Kieran’s National Heritage Week tours 12-20 August
There’s another summer month to come and more opportunities to take a historical walking tour.
The tours I have chosen for National Heritage Week this year are all important areas in the city’s development plus they all have a unique sense of place and identity. I will host seven tours, and all are free. There is no booking required bar the one for Cork City Hall for Cork Heritage Open Day.
Saturday 12 August: A Tour of Cork City Hall as part of Cork Heritage Open Day, 9.30am. Meet at entrance at Anglesea Street entrance (90 mins, booking required from Cork Heritage Open Day website with Cork City Council).
Learn about the early history of Cork City Hall and Cork City Council; learn about the development of the building and visit the Lord Mayor’s room. The current structure replaced the old City Hall, which was destroyed in the Burning of Cork in 1920. It was built by the Cork company Sisks. The foundation stone was laid by Eamon de Valera, President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, on 9 July 1932.
Sunday 13 August: Cork Through the Ages, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork City. Meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm (free, two hours, no booking required).
Cork city possesses a unique character derived from a combination of its plan, topography, built fabric and its location on the lowest crossing point of the River Lee as it meets the tidal estuary and the second largest natural harbour in the world. This tour explores the city’s earliest historical phases.
Monday 14 August: Shandon Historical Walking Tour. Explore Cork’s most historic quarter; meet at North Main Street/Adelaide Street Square, opposite Cork Volunteer Centre at 6.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking).
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 place in the hearts of many 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. Different architectural styles reflect not only the street’s long history but also Cork’s past.
Tuesday 15 August: The City Workhouse and St Finbarr’s Hospital. Meet just inside the gates of St Finbarr’s Hospital, Douglas Road at 6.30pm (free, two hours, no booking).
The Cork workhouse, which opened in December 1841, was an isolated place – built beyond the toll house and toll gates, which gave entry to the city and which stood just below the end of the wall of St. Finbarr’s Hospital in the vicinity of the junction of the Douglas and Ballinlough Roads. 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.
Wednesday 16 August: Cork South Docklands, in association with the Cork Jewish Community and Heritage Team. Meet at Kennedy Park, Victoria Road at 6.30pm (free, duration: 2 hours, no booking).
Much of the story of Cork’s modern development is represented in Cork South Docklands. The history of the port, transport, technology, modern architecture, agriculture, sport, the urban edge with the river - all provide an exciting cultural debate in teasing out how Cork as a place came into being.
Friday 18 August: The Northern Ridge – St Patrick’s Hill to MacCurtain Street historical walking tour. Discover the area around St Patrick’s Hill – Old Youghal Road to McCurtain Street; meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill at 6.30pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking).
This is a tour that brings the participant from the top of St Patrick’s Hill to the eastern end of McCurtain Street through Wellington Road. The tour will speak about the development of the Collins Barracks ridge and its hidden and interesting architectural heritage.
Saturday 19 August: Douglas and its History, in association with Douglas Tidy Towns. Discover the history of industry and the development of this historic village, meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre at 2pm (free, duration: two hours, no booking, circuit of village, finishes nearby).
The story of Douglas and its environs is in essence a story of experimentation, of industry and of people and social improvement. The story of one of Ireland largest sailcloth factories is a worthwhile topic to explore in terms of its aspiration in its day in the eighteenth century. That coupled with the creation of forty or so seats or mansions and demesnes made it a place where the city’s merchants made their home in. Douglas makes also makes for an interesting place to study as many historical legacies linger in village’s surrounding landscapes.
Sunday 20 August: Views from a Park – The Black Ash and Tramore Valley Park historical walking tour. Meet at Halfmoon Lane gate at 2pm (free, duration: 90 minutes, no booking required).
Historically William Petty’s 1655 map of the city and its environs marks the site of Tramore Valley Park as Spittal Lands, a reference to the original local environment and the backing up of the Trabeg and Tramore tributary rivers as they enter the Douglas River channel. We are lucky that there are also really interesting perspectives on the area recorded through the ages.