1261a. View of Cork from Audley Place around 1890. (source: Cork City Library)

More excerpts from Cork: A Potted History Selection

‘Cork: A Potted History’ is the title of my new local history book published by Amberley Press. The book is a walking trail, which can be physically pursued or you can simply follow it from your armchair. It takes a line from the city’s famous natural lake known just as The Lough across the former medieval core, ending in the historic north suburbs of Blackpool. This week is another section from the book. The book is available to buy from any good bookshop or online from the publisher.

Atop Fever Hospital steps:

The Fever Hospital had a distinguished career caring for Corkonians since 1802 until the mid-twentieth century, located atop the steps adjacent Our Lady’s Well in Blackpool.

It was founded by Corkman Dr Milner Barry, who introduced vaccination into Cork in 1800 and was the first to make it known to any Irish city. In 1824, a monument with a long laudatory inscription was erected in his memory in the grounds of the Fever Hospital by Corkonians.

An annual general meeting of the president and assistants of the Cork Fever Hospital and House of Recovery was held on 15 May 1917 in the Crawford Municipal School of Art. The annual report of the Hospital Committee was read by member Sir John Scott.

He revealed that on 1 January 1917 there were 37 patients in the hospital and 256 were admitted during 1916. This made a total number of 293 patients treated, compared with 500 during the year 1915. Of the patients treated, 253 were discharged and cured while eleven remained in hospital on 31 December 1916. There were 24 deaths during the year, and it was noted, with great regret, that many of them were only brought to the hospital in a ‘hopeless condition’.

Deducting these from the number of deaths, the mortality showed a low rate of 6 per cent, which was deemed by the committee as a ‘satisfactory outcome’ with dealing with dangerous fevers.

A regular call was made by the Fever Hospital urging upon Cork citizens the immense importance of prompt isolation and hospital treatment for cases of infectious diseases. Many of the cases treated came from the thickly populated districts the city.

Of the cases admitted, 108 came from the northside of the city, 54 from the south side, 53 from the centre and 25 from the rural districts.

The hospital site was sold off in 1962 and the housing estate of Shandon Court now stands in its stead.

Views of Cork at Audley Place:

When the Corporation of Cork invested in planning St Patrick’s Bridge in 1787, it opened up a new quarter for development. The 1790s coincided the creation of St Patrick’s Hill – an avenue from Bridge Street that aligned with an old windmill now incorporated into Audley House. The decade also coincided with an early MacCurtain Street – back then known as Strand Street and later King Street, then Summerhill North from 1820 onwards.

Over the centuries, artists, travellers and antiquarians have tried to capture the essence of St Patrick’s Hill and the vista from Audley Place. Recently, the view was captured in ‘The Young Offenders’ as its two main characters, Jock and Connor, chat about their lives on a bench.

Ascent has always been difficult for any mode of transport, from horse and cart to cars. In 1988, the organisers of the Tour de France held a section in Ireland and sent their competitors on a gruelling ascent of St Patrick’s Hill.

There is a spectacular view of the city at the top, especially of the northside suburbs of Blackpool, Gurrananbraher and northwards to Knocknaheeny and Farranree. The river can also be seen winding its way through the city, on its way to meet the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The origins of the name Audley Place or Bell’s Field have been lost to time. Bell’s Field may be a reference to a Major Bell who may have been connected to what is now nearby Collins Barracks.

This view from the top is much loved and often photographed. It has been captured through numerous mediums: a sketch by historian Charles Smith in 1750, a painting by John Butts in the 1760s (now on display in the Crawford Art Gallery) and photographic postcards in the early nineteenth century among others.

The early depictions show the early growth of Blackpool as an industrial hub in the city with its myriad of chimneys reflecting the many tanneries and distilleries in the area. Many of these were established in the late eighteenth century.

St Anne’s Shandon, with its ornate steeple, dominates all sketches and photographs. The tower is very symbolic of eighteenth-century expansion in Cork. The adjacent butter market, located off Shandon Street, remembers the golden age of prosperity and profit in the city.

A postcard from around 1890 shows the minarets of St Mary’s and St Anne’s North Cathedral and echoes the social and physical change of nineteenth-century Victorian Cork. Just to the top of the early nineteenth-century photograph are farmed green fields, which were developed with housing estates in the early 1930s, a testament to the growing population of a city and a way to ease the slum conditions of the inner city.

Today, standing at the spot of the viewer, one can see the suburban growth in Knocknaheeny and further east in Farranree. Cork City Council are trying to encourage the recreational use of the area of the top of the hill by supplying seating and landscaping the general area.

Kieran’s upcoming walking tours, no booking required, all two hours, all free.

Friday 5 July: Cork Through the Ages, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork City. Meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm.

Sunday 7 July: The Northern Ridge – St Patrick’s Hill to MacCurtain Street. Meet on the Green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill, 6.30pm.

Sunday 14 July: Cork South Docklands. Meet at Kennedy Park, Victoria Road, 6.30pm.

Tuesday 16 July: The Marina. Meet at western end adjacent Shandon Boat Club, The Marina, 6.30pm. Wednesday 17 July: Blackpool: Its History and Heritage. Meet at square on St Mary’s Road, opposite North Cathedral, 6.30pm.