3. Northside Narratives: Shandon Street Heritage Trail

 Shandon Street Festival, 6 09

 Shandon Street, southern end, 2 04

1.      Introduction:


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 part in the hearts of all 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. Shandon Street locals identify with the special old qualities of the street. Different architectural styles such reflect not only the street’s long history but also Cork’s past. The chosen sites in this guide are fascinating markers of the street’s  development through the ages.

North Gate Bridge house, 7 04



2.  North Gate Bridge

 In the time of the Anglo Normans establishing a fortified walled settlement and a trading centre in Cork around 1200 A.D., North Gate Drawbridge formed one of the three entrances –South Gate and Watergate being the others. North Gate Drawbridge was a wooden structure and was annually subjected to severe winter flooding, being almost destroyed in each instance.


In May 1711, agreement was reached by the council of the City that North Gate Bridge be rebuilt in stone in 1712 while in 1713, South Gate Bridge would be replaced with a stone arched structures. The new North and South Gate bridges were designed and built by George Coltsman, a Cork City stone mason/ architect.


Between 1713 and the early 1800s, the only structural work completed on North Gate Bridge was the repairing and widening of it by the Corporation of Cork. It was in 1831 that they saw that the structure was deteriorating and deemed it unsafe as a river crossing for horses, carts, and coaches. Hence in October 1861, the plans by Cork architect Sir John Benson for a new bridge were accepted. In April 1863, the foundation stone for the new bridge was laid.


The new bridge was to be a cast-iron structure with the iron work completed by Ranking & Co. of Liverpool. An ornate Victorian style was incorporated into the new structure with features such as ornamental lampposts and iron medallions depicting Queen Victoria, Albert the Prince Consort, Daniel O’ Connell, the Irish ” Liberator ” and Sir Thomas Moore, the famous English poet. The new North Gate Bridge was officially opened on the 17th March, St. Patrick’s Day 1864 by the Mayor John Francis Maguire in the company of Sir John Benson, the designer and Barry McMullen, the contractor. Nearly 100 years later – circa early 1960s, the bridge would have to be reconstructed again due to increased traffic.


On the 6th November 1961, the new and present day bridge, of concrete slabs was opened by Lord Mayor, Antony Barry T.D. accompanied by the Parish Priest of SS. Peter’s and Paul’s Church, the very Rev. Canon J. Fehily who blessed the structure before it was opened. The new bridge was named Griffith Bridge in honour of Arthur Griffith who was a famous Politician / Republican in Ireland in the early 1920s.

North Gate Bridge, c.1600


3. North Mall and the Franciscan Abbey:


In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a number of religious houses were established in the suburbs of the walled town of Cork. In the northern suburbs, large tracts of land were owned by the Franciscans who a established an abbey on what is now the North Mall. The abbey was founded in 1229 by the Irish chieftain, Dermot McCarthy, King of Desmond who was loyal to the English monarch at the time, Henry II. It became commonly known as the North Abbey and flourished for nearly three centuries in particular in terms of the constant population size of its occupants and the financial support from the surrounding lay community in Munster.  


Depictions of the walled town in particular in the Pacata Hibernia, c. 1585-1600 show the North Abbey to have at least a church with a belfry, which separated the altar area from the congregation area. The friary was built against a rock face and dedicated to Our Lady.


In April 1540, a royal survey conducted by officials, sent by the English monarch Henry VIII, detailed that the site of the abbey comprised one hall, one kitchen, one cloister, six large dormitory chambers, six cellars, a water mill, a fishing place for salmon, a salmon weir, and several plots of land in the townland of “Teampal na mBrathar” or “Church of the Monks”. Belonging to the abbey also was a dole house or a dwelling existed, which tended to the impoverished people of the Cork area. This stood just to the east of the main complex and in a present day context was located in the vicinity of North Abbey Square on the North Mall.  Placename evidence also suggests that the friars possessed a chapel in the northern suburbs overlooking the walled town known as “Cilleen na Gurranaigh” or” The Little Church of the Groves”. In time, this placename changed to “Gurradh na mBrathair” or “Friars’ Grove”, which is highlighted in the present day northern suburb of Cork City known as Gurranabrahar.


Franciscan Abbey, c.1600


The Abbey buildings still existed in the early half of the 1700s but did disappear over time under eighteenth and nineteenth century housing on the North Mall. Perhaps, the most known remaining feature of the North Abbey is its water well. The well is situated at the foot of a rock face, on the grounds of a new bar called the Abbey Tavern and is located within a stone-built well house. The well is said to be holy in nature but is not dedicated to any particular saint and at one time is reputed to have been used by Corkonian as a cure for sore eyes, consumption and other ailments. Next to the well on its west side, there is a second stone walled room, which is partially cut out of the domineering rock face. The purpose of this room is unknown but the rockface forms the end wall after a number of metres into this space. Legend has it that beyond this end wall is an underground passage leading up into the environs the Gurranabraher. However, the same legend does not relate any stories of its usage. 


In the years 1730 to 1750, evidence shows that the Franciscan Order moved from the North Mall to the inner city. By 1750, the Franciscans had established a central friary in Broad Lane, which today is part of the present site of St. Francis Church, built in 1953 on Liberty Street.


North Mall, 704



4. Blarney Street and Frank O’Connor:


Blarney Street is Cork’s longest street, a haven of rest for all true Corkonians, past and present. In the eighteenth century, it was one of the first streets, butter merchants encountered on their journey to the market. Eminent writer Frank O’Connor as a young child spent time exploring and playing in the myriad of lanes and back gardens of the area.


Frank O’Connor, the pseudonym of Michael Francis O’Donovan, was born in Cork on the 17th September 1903. He was born on Douglas Street but shortly afterwards moved to 251 Blarney Street where his early childhood was spent playing under the watchful Shandon tower. At five years old, he and his family moved to Harrington Square in the Dillon’s Cross district. While a child, O’Connor came under the tutorage of Daniel Corkery who developed and nurtured his love of Gaelic literature, Irish drama and the artistic heritage of Europe. With this love, O’Connor fought for Ireland in the Irish Civil war in the early 1920s and was interned in Gormanstown Camp, Co. Meath for his Republican activities.


After his release, Frank O’Connor worked as a librarian in Sligo and Wicklow. In 1925 he became Librarian of Cork County. In 1938, he resigned from the Cork post and decided to devote himself to literature. He thereafter made his living through writing, lecturing and broadcasting. He spent much time in England and the U.S.A. O’Connor’s work included two novels, the life of Michael Collins, The Big Fellow (1937), and translations from the Irish literary criticisms and dramatisations. His first volume of short stories was Guests of the Nation (1930), which drew on material from his experiences while running dispatches during the War of Independence. Other collections comprised Bones of Contention (1936), Crab Apple Jelly (1944), Traveller’s Samples (1951) and Domestic Relations (1957). He also wrote two volumes of autobiography, A Lonely Child (1961) and My Father’s Son (1969). His critical work comprised The Lonely Voice, A Study of the Short Story (1962). Throughout his work, O’Connor recorded what he deemed the “flashpoints” of human existence. Frank O’Connor died in Dublin of a heart attack on 10 March 1966.



5. Buckley’s Drapery- Late Georgian Splendour:


View from Buckley's, Shandon StreetOverlooked by Shandon and the North Cathedral, symbols of everything that is Cork, Buckley’s as a fashion centre has served the local area and further afield for over seventy five years. The management of Buckley’s have now finished a thorough renovation of their nineteenth century building. To avoid losing the sense of history in the structure, several interior architectural pieces of note have been amalgamated into the new structure. Management have noted it as the marriage of the past, present and future.


Of course, Buckley’s has been renovated against the backdrop of the Shandon Renewal Scheme and the conservation plan for St. Anne’s Shandon. However, Buckley’s is unique as its management did not have access to EU, national or local funding. With the concept of sustainability in mind or the preservation of the past for future generations to enjoy, Buckley’s has kept the sense of identity of the building not just on the site but as part of the wider Shandon Street area.


The architecture of Buckley’s building is of cultural significance. Architecture does give a city its character. It can express the ideas of the age it was invented in. Perhaps what comes to mind about the conservation of architecture in a building such as Buckley’s is that the life of Cork’s cultural heritage and our values are prolonged.


A building such as Buckley’s can contribute to the story of how we came to be the way we are now. More importantly though, as with Buckley’s, the existing fabric is the framework for its own future development. Before renovation, the rich history of the site was unravelled. The site itself can be mapped back to Storey’s map of Cork in 1690 when a wooden cabin was on the spot.


A late Georgian style, circa the year 1820 is quite apparent in Buckley’s – a high pitched building with red brick in its façade. Prior to renovation, in the upper rooms of Buckley’s, the residue of the former days of the apartments of middle class residents such as a central cornice remained as a testament to this great era in Cork’s history. In these illustrious rooms, remains of the aspiration to fit in with middle class counterparts were on display, a central cornice piece, beautifully decorated, large ornate doors with side panels and a staircase dating to Victorian times. In the late nineteenth century circa 1890, the provision shop of O’Connell’s owned 94 to 96 Shandon Street holding a steady trade until c.1925 when it closed. In 1929, Buckley’s was born and continues to flourish.


6. Cattle Market Avenue:


Cork as the Capital of a province, largely given over to cattle rearing, was a great centre for the export of livestock. As early as 1660, the export of cattle was quite considerable. The most important sources of supply were Imokilly, the Lee and Bandon valleys and above all the North Cork lowlands. In the early to mid eighteenth century, Cork merchants possessed the largest share of the Irish export trade in beef. In 1720, Cork merchants exported 58,916 barrels of beef while in 1745, the figure had escalated to 73,594 barrels. The 1745 Cork total represented almost sixty per cent of the full Irish export total.


The importance of beef to the English economy was reflected in 1747 in a Westminster Act, passed by George II, and which related directly to Cork. The Act provided legal powers to the Corporation of Cork exports to inspect any beef to be exported, and to provide a central market for inspection to take place, hence the name Cattle Market Avenue.


In 1748, two English gentlemen touring Ireland noted that 90,000 black cattle were killed for export purposes between August and December in the City’s Cattle Market near Shandon Street. In the western hemisphere, the West Indies provided the greatest market for provisions. Other export areas were Barbados, Carolina, Georgia, Jamaica and Newfoundland and Britain.



7. Butter Market:


By the mid 1700s, the native butter industry in Cork had grown to such an extent that it was decided among the main city and county butter merchants that an institution be established in the city that would control and develop its potential – the ‘Committee of Butter Merchants’. Locating themselves in a simple commissioned building adjacent to Shandon, the group consisted of 21 members who were chosen by the merchants in the city.


In May 1770, it was decided by the Cork Committee that all butter to be exported from Cork was to be examined by appointed inspectors who had two main duties to perform. Firstly, they had to examine and determine the quality and weight of the butter. Secondly, they had to examine and report on the manner of packing and to detect and signs of fraud.  On examination of the casks, the quality of butter was determined and they are awarded a ‘first’, ‘second’, ‘third’, ‘fourth’, ‘fifth’, or ‘sixth’. ‘First’ would be determines as ’superfine’ (excellent quality) while sixth butter was termed ‘grease’ (very poor quality). A penalty was imposed on the inspector if he or she made a poor judgement or was in a conspiracy with a merchant.  



Cork Butter Market, Illustrated London News,1859If one was a farmer involved in the butter industry, one brought one’s butter or hired a broker to bring one’s butter to the butter market from the country to the town. It did not matter at what time a farmer or a broker arrived with your butter as the market was open night and day. This was to facilitate sellers and perhaps to avoid concentrating business during mornings and afternoons. On arrival, a porter received the firkin or cask of butter, initialised it, chalked each cask and arranged them into lots so that they could be inspected the following day.


‘Cork Firsts’ were nearly always sent to Lisbon while ‘Cork seconds’ were sent to the West Indies. ‘Cork Thirds were sent to Southern England and to certain Scottish Ports. A butter cask had to be made from seasoned oak, sycamore or beech. Oak was particularly useful for preserving butter on long distance voyages. All firkins being shipped to places like Brazil and the West Indies via certain English ports were also bound in iron hoops and a small portion of butter was taken out to allow for pickle to be included which acted as a preservative of taste.


By the mid 1800s, the butter market had enlarged to such an extent that there was a large need for expansion of the premises. In 1849, an elaborate roman temple style portico, designed by Sir John Benson, was added to the front of the butter market and this was. In the late 1800s, there was a distinct decline in the economic fortunes of the city. The profits of the export provision trade of agricultural products such as butter and beef declined. In 1858, 428,000 firkins of butter were been exported per annum and by 1891, this was reduced to 170,000 firkins. Competitive European prices out-competed the prices set by the butter market at Cork. Eventually, the Cork butter Market closed in 1924. Today, part of the Butter Market is a craft centre whilst smaller parts have become enclosed private gardens. In recent years, a butter museum, which is well worth visiting has opened up next to the craft centre in the Tony O’Reilly Centre.

Aerial view of Cork Butter Market from tower of St. Anne's Church, Shandon


8. Butter Exchange Band:



The Butter Exchange band, or the “Buttera” as it is known, is one the best-known brass and reed bands in the city of Cork. The band was established in 1878 but has roots in a small band established for religious purposes by Fr. John McNamara, a curate of the North Cathedral. At the time of its creation the band was one of a number in the city but was regarded as one of the more prestigious ones because of its association with the Butter Market. At its foundation the band was more than simply a musical enterprise. The band room located on nearby John Redmond Street served as a reading room, at a time when such facilities were not readily available to working people. Regular engagements included excursions down the River Lee, visits to beauty spots in County Cork such as Bantry and Glengariff and promenades on the Marina and at the bandstand in Fitzgerald Park. Charitable performances were also a regular feature of the band’s life.


The most distinguished event each year has always been the annual Corpus Christi Procession, originally starting at the North Cathedral. The band also plays at Christmas and Easter in the cathedral, as well as at various missions held there. In olden days, there was a tradition of outings by the band to scenic resorts. Cobh was a particular favourite but Crosshaven, Macroom and Bantry were also popular destinations. The band also performed at President John Kennedy’s visit to Cork in June 1963. Several Band members featured in the showband boom of the 1960’s, the Dixies and the Skyliners. The present day band is still vibrant and is located in a new bandroom in the Tony O’ Reilly Centre.

Cork Butter Exchange & Brass Band, est. 1878


9. St. Anne’s Church, Shandon:


Shandon from Rathmore area, eastern BlackpoolFor nearly 250 years, the bells of St. Anne’s Church have rung out over Cork City. Consequently their fame has spread all over the world especially with the immortal words of Rev. Francis Mahony’s poem “The Bells of Shandon” echoing behind their history; “With deep affection and collection, I often think of those Shandon Bells, whose sounds sounds so wild would, in days of childhood fling round my cradle their spells”.. Fr. Prout was the pen name of Fr. Francis Mahony, a regular cleric, who spent many years of his childhood living nearby, listening to the bells. Even in death, Fr. Prout did not have travel far as his remains lie in a family vault close to the foot of the steeple.


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, MacCarthaigh who lived in the area circa 1,000 A.D. The site of this fort is now marked by the Firkin Crane, a dance development centre. 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 the 7th 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.


The architecture of the church and tower is an early English style. The peculiar feature of the tall church tower approximately forty metres in height is that the north and east sides are comprised of red sandstone while the south and west sides are composed of grey hewn limestone. The limestone came from the ruins of the Franciscan Abbey, which existed on the North Mall while the sandstone came from Shandon Castle near St. Anne’s Shandon. Rising from the main tower, which is in the shape of a telescope, are three further tiers, which end in a curved dome. Above this an ornamental gold coloured gilt ball, which is crowned by the cardinal points, north, south, west and east and a weather vane in the form of a fish. The giant glided fish four to five metres in length, symbolises salmon fishing. It is a very relevant sign to have in a church, as in the earliest days of Christianity, a fish was used as a symbol for the name of Our Lord.


The clock of Shandon with its four white faces was installed by Cork Corporation in 1847. It was made by James Mangan, a successful Cork watch-maker. The clock on Shandon is an efficient time keeper except for the fact that the minute hands on the east and west faces always go ahead of their accomplices, the north and south hands in the ascent from the half hour to the hour. Therefore obtaining its title, “the four-faced liar”. Nevertheless, complete concurrence is attained once more at the hour.  


The machinery of the clock is said to weigh two tonnes and the dials are four metres in diameter. An inscription also exists on the machinery, which gives the warning; ” Passenger measure your time, for time is the measure of your being”. At the top of Shandon, A visit to St. Anne’s is well worth the effort for locals and visitors. Emerging onto a parapet after the bell tower, one can also clearly see a panoramic view of the city and observe the past, present, and future of Cork.



10. Skiddy’s Almshouse:


The attraction of economic fortune caused municipal population figures for the period, c.1711 to c.1730 to increase. In 1706, the population figure was 17,595 with 4,602 houses. In 1725, there were 35, 232 residents with 7,536 houses in the City of Cork. The increase in population resulted in much deprivation among the poorer classes.


Bob on windowsill in Shandon, originally at gateway to Green Coat SchoolFinancial support to the less fortunate citizens of Cork was much needed in the early 1700s. In 1715, the Green Coat Hospital was built on a waste piece of ground adjoining the churchyard of St. Mary’s Church, Shandon. Reverend Dr. Henry Maule presented the ground to the trustees of the hospital for development. Thomas Newenham, a Cork merchant and a Quaker, financially subscribed to the completion of the project. In March 1715, construction commenced on further wasteland given by Rev. Dr. Maule adjacent to the Green Coat Hospital to construct two schools. Any citizens interested in attending had to be of Protestant belief. Boys were to be taught reading, writing and accounts whilst girls were to be taught to read, knit, sew and spin. The schools were opened on 12 August 1715 and remained in operation into the nineteenth century. On the entrance to the schools were two statues of a Boy and Girl. In true Cork fashion, the statues were named, Bob and Joan and are now housed in the steeple of St. Anne’s Church, Shandon.


In the first week of February 1717, the trustees of already existing Skiddy’s and Bretridge’s Hospitals, small houses, decided that their premises were too uncomfortable for their impoverished patients. Both hospitals were in essence extensive almhouses located in the area now occupied by St. Anne’s Church. In early July 1718, work began on the new building, which was constructed on land obtained from the trustees of the nearby Green Coat Hospital. The front of the new building was to have stone arches or piazzas, which were to be built through the subscription of Brigadier Sterne and Alderman Knapp. In late September 1719, the almshouse was finished, at a total cost of cost £1,150.


Just east of Shandon Street, the foundation stone of North Infirmary Hospital was laid on 25 December 1720. Several months later, the building was completed and contained three floors with four rooms on each floor. The North Infirmary is now the site of the Shandon Court Hotel.

Green Coat Hospital, c.1715

Present day Skiddy's Almshouse


11. Jack Lynch:


One of Cork’s favourite sons, Jack Lynch was born under the shadow of St. Anne’s Church in 1917. Jack Lynch was a gifted sportsman. In the 1940s he played on the Cork All-Ireland minor and senior football teams, winning several All Ireland medals. His second passion was politics, and he stood for Fianna Fáil in the 1946 bye-election, going on to serve as minister in the departments of Education and Industry and Commerce. In 1966, he succeeded Seán Lemass to become Taoiseach. He was a leading figure in the negotiating team that signed of the Treaty of Accession into the EEC – a move that initiated Ireland’s economic recovery and Celtic Tiger days. Lynch’s focus as Taoiseach was Northern Ireland, and he worked tirelessly towards a peaceful solution to the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’.


12. St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s North Cathedral:


The present Cathedral of St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s is the fifth church on the site since the early 1600s (1624, 1700, 1730, and 1808). The story of the present day structure is as follows. In 1820, an immense fire greatly damaged the fourth cathedral so much so that it was really the skeleton structure of the burned cathedral that survived. However all was not lost and shortly after, the bishop of that time, John Murphy delegated to architect, George Pain, the rebuilding of the then 12 year old cathedral, inside and outside. George Pain was also responsible for the design of buildings such as Holy Trinity Church, St. Patrick’s Church and Blackrock Castle.


Between 1862 and 1867, another addition, a tower on the western end was worked on. The local Canon, Foley oversaw the project but unfortunately the project was a complete disaster as funds for the tower went into quick decline. Consequently, Canon Foley had to become the clerk of works, director of operations, mason and labourer. To economise even more, the facing stones were cut in a way that they would cover more space. Disasterously, when a certain height was reached, the stones with the upright grain burst and work was halted.


In 1868, at an influential meeting of Catholic citizens, convened by then Bishop of Cork and Cloyne, Delany, certain alterations and improvements to the church were debated. The plans prepared by Sir John Benson were discussed and adopted. His plans for the new cathedral comprised a new overall geometrical plan or a plan, which reflected thirteenth century architecture. By the proposed plans, the church was to be enlarged to double its contemporary size with magnificent architecture. It was proposed to add to the east end, a nave, choir, chancel with four chapels and transepts with side aisles.


The external features were also to be on a grand scale. To be added to the side walls of the former church were buttresses or supports for the wall itself and parapets surmounted with minarets (small towers). To complete the cathedral, a spire was to be added to the western tower.


Early work commenced on the rebuilding of the buttresses, re-arrangement of the windows, and addition of the parapet and minarets to the southern aisle of the nave. By July 1869, many of the outer features were completed under the contractor, Mr. R. Evans, Union Quay including the parapets, spire and minarets. However, this was when the project ran into financial difficulty and the remaining features of Bensons’ proposals were never carried out. Instead of the proposed spire, four pinnacles were designed and constructed. At a height of one hundred and fifty –two feet, the present day cathedral stands ten feet higher than the adjacent tower of St. Anne’s Church, Shandon.

 North Cathedral from eastern Blackpool
North Cathedral from St. Anne's Church Shandon, 9 04 
13. Religious Sisters of Charity:


In the first decade of the 1800s, the Catholic Bishop of Cork, Francis Moylan, wished to answer the needs of the poor in the city. He was anxious for religious orders to establish themselves in the urban area. In the early 1820s, his successor, Bishop Murphy was to invite Mother Mary Aikenhead (originally from Cork) and her order the Religious Sisters of Charity to Cork.


Five Sisters of Charity along with Mother Mary Aikenhead came to Cork in 1826. Mother Aikenhead stayed to see them established. The Sisters ministered to the temporal as well as the spiritual needs of the poor. The dwelling, which Bishop Murphy had selected for the community, was a damp, gloomy and tumble-down house. It stood close to the North Cathedral in the poorest quarter of the city. The Cork house was high, narrow, and crooked, with a ladder-like stairs, a questionable roof, whitewashed walls, no garden but a small yard. The convent was officially called ‘Our Lady of Dolours’ but the Sisters jokingly called it ‘Cork Castle’. Life was not easy. The Cork Sisters could not afford a chaplain, and thus rarely heard mass in the Convent. This changed when a young priest, Rev. John Crowe, offered to say mass in their small oratory.


They distributed tickets for food and coal, which were placed at their disposal by City Officers of Health. The Sisters also gave religious instruction in the North Infirmary. On 19 November 1826, the Sisters began the formal visitation of the poor in the North Parish. Typhus fever was raging and the wretched slum area visited by the nuns was a hotbed of infection.


At the Bishop’s request, the Sisters visited a local Refuge for Women, which had been founded in 1809 by the financial support of prominent city merchant, Nicholas Terry, and was then under secular control. The Refuge accommodated thirteen young women when on 8 June 1846 at the request of the Bishop, the Sisters took charge of the Institution. Two years previously in 1844, a larger convent, named St. Vincent’s was built in Peacock Lane, very near to Eason’s Hill in the Shandon area. The Sisters opened an infant school near this site in 1857. This was later followed by primary and secondary schools.






Prsent day St. Vincent's Convent

Class, St. Vincent's School, circa 1900


14. North Monastery:


In the late 1800s, only one third of the poor children aged between five and fourteen attended Cork schools. One third of the poor population were unable to read or write. For the poorer classes, there were several free public schools in early nineteenth century. In the early 1800s in Waterford, a new religious congregation was founded named the Society of the Presentation under the auspices of Edmund Rice. The Catholic Bishop of Cork, Francis Moylan, wished to establish a branch in Cork. In 1811, that wish was fulfilled and the already existing Cork Charitable North School was taken over by the Presentation Brothers on the northside of the city. Such was the success of the order in treating some of the miseries of the poor children in Cork, further schools were built in the city. In the late 1810s, school buildings were constructed on the site of the present day North Monastery.

 North Monastery, c.1900


15. Blackpool-The Hive of Industry:



Industrial symbols, blackpool, 4 04

Blackpool was the scene of Industry in Cork in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In this district, various attempts were made at various times to start or revive the manufacture of textiles such as broadcloth, blankets, flannels, hosiery, thread, braid and rope. The leather industry was also vibrant in Blackpool with no fewer than 46 tanyards at work there in 1837 giving employment to over 700 hands and tanning on average 110,000 hides annually.

From 1835 onwards tanners found it necessary to import hides from as far afield as Montevideo and Gibraltar in order to supplement local supplies.




Richard Griffith’s Evaluation of 1852 listed twenty-one tanneries in the Blackpool area. By the turn of the twentieth century only a handful of tanneries remained in production. The main tannery was Dunn’s on the Watercourse Road. One of the most extensive tanyards in Cork belonged to Daniel, fourth son of Jeremiah Murphy. This was located in Blackpool. The firm of Daniel Murphy & Sons was not affected by the decline, which ruined many tanning enterprises following the 1830’s. A partnership formed with the firm of Dunn Brothers maintained the business and the new firm became the largest tanning concern in the country at the time”. The Famine dealt the industry a very serious blow from which it never recovered. From that date onwards, the industry steadily declined.    


Distilling became significant in the Cork region only during the last decades of the eighteenth century. Hewitt’s Watercourse Distillery was established in 1792 by Thomas Hewitt, John Teulon (both butter merchants) and Richard Blunt (a London distiller). By 1794 the production and sale of whiskey had begun.


In 1834 the Hewitt family took sole ownership of the distillery. The Hewitt family sold the distillery to the Cork Distillers Company in 1868. By 1876, distilling had ceased at the Watercourse Distillery, although the maltings, cornstores and warehouses were still used by the company.


Blackpool is also home to Lady’s Well Brewery, which takes its name form a famous well near by, was founded in 1854 by Messrs. James, William, Jerome and Francis Murphy. They formed a private Limited Company in 1884. The undertaking was from the beginning remarkably successful. Up to date appliances were introduced into every department and no pains were spared to place the Brewery amongst the best equipped in Ireland and Britain.

Advertisement, Ladys Well Brewery


Also check out:

 Shandon Street Festival, July 2009: