Category Archives: Cork History

An Oasis in the City – Bishop Lucey Park, 26 October 2021

Some initial thoughts….

It is true to say that Bishop Lucey Park has served this city well since 1985.

It’s been 36 years since the park has been revisited as a whole.

The site has always been in flux with interesting ideas on the nature of Cork’s urbanity.

Delving into a site biography of the park site and one can see old seventeenth and eighteenth century maps of the city showcasing the structural legacies of an alms house and a school associated with Christ Church – so the site initially was space of helping citizens and one of education.

Fastforward to the mid-twentieth century and the demolishing of such buildings created an open sore in the heart of the city.

The additional decision in the 1970s to build Cork’s first public carpark on the site was deemed a constructive one at the time but was bound up with the city’s struggle to cope with increased cars and the demand for car parks.

But it was the city’s University archaeologists that put Cork Corporation thinking on another track in a very short time.

The excavation in the late 1970s by the late Dermot Twohig showcased what stories lay beneath the old school and almshouse. It was the first urban excavation in Cork City.

Finding timber tree trunks as foundational supports for medieval housing, collapsed fourteenth century wattle walls and full to the brim timber lined pits with shells and associated objects re-ignited an interest in the city’s medieval and resilient past.

The dept of archaeological work completed in the 1980s can be viewed in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society in Cork City Library and online.

That coupled with various local historians, the late Sylvester O’Sullivan, who was the Corporation’s autobiographer of the history of its officials and engineers, and of course the late Seán Pettit, amongst others in the hallowed halls of UCC’s history department, who wrote at length newspaper articles and conducted walking tours, and who put public pressure on the Corporation Cllrs and the officials to create something more beneficial than a car park on the site.

And credit needs to be given to our predecessors in 1984 and 1985 for their vision and their re-interpretation of what was a derelict site and for taking a risk with it. Indeed, their risk in creating Cork 800 – the celebration of Cork’s being granted its first urban charter in 1985 – was one that laid many foundations across many arts and cultural fields and left our generation many positive cultural legacies especially in the fields of heritage, music and dance in the present day.

The centre  piece of the celebrations was to be a new inner city public park. Majority support was expressed in the Council chamber for its name Bishop Lucey, who had just passed away – and was widely acknowledged for his work on the creation of the city’s rosary churches and associated community centre infrastructure and in the creation of the Credit Union system in Cork.

Of course when it came to laying out the park, the experience of the city’s archaeologists came to bear as foundations of the town wall were discovered. Indeed, such experience is very apparent in an interview with Maurice Hurley, consultant archaeologist at the time who spoke to RTE news – a piece of which is now archived online – when he went through the finds on the site, the nature of the town wall discovery and called for a larger museum for the city.

The City was also blessed to have Tony McNamara, City Architect, working in the city at the time – his re-engaging with the old cornmarket gates at City Hall and finding them a home at the entrance to Bishop Lucey Park as is thanks due to the vision of other City hall officials over the years, who gathered sculptures such as Seamus Murphy’s Onion Seller and plaques to the men of the 1798 rebellion and in more recent years the boxing wall memorial plaques.

One also needs to nod to the wider environs and the infrastructure work that has gone on there – the widening of the Grand Parade project, the re-orientation of Berwick Fountain, and the reputed seventeenth century canon.

Indeed, not only has Bishop Lucey Park served this city well over its 35 years – this little park has served as an inspirational platform for conversations on dereliction, environmental and greening challenges, well-bring, public art, incorporation of archaeological finds, conservation and preservation of urban memories and stories – to name but a few – but above all it is a little oasis in a busy city, which adds immensely to the heart of the city’s beating sense of place and identity. It is a place to be cherished and minded going forward. It has given the city so much over its 35 years but also the wider site has a long heritage of a number of centuries.

My thanks to Tony Duggan and his team for his work on our re-interpretation in the present day, and look forward to see the re-animation of Bishop Lucey Park.

More to be added at some point!

Kieran’s submission, Ref: Public Consultation, Bishop Lucey Park Regeneration Project, 16 August 2021

Dear City Architect’s Office,

I wish to warmly welcome the regeneration proposals for Bishop Lucey Park and its surrounds. I outline below a number of comments;

On areas outside of the park on Tuckey Street and on South Main Street extending to South Gate Bridge, there is an opportunity to demarcate archaeology reference points through lining perhaps or other different coloured road surface material – e.g. the original width of Medieval South Main Street, the old drawbridge tower on the South Main Street side of South Gate Bridge, or at Keyser’s Hill.

Within Bishop Lucey Park, the Pavilion feature is welcome plus it would be great to have info panels in it on the surviving town wall section. The 1985 Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society archaeology report on the town wall section by Maurice Hurley should be revisited and possible ideas of artwork and symbolism gleamed from it.

It would be great if the tower feature on the South Main Street side could be moved to the Grand Parade side – it would be great to mark the site of Hopewell Castle, the walled town turret, which in modern day terms existed at the Grand Parade side of the former Christ Church lane. The rectangular foundations of the tower were exposed in preparation works for the park in 1984 but were destroyed inadvertently.

I have an open mind on the current Cork 800 fountain site within the park. The core part of it really are the eight swans, which represent 800 years since Cork’s first charter. There is an opportunity, I feel, to create a new sculptural piece, which would not take up as much space as the large fountain and the eight swans could be incorporated into the new sculpture. Such a sculpture could also bring together the existing plaques in the park together – boxing memorials, 1798 memorial, and even Seamus Murphy’s Onion Seller sculpture.

Such latter clustering of heritage assets, perhaps next to the window ruins of Lyons Clothing Factory, may free up more public realm space – in particular helping to create more of an effective greening strategy for the park itself.

Sincerely,

__________________

Cllr Kieran McCarthy

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 21 October 2021

1122a. Hugh C. Charde's Portrait of Terence MacSwiney, 1920, oil on canvas, 77 x 64 cm. Collection Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. Many thanks to Michael Waldron for his help at the gallery.

1122a. Hugh C. Charde’s Portrait of Terence MacSwiney, 1920, oil on canvas, 77 x 64 cm. Collection Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. Many thanks to Michael Waldron for his help at the gallery.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 21 October 2021

Journeys to a Truce: Commemorating Terence MacSwiney, One True Man

October 1921 coincided with the first annual anniversary of Terence MacSwiney’s death. He was commemorated through a number of means – many of which were politically linked to the formal opening of the Treaty negotiations in London. First up on Sunday 16 October 1921 Dublin’s Abbey Theatre presented Terence’s play The Revolutionist (1915), which was presented by special permission by the MacSwiney family. The proceedings were in aid of the Irish Republican Prisoners Dependents’ Fund.

During the play’s interval, an interesting address was delivered by Richard Mulcahy, Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army. He expressed regret that the committee of the fund had been unable to get Mary MacSwiney to deliver an address. He said that Terence MacSwiney needed no introduction to them. Mr Mulcahy referred to some of his associations with Terence mentioning that his first introduction to him was through reading some “wonderful articles” on the pages of the newspaper entitled Irish Freedom. Irish society, said the speaker, was “on the threshold of big things” and they faced a future with the realisation that all of them had certain duties if they were going to win. He noted: “A few men could do very great things, but it was the people of Ireland who are fighting against the enemy. The few men doing great things could be undermined if the people of Ireland did not realise that these great things were to be done and if as a whole, they do not make themselves one in the work and on the outlook of those great men”.

On 23 October 1921, a demonstration in commemoration of Terence MacSwiney was held in Trafalgar Square. The members of 40 branches of the London district committee of the Irish Self Determination League (ISDL) of Great Britain, many of which were Sinn Féin supporters, were present at full strength. These contingents were headed up by banner bearers and accompanied by pipers, brass and reeds, and fife from drum bands. They marched through different thoroughfares on their way to the square.

At Trafalgar Square, Republican colours were worn by large numbers of the crowd while colour draped banners hung in different positions around the plinth of the Nelson monument. A number of these banners contained models, one of which attracted a good deal of attention been written as follows – “In loving memory of Terence MacSwiney, Irish Patriot, who died for his country in Brixton Gaol, October 25th, 1920 – One True Man”.

The audience heard stirring speeches, which made reference to Terence’s great sacrifice. Art O’Brien, Vice President, ISDL of Great Britain, and Sinn Féin London correspondent & Dáil Éireann Envoy to London, opened the proceedings. After him the crowd was addressed by other speakers from three platforms. Alderman Liam de Róiste was present, representing Cork and the municipality. Liam was greeted with loud cheers and cries of “Up the Rebels” and “Up Cork”. He said as a friend of Lord Mayor MacSwiney and as a representative from his city he deemed it his duty to attend the demonstration to honour an Irish patriot. He highlighted that it was important that Terence’s memory should be honoured in London because “it was in an English gaol, he laid down his life for Ireland” and that his memory is honoured in Cork and in Ireland and throughout the world.

At the conclusion of the addresses, a resolution was simultaneously submitted from each platform and the following was adopted unanimously and enthusiastically; 

“That this meeting of Irish residents in London expresses its reverent admiration for the glory of sacrifice made by Terence MacSwiney in defence of the rise of his country, and its sincere respect for his memory; and the Irish residents in London further take this opportunity to call for the release of all Irish prisoners and internees who, like Terence MacSwiney, have been seized and imprisoned by the British government on account of the part they have taken in Ireland’s fight for freedom”.

On the anniversary of Terence’s death on 25 October 1921 at Saint Georges Cathedral, Southwark, London, a requiem mass was held for him. It was attended by the Irish delegates to the peace conference negotiations as well as by other Irish people living in London. 

In Cork on 25 October, high mass was celebrated for the repose of the souls of Terence MacSwiney, Michael Fitzgerald, and Joseph Murphy at the North Cathedral. Bishop Daniel Cohalan presided. There was a full attendance of clergy, and members of Cork Corporation, Cork Harbour Board, the Cork United Trades and Labour Council, the University College, and the city’s hospitals – were all represented.

In addition, a beautiful portrait of Terence got a formal showing and was unveiled at the Munster Fine Art Club in the gallery of the Crawford Municipal School of Art. It was completed by the school’s principal Hugh Charde.in late 1920. A native of Cobh, Hugh Charde (1858-1946) was Principal of the Crawford School of Art from 1919 to 1937. He was a teacher in the School as far back as 1889 and received his early tuition in the Drawing School of the North Monastery. He later studied at the School of Art under Mr James Brennan, RHA. Apart from instructing and encouraging young art students, during his forty-eight years connection with the School of Art, Hugh Charde was a painter of great ability himself. Of latter years he specialised in water colours. Hugh Charde was also the founder of the Munster Fine Art Club, of which he was President for very many years. The Terence MacSwiney painting is still a much favoured piece within the collection of the current Crawford Art Gallery.

Caption:

1122a. Hugh C. Charde’s Portrait of Terence MacSwiney, 1920, oil on canvas, 77 x 64 cm. Collection Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. Many thanks to Michael Waldron for his help at the gallery.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 30 September 2021

1119a. Front cover of 2021-2022 brochure for Discover Cork Schools' Heritage Project.
1119a. Front cover of 2021-2022 brochure for Discover Cork Schools’ Heritage Project.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 30 September 2021

Launch of Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project, Year 20

It is great to reach year 20 of the Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project. It is just slightly younger than this column but both this column, the school project 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.

Covid-19 has brought many challenges to every part of society and never before has our locality and its heritage being so important for recreation and for our peace of mind. In the past eighteenth months, 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 “Cork Heritage Treasures”. 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 and entry information as well.

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 in the City is free to enter and 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 twenty 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.

Caption:

1119a. Front cover of 2021-2022 brochure for Discover Cork Schools’ Heritage Project.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 23 September 2021

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 23 September 2021

Journeys to a Truce: The City Engineer’s Perspective

Cork Corporation’s Reconstruction Committee’s six-month report was an important one to release in September 1921. It was over nine months since the Burning of Cork. Politically there was pressure to move the reconstruction on but there was also the headache of who brings all the physical thinking and oversees the actual construction. Last week, the column mentioned the addendum document to the six month report and Joseph Delany, the City Engineer, who outlined that without plans being submitted, the rebuilding ran the risk of building heights and respective architectural design being out of sync with neighbouring rebuilds.

In truth there was so many moving parts for Joseph. In an earlier report, penned by him, in January 1921, he argued that several features of the restoration problem were complex. The problem had its opportunities and its difficulties. Due to the unprecedented nature of the rebuild, from the outset, he called for a special administration facilitation and “diversion from the ordinary lines of procedure by which building operations are usually regulated”. He noted of the need for a public spirit: “The desired improvements can only be achieved by the parties concerned adopting a sound policy of public spirit in the public interest. The proprietors of the lately destroyed property will, I have no doubt, appreciate their obligations to assist, both individually and collectively, the civic authorities and with their architects and advisors in making the work of restoration and the improvements incidental there to a success”.

Arriving to Cork Corporation in 1903, Joseph amassed nineteen years experience within the organisation. Joseph was also interested in Irish industrial and language movements, in the country’s national well-being, its educational advancement and in economic reform.

Joseph’s back story reveals a learned man. W.T. Pike in his Contemporary biographies’, published in Cork and County Cork in the Twentieth Century by Richard J. Hodges in 1911 reveals that Joseph (1872-1942) was educated at St Vincent’s College, Castleknock, Dublin. He continued his studies at Art School, Clonmel and there he was awarded the Mayor’s Prize in “Science and Art Subjects”. He also attended the City of Dublin Technical Institute, and the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, where he was awarded “School Prize in Art Subjects”.

Joseph trained as engineer and architect by indentured pupilage under well-known Dublin architect Walter Glynn Doolin. Joseph became a certified surveyor under the London Metropolitan Building Act, combined with private study in the engineering courses of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and of the Institute of Municipal and County Engineers. He was awarded a travelling studentship of the Agricultural Association of Ireland in 1897 and was medallist in architecture in the National Art Competition, South Kensington Science and Art Department in 1898.

Joseph believed in networking and learning from other engineers and architects. He was Honorary Auditor at Royal Institute of Architects, Ireland in 1900 and Honorary Secretary Castleknock College Union, 1901-10. He was member of the Committee of the Irish Roads Congress and member of the Joint Committee on Waterworks Regulations, London. He was also a Member of the Society of Engineers, London, the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers, England, the Royal Institute of Architects, Ireland, the Royal Sanitary Institute, London, the Architectural Association of Ireland, and the Royal Institute of Public Health. He also published technical contributions to engineering and architectural magazines and penned a book called “A Memoir of Walter Glynn Doolin”, which was dedicated to his mentor Walter.

Joseph served on the temporary Civil Staff of the Royal Engineers and was Assistant City Architect in Dublin, for five years. In 1903, he was then appointed City Engineer of Cork. On taking up the Cork post he immediately set about improving the water supply system and reducing the abnormally high rate of water wastage in the city.

However, one of the many legacies Joseph left Cork City came from a visit to the US on an inquiry into American methods of municipal engineering and architectural practice, and an inspection of public works of civic utility. There he learned about the remodelling of American towns and cities to meet the modern requirements of their everyday life and that this was a common feature of civic pride in America. 

In his January 1921 report, apart from his report covering the Burning of Cork, Joseph outlines in a few pages the need for Cork to have a town plan noting that “town planning should be considered advantageous in Cork, with a view to the future improvement and better shaping of the city”. He called for this work to be investigated by specially appointed commissioners, consisting of prominent citizens and commercial and professional life, together with representatives of municipal councils. Planning ahead was crucial he argued; “The schemes produced, and in many cases accomplished, have resulted in the complete re-casting of the plans of cities, with consequent improved public convenience, and enhanced amenity of environment”.

Joseph detailed that clear foresight was very essential to the future development of Cork City, and the preparation of a town plan by a town planning competition or otherwise, as was pursued in Dublin after the Easter Rising of 1916, would result in useful suggestive proposals for the future betterment of the city. Although Joseph moved on from Cork in 1924, he did influence the creation of a Cork Town Planning Association – a group who two years later in 1926 produced Cork: A Civic Survey – technically Cork’s first town plan or guide at any rate.

Joseph resigned in 1924 from Cork Corporation because of illness brought about by pressure of the reconstruction work. He is said to have retired from Cork to Clonmel. From circa 1926 until 1936 he kept an office at 97, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. He died at Clonmel in 1942.

Caption:

1118a. Joseph F Delany, City Engineer, c.1911 in W.T. Pike’s “Contemporary Biographies”, published in Cork and County Cork in the Twentieth Century (1911) by Richard J. Hodges.

Third Call-Out, Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project

The Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project launches in its 20th year and is open to schools in Cork City. Funded by Cork City Council, the Project is an initiative of the Cork City Heritage Plan. 

The 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. Suggested topics are over the page. The theme for this year’s project – the 2021/22 school season – is “Cork Heritage Treasures”.

FREE and important project support in the form of funded workshops (socially distanced, virtual or hybrid) led by Cllr Kieran McCarthy in participating schools will be held in October 2021. This is a 45min physical or virtual workshop to give participating students ideas for compilation and resources.

Download the application form here:

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 16 September 2021

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 16 September 2021

Journeys to a Truce: The Rebuilding Pana Report

September 1921 coincided with several notes being published by the Reconstruction Committee of the Corporation of Cork outlining their six-month review in the Cork Examiner. By an order of the Council of the Corporation of Cork on 26 February 1921 a special committee consisting of one member from each electoral area was appointed to supervise the work of reconstruction of the destroyed portion of the city during the Burning of Cork event on 11/12 December 1920.

The committee was authorised to co-opt members from other bodies such as the Cork Industrial Development Association, the Technical Instruction Committee, the Employers Federation, the District Trades and Labour Council and the Cooperative Building Federation. The committee was seen as thoroughly representative of the industrial, commercial, and labour interests of the city.

Between February and September 1921, six meetings of the general committee were held and their minutes are recorded in a surviving minute book (1921-1924) in Cork City and County Archives. Many discussions also took place between a sub committee, which was appointed to deal with the nuanced details, and to formulate proposals with the owners, architects and builders of the relevant premises.

Cork Corporation building bye-laws dictated that premises could only be re-erected without the permission of the Reconstruction Committee, whose job was to approve plans for entire buildings, so that proposed schemes could be viewed and regulated. The same applied to the temporary timber premises that had been erected – of which twelve businesses are recorded as located on cleared plots within the St Patrick’s Street area by late September 1921. Time limits were placed on temporary structures in order that actual rebuilding work be incentivised.

Despite the building by-laws, it was a fine balance by the Reconstruction Committee to give business owners some leeway, ask that rebuilding work be started but also create a spirit of collaboration. Many owners were still emotionally raw, were broke, could not survive on the offers of insurance companies, and needed more time to think about their future needs.

The job of the committee was also to lobby for the compensation packages arising out of damage, inflicted by British forces, to be delivered. But by September 1921, there was still no compensation forthcoming from Westminster. In general, it was hoped that perhaps part of the Truce negotiations may bring a significant compensation fund and one that could especially kick start the owner of a property, who did not have reserve funding put aside in order to rebuild.

In his six month review, chair of the Reconstruction Committee Cllr Barry Egan details that aside from compensation funding, one of the prominent aspects regularly discussed at committee level was the possible re-alignment of building lines in the damaged St Patrick’s Street area plus creating a widened Winthrop Street. In the pre-Burning of Cork era, footpaths were narrow and some buildings, constructed in the nineteenth century jutted out in front of their adjacent ones.

Winthrop Street, which was a much narrower street to what exists today, was targeted for widening and for creating more of a plaza as it meets St Patrick’s Street. It was suggested that the work could be accomplished by acquiring the burnt out sites of Messrs Thompson, Murphy and Tyler, and to determine a new building line running north and south through their sites.

To allow for more space, it was also proposed to close up and build over the next street – west of Winthrop Street – that of Robert Street – and transfer back the whole of what was described as block number three across the width of the street – in otherwards eliminate the street.  Discussions were held with property owners on Robert Street but strenuous opposition was put forward to the closing of that thoroughfare. The City Solicitor advised the Reconstruction Committee that streets could not be closed or eliminated except upon an agreement being entered into with the owners and occupiers of the property therein. The Robert Street closure was eventually put to one side in the negotiations.

Negotiations between the Reconstruction Committee and the business owners were intensive. However, the minute books do reveal positive public support for the work of the committee. In the six-month report, Cllr Egan places on record the committee’s high appreciation of the manner in which Mr William Roche of Roches Stores met the committee and the concessions supplied so far from him. The object with him was trying to rectify a building line in area number one on St Patrick’s Street and to possibly increase the width of Merchant Street on the western side. Messrs J Daly and company Ltd expressed a full sympathy with the improvements proposed by the committee and their willingness to make a concession of property towards the widening of Merchant Street. Merchant Street in time though was subsumed into Merchant’s Quay shopping in the 1990s.

There is an addendum document to the committee’s six-month report. Joseph Delany, the City Engineer, outlines his concerns that without plans being submitted, the rebuilding ran the risk of building heights and respective architectural design being out of sync with neighbouring rebuilds. Technically a business could come back with just a one storey design and with a jarring architectural design. The City Engineer references the need to set a fixed policy on the use of Irish materials such as local limestone in particular. Mr Delany noted: “if there is no standard as to height there are possibilities of one-storey deformities placed in juxtaposition to buildings of three or four storeys high on either side. Balance, symmetry, unity, harmony in design will be difficult to achieve under these conditions of procedure by individuals”.

Caption:

1117a. Section of map produced from Reconstruction Committee Minute Book, 1921-1924, showing proposed building plot re-alignments (see red line) (source: courtesy of Cork City and County Archives, ref: CP/CM/RE/1).

Cllr McCarthy: Marina Park Section Opening Delayed Until November, 14 September 2021

In a recent reply to a question posed by Cllr Kieran McCarthy at the recent City Council meeting, Cork City Council have noted a revised completion date of the Marina Park section next to Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Due to Covid 19, delays in construction works and poor weather has pushed the opening date from this month to mid to late November this year.

Cllr McCarthy noted: “The park looks more or less ready to open. It looks well 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 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. The public can now see the grass on sunken lawn areas in the park section and the diversion of a watercourse, as well as new pathways – all of which are in place.

“One can also see that the installation of perhaps the most eye-catching part of the project – a noticeable red steel pavilion on the site of, and replicating, the central hall of the former Munster Agricultural Showgrounds. The sides of the pavilion will not be enclosed, and there will be possibilities for coffee pods and outdoor seating and arts and crafts. 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”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.

Second Call-Out, Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project 2021/22

The Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project launches in its 20th year and is open to schools in Cork City. Funded by Cork City Council, the Project is an initiative of the Cork City Heritage Plan. 

The 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. Suggested topics are over the page. The theme for this year’s project – the 2021/22 school season – is “Cork Heritage Treasures”.

FREE and important project support in the form of funded workshops (socially distanced, virtual or hybrid) led by Cllr Kieran McCarthy in participating schools will be held in October 2021. This is a 45min physical or virtual workshop to give participating students ideas for compilation and resources.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 9 September 2021

1116a. Diarmuid Fawsitt, c.1921 (picture: Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin).
1116a. Diarmuid Fawsitt, c.1921 (picture: Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 9 September 2021

Journeys to a Truce: Fawsitt and Opportunities in the US

One hundred years ago this week, Corkman Diarmuid Fawsitt outlined his work to the Irish general public as Ireland’s American consul. He had just stepped down from the role and had begun working with Éamon de Valera on creating an economic set of requirements to be bedded into the early negotiations on the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

 An obituary on 5 April 1967, published in the Cork Examiner records, Diarmuid was born near Blarney Street in Cork’s northside in 1884. Diarmuid was active in cultural, industrial and nationalist circles, including the Celtic Literary Society, Sinn Féin, the Gaelic League, Cork National Theatre Society, and especially the Cork Industrial Development Association (IDA). Diarmuid established the Cork IDA in 1903.

Coinciding with Diarmuid’s strong lobbying of the British government, in November 1913 Diarmuid attended the inaugural meeting of the Irish Volunteers in Dublin and was inducted into the Irish Republican Brotherhood. In December 1913 he was one of the co-founders of the Cork Corps of the Irish Volunteers at Cork City Hall, later becoming Chairperson of the Executive. In November 1919, Arthur Griffith sent Diarmuid to the United States as consul and trade commissioner of the Irish Republic. He was based in New York until late August 1921 and built up a staff of nine.

In what looks like a carefully-crafted type standard press release and then a series of follow-up interviews in early September 1921 with Ireland’s regional newspapers, Diarmuid outlines his near two-year work as American consul. On arrival in the US, Diarmuid formally notified the American government of his presence and commission. Diarmuid was regularly in touch with and helped by the US government departments and was never interfered with in this work of enlightening American businesses that Ireland was a land of great possibilities.

Diarmuid highlights that one of the early difficulties encountered by the consulate was that interested American houses in direct Irish trading included Ireland in the territory of British commerce – apparently thinking it, as Diarmuid quote, “was just like an English Shire” and that those interested had not heard of existing and emerging industries in Ireland.

The educational work carried on by the consulate such as advertising Ireland’s markets in American trade journals was crucial to correct any misunderstanding and to create opportunities. Presentations were made before chambers of commerce and trade organisations in different US cities and personal contact was made with exporters in the United States. The Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce in the US regularly corresponded with Diarmuid and placed the facilities of their Daily Bulletin at his disposal to advertise the specific requirements of Irish firms. Diarmuid notes: “If America offers better prices we will sell to her rather than England”.

Diarmuid cites that several United States banks availed of the services of the consulate to obtain reliable data on the financial condition of Irish industries – especially those seeking connections to American chambers of commerce and merchant associations.

Diarmuid was also instrumental in securing a direct freight service and having cargo facilities on the passenger boats made available for the transport of high-class freight requiring refrigeration in transit. The latter was of huge importance in connection with the shipping of perishable produce such as butter and eggs in the absence of such facilities.

With regard to Irish produce Diarmuid outlines that he sat in conference with the horticultural board in Washington on one occasion. There he made a successful application to lift an embargo which the Department of Agriculture had placed in 1912 on Irish potatoes entering the United States markets. Up to that year Ireland had pursued a large trade in potatoes with the US. Since that year no Irish potatoes had been admitted into the American markets.

Dealing specifically with the interest of the fish trade Diarmuid notes that in February 1921 it was proposed to put a tariff on cured fish entering the US. He appeared personally before the relevant committee of the House of Congress to set out fully the position of Irish fish exports. As a result of the emergency tariff passed by Congress on that occasion it did not contain any tariffs on cured fish.

In numerous incidences the consulate secured direct representation in Ireland for American business houses. The consequence had been that the non-direct trade between the two countries had shown an increase of upwards of 50% in 1921 year compared to the preceding one of 1920. A great deal of trade and money that otherwise would have passed to England and English agents was diverted directly to Irish businesses.

Diarmuid notes that the consulate was in receipt of numerous applications from firms throughout America desirous of securing supplies of Irish products – describing – “I am satisfied that the work of the consulate will bear results that will greatly strengthen the commercial and sentimental ties that at present bind the Irish and American peoples”.

Diarmuid in speaking on some of his general consular work in the US said it also included the suitable protection of the interest of Irish Nationals in America and attending to the interest of Irish immigrants arriving at American ports. Immigrants with the permit or passport of Dáil Éireann who sought assistance of the consulate were helped to find employment. The consulate was also regularly consulted by Americans as well as Irish nationals on questions concerning properties and disputes in Ireland. In addition, the consulate also validated legal documents for submission to the Irish courts and formulated passports for Americans about to travel in Ireland. 

Captions:

1116a. Diarmuid Fawsitt, c.1921 (picture: Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin).