and its Curiosities; meet at green area at northern green of The Lough, entrance of Lough Road to The Lough, Lough Church end; 6.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking required)

Sunday afternoon, 18 June 2023, Blackpool: Its History and Heritage; meet at square on St Mary’s Road, opp North Cathedral, 2pm, (free, two hours, no booking required).

McCarthy: “High End Heritage Vandalism” at heart of Douglas Road Plans, 10 May 2023

“High End Heritage vandalism” is how Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has described the proposals by the National Transport Authority (NTA) for Douglas Road. In recent weeks, the public consultation phase two maps on Bus Connects have been published by NTA. They contain compulsory purchase orders for the culling of half a kilometre of front garden biodiversities and the reconstruction of nineteenth century stone walls, the elimination of ninety per cent of on street car parking, and the creation of bus gates, which will limit cars entering Douglas Road at peak hours in the morning and in the late afternoon.

Cllr McCarthy noted: “My sincere thanks to all those who have made submissions todate and especially to the wider Douglas Road residents group and the various sub groups extending all the way out through Douglas Village through to Maryborough Hill, who have liased with the NTA a number of times voicing not only concerns but also viable alternatives”.

“From what I have seen affected local residents on Douglas Road have received letters from the NTA but those slightly off the road have not. So a lot of people are in the dark, both who live on the road and those who use the road. The NTA animations that have been created don’t tell the full story of the destruction in particular of historic walls and trees”.

“Some impacts on residents are larger than others. To me the reconstruction of built and environmental heritage is high end heritage vandalism. The bus gate concept needs further traffic data as traffic will be re-routed into the heart of areas such as Well Road and Ballinlough at peak times, and access to schools on Douglas Road could be non existent. If you park on the road, it is really important to make oneself aware of the plans to take away car-parking. There are so many concerns, which need answers. It is crucial that if you are a user of Douglas Road in all its forms that you become aware of the plans and ask questions and provide criticisms and/or alternatives”, concluded Cllr Kieran McCarthy.

The full set of maps are available under the Maryborough Hill to City (bus corridor I) at www.busconnects/cork or get in contact with Cllr McCarthy. Contact details are on his website at

Cllr McCarthy’s Historical Walking Tours Return for 2023, 13 March 2023

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).