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Cork Independent

Around the County

Booming Blackpool

Thursday, 25th February, 2016 1:00am

Only minutes north of the city, Blackpool has retained its village identity. The labour-intensive textile, tanning and brewing industries that fuelled the area’s initial growth have now given way to offices, shops, cafes, chippers, garages, florists, barbers and, of course, newspapers.

Between the glass-fronted offices and retail parks, underneath the bypass, the remnants of Blackpool’s past as a centre of industry still poke through.

Madden’s Buildings on Watercourse Road was Cork’s first public housing, built in 1886 by the Cork Corporation in response to dire overcrowding problems in the city. The stone ‘Bull and Drover’ cast into the terrace’s east wall hark back to the land’s earlier use as a cattle market.

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, tanners, brewers and distillers provided the locals with a wealth of jobs and odours. The dyes used in the tanning process would find their way into the water, earning Blackpool its name.

The River Bride powered the mills that made Blackpool’s own industrial revolution possible, and to this day, has the unfortunate habit of annually flooding the village. The Office of Public Works has pledged €15m in flood protection measures to remedy the troublesome River Bride. Already past the public submissions stage, the measures are hoped to be in place by the end of 2017.

Vacant homes and businesses dot the community, but a new scheme hopes to fix this. Last year, the residents of Blackpool successfully argued for their inclusion in the Living City Initiative, which offers tax relief to those interested in repurposing the area’s older, neglected buildings. The scheme is available to structures built before 1915.

Local GAA club Glen Rovers is celebrating its first Senior County Hurling title in 26 years. It’s been a while since the team achieved their legendary eight in a row – Cork county champions from 1934 until 1941. It was during this streak that future Taoiseach Jack Lynch stepped up as captain. Ballincollig prevented Rovers winning a ninth title in 1941, the year Christy Ring joined the club.

Founded in 1916, The Glen are also celebrating their centenary. In the aftermath of the Easter Rising, the team added a black band to their jersey. This green, yellow and black-banded design is still worn today.

A monument to the Delaney brothers - Jeremiah and Con – on Dublin Hill is further evidence of Blackpool’s role in the War for Independence. The two IRA volunteers were killed in their home by British soldiers in 1920. This was also the year that Blackpool native and then Lord Mayor of Cork city Tomás MacCurtain was killed by members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Today in Blackpool, a plaque marks his old family residence at 40 Thomas Davis Street. A commemoration event for Mac Curtain will take place next month on 19 March.

On the back of a prosperous past, enthusiastic hard-working residents and impending Government investment, Blackpool is in for an interesting few years.

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