4. Suburban Cork Local History Walks with Kieran

Ballinlough, From Big houses to Market Gardens:

Walking through Ballinlough, people talk about their affinity for the place’s tranquillity and its green areas. They speak about how Ballinlough sits on a suburban ridge overlooking the river and harbour area and faces further afield to the architectural beauty of Cork’s Montenotte and St Lukes. Ballinlough also has the view of County Cork’s southern ridges and troughs. Perhaps it was the view and good land that led the area’s first recorded resident Patrick Meade to settle in the area. In records from 1641, Ballinlough was written as Ballynloghy and Patrick, a Catholic, had 144 acres of profitable land. The Meades were originally from the west coast of England. On arrival in Cork, they built themselves into the fabric of the key merchant families of the city along with families such as the Roches, Goulds, Coppingers, Sarsfields, Galways and Tirrys. The history books note that the Meade family had a castellated mansion near the present day Clover Hill House.

During the Cromwellian wars, Patrick Meade was dispossessed of his property. William Tucker had the caretaker’s lease on the property through Oliver Cromwell. Subsequently, the 144 acres were given to Alexander Pigott. The Pigotts came from Chetwynd in Shropshire and initially came to Ballyginnane beyond present day Togher. In time, they re-named this area Chetwynd. Colonel William Piggott was in Oliver Cromwell’s army and was rewarded further with land across Cork’s southern hinterland. Indeed in the early 1660s, the population of Ballinlough was recorded in a census as having 30 souls.


Blackpool and Environs, Society, Industry and Life:

The North Monastery schools or North Mon are places  deeply rooted in Cork’s cultural identity. One is dealing with a long standing culture of hard slog, struggle, hardship, discipline, ambition and determination that has brought the North Mon to this point in its life. This walk explores the early origins of the school and the context in which it was established.

The school was set up by the Christian brothers as a response to rampant poverty in the city. Way back 200 years ago John Carr, an Englishman, a travel writer of sorts in 1805, describes Cork’s economic fabric and social life. Cork was the largest butchery in Ireland and living conditions for the poorer classes in Cork were terrible and shocking. Many of the impoverished homes were located in narrow lanes and varied from cabins to cellars. This historical walking tour weaves its way from the North Mon into Blackpool, Shandon and Gurranbraher highlighting nineteenth century life in this corner of Cork from education to politics, to religion, to industry and to social life itself.





Down the Line- The Old Cork Blackrock and Passage Railway Line:


The Cork Blackrock and Passage Railway was among the first of Ireland’s suburban railway projects. It opened in 1850 and the original terminus, designed by Sir John Benson, was based on Victoria Road but due to poor press was moved in 1873 to Hibernian Road. The entire length of track between Cork and Passage was in place by April 1850 and within two months, the line was opened for passenger traffic. In May 1847, the low embankment, which was constructed to carry the railway over Monarea Marshes (Albert Road-Marina area), was finished. In Blackrock, large amounts of material were removed and cut at Dundanion to create part of the embankment there. Due to the fact that the construction was taking place during the Great Famine, there was no shortage of labour. A total of 450 men were taken on for the erection of the embankment at the Cork end of the line. Another eighty were employed in digging the cutting beyond Blackrock.



Cork City Hall, Perspectives on a Civic History:

One of the most splendid buildings of Cork is Cork City Hall. The current structure, replaced the old City Hall, which was destroyed in the ‘burning of Cork’ in 1920. It was designed by Architects Jones and Kelly and built by the Cork Company Sisks. The foundation stone was laid by Eamonn de Valera, President of the Executive Council of the State on 9th July, 1932. The first council meeting was held in City Hall on the 24 April 1935. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this September, the building was formerly opened by Eamonn DeValera on 8th September, 1936. The building is designed on classic lines to harmonise with the examples of eighteenth and nineteenth century architecture. The facades are of beautiful silver limestone from the Little Island quarries.



St. Finbarr’s Hospital, From Workhouse to Hospital:

When the Irish Poor Relief Act was passed on 31 July 1838, the assistant Poor Law commissioner, William J. Voules came to Cork in September 1838 to implement the new laws. Meetings were held in towns throughout the country. By 1845, 123 workhouses had been built, formed into a series of districts or Poor Law Unions, each Poor Law Union containing at least one workhouse. The cost of poor relief was met by the payment of rates by owners of land and property in that district.

In 1841 eight acres, 1 rood and 23 perches were leased to the Poor Law Guardians from Daniel B. Foley, Evergreen House, Cork. Mr. Foley retained an acre, on which was Evergreen House with its surrounding gardens, which fronted South Douglas Road. The subsequent workhouse that was built on the leased lands was opened in December 1841. It was an isolated place, built beyond the City’s toll house and toll gates. 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. 


In preparation:

Douglas: A Cork Suburb

The story of Douglas and its environs is in essence a story of experimentation, of industry and of people and social improvement.  As early as the late thirteenth century King John of England made a grant of parcels of land, near the city of Cork to Philip de Prendergast. On 1 June 1726, Douglas Factory was begun to be built. Samuel Perry and Francis Carleton became the first proprietors. They were also members of the Corporation of Cork at the time. The Douglas sailcloth factory was founded by a colony of weavers from Fermanagh. The eighteenth century was the last golden age for wooden sailing ships, before the 1800s made steam and iron prerequisites for modern navies and trading fleets.  It was a golden age too for maritime exploration, with the voyages of James Cook amongst others opening up the Pacific and the South Seas. Douglas in its own way added in part to this world of exploration.