Category Archives: Improve Your Life

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 28 September 2023

1221a. Youghal beach and Railway Station c.1910 (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 28 September 2023

Recasting Cork: Thirty Years of the Children’s Excursion

Bringing 3,000 impoverished children annually to Youghal was a large scale effort by Cork City’s Poor Excursion Committee. It was chaired by William F O’Connor, solicitor, and former Lord Mayor of Cork. In his analysis of the event of the annual event on 19 September 1923 in the Cork Examiner, he was proud to note that the event in 1923 was its thirtieth anniversary and that it was a “eminently successful one”.

William gives his highest praise to the ladies and gentlemen members of the committee that planned out the excursion and to the many subscriptions made to a central support fund; “It was a highly laudable fixture, and it was indeed most gratifying to find that members of the committee worked in most untiring fashion to make it what it proved to be, a delightful outing for the poor children of Cork, and a credit to all who helped in its conduct. Since its inception the excursion has been eagerly looked forward to by the poor of the city, and no charity has ever attained such a measure of popularity”.

Reference is also made by William that the event was initiated by one of Cork’s distinguished citizens, the late Mr Augustine Roche, in 1883-1884. Augustine entered the Corporation of Cork in 1883. He was elected Mayor for the years 1893 and 1894, and when in that position he instituted an annual excursion and the Christmas dinner for poor-children, which helped some 5,000 children.

Augustine was appointed City High Sheriff for 1902-3, during which years the Cork International Exhibition was held. He represented Cork City from 1905 to 1910 as MP in Westminster, when he was defeated, but a year later was again returned to Parliament for North Louth unopposed on the disqualification petition of another MP. One of the best-known and most highly esteemed citizens of Cork, he was, through all his public life, a leader in philanthropy. Augustine had a wholesale wine trade on King Street or MacCurtain Street and had business dealings with every county in the south of Ireland. 

Ahead of the 19 September 1923 excursion, elaborate arrangements were made for the thirtieth anniversary and for the success of the event.  Tickets at the Cornmarket were given out a week before hand at the Cornmarket and the Civic Guard and the Fire Brigade were asked to assist in keeping order during the distribution.

On the day of the excursion queues were quickly formed in every part of the outward premises, and marshalling everyone onto the Cork-Youghal trains was a big operation. As the morning advanced, the numbers of children assembling became considerably enlarged, and half an hour before the time fixed for the departure of the first train the Cork Examiner records a scene of a “very animated character” was on display.

Stewards appointed to attend to the arrangements at the Cork station were promptly in attendance. Members of the National Army, Civic Guard, and Fire Brigade were also present to render every possible assistance. The Cork Examiner records that the children were well behaved; “They were exceedingly orderly and well-behaved and gave little trouble to those who carried out the arrangements, and were most anxious for their comfort, accommodation and enjoyment”.

The Cork Examiner noted of the marshalling preparations:”Members of the Excursion Committee, as well as specially appointed stewards, were posted at all points leading to the barriers of platforms from which trains to Youghal started, while inside these barriers prominent members of the committee had assembled and made most perfect arrangements for the passage of the children to the awaiting trains. In this work, which was conducted in faultless fashion, members of the National Army, Civic Guards, and railway staff rendered valuable assistance”.

No less than four trains were required for the conveyance of the excursionists to Youghal. The first train left at half past eight and the last sonic time after ten o’clock, and by noon, close on 5,000 children had been safety brought to Youghal. The train arrangements at Youghal were attended to by Mr. Brickley, stationmaster.

As soon as the children reached their destination, they broke into no less than sixty sections and in each group a leader and 3-4 volunteers made sure everyone was safe. Once on the beach, the sunshine shone and the children indulged in bathing and sports, after which they proceeded to the Clay Castle and were provided with sandwiches, minerals and sweets.

The meat within the sandwiches was kindly cooked by the staff of the Cork Mental Hospital under the supervision of the Resident Medical Superintendent Dr Owen McCarthy. Even music was provided on the beach by the Greenmount Industrial School under the conductorship of Mr Ogden. Local people, especially Mr. O’Gorman, vice-chairman of the Urban Council and Mr James Cashman, of Youghal Urban District Council, were noted for their “efforts for the enjoyment of the youngsters and the success of the excursion”.

A few accidents, each of a minor character, took place and were attended to by Dr Orpen. Competent local oarsmen patrolled the waterway beyond the shore to present drowning incidents.

When the time came for the 3,000 children to board the trains back to Cork, it was overseen again by the National Army, members of the Civic Guard and the Cork Fire Brigade. Everyone returned safely and for a few hours the 3,000 children had been given a day away from the heart of impoverished slums in Cork City.

Many thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s season of walking tours. They will start again next April.


1221a. Youghal beach and Railway Station c.1910 (source: Cork City Library).

Lord Mayor’s Echo Column, 2 September 2023

The Salt of the Generations:

Padraig Pearse once wrote that: “There are in every generation those who shrink from the ultimate sacrifice, but there are in every generation those who make it with joy and laughter and these are the salt of the generations”. Cork is very lucky that the “salt of the generations” is encountered in ever aspect of community life. However in the past two weeks I especially felt it in two of our well-known sporting clubs in the city, which I had formal visits to. Both clubs show that the game itself has been important but sport has built communities of interested and engaged Corkonians.

In 1943, Na Piarsaigh was founded by a group of schoolboys from the North Monastery School. Europe was embroiled in the Second World War – across Europe there had been death and exhaustion – despite Ireland’s neutrality, rationing was common place across cities such as Cork. Materials were in short supply so the housing plans for sites such as Ballyphehane and Fair Hill were on hold. Buildings that had started construction remained unfinished such as St Augustine’s Church. The progress of the City remained in limbo.

However, that did not stop the ideals of several very young men, who deemed a new club was needed in the heart of Cork’s northside. With a great love for our national culture and games, they established a club, which also reflected on the legacy and memory of Pádraig Pearse. They asked their teacher Donnacha O’Murchú to be their first President.

Quickly the club grew in membership, but it was not easy as there were challenges around where did this new club fit in the Cork GAA ecosystem. Training was conducted across various fields and eventually Junior championship wins began to flow.

In 1951, the secretary Donncha O’Griofa noted of the growing membership– “encourage them to think they are the coming champions. The success of our club ultimately rests on the generation to follow”.

Eighty years later Na Piarsaigh can boast many wins, a club with many friends, a family atmosphere, and a club within the world of sport the City knows it can call upon when it needs to. Happy eightieth birthday Na Piarsaigh!

A North-South Cross Border Project:

Over in the southern suburbs of the city, Blackrock Hurling Club recently hosted young players from Na Magha, in Derry City. Blackrock Hurling Club’s website describes that it was officially founded in 1883, one year before the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association itself. It is therefore the oldest hurling club in Cork. Until 1888 the club was known as Cork Nationals, when it changed its name to National Hurling Club of Blackrock, and later in the same year to Blackrock National Hurling Club.

            Na Magha was founded in 1982 and is the only hurling & camogie club in the City of Derry. Based in Ballyarnett at Páirc Na Magha, they have great facilities to help promote the national sport of hurling to a high standard. They have both hurling and camogie teams from Under 6 right up to senior level.

Denis Doherty from Na Magha Derry spoke to me for my ongoing #VoicesofCork film project and related that his hurling club & how his club has been coming to Cork’s Blackrock Hurling Club for 40 years with some of Derry’s youngest hurlers. There are also reciprocal visits to Derry every year. This cross border activity of hurling began as a respite project away from the Northern Ireland Troubles. Over the many years, the project has offered a fantastic opportunity for the young players to visit each other’s cities and get to know each other’s communities more.

Meeting Notes from the Lord Mayor’s Desk:

August 26, I was delighted the launch of The Everyman’s Autumn season. it’s jam-packed with family favourites, comedy shows and captivating performances. Cork’s favourite traditional family Panto returns withBeauty and the Beast, directed by Catherine Mahon-Buckley. The co-production with CADA will run from Saturday 2 December to Sunday 14 January. In an undoubted season highlight, The Everyman will also co-produce The Women, We Will Rise with singer-songwriter Karan Casey, in association with Cork Folk Festival. It will place women centre stage with songs and stories about women from Ireland’s past, whilst singing into being a vision for the women of the future. See for more.

26 August, It was an interesting photocall to say the least on the steps of City Hall. But I was delighted to greet and sing with cyclists on the Irish Leg of the World Naked Bike Ride. Well done to all who took on the challenge. The event is part of a worldwide phenomenon where cyclists dabble in nudism in over 50 countries to send a strong message that we need to transition to renewable sources of energy and forms of transport.

August 26, It was a fantastic afternoon at the Ballinlough Summer Festival. Local volunteers hosted an incredible family fun event across the scenic Ballinlough Community Park.

August 26, I officially opened the North Main Street Carnival run by the Middle Parish Community Association. It was great to see the street pedestrianised for a day and the street filled by family filled activities.

August 21, I attended and spoke at the official Opening of the Roches Building at Mercy University Hospital (MUH). The 30-bed project, named after the late Sr Laurentia Roche, the last matron of the hospital, includes two ultra-modern operating theatres, of which one is a hybrid theatre, the third of its kind in the country. MUH said that robotic surgery will be introduced in the coming months, which will lead to reductions in surgical site infections, blood loss, and tissue damage during procedures, as well as shorter stays and fewer complications after operations.

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.