Category Archives: Kieran’s Council Work

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 7 March 2024

1243a. Former and now demolished Cork Maternity Hospital, Erinville, Western Road (source: Buildings of Ireland Resource).
1243a. Former and now demolished Cork Maternity Hospital, Erinville, Western Road (source: Buildings of Ireland Resource).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 7 March 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – Cork Child Welfare League

Set up in February 1918 through the brain child of Lord Mayor Thomas C Butterfield, the Cork Child Welfare League was an impressive voluntary charity group comprising prominent male and female Cork citizens ranging from the Lord Mayor to councillors to prominent businessmen to clergy to legal support to representatives of at least sixteen charitable organisations. Several philanthropic women and female doctors were also key players in maternity and child welfare in Cork.

The League was established to “reduce and as far as possible to prevent infant mortality in Cork and to promote a healthy race”. Its committee members were the general public but with the Lord Mayor as chair. The League was funded by public charitable finance.

From the beginning, the League’s work was well structured every year and all the way through the decades of the 1920s, they produced monthly reports and a detailed annual report at their annual general meeting on the poverty conditions affecting mothers and children in the city. The reports were published in the Cork Examiner and some early minute books of the League also survive in Cork City and County Archives.

Practical action included committee members and public health advocates funding specially trained nurses to visit mothers and their children in their home and hospitals to offer support and knowledge and also gain data on the health of children being attended to.

On 11 March 1924, the report of the work pursued for 1923 by specially trained nurses of the Cork Child Welfare League was brought forward for consideration and approval. A total of 1,303 new babies and 255 anti-natal cases had been added to the books of the league. An impressive 13,385 mothers and babies were visited by the nurses, an increase of 3,600 over the attendance the previous year.

The nurses at Cork Maternity Hospital on Batchelors Quay and Lying-in Hospital (became known as the Erinville on Western Road) were inspected at regular intervals by the visiting sub committees. The work of the medical and nursing staff was highly commended. A larger room had been created for a waiting-room at Cork Maternity Hospital, which made the experience more comfortable for those attending from the outside.

The report noted the hospitals as being crowded with mothers seeking advice;“Their popularity may be gauged by the fact that twice a week the extern rooms of these institutions are crowded with mothers who have brought their infants for the valuable advice they receive from the doctors or nurses. The extern hours have had to be extended from the two stipulated for originally to three and a half to four and a half hours each session”.

A total 259 cases of sickness were dealt with during 1923. In March a mild form of influenza was prevalent amongst the children, followed in some cases by pneumonia. Infantile diarrhoea was much in evidence during the summer months, and several deaths occurred from this disease. 58 deaths occurred during the year of babies under 12 months old attended by the league nurses; 10 died of convulsions. 13 of pneumonia and bronchia pneumonia. 3 of bronchitis, 9 of babies delicate from birth, and 1 premature baby, 10 of diarrhoea, 1 of influenza, 2 of gastritis, I of kidney trouble, and 10 of causes unknown.

In spite of the great poverty in the city during the year there was less anaemia amongst the children attended by the health visitors of the league. Large quantities of milk were supplied in needy cases and the amount of virol made available by the league for the children was also quite high. Nearly one third of the cases visited received help. An impressive 50,703 quarts of milk and 5054 pairs of bread were distributed in 1923.

Over 96% of the babies visited by the League were breast fed. The nurses, in their advice to mothers, insisted on the importance of breastfeeding. The reports notes the advice; “It is proved that infants fed thus thrive better than those who are artificially fed and mothers are realising that this natural feeling is all that a baby requires”.

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Seán French at the 1924 AGM looked on the League as the real foundation of public health. He deemed that it should receive more wholehearted approval than was apparent from the voluntary subscription list and even more press coverage in calling for public funds; “The necessity for financial aid to carry on a work of vital importance should be emphasised by the Press in order to wake the people up to a sense of their duty in the matter”.

In the few schools Seán had visited, his reflections afterward were that the League was making an impact on the public health of children. He highlighted: “Some years ago it was their absolute ill-health which was evident, and there was no organisation more responsible for the great Improvement than the Child Welfare League”.

Fast forward to the 1930 AGM report, which reflected on the work by the League in 1929, and it is clear that the group had had a large impact in a few short years on the public health of mothers and children. The improved conditions of employment in the city were reflected in the annual report, which outlined that there had been a decrease of 5,465 in the number of visitors to mothers in their homes. Seven hundred and fifty needy babies and mothers had still received help, which was a vast drop from the high figures of over 13,000 visits in 1924. This decrease in numbers is also due to the official appointment by central government of specially trained nurses to local authorities, which included Cork Corporation.

With the expansion of Ford’s Works and the general revival in trade, the report pointed out, had been a great boon, and had absorbed the majority of the unemployed. However, the effects of the lean years did unfortunately, he felt would for some years to come appear in children’s health statistics. This is evident in the AGM reports of the League published in the 1930s in the Cork Examiner.

The Cork Child Welfare League remained in operation into the late 1960s and annually published their AGM reports on the health of mothers and children in the city. The history of League for the most part remains unresearched and has an important story on municipal public health provision to bring to public fruition.


1243a. Former and now demolished Cork Maternity Hospital, Erinville, Western Road (source: Buildings of Ireland Resource).

Kieran’s Lord Mayor’s Column, The Echo, 2 March 2024

Celebrating Inclusion, Collaboration and Creativity:

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a civic reception in City Hall for Cork Community Art Link who are celebrating their 30th year of operation.

My first message on the reception evening was that it is truly inspirational that what started as a FAS Community Employment Scheme back in 1993 has evolved and developed over 30 years to become one of the most successful and admired community arts organisations in the country and complete with its own pioneering and persevering adventures so to speak. Their story places an enormous value on the societal, cultural and economic impact of inclusive collaborative creativity within the arts.

The early work of the group focused on hospital arts with key projects developed in psychiatric hospitals in Cork and a long term 10-year programme in Our Lady’s Hospital Cork, which was widely considered as Ireland’s first long term and pioneering hospital arts programme. 

The Dragon of Shandon certainly warrants a special mention.  The Parade, which is a celebration of Samhain (Halloween), is now well established as Cork’s own and each year thousands take to the streets of Shandon to walk with the Dragon – a 36-foot Dragon made by the hands of the Cork citizens.

Dragon of Shandon, 31 October 2023

In addition, the Igloo project, back in 2009, was delivered in partnership with St Mary’s Road Library, Shandon to celebrate the exploits of Antarctic explorer Tom Crean. Northside schools participated in workshops to create an igloo structure made out of more than 2,000 recycled plastic milk containers collected by children. This speaks to Art Link’s ambition to value that communities and individuals are empowered through creative exploratory collaboration.

Commitment and Passion:

Ron Melling Head of Adult Education at Crawford School of Art was the original driving force behind Cork Community Art Link back in 1993. Then in 1998, William Frode de la Foret was appointed Artistic Director and has been instrumental in growing and evolving the organisation. Cork Community Art Link is the organisation it is today because of the commitment of individuals who followed their passions.

The range of projects Cork Community Art Link is involved in now is immense and impressive. It includes work with libraries, youth clubs, disability organisations, accommodation centres and family resource centres. 

Cork Community Art link’s story has been peppered with ups and downs. In otherwords it has not always been a smooth path – there has been frustrations, battleships, dead ends. However, turning those aspects on their head and reflecting on the past thirty years – at the heart of the story of Cork Community Art Link is one of resilience, perseverance, and a belief in the power of the community arts, and empowerment of communities.

My sincere thanks to the staff team, the volunteers, the artists, the participants, and supporters who have taken us all on the adventure over the past thirty years and helped shape the organisation they are today.

Impact and Depth:

My second message on the reception evening was about mining down further into Cork Community Art Link’s story and the actual impact the range and depth of projects that they have been involved in over the years, how Art Link has worked with thousands of people, and hundreds of community, voluntary and statutory agencies in partnership across Cork City.

Deep in the Cork Community Art Link story is the story of thousands of people who have been empowered by their participation in their projects and bringing spectators to their projects. Very much at the heart of their story is one of bringing people together. It is embedded in their story. In a world where there are vast pressures to divide people Cork Community Art Link brings people together in a very tangible and cohesive way.

Culture and community participation has various meanings to people and Cork Community Art Link have through pure listening and engagement with people carved an impressive suite of methodologies to empower people.

Personal and People Orientated:

In essence, Cork Community Art Link motivates people. It moves people forward. Their projects help people develop in personal ways. Their projects create a focus for people, an understanding of sorts for people. Their projects inspire and their projects encourage. Their projects enable people and build tolerance. Their projects breed ideas amongst people, which breed even more ideas amongst people.

Their projects construct democracy and build active citizenship. Their projects build a sense of belonging. When their story is fully chronicled in the years to come, there will be multiple chapters on the how and what works for the empowerment of citizens and belonging.

Respect for the Dragon:

I have long been an admirer of the Dragon of Shandon with its multitude of participants and spectators. For years I have photographed its presence on the streets of Cork and admired how it subtlety gets under the skin of the city.

For all intents and purposes, it might as well be a real dragon – such is the respect for the artwork, the yearning by the crowd to view it – the almost standing back by the crowd, the almost bowing by the crowd as they stand back, as the dragon winds its way through Shandon and into the old historic core of North Main Street, Castle Street and the Coal Quay.

The sense of wonder and awe, cheering and shouting, and that sense of pride imbued on it by the people of Cork, you cannot buy that in one year or ten years, it is the result of many years of hard work and collaboration.

I had the deep honour of being part of the parade this year and I must add one of my lifelong goals. It will become one of my core highlights of my mayoralty.

It is only when one goes behind the scenes of organisation, from their headquarters in the old Lido cinema in the months leading up to the parade to the evening of the parade within the rooms of the North Cathedral and the Firkin Crane that one can see the multitude of moving parts, the element that everybody’s story is important to the mosaic that is the Parade – from volunteers to the stewards to the costume people, to the make-up artists to the float pushers, the dancers, the actors, the multi-cultural element, the crowd control to the vison of the spectacle itself, and much more.

A Great Lighthouse:

In fact, with their open-door policy and willingness to explore all art forms, I doubt there is an organisation in the City that has not benefitted from working with Art Link. Ultimately when you think deeply about the Dragon of Shandon or any other Cork Community Art Link project it is created by the people of Cork for the people of Cork. In a world where aspects such as togetherness is threatened, Cork Community Art Link stands as a great lighthouse where people flock to find shelter and to be inspired and much much more.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 29 February 2024

1242a. Cork Terminus at Albert Road, for Cork Blackrock and Passage Railway Line c.1925 (source: Cork City Library).
1242a. Cork Terminus at Albert Road, for Cork Blackrock and Passage Railway Line c.1925 (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 29 February 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – End of the Line

On 25 February 1924 the annual general meeting of the shareholders of the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway Company was held. Sir Stanley Harrington, Chairman, presided and read out a detailed report on the challenges facing the company. Annual AGM reports one hundred years ago and published by newspapers such as the Cork Examiner provide rich material to chart the rise and fall of the railway company.

It was in 1835 that the plan for a Cork Passage railway was first proposed by Cork based merchants. By the time it was built it was the third railway line to open in the country and the first in the south of Ireland. The line was opened to the public on Saturday 8 June 1850 and there was a service of ten trains each way at regular intervals.

In 1896, an Act of Parliament enabled the company to extend the line as far as Crosshaven. John Best Leith, Scotland received the contract for the regauging of the line. Works began in 1897. A new double track was laid between Cork and Blackrock, the only example of a double track in Ireland at the time.

At the 25 February 1924 meeting Mr Harrington related that a year on from the Civil War the damage on the span on the Douglas Viaduct had been repaired. Signal cabins at Rochestown, Passage and Monkstown had been rebuilt. The Blackrock cabin was in the course of rebuilding. The six carriages, which were burnt out, were replaced by new ones.

However, Mr Harrington’s core focus was on the difficulties to balance the company’s accounts. For several years the deficit on the account was accelerating. Reference is given that one of the serious reductions to profits was the withdrawal of the British military and naval forces from Cork and district. It was estimated at a loss of at least one million pounds annually to Cork.

From 1 January 1923 to 23 April 1923 closing down for goods and people traffic due to Civil War damage caused financial loss. The general dockers strike in Cork from August to November 1923 also caused a serious cost to the company. Rates and taxation created a large financial loss for the company, which ultimately led the way to the company’s demise a decade later.

At the AGM for February 1925, the financial losses had expanded. Persistent wet weather ruined the 1924 summer excursion traffic and ordinary traffic was disastrously affected by the depression in trade prevailing all over the South of Ireland. Furthermore, the closing down of Haulbowline and the dearth of work at Passage and Rushbrooke Dockyards, which used to bring the railway so much business, had seriously diminished receipts.

Reference is also made that on 13 August 1924, approval of the Great Southern Preliminary Absorption Scheme 1924 took place. Compensation was given to directors who suffered loss by the abolition of their office. Ultimately though, this took away a more localised focus and created a more centralised focus, whereby several railway companies came under the Great Southern Railway Company.

From 1925 to 1932 the Passage railway limped on with financial deficits. It still carried large crowds during the summer months, but the growing ownership of the motorcar ousted the popularity of travelling on the railway.

On 27 May 1932, it was officially announced that on and from 1 June 1932 all trains on the railway line between Crosshaven and Monkstown in both directions would cease to run. The Cork Examiner notes that the news was met with regret and that the train service between these points was up to some years ago “the main artery of holiday traffic at the popular seaside resort which it linked to the city”. The newspaper relates that within recent years the vast increase in the number of privately owned cars was responsible for a gradual but very noticeable falling off in the passenger service, and the advent of the buses was virtually the death blow to the railway.

In early September 1932, Mr Thomas Jones, chairman of the Passage Urban Council wrote a telegram to the Ministry of Industry addressing the concerns of in regard to the closing of the line. The response in a letter, and published by the Cork Examiner, outlined that the Minister had no power to intervene in the matter. The Minister was informed by the Railway Company, however, that their decision to close the line was reached after mature consideration of the fact that a continuous loss of approximate £4,000 per year in keeping it open; “The Company point out that the public have in a very large measure, deserted the railway services on that line for the more mobile, convenient, and attractive omnibus services, and that it is the intention of the Company to provide full and adequate alternative road services”.

In August 1933, one of the final stages in the abandonment of the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway between Cork and Crosshaven was reached when Messrs. Woodward, auctioneers were appointed in charge of the disposal of a number of lots of sleepers and rails from the route.

The old railway’s line’s re-opening in 1984 as a walkway was seen as cutting edge amenity addition in the city. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength in its number usage – its promotion of public health, walking and cycling, connecting the river and the estuary and its strong sense of place makes for an exciting public space in the years that come. 

Strong political and public pressure have staved off such aspirations of a rail reboot function in the past decade in favour of Cork City Council developing a widened greenway, significantly improving its access ramps, and planting over 2,000 native species along the former rail route. A conservation programme in recent years restored the old stonework of the old Blackrock Station and replacing a long gone cast iron bridge. Currently there is also an ongoing work programme with local residents on how to bring the greenway from Rochestown to connect up with the Cork County Council section of the railway, which brings the line into the heart of Passage West.


1242a. Cork Terminus at Albert Road, for Cork Blackrock and Passage Railway Line c.1925 (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 22 February 2024

1241a. Advertisement for Universal Motor Company. 1924 (source: Cork City Library).
1241a. Advertisement for Universal Motor Company. 1924 (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 22 February 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – The Universal Motor Company

On 15 February 1924, a special meeting of the Law and Finance Committee of Cork Corporation was held to consider the requests from a deputation from Messrs M Healy and Sons solicitors, on behalf of the Universal Motor Company, Ltd and its director John Patrick O’Mahony. The company was applying for a thirty-one year lease of the premises, known as the Shell Factory (now the Bodega), Cornmarket Street, and was agreeing to surrender the extent lease.

The City Engineer, J F Delany, reported on the matter. The premises were formerly the property of Cork Corporation, and used as a meat market, fronting upon the North Main Street and also upon Cornmarket Street. The premises were leased to the British Government in 1916 for the purposes of a munitions factory, and were transferred to Mr Richard Woodhead (South of Ireland Motor Company), and were subsequently leased to Universal Motor Company. The latter lease was for a period of twenty-one years from June 1916.

The trade carried on was for the sale, repair and garaging of motor vehicles. The rent payable was £200 per annum, which did not include rates, the poor rate, and income tax.

During the February 1924 meeting, the rent offered by John P O’Mahony was £200 per annum, which if free of these outgoings would leave no revenue to the Corporation. This caused concern for the committee present.

John P O’Mahony said that since he was before the Committee, he had made important contracts with firms covering Munster, and also Kilkenny and Wexford. Since late June 1923, he was the lead partner with Fords Cork for the selling of their cars to local markets.  John sought that cars would be sold at an affordable rate and struck a deal with Fords to make sure costs were as low at they could be. The Ford Factory on Cork’s south docks sold tractors and cars into the UK market and it was up to Irish entrepreneurs to import such machines back into Ireland.

Founded in 1914 by Julia Herlihy, the Universal Motor Company was built upon an international business. In the late nineteenth century Julia and her husband Timothy O’Herlihy from Kilmurray amassed an extensive fortune in India through the hotel business. They owned a number of hotels, one of which was in Darjeeling. They also built up a range of business contacts. The wealth amassed by Julia Herlihy found its way back to Cork. The Universal Motor Company pursued a small trade in coach building and selling motor cars.

When Julia passed away in 1917, her will bequeathed her company to her nephew John P O’Mahony who spearheaded a direct contract with Fords in Cork, which meant lower freight charges and less waiting time for the purchased car to arrive in Cork. In addition, in his own way John was responsible for the sharp increase by Munster people in owning their own affordable car. Such a change was to radically increase the ask for road space, the insurance market for motor cars and created a new era in the development of the motor car business in the early Irish Free State.

At the Corporation committee meeting in addition to engineering work John P O’Mahony noted that he was interested in motor car body building and detailed that this would give a good deal of local employment. John was also of the view that commercial vehicles should not be imported but should be made locally. He felt that in a year or two his company would be employing over 100 men. The reason for his application was to get security of tenure on the premises, so that he could make alterations and extensions, which would mean an expenditure of some thousands of pounds. He highlighted that in the motor industry in the past there was a very serious problem around not having up-to-date plant machinery.

During the meeting, the City Engineer argued that the rent should be £550. A small shop in the same street had been rented recently at £100 a year; those premises were new, but not at all as extensive as St Peter’s Market.

After further discussion it was agreed that the company pay the Corporation for the premises £50 a year in addition to all charges, which, calculated on the present basis, amount to £203 17s. This arrangement was accepted by John P O’Mahony on behalf of the company.

In 1925, John Patrick decided to make the Universal Motor Company a limited company. The National Archive in Dublin reveals the company formation documents. The certificate of Incorporation of the Universal Motor Company Limited was on the 2 September 1925. The company was formed with compliance to the requirements of the Companies (Consolidation) Act 1908. The first directors were John Patrick O’Mahony, David O’Mahony (a brother), both registered at 40 North Main Street, Joseph O’Mahony (a brother) of Knock, Rochestown and Charles P. McCarthy, an incorporated accountant of 50 South Mall. The chairman was John Patrick O’Mahony. The nominal capital of the company was £10,000 divided into 10,000 shares of £1-0-0 each.

The money was borrowed in late September 1925 from The Munster and Leinster Bank Limited on 66 South Mall Cork. However, in February 1926, the company ran into financial problems and the bank appointed Mr. Alexander Joseph Magennis as a receiver and manager of the property of the company. By 1927, the receiver had sold off the Cornmarket Street premises and the garage on North Main Street was replaced by the Lee Hosiery and Clothing Factory. The Universal Motor Company Limited was eventually dissolved in July 1945.

In East Cork c.1934, John Patrick O’Mahony diversified into the hurley making business in Killeagh. His brothers Joe and Paddy were also involved in the business. They brought ash in from forests in Clare and Longford for manufacture. The hurley manufacturing continued until the 1970s. Hurling was a competitive sport in East Cork. Dungourney Hurling Club were All-Ireland champions 1902 and Munster Champions in 1907 and also in that decade were winners of the Roche Cup, Cork Athletic Grounds Cup and the Dr Mangan Cup. There was a great heritage of hurling in the area before the O’Mahony brothers set up their business.

Parts of the above article were first published in this column in 2008. Sincere thanks to Pat Reen, Eamonn O’Mahony, Betty O’Mahony and Sheila Healy for their insights into the O’Mahony clan.


1241a. Advertisement for Universal Motor Company. 1924 (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Lord Mayor’s Echo Column, 17 February 2023

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a civic reception in City Hall for Cork City FC who are celebrating their fortieth birthday this week. It is appropriate that the first event to mark the club’s birthday was held in City Hall, as, in the words of the founding Chairman, Jim Hennebry, “Cork City FC was conceived in the Cork Lord Mayor’s office”. The idea was mooted by the late Hugh Coveney (RIP) with Joe Delaney (RIP) FAI and Pat O’Brien, President of FAI (RIP).  Officially the Club was born in Bundoran at the League of Ireland AGM in July 1984.

For the People of Cork:

On 25 September 1984, the Cork Examiner published a write-up of an address of Jim Hennebry to the Cork Rotary Club luncheon on the vision of the club. He noted that Cork City AFC belongs to the people of Cork rather than to the group of individuals who formed the club. Jim further praised the efforts of the individuals who took up the challenge of getting a team into the League of Ireland in serious recessionary times.

Jim highlighted that much of the club’s income is derived from contributions from the private and commercial sectors in Cork business life, and he felt that sponsorship has a major role to play in the future of the game here;

“There is an urgent need for commercial involvement in the club, and having a team in the League of Ireland can only benefit Cork City as a whole. It is important that a city the size of Cork should have a recognised League team. With the support and backing of the people of Cork the team will continue to prosper. A successful team will have great effect would have on the city in terms of community spirit, and the commercial life of the city…The people behind Cork City soccer team hope to bring back top class football to the city, and hopefully it will not be too long before the League championship, or the FAI Cup are back on Leeside”.

From 1984 onwards, a boldness to put football in Cork and Cork itself on the map grew. The connections grew and the ambitions grew. Partnerships, friendships and followers grew.

Unrivalled Longevity:

Whilst many great clubs have been celebrated on Leeside over the years, such as the great Cork United, Cork Athletic, Cork Celtic and Cork Hibernians, the longevity of Cork City FC is unrivalled.

Much credit for the club’s longevity must go to FORAS, who stepped in to ensure the continuation of Cork City FC ahead of the 2010 season. Ten years ago, when the club celebrated its 30th anniversary, it became the first League of Ireland club from the city to do so, so to reach 40 years is yet another precious milestone.

Over the 40 years, the club has enjoyed some great days – the first national trophy, the League Cup, in the 1987-88 season, a first league title in the 1992-93 season and, finally, the first FAI Cup in the 1997-98 season.

The club has won the Premier Division title twice more, in 2005 and again in 2017, when City then lifted the FAI Cup as well to become the first Cork club to win a double since Cork Athletic in the 50’s.

As well as the national stage, the club has proudly represented our City, County and Country on the international stage in European competition for over 30 years. Beginning with a defeat against Torpedo Moscow in 1989, the club has memories such as the famous draw with Bayern Munich, defeating former European Cup finalists Malmo FF and Dutch side NEC Nijmegen in 2004 and Europa League runs in 2016 and 2017.

A Social and Cultural Asset:

Cork City FC is a really important social and cultural asset to the city and region of Cork. It matters in our city and region and how it adds significantly the essence of building community values in Cork and grassroots sports initiatives in Cork – the tangible and intangible benefits.

One does not have to look far to see how Cork City FC is rooted in the life of the city and how proud the city is of it, and how it represents the many legacies of football clubs going back over 100 years.

Indeed one just has to go to any match to see the sense of pride, ownership and love for Cork City FC amongst players, management and the supporters who chant, laugh, cry and shout more and then even chant, laugh, cry and shout more Cork City FC on.

That essence of pride is hard to physically replicate. There are individuals who have spent decades every week supporting the team and there are parents or guardians who proudly bring the next generation on in all kinds of weather, and they wouldn’t miss it for anything. There are incredible special moments of human connection are bound up with Cork City FC.

One cannot buy that energy or connection but it is so important to have in a city such as Cork whose heart when it comes to social and cultural capital beats very passionately.

It is a testament to the impact and reach of the club in the city that so many friends and supporters joined the 40th birthday celebrations in City Hall. You can also see this reach clearly in the range of Cork City FC provides an enormous ripple effect across different layers of Cork City FC from the physical street corner green all the way up to the professional side of the teams – as well as the senior men’s team, there are seven academy teams (boys and girls), an amputee team and a senior women’s team.

As well as their loyal fans, I know the club is very fortunate to have the support of many great sponsors, without whom the club would simply not be able to function.   Zeus Packaging are in their second year as the club’s main sponsor, while the club is also fortunate to count University College Cork, the Mardyke Arena, SONAS Bathrooms, EZ Living, Everseen and Audivox among their key sponsors.

How lucky is our city to have a club with such memories and cultural and sporting heritage and which promotes community values and togetherness. Happy 40th birthday Cork City FC!

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 15 February 2024

1240a. Bons Secours Complex, College Road, 1975 (picture: Bons Secours Hospital archive).
1240a. Bons Secours Complex, College Road, 1975 (picture: Bons Secours Hospital archive).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 15 February 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – The Bons Secours Legacy

On 2 February 1924, the centenary of the foundation of the Sisters of the Bon Secours was observed in their Cork Convent on College Road (bicentenary in 2024). The inside portion of the institution was decorated for the occasion. The attendance included a large number of clergy and friends of the convent.

High Mass was celebrated by Bishop Daniel Cohalan. During the mass it was recalled during the sermon by Canon O’Leary of SS Peter and Paul’s of the origins of the Bons Secours. The congregation had very small and very modest origins. In the year 1821 in Paris, a well-meaning lady named Madame de Montale formed a small purely lay association for the purpose of nursing the sick, especially the poor, in their own homes. Both she and the young women, whom she assembled around her, were steadfast in their work.

The initial outreach project was not without its challenges. Disappointed and disheartened Madame de Montale ended her effort. However, the small group of twelve in number, whom she brought together continued their efforts. They took up quarters in a poor humble house in Rue Cassette and here they studied the rules of the religious life. Josephine Potel trained them well. It was a new idea, a vocation up till then was unheard of, to take care of the sick by day and night in their own homes, and without merit of class or religious belief. They found themselves at the bedside of the sick in the poorest quarters of Paris.

The Archbishop of Paris, Monseigneur de Quélen, took a deep interest in the new religious congregation. He claimed the title of their founder, and appointed a day, 24 January 1824, for their first profession. The Archbishop gave them the appropriate name of Bons Secours or Good Help. To the Superior he gave the name of Mary Joseph – named after the Holy Family. The Monseigneur also drew up a number of foundation statutes, which were added to in time. The congregation rapidly grew in strength. In due course the Pope was approached by the Archbishop of Paris Monseigneur Darby and a ‘commendatory brief’ was founded.

The congregation established convents across France at Lille, Abbeyville, Orleans, Boulogne, Roulaix, Roxoy and Quimper. In Paris the work rapidly grew. Generous support from friends of the sisters enable them to attain a large building known as the Hotel de Pons. The work of the sisters was much needed during France’s revolutions of 1830 and 1846 and during a horrific cholera epidemic in 1832 and during the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1871 and the Siege of Paris, 1870-1871.

In 1861 the Sisters were introduced into Dublin by Cardinal Paul Cullen and 1867 to Cork by Bishop William Delany. Dr Denis O’Connor was instrumental in getting the Sisters of Bon Secours established in Cork. It happened that his brother Fr O’Connor was stricken down by cholera. The doctor sent an urgent message to the convent in Dublin asking to have a Sister sent at once to nurse him. Sister Sainte Bertille arrived and made such an impression on Dr O’Connor that he lobbied Bishop Delany to bring a group of the Sisters to Cork.

In April 1867 Mother Bertille and four sisters arrived in Cork. Their first convent was a very uncomfortable unhealthy old house in no.7 Dyke Parade. Their first patient was Archdeacon Murphy who was involved in the creation and raising finance for SS Peter and Paul’s Church. After five years in Cork, some generous friends including the Murphy family, the Lyons and the Goulds procured for them a more suitable residence on the Mardyke (now part of the Cork Public Museum in Fitzgerald’s Park). This was their home until a new convent was opened in 1879 on College Road on lands purchased by Francis Jennings. They also opened several other convents in Ireland including those in Dublin, Belfast, Tralee and Cove.

The Bons Secours Nursing Sisters decided around 1913 to erect a novitiate house in Cork beside their convent on College Road. A suitable building was planned, but the estimated cost was so great that the Sisters could not undertake to build and furnish more than half of it. This they pursued, with the help of their friends. In 1915 it opened as a novitiate and as a nursing home with sixteen patients. In 1925, a second unit and chapel was added.

In 1927, the complex was recognised as a training school. In 1940, a 100 bed wing was added with accommodation for sisters.

On 2 June 1958, the Bons Secours Maternity Hospital opened with 59 private and semi-private beds. The Cork Examiner describes that the new unit had 59 beds in private semi-private four-bed, five-bed and one eight-bed rooms; “With a frontage of 165 feet, including the wings at either end, It has four storeys over ground and a basement, and is constructed of reconstructed stone facings on a reinforced concrete framework. The two entrance porches are of cut limestone. The entrance on the College Road side is surmounted by a Portland stone statue of the Blessed Virgin and Child Jesus, sculptured by Mr. Seamus Murphy RHA. and it is flanked by two mosaics designed by the architect for the entire unit, Mr J R Boyd-Barrett”.

The hospital incorporated three delivery rooms, an isolation unit, operating theatre, a neo-natal unit in which each separate cubicle has its own temperature and air control, an admission unit; ante-natal and postnatal departments; the finest available incubators and sterilisers and waiting rooms. The main contractors for the building were Messrs. John Sisk and Son Ltd. The hospital was renovated in the 1990s when a new labour war was included.

The Bons Secours Maternity Hospital, which had more than 100,000 deliveries since it opened in 1958, transferred its obstetrics service from early March 2007 to the new Cork University Maternity Hospital.

In 2017, a major extension project commenced. In October 2019, the opening of the new Bon Secours Cork Cancer Centre was officially opened by Minister of State Jim Daly and marked the completion of the wider €77m expansion of the hospital.

The hospital offers the most technologically advanced radiotherapy services in the south of Ireland, through a collaboration between the hospital and UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre – part of US-based academic medical centre UPMC, which is associated with the University of Pittsburgh. The centre holds medical, surgical and radiation oncology all under one roof.


1240a. Bons Secours Complex, College Road, 1975 (picture: Bons Secours Hospital archive).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 8 February 2023

1239a. Messrs Hill & Son's Corporation of Cork's Wycherley Housing Scheme, May 1922 (source: Cork Examiner City Hall Drawings).
1239a. Messrs Hill & Son’s Corporation of Cork’s Wycherley Housing Scheme, May 1922 (source: Cork Examiner City Hall Drawings).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 8 February 2024

Making an Irish Free State City – The Wycherley Housing Scheme

Lying just off Cork’s College Road lies Wycherley Terrace, such housing was constructed spanning from the spring of 1920 to the spring of 1924. The project completion was a slow one bound up with the War of Independence, Civil War, changeover of governments, building delays, rising costs and several debates on who the houses should be allocated to.

It was on 24 January 1924, Cork Corporation’s first of their 1920s housing projects came to fruition. The Wycherely suite of 76 houses were up for allocation of tenancies. The applications received was recorded numbering 850.

At a full Council meeting in late January 1924, Alderman Edmond Coughlan explained that the Working Class Dwellings Committee estimate contained a figure of £1,400 interest. Ground rent was due not just on the Wycherley site but on site at Fahy’s Well and the Cattle Market site as well. The Council needed to expediate the allocation of housing to bring some income so debts could be paid.

Cllr James Allen noted that the Council should give consideration to the people living in smaller Corporation dwellings who had large families and who had from £5 to £10 a week coming into them. People who could not pay the rent for the Wycherley houses could then be given the smaller Corporation houses. He suggested that a committee be formed to investigate all the claims and select the most deserving cases. Cllr Barry Egan also suggested that the whole Council should work with such a committee and a report submitted to a full meeting of Council. Cllr John Horgan wished for a committee to group and classify the applications, and also cut out the bogus ones. Then if the total number was still too high he suggested having a ballot.

However, the Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr William Ellis said he did not believe in putting the burden of going through 850 applications on five or six men. He pushed that the members from each ward should select the most deserving. Sir John Scott agreed and said that members for each ward should investigate the cases with a view towards finding the most deserving. Then he suggested that if the number was above the number of houses, the fairest way would be to put all the names into a hat and draw names out.

As the members of the full Council were split on which direction to pursue they voted on it, and the adoption of a committee to choose names came through as the way forward.

The pressure for allocations continued. A letter appearing in the Cork Examiner on 1 February 1924 was signed “A Faithful Mother”. It was penned by the wife of a British soldier who she describes “lost his senses through suffering in the Great War”. She noted she made an application three years previously but her case was not been considered and critiqued the preferential treatment some members of the public were getting; “I know everyone must live; but is that justice? I would like also to mention – there is no sanitary accommodation in the houses where I am living. I have three children, and I am very much upset owing to my situation in rooms. People might think anything is good enough for a ex-serviceman’s wife; but they are greatly mistaken. I have like very much to have my children have the best of comfort as regards a home. Hoping the Corporation will do what’s in their power for me”.

By 21 March 1924, the Council had reversed their decision due to public pressure. The houses were allocated to the different wards as follows: 10 large and 12 small houses each to the south and north west wards, 9 large and 11 small houses to the centre ward and 5 large and 7 houses to the north east ward. The matter was then referred to the meetings of ward representatives, who would allocate the houses to the approved applicants.

On the same week, a meeting of the housing committee met to mull over reports of dampness affecting the brickwork of the Wycherley housing. The architects, W H Hill & Son, reported that they had visited the site and an examination was made of the various houses affected with damp chimney breasts. They noted that only a comparative small patch of damp shows in the chimney breasts of the houses affected. They were of the opinion that all brick shafts should be coated with cement and pudlo or other suitable weather proof material.

The examination by the builders Messrs Wild and Co. and Youghal Brick Company were also heard. They detailed that the dampness was not of an aggravated kind and that of a pervading character; “A shadow of dampness shows chiefly in the chimney breasts on the upper floors of some of the houses. It is not widespread throughout each house, nor through the whole site of houses. It is confined only to one room in an odd house here and there on the site. Furthermore, it is restricted to one wall, and only to a small area of that wall. It shows itself in the chimney breasts where the outside shafts have a large surface exposed to the prevailing winds and rains”. Messrs Wild and Company suggested that the brickwork in the shafts be treated with a waterproofing material.

The question of treatment of the brick shafts were left in the hands of the City Engineer Joseph F Delaney and the architects Messrs Hill & Co. It was also agreed to, subject to the approval of the City Engineer, the immediate taking over of the Wycherley site housing.


1239a. Messrs Hill & Son’s Corporation of Cork’s Wycherley Housing Scheme, May 1922 (source: Cork Examiner City Hall Drawings).