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Around the County

From old to new in Little Island

Thursday, 19th May, 2016 1:00am

Little Island is a diverse and successfully flourishing area to the east side of Cork city. Progressing rapidly over the past two decades, the area serves as a hub for over 700 businesses and providing employment for thousands of people throughout Cork.

It is ever evolving from its humble beginnings into a powerhouse for various industries, encouraging progression and advancement.

Through this industrialisation of the area, the locality has still managed to hold true to its historically rich roots. The parish can be traced back to the 7th century at least and first appeared under the name De Insual meaning ‘of the island’ in the 14th century. The Irish name for the area is Inse Ratha and this is the name that it was known as for many years. It is still the name of the local national school, Scoil Inse Ratha, which was initially opened at Island Cross in 1888 and then relocated to Castleview in 1961.

It seems that Little Island’s association with industry and industrial development has spanned much longer than just a few decades. It is thought that its location in Cork Harbour played a key role in local development, with the various quays scattered across the waterfront being used as a means of marine transport. There has also been evidence uncovered that indicates a substantial amount of cereal growing and milling took place around this time, along with evidence of the presence of a tar factory and water mills.

The limestone quarry was also an invaluable asset to the island, providing a significant source of employment, which in turn greatly helped the local economy. The quarry provided thousands of tons of limestone every year, some of which contributed to the construction of major buildings throughout Cork and Ireland.

The railway station has similarly established itself as an invaluable asset to the area and to the commuters who have come to rely on it since its opening in 1859. It serves the route from Little Island to Cork, Cobh or Midleton to this day.

The beautiful St Lappin’s Church is another key feature of the Little Island community. Built in the gothic revival style and making use of the limestone that would have been available, it is a perfect example of the level and skill of craftsmanship that existed at the time it was built. On Tuesday (17 May) St Lappins celebrated its 150th anniversary having been built in 1865 and dedicated by Bishop John Gregg in 1866.

The Wallingstown graveyard, known locally as St Lappin’s Graveyard is yet another spot which holds great historical significance to the area. The ruins of a church still remain on the grounds and references to it can be found as far back as 1591. In the 1970s, tidal water mills were excavated adjacent to St Lappin’s and the timbers found there have been dated back to approximately 630AD.

It is important that the history of the area is remembered and preserved, as it could so easily be overlooked and forgotten in bustle of everyday life.

Associations such as the Little Island Heritage Society work tirelessly to insure that this doesn’t happen and that the information will be available for many more years to come.

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