Tuesday, 31 August 2010




Cork Harbour, one of the biggest in the world, is controlled by the Port of Cork who operate out of the historic Custom House, built just before the north and south channels of the River Lee join on their way to Cobh and the ocean.

Built towards the end of the 19th century (design by William Hargrave), the Custom House was taken over by the Port of Cork (then the Harbour Commissioners) in 1904 (on a 999 year lease).

The vaults are used by the Cork Bonded Warehouse and it is here that wines and spirits are stored, released only to the importer when the appropriate tax has been paid to the revenue.

No drinks on offer during my latest visit, as part of the national heritage day. Been there before as the rooms are often used for meetings e.g. Labour Court reconciliations etc.

There are some fine rooms here, particularly the boardroom, which dates from early in the 20th century: very impressive dark wood on the walls, patterned ceiling and a line-up of red chairs (photo). The committee room was also open to the public who were also able to view an impressive collection of art.

Very enjoyable visit and another one worth making is to the Port of Cork website. This is full of information about boats and ships coming and going. Much of it is geared towards commercial users but the general public can also find valuable information here. Want to know which cruise liner is in Cobh today? Then get on to the site below. Do you know where the Millennium Gardens are? Find out here.


+353 21 4273125



Some of the first batch of visitors to the South Presentation Convent on Cork Heritage Day were expecting to see their old school but that was closed up about 12 years back, bringing to an end the great educational activity which started from this site 250 years ago and which spread to many countries around the world.

Still,  it was an enjoyable walk around, all the more so because of the incredible vivacity of guide Sr Rosario (in her 80s) who has spent “her whole life” in the convent. She took the sixty strong group around the beautiful gardens, where the foundress Nano Nagle is buried (original coffin visible) and filled them in on the background.

The main focus of attention was the story of Nano Nagle, who founded the order in 1776.  The Heritage Room, overlooking the garden and located in a building built in 1780 , has Nano's and Presentation artefacts on display.

021 4975190



The Princes Street Unitarian Church was built 300 years ago and when completed in 1717 became known as the New Meeting House.

While the church, almost hidden away in the busy street, is in good condition for its age, repairs are needed and restoration is in progress. Grants from various public bodies help in the work but the public are also being asked to help though donations.

“By opening this centrally located building for greater public use we are creating an attractive meeting place for groups that would otherwise have difficulty finding affordable space. The income thus generated will make this unique structure a self-sustaining feature of the life of Cork City.”

That seems to be the best path to the future though the building is pretty well known as it is already quite a  busy place and used by many organisations for meetings. Even during the recent Heritage Day, a craft fair was being held in front. If you are interest in holding an event (eg classes or exhibitions) here, you are invited to ring 087 8101943.

I made my first visit there that day, got a friendly welcome and the offer of a cuppa. Find out more by visiting the interesting website below.

021 4383541


46 McCurtain Street

The Cork Baptist Church is “an active, bible believing church, committed to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ “ and may be found at 46 McCurtain Street.

The Church was opened in 1892 and was on the recent Heritage day trail in the city. Items of interest inside are the pulpit and the baptistery but, for the congregation, “a diversity of nationalities, ages and gifts”, there is much more to be found within this red brick building.

Sunday, 29 August 2010


The Western gate
Eden, by Sean Mac Carthy 2000

Lee Rowing Club on opposite bank

The new railway bridge


To commemorate the millennium, the Port of Cork constructed a garden and a short walk at its lands along the river in Tivoli. The walk is quite short with fine river views; it may be extended by walking up the Lower Glanmire Road as far as the new Railway Bridge from where there are fine views of the city.

There are two entrances to the facility. Coming from the west, walk through the gate just before the “skew” bridge. Otherwise, use the Silversprings fly-over to access the eastern gate. There is limited car parking there.

It is a pleasant spot. Aside, from the river views, you have a variety of shrubs, trees and flowers (hydrangeas and fuchsia are prominent now in late August) and some sculpture. There is no shortage of seats, so you may bring your book or newspaper and give yourself a short break in the fresh air.

River Lee
City View, from new railway bridge
Enjoyed the stroll today. It is a handy park for residents of the nearby houses and apartments and even guests of Silversprings Hotel and guest houses in the area could well enjoy a walk here.



At the end of the 18th century, Cork Corporation sanctioned a necklace of toll huts around the city to be used to collect a toll from farmers coming to town with animals and or goods for sale.

Just one survives and that is situated at St Luke’s on the road to Mayfield. In more recent times, at the end of the last century, it was used to sell newspapers. More recently, as part of the refurbishment of the area, the booth (and water trough) was shifted but is still at St Luke’s.

Saturday, 28 August 2010


From the top: Cork Baptist Church; North Cathedral; Metropole; Elysian and City Hall; College of Commerce; crest in CHC; Assembly Rooms; tour in progress on Parade; banner in Masonic Hall; Unitarian Church

Friday, 27 August 2010


People have been coming to and going from Cobh in many forms of transport over the centuries but something new came to town today when a small sea plane landed as part of trials in a bid to establish harbour to harbour flights throughout the country.

Harbour Flights must have been pleased with events in Cobh as the landings, before quite a  large crowd in the sunshine, went smoothly before the little plane tied up at the pontoon of the Quays Bar and Restaurant.

The company is based in Mountshannon in the midlands. Athlone and Killarney are other proposed lake landings while harbours targeted included Cobh/Cork, Waterford, Foynes/Limerick, Belfast, Dublin and Galway.

Harbour Flights concept is to open up all of the lakes, waterways and estuaries around the 32 counties and develop a new and vibrant tourism market.

Harbour Flights Ireland Ltd

Lakeside Jetty
Co. Clare
Tel: +353 (0) 61 926066
Fax: +353 (0) 61 926060

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


The Cork Public Museum, sometimes called Cork City Museum, in Fitzgerald Park is well and truly up and running again after last winter’s flood damage.
Called there today to see the Traveller Visibility Group Exhibition which was due to open at 10.00am (according to the Cork City Event Guide for National Heritage Week) and that meant a waste of some time as the Museum doesn't open until 11.00am. Bet you wish you could get a job like that!
And you do need time here as, between the permanent displays and the temporary shows, there is so much to see.
You can see displays on the city’s sports heroes, Roy Keane and Christy Ring among them, on the role of the corporation, the various wars (including the Emergency), the Fashions, Cork Silver and Glass, the International Exhibition of 1902, the last tube made in Dunlop’s along with a run through of the area from pre-history right up to the present, replicas of the Cross of Cong and the Cross of Cloyne along with some medieval artefacts and also some ancient stones with ogham script.
Here too you’ll learn that a meat market was once called a “Shambles” and much much more, including the story of the Aloys Fleischmann family, told through photos and mementoes.
The display I came to see, The Traveller Visibility Group Exhibition, was upstairs. Highlights include the Barrel Top Wagon and the Black and White Phony (his hide made up of hundreds of black and white photos of travellers) and the Copper Craft project by the Ennis Travellers. Putting all this together was a learning experience for the travellers, viewing it was a learning experience for me.
Dachau is mentioned downstairs in the Fleischmann exhibition and, upstairs, you may see a collection of paintings from the Dachau Art Gallery permanent collection. During the 19th century, artists were drawn to Dachau by the beautiful moorland scenery. Many settled in the town, and it soon became an artists' colony. Captivated by the subtle nuances of colour and light of the Dachau countryside, they took their canvases out into the open – ushering in the era of painting en plein air.
Taking painting outdoors meant a shift from the darker canvasses to much lighter and this is easily seen here, in the Schleißheimer Canal by Toni Binder (1868-1944) for example. Really interesting show and there is a decent leaflet on hand to guide you through. Just be sure and leave it there afterwards for the rest of us!
I must admit I spent just well over an hour here and that was nowhere near enough. I’ll have to go back.
Tel+ 353 21 4270679
Photos, from top: the museum, new wing on left; Michael Collins features inside and outside, and the recently made Barrel Top Wagon



Many complaints when the kids were skate-boarding in front of the Opera House. Somebody heard and now there are at least two dedicated “parks”, one in the Regional Park (Ballincollig) and the other in the Mardyke Walk.

Passed the Mardyke facility this morning and there was just one dedicated skater practising but I'm sure, like the Ballincollig one, it is much busier at the weekends. 

Monday, 23 August 2010


The Blackpool Shopping Centre and Retail Park is a regular stop for me and it is one of the best round. Parking facilities (free) are just fantastic with a huge open area in the Shopping Centre and a fine multi-storey park in the Retail Park across the road and access is excellent as well.
I was in there at the weekend and called to a few places, including Dunnes Store big wide aisled supermarket, the anchor tenant in that section. Other big names in Blackpool include Soundstore, Cummins Sports, the Butcher’s Block and, in the Retail Park you have Argos, Atlantic Home Care, Heaton’s, Maplin and many more.
You also have eating and drinking facilities there along with the two main banks. There is an amenity park, first aid facilities, recycling, a prayer room, ATM, free Wi-Fi, etc...
All in all, an excellent facility where you can get a hell of a lot done in a few hours.
+353 (0)21 439 1308



Cricket has been played in the Mardyke since 1850 and the Cork County Cricket Club was formed in 1874. But the 1916 rebellion and the two great wars proved huge setbacks for cricket in the city as many of the players and supporters left and touring teams just didn't come. But things have improved in recent decades and the Richard Beamish Grounds can be quite a busy spot.

And it isn’t just cricket: you may enjoy squash, darts and pool and a drink in the lounge. Just like any other amateur sport, the social side can be very enjoyable indeed. And that will be very evident at present as the club are enjoying a terrific season and have the Munster Senior League title in their grasp.

The picture was taken from Sunday's Well and players on the famous grounds last Saturday; you can also see St Finn Barre’s Cathedral (left) in the background.


Sunday, 22 August 2010



Picked up a sentence in Sunday's Well at the weekend and had to spend some time in the Cork City Gaol; even had to pay to get in!

But it was all very enjoyable as this long standing attraction is well worth a visit and I hadn’t been in a long time. The buildings themselves are quite impressive and so is the story of the institution which, after years of planning (plus ça change...), opened in 1824 and operated until 1923.

Lifelike (wax) figures are dotted throughout the landings and the cells and one of the good things about the tour is that visit is concentrated on a few named individuals. True, it had some famous prisoners (such as Countess Markievicz) but you will hear mainly of the petty thief, the prostitute, the drunkard, the kid and the chancher.

You take the tour with the aid of an audio guide which is really excellent despite the fact that it keeps mentioning a yellow button which it does not possess. The tours are in 12 different languages and that has to be a huge plus.  Well done to all concerned here.

The staff are young and efficient but I thought they could be a bit more outgoing in greeting people, just a little of the usual smiling Cork confidence wouldn't go astray here. After all, today’s visitors haven't been sentenced.

By the way, my inmate number was 228784 and, after reading the harrowing account of the first hanging outside the gaol in 1828, I didn't linger too long and made good my escape. But not before I handed back by audio set!

021 4305022

Monday, 16 August 2010



Many French Huguenots, fleeing religious persecution, came to Ireland in the 17th century and a few hundred settled in Cork, making a significant contribution to the life of the city. 

The more independent of these formed their own church in French Church Street (then Lumley Street)/Carey’s Lane and later acquired an adjacent plot for use as a graveyard.

This small graveyard is still in existence. It has survived attempts to build on it. Its future now looks secure. The site was acquired by the Corporation in 2006 and reinstatement work has been carried out since. 

It is now enclosed but one may view it and some information panels (illuminated in dark evenings) through the locked gate in Carey’s Lane.



Can’t imagine it’s been over 20 years since I last walked in Glenbower Wood. But the last time I was there, there was a lake and a waterfall and all that went in 1988, according to the Information Board on the way in yesterday morning. I knew that waterfall and lake were no longer there, just didn't think it was that far back.
Still, enjoyed my stroll around this historic wood in the sunshine. Historic? Well, there has been a wood here since the 13th century and in the mid 19th century paths and ornamental lakes were built by the Sir Henry de Capell Brooke. In 1933 the woods, through which the Dissour River runs, came into the possession of the Department of Forestry and in 1994 the Glenbower Wood & Lake Ltd acquired 32 acres on behalf of the community.
The lake may be gone but that means there is a better flow in the Dissour, the centrepiece as you walk over a few rustic bridges. There are number of marked paths here and you can get a good long walk if you wish.
You may park behind the Old Thatch in Killeagh or carry for another half mile or so to the car park for the wood itself. I took the old walk yesterday, going in a circle, starting with a left on the path by the car park. I carried on past the site of the little waterfall (must check the archives for old photos) and then around the site of the former lake, now overgrown, over the black bridge and then back on the other side.
Quite a few people out and about and all so very friendly. East Cork has a share of lovely places to visit and this wood is a little gem.

Saturday, 14 August 2010



Like to take a stroll in the Groves of Academe? Well, in the grounds of UCC? There is a flexible Sli Na Slainte ranging from 1.7km to 3.4km in length and with a couple of Start/Stop points included.

If you’d like to take your Irish Heart Foundation Walk in the wooded area of the College, then start at the ceremonial gates at the junction of O’Donovan’s Road and Western Road. There is a signpost there with all the info you need.

From here, there is a pleasant stroll which takes you past the modern Lewis Glucksman gallery on your right and the old Aula Maxima on your left. You can take it from there yourself, making it as short or as long as you wish.

As I said, these walks are flexible and you may join (or leave) at any point.

www.irishheart.ie        Start of the walk



One day last week, started off from the landmark Toll Hut at newly re-furbished St Luke’s , down through Wellington Road.

Off to the Glucksman in the grounds of UCC where two impressive exhibitions are on view. Down the Western Road then and passed some unsightly vacant lots and old mansions that have seen better days.

Spotted the spires of St Finn Barre’s through the sharp modern architecture of the River Lee Hotel and nearby buildings. Passed the shabby City Library as tourists got off their bus. They were looking at it too and not with admiration!

Was thinking about the walk. Wellington Road has seen better days but Western Road is now more of an eyesore. It is not alone. The Celtic Tiger has vanished but we still have the long grass.

I remembered, with the aid of Google, a poem by the Greek Cavafy (1863 - 1933) where a city was paralyzed because “the barbarians are to arrive today”.

If the past is anything to go, we’ll have the long grass and the wild weeds and worse eyesores for some time to come, just like those unfortunate people in Cobh will have no running water for months ahead. Barbarians at the gate? No. More like lethargy inside the city walls.

That fictional city was just as paralysed when the barbarians did not materialise.
And now what shall become of us without any barbarians?
Those people were some kind of solution.

Friday, 13 August 2010



Busy day in Fota Wildlife Park yet the staff on the gate were as friendly and courteous as ever. Soon, they’ll be operating at a new entrance which is rapidly taking shape.
Fota really takes cares of the kids. There was a summer camp group being entertained. And for the general visitor, they had a free Arts and Crafts tent in operation along with a puppet show at 3.00pm.

Play areas were very busy and so were the eating areas, especially in front of the cafe. Some of the animals, like the cheetahs, were taking it easy but the Bison calves were tearing round the enclosure and there was bags of activity on the monkey islands, even if we were too late for the daily Gibbon racket!