Monthly Archives: December 2022

Happy Christmas!

The Blessing of a Candle

by Cllr Kieran McCarthy

Sturdy on a table top and lit by youngest fair,
a candle is blessed with hope and love, and much festive cheer,
Set in a wooden centre piece galore,
it speaks in Christian mercy and a distant past of emotional lore,
With each commencing second, memories come and go,
like flickering lights on the nearest Christmas tree all lit in traditional glow,
With each passing minute, the flame bounces side to side in drafty household breeze,
its light conjuring feelings of peace and warmth amidst familiar blissful degrees,
With each lapsing hour, the residue of wax visibly melts away,
whilst the light blue centered heart is laced with a spiritual healing at play,
With each ending day, how lucky are those who love and laugh around its glow-filledness,
whilst outside, the cold beats against the nearest window in the bleak winter barreness,
Fear and nightmare drift away in the emulating light,
both threaten this season in almighty wintry flight,
Sturdy on a table top and lit by youngest fair,
a candle is blessed with hope and love, and much festive cheer.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 22 December 2022

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 22 December 2022

Journeys to an Irish Free State: Recasting the Southern Capital

Hidden amongst the multitude of news pieces in December 1922 in the Cork Examiner is an insightful, ambitious and detailed write-up on a lecture on town planning by Cork Corporation’s Joseph Delaney to Cork Chamber of Commerce. The main aim of the talk was the thinking through of the “future improvement and the better shaping of the city”.

It was perhaps serendipitous that the talk was almost published on the second anniversary of the Burning of Cork and also within days of the Irish Free State being formed – but all of the thoughts within the talk were to define the city’s development across the decades of the 1920s and 1930s and still echo somewhat in the current day.

Originally published in the Cork Examiner on 18 December 1922 (p.8), the article was written up in pamphlet form and can be viewed in the National Library, Dublin. In the report Joseph stresses that the urgent duty of Cork was to create a plan of city improvement and extension, develop it in gradual stages and put available financial resources to pursue such ideals, that coupled with a re-generating policy to modernise it.

According to Joseph, Cork was badly in need of the following public conveniences, utilities, and improvements. He lists a 26 point priority list of which housing and slum clearance are at the top of. He advocated for 2,500 houses on well-chosen sites, with roads, sewers, water supply, and light. What he described as the city’s “house congested jungles” should be cleared, narrow streets should be widened and house density should be reduced where there was excessive congestion.

Joseph called for the acquisition of derelict sites, which he called “form a chequer-board” on the map of the city. His vision was to lay them out as open spaces and recreation grounds – that coupled with at least two formal parks – one for the northern and one for the southern district of the city. He also envisaged a city stadium for “general sports, athletics, hors and agricultural shows, public competitions, galas, band promenades etc”. He called for new main drainage and sewage disposal schemes on “modern principles” of sanitary engineering be constructed.

  An urban mobility plan was in Joseph’s top ten of priorities. He urged for a new and improved tram service and a pavement for 65 miles of roads and streets in a “most modern road surface treatment”, a new and improved tram service, complete with latest methods of public lighting. Public conveniences such as toilets, a new well equipped abattoir, and a new suitable cattle market, a new central fire station, a new city hall, and new market spaces for meat, provisions, vegetables and fish.

Joseph Delaney’s back story reveals a learned man. 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.

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. 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.

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 a spring 1921 report penned by Joseph (available in the City Library), 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 and Joseph 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”.

At a conference of the principal citizens led by Joseph, and held at the Cork School of Art, in March 1922, the Cork Town Planning Association was formed, and subsequently well-known architects Professor Patrick Abercrombie, and Sydney Kelly were invited and agreed to act as special advisors to the Association. The Association’s representative Executive Committee, which was comprised of a small committee of technical experts, were asked to prepare the data and suggest features for a town planning scheme.

Unfortunately, Joseph resigned in 1924 from Cork Corporation because of illness brought about by pressure of the reconstruction work on St Patrick’s Street. Joseph 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.

Celebrating Cork (2022, Amberley Publishing) by Kieran McCarthy is now available is now available in any good bookshop.

Happy Christmas to all readers of this column.

Missed one of the 50 other columns this year, check out the indices at Kieran’s heritage website,


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.

Cllr McCarthy: Funding Open for Care of Archaeological Monuments, 19 December 2022

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy calls on owners and custodians of archaeological monuments in the south east of Cork City and city wide to apply for funding for their structures.

 The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has advertised the 2023 Community Monuments Fund with €6 million available nationally. The fund will be administered locally by Cork City Council Archaeologist Ciara Brett.

 Cllr McCarthy noted: “Funding is prioritised for the care, conservation, maintenance, protection and promotion of archaeological monuments. In 2022 Cork City Council received €167,000 for 3 projects in Cork City. Conservation works were undertaken at a lime kiln at Blarney Castle Demesne, Waterloo Belfry Tower and at Rathcooney Church, Glanmire. There is an array of archaeological monuments on private land in the south east of the city that need conservation works.

The Community Monuments Fund 2023 has 3 Streams; Stream 1 will offer grants up to €85,000 aimed at essential repairs and capital works for the conservation and repair of archaeological monuments; Stream 2 will offer grants of up to €30,000 for development of Conservation Management Plans/Reports that are aimed at identifying measures for conservation of archaeological monuments and improving public access. Stream 3 will offer grants of up to €30,000 for enhancement of access infrastructure and interpretation (including virtual/online) at archaeological monuments.

The closing date for applications to the Local Authority is 5pm on Friday 27 January 2023. Applications will be assessed by the Local Authority in advance of being submitted to the Department. Please contact Ciara Brett, City Archaeologist, if you wish to discuss a possible project.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 15 December 2022

1181a. Seán Hales, c.1920 (source: Cork City Library).
1181a. Seán Hales, c.1920 (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 15 December 2022

Journeys to an Irish Free State: Assassinations and Executions

On 7 December 1922 Ballinadee born Sean Hales (1880–1922) TD and Member of the Commission of Agriculture was assasinated in Dublin. It came on the back of orders from Liam Lynch that Republican gunmen assassinate all deputies and senators who voted for the Public Safety Act (on 28 September 1922). Such an act created military courts with the authority to enforce the death penalty.

The Dictionary of Irish Biography describes that from an early age Seán Hales participated in the Republican movement. He became captain of the Ballinadee volunteer company in 1916. After the 1916 rising he was imprisoned for a time in Frongoch internment camp in Wales. After his release and some time at home, Seán became a leading local Sinn Féin volunteer. With his family, he also played a prominent part with the anti-landlord Unpurchased Tenants’ Association and anti-British Bandon People’s Food Committee. The local Sinn Féin cumann soon took over the Southern Star newspaper and Seán was a member of the new board of directors.

In 1919 Seán became battalion commander of the first (Bandon) battalion Cork no. 3 with successful manoeuvres in Timoleague, Brinny and at Newcestown Cross.

Arising from his successful ambushes in 1920 Seán became section commander of the West Cork flying column. He participated in the Crossbarry Ambush on 19 March 1921.

In reprisal for the burning of the Hales home in March 1921, Seán commandeered a contingent of Volunteers and burned Castle Bernard, the residence of the earl of Bandon. He held Lord Bandon hostage until General Strickland backed down on executing volunteers in Cork prison. The ploy paid off and the policy in executing prisoners in the Cork area ended.

In June 1920, Seán was elected to the Bandon county electoral area. In May 2021, he was nominated to Dáil Éireann as a Sinn Féin candidate in the May 1921 elections.

Seán was the only Cork brigadier to support the treaty and was elected in June 1922 as a coalition treaty candidate for Cork mid, north, south, south-east and west. During the Civil War he headed up the removal of anti-treaty forces from Skibbereen, Clonakilty, and Bandon. He was appointed to the commission of agriculture in October 1922.

Following Seán’s assassination on 7 December, his requiem mass on 11 December was held at Cork’s North Cathedral. The Cork Examiner reports that the coffin on a catafalque was draped in the tricolour, with the Brigadier’s cap placed on it. Around it was a guard of honour. Nearby knelt officers participating as chief mourners of the army. At the foot of the coffin stood three members of the National Army with arms reversed. In the nave of the church a big detachment of troops assisted at the Mass. At the Consecration a bugler from the gallery sounded the salute and Last Post.

After the funeral, Seán’s coffin was placed on the bier. Troops with two bands, brass and reed and pipers, passed down to John Redmond Street. The procession then headed towards Victoria Cross. Here a motor ambulance waited to bear the remains from there to the family burial place at St Patrick’s cemetery, Bandon. On 19 January 1930, a life-size commemorative statue was unveiled in Seán’s honour at Bank (latterly Seán Hales) Place, Bandon.

Seán’s assassination on 7 December was a major catalyst in the escalation nationally of the Civil War. On 8 December 1922, in retaliation for Sean’s assassination, the Irish Free State government ordered the execution, without trial, four prominent anti-treaty prisoners, Richard Barrett, Joseph McKelvey, Liam Mellows and Rory O’Connor. The Dictionary of Irish Biography has detailed descriptions of all four individuals.

Ballineen born Richard Barrett (1889-1922) was a quartermaster of Cork No. 3 Brigade, becoming a vital part in the war of Independence in the south and west. A steadfast anti-treatyite, he became assistant quartermaster-general to Liam Mellows, and was stationed in the Four Courts Dublin in June 1922. Arrested on 30 June, he was taken to Mountjoy prison, where as part of the prisoners’ jail council he attempted several escape attempts but with no success.

Tyrone-born Joseph McKelvey (1898-1922) was selected as commandant of the 3rd Northern Division of the IRA in 1921. Initially he supported the Anglo–Irish treaty, but after the creation of the anti-treaty IRA executive (April 1922) he departed his divisional post and was became assistant chief of staff of the anti-treaty IRA. After the surrender of Dublin’s Four Courts on 30 June 1922, Joseph was arrested and jailed in Mountjoy.

Lancashire born Liam Mellows (1892-1922) was raised across Wexford, Dublin and Cork. He was educated in Cork at the military school in Wellington Barracks and lived for a time on St Joseph’s Terrace, Ballyhooley Road. In 1918 he was elected MP for Galway East and for Meath and on his return was appointed to the staff as director of arms purchases at IRA Headquarters. 

Dublin born Rory O’Connor (1883-1922) was clerk of Dáil Éireann during its underground sessions of 1919. He operated in the engineering section of the Dáil Éireann department of local government and assisted in the control of food supplies. In the early months of 1922 O’Connor was the principal promoter in the group of high-ranking IRA officers who opposed the Anglo–Irish treaty. He was elected chairman of the acting military council established by the dissidents.

Celebrating Cork (2022, Amberley Publishing) by Kieran McCarthy is now available is now available in any good bookshop.


1181a. Seán Hales, c.1920 (source: Cork City Library).

1181b. Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey & Richard Barrett (source: Cork City Library).

1181b. Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey & Richard Barrett (source: Cork City Library).
1181b. Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey & Richard Barrett (source: Cork City Library).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 8 December 2022

1180a. Tim Healy, First Governor General of the Irish Free State, 1922 (picture: Library of Congress, USA).
1180a. Tim Healy, First Governor General of the Irish Free State, 1922 (picture: Library of Congress, USA).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 8 December 2022

Journeys to an Irish Free State: Birth of a Free State

On 6 December 1921 the Treaty between Ireland and Britain was signed by the Irish plenipotentiaries and the representatives of the British Government. The period fixed by the Treaty for a Provisional Government was for twelve months, and the necessary legislation was passed, which made Ireland self-governing. On 6 December 1922, the Provisional Government’s lease of life expired and the Irish Free State parliament came into being.

The Cork Examiner of the 6 December 1922 in its editorial recorded the importance of penning the story of the negotiations and the ensuing story that unfolded:

“When the story of the past year is in the future impartially recorded, it must be set down that prominent persons who placed justice above party, and sought to achieve peace on a basis of right, have suffered for their efforts in Ireland and in Britain. Possibly no great political change in the history of the world has been achieved without sacrifice, but honour in due course is given where honour is due. The proceedings today, if they follow the anticipated lines, will mean the launching of the Irish Free State – the achievement of Ireland’s domestic independence”.

            At the meeting on 6 December 1922, about one hundred Deputies attended the important Dáil Éireann meeting. In the course of his address, Chairman of the Provisional Government W T Cosgrave wished goodwill to the northern Ireland counties. He hoped that in his near future Northern Ireland would be part of the south of Ireland: “We are looking northwards with hope and confidence that whether now or very soon the people of that corner of Ireland will come in with the rest of the Irish Nation, and share its Government as well as the great prosperity and happiness which must certainly follow concord and union”.

           The Chairman title became President, which Cosgrave became. His ministers and speaker were re-elected amidst much enthusiasm. President Cosgrave announced the names of the thirty Senators for the new Seanad Éireann he had nominated. In addition, under the Irish Free State Act, a Governor General would be the King’s representative in Ireland. The initial holder of the post was former Irish Parliamentary Party MP Timothy Healy (1855-1931), who was declared at his home in Dublin’s Chapelizod.

            The Dictionary of Irish Biography records that Timothy or Tim was born in Bantry in 1855. He worked in England as a railway clerk. From 1878, he was based in London as a parliamentary correspondent for the Nation newspaper. He followed his family’s interest in Irish politics. His younger brother Maurice was a solicitor and MP for Cork City. His elder brother Thomas was a solicitor and Member of Parliament for North Wexford.

            Tim was arrested for his connection with the Land League. But in 1880, he was elected as MP for Wexford. In Westminster Tim became the key ‘go to’ person on the Irish land question. He produced the ‘Healy Clause’ of the Land Act of 1881, which secured tenant farmers’ agrarian improvements from rent increases levied by landlords. The clause made his name and work spread throughout Nationalist Ireland.  It even led to the winning of seats by the Irish Parliamentary Party in Protestant Ulster. Tim was called to the Bar in 1884 and in 1899became a member of the Queen’s Counsel.

            In the Irish Parliamentary Party, Tim’s working relationship with Charles Stewart Parnell was always up and down. He finally split from Parnell in 1886 when the Kitty O’Shea divorce broke into the public realm.

            Despite being a strong supporter of Home Rule, Tim did not follow the aspirations of Parnell’s successors in the Irish Parliamentary Party. After 1917 he supported Sinn Féin but promoted peaceful lines of arbitration.  In September 1917 he appeared as counsel for the family of the dead Sinn Féin hunger striker Thomas Ashe. He was one of a handful from the King’s Counsel to give legal services to members of Sinn Féin in different legal trials in both Ireland and England after the 1916 Rising. This involved representing those interned in 1916 in Frongoch internment camp in North Wales. 

            By 1922 and because of his representation and calling for peace work he was regarded as an “elder statesman” by the British and Irish governments. Both sides proposed him in 1922 as Governor-General of the new Irish Free State. The office of Governor-General was mostly ceremonial but many Nationalists considered the presence of the office as insulting to the principles of republicanism and an emblem of prolonged Irish involvement in the United Kingdom. The Irish Government diminished the role of the office over time and it was officially abolished on 11 December 1936.

Under the Irish Free State Tim Healy did not forget one of his pet projects back in West Cork. He had fought for many years to have something done to render a mountain pass between Cork and Kerry just north of Adrigole more passable for the area’s inhabitants.

  Under the Irish Free State, Tim eventually succeeded in getting the then Minister for Local Government and Public Health, General Richard Mulcahy, to put the long-deferred project into execution. A sum of £7,000 was advanced for the purpose and work began in 1931. Making every allowance for the advance in engineering knowledge and skill and the up-to-date equipment, it was nevertheless a herculean task. A makeshift roadway existed as far as the point where the rise began, but from that onwards it was practically virgin country.

In 1932, the new road was accomplished. Works were continued down the other side for a distance of a mile and a half into County Kerry until contact was established with an existing road there. A magnificent wayside Calvary cross was unveiled in early June 1935. Made of marble, it is sheltered in a niche within a few yards the highest point of the roadway. It was the gift of a Cork City donor, who wished to remain anonymous.

Celebrating Cork (2022, Amberley Publishing) by Kieran McCarthy is now available is now available in any good bookshop.


1180a. Tim Healy, First Governor General of the Irish Free State, 1922 (picture: Library of Congress, USA).

1180b. Healy Pass, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

1180b. Healy Pass, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).
1180b. Healy Pass, present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy).

Cllr McCarthy: Europe cannot leave its small urban areas behind in green and digital transitions, December 2022

Urban areas with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants house around 66% of Europe’s urban dwellers and play an essential role in making the digital and green transitions happen. For this reason, in an opinion adopted by the European Committee of the Regions at the plenary session of 1 December, regional and local leaders demand targeted financial support for smaller urban areas to ensure a balanced territorial development.

Small urban areas are an important part of Europe’s territorial, social and economic fabric. They are centres for the provision of services of general interest and places with a good quality of life. About 70% of Europe’s population lives in urban areas, but about 66% of Europe’s urban dwellers reside in urban areas with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants.

Small urban areas can function as economic and social anchor-points for the wider regions, as well as ensuring a further cohesive European Union.

Lack of financial resources and relatively low institutional capacities in comparison with other places are just a few problems that small urban areas struggle with. The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the green and digital transitions and the integration of migrants, particularly as a result of the war in Ukraine, have brought further challenges to small urban areas, such as deserted town centres, online work, more spending on basic health services, growing demand for green-blue infrastructure and reduced municipal budgets. In order to improve the capacities of small urban areas and ensure a just green and digital transition, the European Committee of the Regions put forward a series of recommendations in the opinion “Small urban areas as key actors to manage a just transition” during its plenary session on 1 December.

CoR members stressed that EU funding must be secured for areas that face significant difficulties in achieving a just transition towards a green and digital economy, so that they can improve their situation and increase their chances of remaining attractive localities with a role to play in Europe’s settlement pattern. Furthermore, cities and regions urged the European Commission to put forward a communication campaign to highlight the impact of EU support in the daily lives of people living in small places and recommend to support small urban areas to find insights on how to tackle green, digital or demographic transition challenges.

The rapporteur Kieran McCarthy, member of the Cork City Council, said: “The EU provides cities with massive opportunities to embrace the green and digital transition. However, smaller urban areas are left behind. They have limited administrative capacity, means and knowledge to fully benefit from EU initiatives. Joining up the dots of the different synergies at play is therefore crucial to achieve a balanced territorial development and support small-size cities through a more targeted approach.

Moreover, cities and regions highlighted the importance of smart village projects and the implementation of digital solutions to optimise connectivity, daily life and services in small urban areas, within the National Recovery and Resilience Plans, as well as the European Structural and Investment Funds. The implementation of the Just Transition Fund (JTF) should furthermore increase support for small urban areas, to help their municipalities and SMEs face the transition towards climate neutrality.

Finally, CoR members underlined that the EU can boost territorial development by promoting increased collaboration between urban and rural areas, overcoming obstacles that have divided them in the past. The principles “better funding, better regulations and better knowledge” of the Urban Agenda for the EU should also be applied in the implementation of the EU Rural Agenda in order to successfully support place-based innovation.

Reminder: Clover Hill Court housing proposal, Bessboro Road, Mahon, 6 December 2022

Reminder: Clover Hill Court housing proposal is located at Bessboro Road, Mahon and behind Clover Lawn estate.

The development consists of the construction of a residential development of 90 no. dwellings, comprising of 84 no. apartments, which graduate in height from west to east, and 6 no. houses. The development site area is approximately 1.017 hectares and is in the ownership of Cork City Council.

The proposed development will comprise of:

Construction of a total of 90 residential units, comprising:

o 2 no. apartment buildings (1 no. 3-4 storey building and 1 no. 4-5 storey building), linked at ground floor, containing 84 no. apartments in total, with 28 no. 1-bed apartments and 56 no. 2-bed apartments, each with private balcony/wintergarden/terrace, as well as ground floor bin & bicycle stores and plant (including 1 no. relocated substation and 1 no. additional substation)

o 6 no. 2-storey 3-bed terraced houses, each with private garden

• Provision of 49 no. car parking spaces and 188 no. bicycle parking spaces (94 no. bicycle parking spaces in apartment buildings, 52 no. bicycle parking spaces in freestanding external shelters and 42 no. bicycle parking spaces in open external racks).

• All associated site development works, services provision, road infrastructure, landscaping/public realm works, to include the removal of the existing floor slab of the former commercial building and the relocation of the existing substation

Full maps and details here: Part 8 Planning Notice – Clover Hill Court (Housing Development) | Cork City Council’s Online Consultation Portal

Submissions and observations may be made to:

· Electronically through

· In Writing to Alison O’Rourke, Senior Executive Officer, Housing Directorate, Cork City Council, City Hall, Anglesea Street, Cork.

Closing date for submissions and observations is Friday 16 December 2022 at 4pm.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 1 December 2022

1179a. Front cover of Celebrating Cork (2022, Amberley Publishing) by Kieran McCarthy.

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 1 December 2022

Kieran’s Cork Books for Christmas

It’s only a few weeks to Christmas. There are two publications of mine, which readers of the column might be interested in. Both were published in the past 18 months.

Celebrating Cork (2022, Amberley Publishing) explores some of the many reasons why Cork is special in the hearts of Corkonians and visitors. It builds on my previous publications – notably Cork In 50 Buildings, Secret Cork, and Cork City Centre Tour – all published by Amberley Publishing. 

Celebrating Cork takes the reader on a journey through the known and unknown layers of Cork’s history and ‘DNA’. It has chapters about its layered port history, the documents and maps that define its sense of identity, the arts and crafts movements that can be viewed within the cityscape, its statues and monuments, its key institutions and charities, its engineering feats and certain elements of why Cork is known for is rebel nature. 

This book focuses on different topics again of Cork’s past and places more focus on elements I have not had a chance to write upon and reflect about in the past. With more and more archival material being digitised it is easier to access original source material in antiquarian books or to search through old newspapers to find the voices championing steps in Corks progression in infrastructure, community life or in its cultural development.

  Cork’s construction on a swampland is important to note and the knock-on effects of that of that in terms of having a building stock that is not overly tall. Merchants and residents throughout the ages were aware of its physical position in the middle of a marshland with a river – and from this the hard work required in reclaiming land on a swampland. I like to think they saw and reflected upon the multitudes of timber trunks being hand driven into the ground to create foundational material for the city’s array of different architectural styles.

Cork is a stronghold of community life and culture. Corkonians have a large variety of strong cultural traditions, from the city’s history, to sports, commerce, education, maritime, festivals, literature, art, music and the rich Cork accent itself. Celebrating Cork is about being proud of the city’s and its citizens’ achievements. This book at its very heart is a nod to the resilience of Cork to community life, togetherness and neighbourliness.

Celebrating Cork was penned in the spring and summer of 2020 during which the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the resilience of every city and region across Ireland and Europe. For the tragedy and sickness it brought, it also brought out the best of volunteerism, rallied communities to react and help, and saw neighbours helping neighbours. The importance of community life is no stranger to any Irish neighbourhood but the essence of togetherness in Cork at any time in its history is impressive and more impressive that it has survived against the onslaught of mass globalisation and technological development.

In Cork City Reflections (Amberley Publishing, 2021), Dan Breen and I build on our previous Cork City Through Time (2012) publication as we continue to explore Cork Public Museum’s extensive collection of postcards.

 People have been sending, receiving and collecting postcards for well over 150 years. They have always come in a variety of forms including plain, comedic, memorial, and of course topographical. Their popularity reached its zenith in the two decades before the outbreak of First World War when people used postcards for a variety of everyday reasons from ordering shopping to making appointments. Postcards have been described as the ‘social media’ of the Edwardian period as it is estimated that about one billion penny postcards were sold annually in the United States alone between 1907 and 1915.

The old postcards within Cork City Reflections show the city of Cork to be a place of scenic contrasts. They are of times and places, that Corkonians are familiar with. Many of the postcards show or frame the River Lee and the tidal estuary and the intersection of the city and the water. The postcards show how rich the city is in its traces of its history. The various postcards also reflect upon how the city has developed in a piecemeal sense, with each century bringing another addition to the city’s landscape.

Some public spaces are well represented, emphasised and are created and arranged in a sequence to convey particular meanings. Buildings such as a City Hall, a court house or a theatre symbolise the theatrics of power. Indeed, one hundred years ago in Ireland was a time of change, the continuous rise of an Irish cultural revival, debates over Home Rule and the idea of Irish identity were continuously negotiated by all classes of society. Just like the tinting of the postcards, what the viewer sees is a world which is being contested, refined and reworked. Behind the images presented is a story of change – complex and multi-faceted.

We have grouped the postcards under thematic headings like main streets, public buildings, transport, and industry. The highlight of Edwardian Cork was the hosting of an International Exhibition in 1902 and 1903 and through the souvenir postcards we can get a glimpse of this momentous event.


1179a. Front cover of Celebrating Cork (2022, Amberley Publishing) by Kieran McCarthy.

1179b. Front cover of Cork City Reflections (2021, Amberley Publishing) by Kieran McCarthy and Daniel Breen.

1179b. Front cover of Cork City Reflections (2021, Amberley Publishing) by Kieran McCarthy and Daniel Breen.