Monthly Archives: July 2021

Kieran’s Press, Cllr McCarthy: Protecting Atlantic Pond a Must, 8 July 2021

8 July 2021, “Local Councillor Kieran McCarthy said sites such as the Atlantic Pond must be protected from all forms of chemicals. ‘It is good news in the long run to see new measures being put in place to protect waterways such as the Atlantic Pond’, Procedural oversight’ blamed for Cork beauty spot being sprayed with weedkiller,

Kieran’s Quote:

“It is good news in the long run to see new measures being put in place to protect waterways such as the Atlantic Pond. There is quite an array of bird diversity at the pond and I always feel the location is often an under appreciated blue space for the wider city. On any given day, there are many people who walk around the pond and you’d often see people snapping photos of the birdlife in the pond especially the cygnets and herons. There is large local interest in the condition of the Pond. I continue to lobby for information panels and seasonally arranged nature walks.

The Atlantic Pond and Cork Lough possess the widest variety of freshwater species. Apart from being a really important blue space for bird diversity, the Atlantic Pond is also an important green space due to its adjacent woodland for many woodland bird species too. More and more at City Council level, we are hearing when green space and blue space exist side by side, species richness and abundance grows. So sites like the Atlantic Pond need to be protected more from all forms of chemicals”.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 8 July 2021

1107a. Plaque on Blarney Street Cork in memory of Denis J Spriggs, killed 8 July 1921 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 8 July 2021

Journeys to a Truce: Fred Cronin’s Republican Plot

IRA casualties from the ongoing War of Independence across the city continued all the way into the July 1921 truce. On 21 June Commandant Walter Leo Murphy was shot dead at Waterfall (a few miles from Ballincollig) when an IRA meeting in a local public house was encircled by two carloads of British undercover officers. He shot his way out of the public house but was subsequently killed.

A commemorative plaque erected at Turner’s Cross to D Company 2nd Battalion commemorates Company Adjutant Charles Daly of 5 Glenview, Douglas Road, who was captured by British forces at Waterfall, Co. Cork on 28 June 1921. British army records claim he was shot attempting to escape from Victoria Barracks on 29 June 1921.

Denis Spriggs became involved in the fight for independence from British rule at a very young age. At 16, he lied about his age so he could join the IRA. As a known member of the IRA he, like many other Volunteers, was forced to go on the run from British forces in the city. On 8 July 1921, whilst visiting his mother, Denis Spriggs was captured. The house was raided and Spriggs was apprehended. He was taken from his house and shot on Blarney Street where a plaque marks the spot today.

Walter Leo, Charles, and Denis are buried in the Republican Plot at St Finbarr’s Cemetery, which dates back to 1920. Previously to its use there was, immediately inside the gates of St Finbarr’s Cemetery, a vacant plot of green in one corner on which stood a small but interesting memorial. Built in 1894 of stones taken from an ancient Cork abbey, it marked the place where the collected bones of the monks of Gill-Abbey had been reinterred.

On the day after the murder of Lord Mayor Tomás MacCurtain in March 1920. Fred Cronin, close friend of Terence MacSwiney and a leading Cork undertaker of Richard Cronin and Sons, suggested to the Brigade officers that the municipal authorities, who were owners of the cemetery, should be requested to make this plot available as a burial place for the dead patriot. The Corporation readily agreed, and with this first interment the Republican Plot came into existence.

Lough native Fred Cronin was an active member of Sinn Féin. His membership dated back to its earliest days in its foundation. Fred’s obituary in the Cork Examiner on 30 October 1937 describes that he took an active interest in all the nationalist movements from the early days of his youth. He was one of the founders of the Young Ireland Society in the year 1899, whose work is engraved in the memory of the people of Cork by the erection of the monument on the Grand Parade. About this time also he was also one of those people who attempted to put an end to the recruiting campaign for men to fight in the British Army against the Boers in South Africa.

Fred also helped to establish a Republican organisation known as the Cork Celtic Literary Society in 1903, and it was in the ranks of this society that he came in close contact with such well-known men as Terence MacSwiney, Tomás MacCurtain, and Tadhg Barry. He was also a close follower of the national pastimes, being connected with the Éire Óg Hurling Club. He also played for a number of years with the Nils Football Club. He took a deep interest in the language movement and was a prominent member of the Gaelic League for a long period.

Fred was transport officer to the 2nd Battalion of Cork No. 1 Brigade IRA for a time around 1920. His experience with the family firm of undertakers gave him considerable knowledge of transport organisation.

When Terence MacSwiney’s life was increasingly threatened in 1920, whilst he was Lord Mayor he could be found at the house of Fred. Keeping a watchful eye on Fred and Terence were the members of G Company of the 2nd Battalion. Their base were Messrs Phair grocery and provision store on Bandon Road. Here there were stores and out offices of G Company, which provided an admirable hiding place for guns and other military equipment.

When Terence was on from hunger strike in Brixton Prison, Fred visited him regularly and on Terence’s date of death on 25 October 1920, Fred was one of the last to see him alive. Fred was tasked by the MacSwiney family to be the executor of Terence’s will. Fred’s personal papers are now archived in the National Library in Dublin. The notes for his 33 folders of surviving papers describe that between May and December 1921, he was interned by the British authorities at Cork Male Prison and Spike Island. While he was incarcerated on Spike Island, he joined the other prisoners in a hunger strike which lasted only four days, ending 2 September 1921.

Fred applied for parole due to the illness of his youngest daughter. His parole application bound him during the period of his release not to “render any assistance, direct or indirect, to persons disaffected towards His Majesty the King, or do any act calculated to be prejudical to the restoration or maintenance of order in Ireland.” Republicans generally disapproved of parole-giving and it was permitted only in cases of severe family stress. Fred Cronin had five children, of whom the youngest, Maire, required a major operation and was dangerously ill for a time. His wife Katie had died and her sister Mary Roche was looking after the children.

During the Civil War Fred’s anti-treaty sympathies saw him interned during the Civil War by the Free State Government in Cork Prison and then Hare Park Camp (Curragh), Co. Kildare from 1922 to 1923.

Recently Phoenix Historical Society has published a book on those laid to rest in the Republican Plot at St Finbarr’s Cemetery. The Plot is the final resting place of 61 Irish Republicans. Contact for more information on how to attain a copy of a very interesting and important local history book.


1107a. Plaque on Blarney Street Cork in memory of Denis J Spriggs, killed 8 July 1921 (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

1107b. Republican Plot at St Finbarr’s Cemetery, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

1107b. Republican Plot at St Finbarr’s Cemetery, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)

Kieran’s Debate with Margaritis Schinas, European Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life, European Committee of the Regions, 30 June 2021

Cllr Kieran McCarthy (Cork City Council, Ireland) President of the European Alliance Group, pointed out that the European identity had been silently built for centuries among people who live both inside and outside the present-day European Union. “But we have to connect that feeling of cultural belonging to Europe to the European Union and we cannot do so by presenting the EU as purely a project which creates economic benefits. We need a strong emotional component,” he stressed. “To feel a common identity we need to have a sense of a common belonging.”

Cllr McCarthy further highlighted the need to teach children and young adults about the European Union and its added value, but also about the challenges it is facing. Mobility and peer-to-peer programmes, such as Erasmus+ had done more for European unity than hundreds of communication campaigns. 
“We need to promote and enable contacts between people at all levels and every generation will be more European than the previous one,” Cllr McCarthy concluded.

Cork City Reflections (2021, Co-written, Amberley Publishing)

One hundred years ago in Ireland marked a time of change. The continuous rise of an Irish revival, debates over Home Rule and the idea of Irish identity were continuously negotiated by all classes of society. In Cork City Reflections, authors Kieran McCarthy and Daniel Breen focus on the visual changes that have taken place in the port city on Ireland’s south-west coast. Using a collection of historic postcards from Cork Public Museum and merging these with modern images they reveal how the town has changed over the decades. Each of the 180 pictures featured combines a recent colour view with the matching sepia archive scene.

The authors have grouped the images under thematic headings such as main streets, public buildings, transport, and industry. Readers will be able to appreciate how Cork City has evolved and grown over the last century but also how invaluable postcards can be in understanding the past. In an age where digital photography and the internet have made capturing and sharing images so effortless, it is easy to forget that in the decades before the camera became popular and affordable, postcards were the only photographic souvenirs available to ordinary people.

Read an Irish Examiner interview with Kieran: Cork City Reflections: New book merges old postcards with modern images (
Buy the book here: Cork City Reflections – Amberley Publishing (
 Cork City Reflections by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen (2021, Amberley Publishing)
Cork City Reflections by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen (2021, Amberley Publishing)

Cllr McCarthy: Forward Planning Essential for Former ESB Marina Site, 1 July 2021

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has welcomed discussion and forward planning on the decommissioned Marina power station in Cork city. “It was great to hear about formal confirmation this week that planning between the ESB, Cork City Council and the newly formed Land Development Agency in relation to possible future uses of the site is ongoing. For me the ESB site is one of four sites in South Docks, which have a lot of built and cultural heritage – the others being the old Ford Factory site, former Odlums Building and the R & H Hall grain silos. All four sites have been highly influential in the development of south docks historically plus also are iconic symbolic structures in the area. It would be a real pity to lose their presence in the future of south docks.

“I would like to see the future of South Docks with a mixture of old and new building stock, so that the area has a nuanced sense of place. For me as well, I would encourage any future development to work with the Council to create a riverside walk on the south docks, so that The Marina greenway would potentially lead and connect all the way into the city, and hence linking to walks just west of the city centre – all in all creating an iconic routeway all along the city’s River Lee sections with public health advantages, scenery and other uses in abundance”. concluded Cllr McCarthy.

Read more here on future of ESB Marina Site:Former Marina power station eyed up for housing (

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 1 July 2021

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 1 July 2021

Journeys to a Truce: For Those That Tell No Tales

On Thursday night, 23 June 1921, an IRA unit in a motor car threw a number of bombs at an RIC post on the Grand Parade (see last week’s column). The attack was followed by bursts of gunfire as the car sped up Tuckey Street towards the South Gate Bridge. Josephine Scannell (aged 19) was killed in the shooting that followed the bomb attack. She was working at a sewing machine inside the window of her first story residence at French’s Quay when she was hit by a bullet that passed through the window. She died a short time later. Josephine was buried at St Joseph’s Cemetery in Ballyphehane. In the 1911 Census, she was one of the five children of the builder John Scannell and his wife Jane.

There were many victims of the Irish War of Independence just like Josephine Scannell. Over the past one hundred years, there has been a tendency in Cork City to keep the focus on the larger fall out events such as Tomás MacCurtain, Terence MacSwiney and the Burning of Cork. However, the centenary commemoration has brought new scholars, new projects and new foci on elements on the War of Independence that have not been publicly commemorated before.

One such very insightful project is Dara McGrath’s photographic exhibition entitled For Those That Tell No Tales, which can be viewed in the Crawford Art Gallery. It is a great contribution to thinking about life and society one hundred years ago. That it was not just the IRA, RIC and Black and Tans that caught up with tit-for-tat violence but also civilians and their families.

Dara McGrath’s work is based on research by Dr Andy Bielenberg (School of History, UCC) and Professor James Donnelly Junior (University of Wisconsin) who are currently engaged in an on-going project to document all the fatalities of the Irish revolution in County Cork between 1919 and 1923 of which approximately 840 have been identified so far. This exhibition is based on the War of Independence element of the project in Cork City and showcases over sixty lesser known War of Independent sites from across Cork City.

Dara in his notes on his photographic exhibition writes that the catalyst for this project came from a series of conversations he had with Dan Breen, Curator of Cork Public Museum, in late 2017, as consideration was given how best to commemorate the centenary of events that took place in Ireland, and in Cork, between 1919 and 1921. Dan suggested Dara research and photograph the sites and locations of the many fatalities from this period. Dara relates: “I made contact with Dr Andy Bielenberg who was involved in the Irish Revolution Research Project at University College Cork, and with his help and research I was able to pin down the events that surrounded fatalities that took place within the new Cork city boundary extension during the years 1919 to 1921. I then set out to take a photograph as near as possible to where the event happened. Sometimes I photographed the almost exact spot on the ground, others were to be a guess with logical thinking”.

Dara’s photographs elevate these spots or spaces as sites of memory for those individual lost lives. For the first time, through Dara’s photography and accompanying texts, one can see a cross section extent of the lives of the people and the geography where they perished during the struggle for freedom in Ireland’s War of Independence. Dara’s acknowledgement of the place and circumstances of each individual’s death – which bore so heavily on their communities – still resonate, so powerfully, today.   

The Crawford exhibition notes that today – sadly and almost universally – we pass by unaware of the tragedies that took place at unmarked locations that are daily traversed; “Beyond the recognised memorials and major landmarks there are many more sites within the landscape where people lost their lives. In Cork City, those ‘forgotten’ lives lost may include the Norwegian sailor Carl Johansen whose life was ended by being shot in the back while returning to his ship in the Port of Cork docks; or Josephine Scannell who at nineteen years old was shot dead by a stray bullet while sitting near a window in her house in the city centre”. 

Dara notes: “As I stood, I thought about the people who had died in these locations, and wondered was I the first to remember them at these sites of their deaths. The project forced me to think deeply about the relationship between me as a photographer, the place, and the history of the place. I’m aware this project may disrupt some firmly-held narratives. War is a terrible thing, and amidst its fall-out comes the silence, the secrets, the revisions, the stories told, and the stories hidden away. In death, some were treated as heroes, others as innocents, still others as the villains, but this understanding changes too depending on who you talk to. The stories I’m trying to tell include tragic accidents, bungled bombs, executions on both sides, and the abduction and murder of informants.

“My approach was to attempt to respect everyone who had died by treating them equally. I sought to present them with dignity, to demonstrate they were a member of a family, to show they were loved. In essence, this project seeks to give a voice to those who did not live to tell their tales”, concludes Dara.   

The exhibition For Those That Tell No Tales by Dara McGrath runs to the end of August and is kindly supported by The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 initiative, Cork City Council and Cork Public Museum.


1106a. Dara McGrath at his exhibition entitled, For Those That Tell No Tales, in the Crawford Art Gallery (picture: Kieran McCarthy).