Books by Kieran

Cork Independent Our City, Our Town Series, September 1999-Ongoing:

Beginning in September 1999, my weekly column, Our City, Our Town in the Cork Independent has been ongoing for  over 1,000 articles. For me, it has been such an enjoyable experience. The first number of years focussed on the city and its development through the centuries. Over the ensuing  years, the column has been concerned with the heritage of the River Lee Valley. Starting in Gougane Barra, the River Lee has led me into the lives of residents of the valley exploring their rich heritage. Then there was a series of articles on Technical Education, Cork’s historic maps and more regional history. Today Cork one hundred years ago and its various elements are the foci of the column, visit for indices of the column.

“Our City, Our Town” seeks to figure out what makes the character of Cork tick. One cannot but be pulled into the multitudes of narratives, which have framed Ireland’s southern capital. I still read between the lines of historic documents and archives. I get excited by a nugget of information, which completes a historical puzzle I might have started years ago. I have sat in the library pouring over a book or old newspaper on many an occasion trying to figure out where a piece of information sits in my researches. I still look up at the architectural fabric of the city to seek new discoveries, hidden treasures and new secrets. It is a great story to research and to tell.

The Cork Independent is a free newspaper, which has a weekly reach of 40,000 people in Cork City and metropolitan area and is available in many shops and hence reaches out to all communities of all ages. The column regularly reaches out to the general public for information on column topics and publishes people’s family history. The column also supports my free public walking tours, which take place in 25 suburban locations in Cork City. The column also supports research within my annual Discover Cork: Schools’ Heritage Project, which involves working with 25 schools in Cork City and approximately 1,000 students. The latter initiative is in partnership with the Heritage office of Cork City Council.

Indices, Cork, Our City, Our Town,


Witness to Murder, The Inquest of Tomás MacCurtain (2020, Irish Examiner, Co-written wit John O’Mahony)

The last time the inquest of Tomás MacCurtain  was published in full was in the Cork Examiner between 23 March 1920 and 18 April 1920. Despite the ordeal and daily fallout from the interviews, over time the fourteen hearing sessions have not overly been revisited by scholars of the Irish War of Independence. The verdict has been highlighted on many occasions by many historians, but the information of the inquest has never been overly written about or the narratives within it championed. So, this book is about bringing together the data inquest into one source. It is about giving a voice to the solicitors, jury and those interviewed.

Within the interviews and the remarks of Counsel, jurors, and solicitors, the frustration is plain to read plus one can view the complex relationships of all sides of the debate. The interviews and the answers given also provide multiple narratives on what life was like to those who interacted in the power play with authorities in the city, the nature of policing but above all the raw emotion attached to the murder of Tomás. On the raw emotion element, the witness statement by his wife of Elizabeth and family, and even the account of the bullets in his chest makes for harrowing reading. see to purchase a copy of the book.

50 Gems of West Cork (2019, Amberley Publishing)

The new book explores 50 well-known gems of the West Cork region and is a culmination of 18 months work. It brings 50 stories together in an accessible manner. It is not meant to provide be a full history of a site but perhaps does try to provide new lenses on how heritage is looked at and the power of construction and collective memory in West Cork.

   The new book details 50 key sites detailing how they became the focus of attention and development – and how their stories, memories and the making of new narratives were articulated in an attempt to preserve an identity and/ or communities locally and nationally at sites or to create new identities and communities.

Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerce, 1819-2019 (Cork Chamber of Commerce, 2019) 

1023a. Front Cover of Championing Cork, Cork Chamber of Commerc

The book has been funded and published by the Chamber of Commerce. Established in 1819 the Chamber has consistently led a mission to be the leading business organisation in the Cork region. For two hundred years, it has committed itself to ensure the city and region’s prosperity, vibrancy and competitiveness through sustainable development. Researching the history of the institution through the rich archival material that has survived, every broad period of growth and decline has empowered the institution to carry on to challenge and resolve the issues of the day. The contribution has been immense.

Established in an economic decline and as a champion of Catholic Emancipation, the Chamber emerged not only to provide a physical space where its members could come and read the up todate news of the day and plan for the future, but also to challenge the status quo. It grew rapidly from 1819 to the Great Famine years campaigning for more rights for the Catholic merchant middle class and more investment:

The Little Book of Cork Harbour (History Press, 2019)

Little Book of Cork Harbour Front Cover

Published by The History Press, UK, the book presents a myriad of stories within the second largest natural harbour in the world. This is book number 22 for Kieran and it follows on from a series of Kieran’s publications on the River Lee Valley, Cork City and complements his Little Book of Cork (History Press, Ireland, 2015). It is not meant to be a full history of the harbour region but does attempt to bring some of the multitudes of historical threads under one publication. However, each thread is connected to other narratives and each thread here is recorded to perhaps bring about future research on a site, person or the heritage of the wider harbour.  The book is based on many hours of fieldwork and also draws on the emerging digitised archive of newspapers from the Irish Newspaper Archive and from the digitalised Archaeological Survey of Ireland’s National Monument’s Service.

Cork in 50 Buildings (Amberley Publishing, 2018)

Cork in 50 Buildings (2018, Amberley Publishing) explores the history of this venerable old city through a selection of its greatest architectural treasures, from the St Anne’s Church, Shandon, regarded as a symbol of the city, to more recent additions such as the tower of the County Hall, once the tallest building in Ireland. This book offers a glimpse to explore behind fifty of Cork’s historic buildings. book builds on my previous publications, takes strands of articles from this ongoing local history column, Our City, Our Town. It is also inspired by the annual Cork Heritage Open Day, which is organised by Cork City Council and where over 40 buildings open their doors to the public for one day at the start of National Heritage Week. This book highlights just some of my favourite buildings and stories that have charmed me.

Secret Cork (Amberley Publishing, 2017)

Secret Cork, Kieran's new book from Amberley Press, May 2017

Secret Cork (2017, Amberley Publishing) takes the viewer on a walking trail through Cork City of over fifty sites. It starts in the Lee Fields looking at green fields where once an Industrial and Agricultural fair, a series of Grand Prix’s and an open air baths were present. It then rambles to hidden holy wells, the city’s sculpture park through the lens of Cork’s revolutionary period, onwards to hidden graveyards, dusty library corridors, gazing under old canal culverts, across historic bridges to covered over tunnels. The book is all about showcasing these sites and revealing the city’s atmospheric urban character.

Cork City History Tour (Amberley Publishing, 2016)

Front Cover of Cork City History Tour by Kieran McCarthy

The book promotes that the best way to get to know a city like Cork is to walk it – in Cork you can get lost in narrow streets, marvel at old cobbled laneways, photograph old street corners, look up beyond the modern shopfronts, gaze at clues from the past, be enthused and at the same time disgusted by a view, smile at interested locals, engage in the forgotten and the remembered, search and connect for something of oneself, thirst in the sense of story-telling – in essence feel the DNA of the place.
The book’s trail takes in the story of the early origins of the city – the monastic site of St Finbarr to Viking age histories to the Anglo-Norman walled town followed by historic areas such as Shandon, St Patrick’s Street, City Hall, Sunday’s Well and the Wellington Road Victorian Quarter. Cork City History Tour is published by Cork City History Tour and is published by Irish History Press,

Cork 1916, A Year Examined (History Press, 2016)

Cork 1916, A Year Examined by Kieran McCarthy & Suzanne Kirwan

This book compiled by Kieran McCarthy & Suzanne Kirwan takes the year 1916 from the point of view that there were multiple conversations to be heard during the year – a kaleidoscope of ideas, which provided the context and framework for revolution – everyday life being one – some led Cork citizens to connect with the Republican mantra at the time and others to just maintain existence, survive and struggle with the bleakness of a national and local economy. Entering the Cork Examiner on 1 January and progressing page by page one discovers key nuggets about the nature of Cork society, the soul of Ireland’s southern capital, the ongoing conversations about maintaining a contemporary status of being one of Ireland‘s distinguished port cities, and all the advantages and problems that run with that.

Ring of Kerry – The Postcard Collection (Amberley Publishing, 2015)

 Front cover of Ring of Kerry, The Postcard Collection by Kieran McCarthy

Vibrancy, a wild vibrancy, is perhaps the best way to describe the Ring of Kerry. Exposed by raw elements, the landscape is windswept and awe inspiring. This book follows on from Kieran’s previous work of exploring the nature of postcards in the south west region and how they helped to placemake and construct local, regional and national identity. The book explores the fascination of landscapes around the Ring of Kerry or the Grand Atlantic Tour as it was known a century ago and comprises what could be genuinely described as stunning images. Many could be printed in large sizes and hung on walls and I have no doubt many have over the decades. They are beautiful images made to entice the viewer to remember, to visit and not forget. These postcards were the preferred souvenirs for connoisseurs of the landscape. They framed a world for people to view, consume, keep a part of, send to other people and mass produce. The mass production of such images helped advance the narrative in promoting the south west Iveragh peninsula.


North Cork Through Time (Amberley Publishing, 2015)

North Cork Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan BreenNorth Cork Through Time, it is compiled by Kieran and Dan Breen of Cork Museum and is published by Amberley Press. The region is defined by the meandering River Blackwater and its multiple tributaries and mountainous terrain to the north. It borders four counties that of Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford. The postcards, taken for the most part between c.1900 and c.1920 show the work of various photographers, who sought to capture the region and sell their work to a mass audience. Not every town and village was captured in a postcard. This book brings together many of the key sites of interest and serves as an introduction to the rich history of the region. The multitude of landmarks shown in this book have been passed from one generation to another, have evolved in response to their environments, and contribute to giving the County of Cork and its citizens a sense of identity and continuity. North Cork Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen is available in any good bookshop.



The Little Book of Cork (History Press, 2015)

Front cover of Little Book of Cork

Published by History Press Ireland, The Little Book Of Cork,  it aims to be a compendium of fascinating, obscure, strange and entertaining facts about Cork City. Here you will find out about Cork’s buildings and businesses, its proud sporting heritage, its hidden corners and famous (and occasionally infamous) men and women. Through its bustling thoroughfares and down winding laneways, this book takes the reader on a journey through Cork and its vibrant past, recalling the people and events that shaped this great city. A reliable reference book and a quirky guide, this can be dipped into time and time again to reveal something new about the people, the heritage and the secrets of Cork.

ebook Sales:

Cork Harbour Through Time By Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen

 Cork Harbour Through Time (Amberley Publishing, 2014, Co-Written)

How do you capture a harbour in all its beauty? Being the second largest natural harbour in the world brings a focus and energy that Cork Harbour has always been open to. The ebb and flow of the tide through the ages has carved a unique landscape of cliffs, sand and gravel beaches that expose an underlining geology of limestone and sandstone. Invigorating this landscape are multiple monuments from different ages, many of which the postcards in Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen seek to capture.

Colourful villages provide different textures and cultural landscapes in a sort of cul-de-sac environment, with roads ending at harbours and car parks near coastal cliff faces and quaysides. The villages are scattered around the edges of the harbour, each with their own unique history, all connecting in someway to the greatness of this harbour. Walking along several junctures of fields, one can get the feeling you are at the ‘edge of memory’. There are the ruins of old structures that the tide erodes away. One gets the sense that a memory is about to get swept away by the sea, or that by walking in the footsteps trodden by photographers 100 years ago, one could get carried away by their curiosity. This new book tracks the space and historical context of 100 postcards in Cork Harbour, many of which were taken c. 1900–20.

Cork Harbour Through Time can be bought in many Cork bookshops.


West Cork Through Time (Amberley Publishing, 2013, Co-written)

718a. Title Page, West Cork Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Dan Breen

The book takes the reader from Bandon to Castletownbere through the changing and the non-changing face of landscapes and seascapes and provides an insight into the uniquenesses of the region. The necklace of towns and villages are all linked together through a striking section of Ireland’s coastline, over 320 kilometres in length, encompassing a raw coastal wilderness with expansive inlets continuously being eroded away by the Atlantic Ocean. With exquisite coastal scenery, add in undulating inland landscapes criss-crossed by mountains, hill, streams and rivers, imposing old world air villages and the visitor finds a discovery at every bend of the road.

West Cork Through Time is available in any good Cork book shop and on Amazon. It is published by Amberley Publishing, UK.

Journeys of Faith, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Ballinlough, Celebrating 75 Years (Church Publication, 2013).

Front cover of 'Journeys of Faith', book by Kieran McCarthy

This book marks the 75th anniversary of the dedication of the building. The book aims to recover and provide a cross section of voices and personal memories of the most remembered aspects of Ballinlough parish over the past decades. The church represents one of the multiple threads of community life of the area. At its dedication ceremony on Sunday 11 September 1938, the orator of the sermon, Fr Kieran OFM Cap, spoke at length about the building belonging to the people and the people belonging to the church.

Over 100 people were interviewed and worked with in order to produce a very personal book on the story of life within Ballinlough parish. People speak at length in this book about their faith, their personal connection to Ballinlough and its sense of place and how they link to it. The book is available at the church and from the sacristy at E.15 or send the fee to the church payable to the Parish Office at Ballinlough Church and they will send one on (include p&p. E3).

Cork City Through Time (Amberley Publishing, Co-written, 2012) 

Cork City Through Time by Kieran McCarthy and Daniel Breen

A postcard book contrasting then and now; As a port town, Cork was and still is strongly connected to the outside world – the international and small city ambitious in its ventures linking to a world of adventure and exploration. The city’s hills and troughs have created different perches for some of the city’s elaborate structures to stand on and for photographers to capture the city’s urban space. The buildings and streets shown in the pictures give one access to the imagination and efforts of the people. The photographs within this book are key to understanding the human experience, sense of place and pride in the city, one hundred years ago. Views of streets, public spaces, churches, the docks, and an international exhibition all show the energy and drive of a city, the legacies of which still linger on the southern capital of Ireland.

Buy it from amazon:

Munster Agricultural Society: The History of the Cork Showgrounds (Society Publication, 2011):

With roots in the early nineteenth century, the Munster Agricultural Society has had a long history, being founded in 1806 under the name County of Cork Farming Society, changing to County of Cork Agricultural Society sometime in the 1830s and evolving in 1908 to its current name. The Society has evolved as the needs of its members changed over time to incorporate what they saw as relevant to the contemporary and future of agriculture in Ireland. Each successful season is immortalised in the society’s minute books, on the society’s perpetual tournament trophies and on the numerous photos that adorn the scrapbooks held in the society’s archive collection. The Munster Agricultural Society has been a pioneer in attaining improvements in Irish agriculture and in agricultural education. This book is its story told through a rich historical and evocative pictorial record set against the backdrop of the historic Cork Showgrounds. This book was published by the Munster Agricultural Society as part of a consultancy project. It can be purchased from the Society. 

Royal Cork Institution, Pioneer of Education (Cork Institute of Technology, 2011)

Royal Cork Institution, Pioneer of Education by Kieran McCarthy (2011)

In this volume I shed light on an important aspect of the educational heritage of the city which, in the nineteenth century, laid important foundation stones for our twenty-first century education. Although little remembered or spoken of in current day Cork, the Royal Cork Institution was remarkable in its time and the city owes a great debt to those who founded, developed and maintained that institution. Cork Institute of Technology, particularly it’s Science Faculty and its constituent schools of the Crawford College of Art and Design and the Cork School of Music can trace their origins back to the influences of the Royal Cork Institution. This establishment also played a critical role in the movement that led to the foundation of Queens College Cork, later re-named as University College Cork. This book was published by Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) Press as part of a consultancy project. It can be purchased from CIT Press.

Inheritance, Heritage and Memory in the Lee Valley (Nonsuch Ireland/ History Press, 2010)

Iheritance, Heritage and Memory in the Lee Valley, Co Cork

This book is based on the series of articles that featured in the Cork Independent newspaper from October 2007 to June 2009. It documents my explorations in the parishes of Aghabullogue, Inniscarra and Ovens on the northern valleyside on Inniscarra Reservoir, part of the course of the River Lee. It encompasses much fieldwork and oral history testimonies. The book is published by Nonsuch Ireland (Sold Out.

About the book:

Generations: Memories of the Lee Hydroelectric Scheme (Lilliput Press, co-edited, 2008)

Generations cover

A book co-written with Seamus O’Donoughue, the work was published by the ESB to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Inniscarra Dam being commissioned. The work contains many pictures of the  Lee Scheme being constructed and pictures of the ‘before and after’ of  the affected landscape. It also profiles the positives and negatives of such an extensive venture for its day;

In the Steps of St Finbarre, Voices and Memories of the Lee Valley (Nonsuch Ireland/ History Press, 2006) 


In the Steps of St Finbarre cover

A book, which grew out my column in the Cork Independent, it focusses on the journey of the Lee and the key places of settlement, monuments and community leaders all the way along the valley. It contains lots of pictures and alot of original material previously not drawn together (sold out, only available on Amazon). 

Voices of Cork: The Knitting Map Speaks (Nonsuch Ireland/ History Press, 2005)

Voices of Cork cover

This book was my first venture into oral histories.  I spent the summer of 2005 getting to know an amazing bunch of women who worked on the Cork 2005 Knitting Map. The book contains interviews with seventy women and focusses on life in general giving advice on survival and self empowerment. it was a pleasure to meet such great people. The book was published by Nonsuch Ireland (sold out).

A Dream Unfolding, Portrait of St Patrick’s Hospital (Hospital Book, 2004)

A Dream Unfolding cover

A book published by the Sisters of Charity in St. Patrick’s Hospital, it charts the development of the hospital from 1869 onwards. this was an eye opening experience to be able to write this work and be given access to the hospital to see the great work of the sisters and staff (sold out). 

Discover Cork (O’Brien Press, 2003)

Discover Cork cover

Discover Cork was published by the O’Brien Press in Dublin as part of their National town guide series. A great ABC book to how the city developed with maps and pictures. Part 1 focuses on the key stages of the city’s growth from early times. Part 2 focuses several of the city’s views, river locations, buildings and artwork. Still available from Amazon. Sold out from the O’Brien Press. 

Cork: A Pictorial Journey (Self Publication, co-edited 2001)

Cork A Pictorial Journey cover

A book co-written and co-published with Michael Lenihan. Michael collects Cork books, photographs and postcards. We worked together to bring out a book which showed Cork City, one hundred years ago through postcards. The book showcases some of Cork’s key throughfares and architecture. The streets and shops have changed but the character and essence of the streets have survived (sold out).

Pathways Through Time, Historical Walking Trails of Cork City (Self Publication, 2001)

Pathways Through Time Cover

Self published, ‘Pathways’ grew out of  my walking tours of the city and my early columns in Inside Cork. A book with two walking trails of Cork City, it leads the reader from St. Finbarre’s Cathedral through Shandon to St. Patrick’s Street. The book uses maps and buildings to profile the development of Cork City through the ages (still available from Kieran, limited edition).