Saturday 22 February 2020

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Cork Independent

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A festival of tours are on during Heritage Week

Thursday, 15th August, 2019 8:55am

National Heritage Week is upon us again next week (19–26 August). It is going to be a busy week!

For my part I have organised seven tours. These are all free and I welcome any public support for the walks outlined below. There are also brochures detailing other events that can be picked up from Cork City Hall and city libraries. If you are up the country on holidays, check out for the listings of national events.

Saturday 17 August: Historical walking tour of Cork City Hall at 11am. Ticketed (free, duration: 75 minutes; details at

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 designed by architects Jones and Kelly and built by the Cork company Sisks. The foundation stone was laid by Eamon de Valera, President of the Executive Council of the State on 9 July 1932.

Sunday 18 August, Cork Through the Ages: meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, at 6.45pm (free, two hours).

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.

Indeed, it is also a city that is unique among other cities, it is the only one which has experienced all phases of Irish urban development, from circa 600AD to the present day. This tour explores the city’s earliest historical phases.

Monday 19 August, Shandon historical walking tour: meet at North Gate Bridge, Shandon Street at 6.45pm (free, two hours).

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 and was originally known as Mallow Lane. Shandon Street locals identify with the special old qualities of the street. Different architectural styles reflect not only the street’s long history but also Cork’s past.

Tuesday 20 August, The Victorian Quarter - historical walking tour of the area around St Patrick’s Hill – Wellington Road and McCurtain Street: meet on the green at Audley Place, top of St Patrick’s Hill at 6.45pm (free, two hours).

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 cover the development of the Victorian Quarter and its hidden and beautiful architectural heritage.

All are welcome and any old pictures and documents that people have of these areas, please bring along.

Thursday 22 August, The Lough and its curiosities: meet at green area at northern green of The Lough, entrance of Lough Road to The Lough at 6.45pm (free, two hours).

This new walking tour circles the Lough and explores the area’s origins and histories. In such a corner of the city, stories abound ranging from duels, ice-skating, market gardening, Victorian nurseries and legend making as well as housing and church sites.

Friday 23 August, Douglas and its history, in association with Douglas Tidy Towns: meet in the carpark of Douglas Community Centre at 6.45pm (free, two hours, 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.

Indeed, the story of one of Ireland’s 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 40 or so seats or mansions and demesnes made it a place where the city’s merchants made their home and it is also an interesting place to study in terms of ambition shown in the landscapes that were created and which still linger in the surrounding landscapes of Douglas village.

Saturday 24 August, Fitzgerald’s Park: The People’s Park. Explore the history of Cork’s Mardyke: Meet at band stand in park, opposite Cork City Museum in Fitzgerald’s Park at 11am - note the morning time (free, two hours).

Looking at the physical landscape of the park, there are clues to a forgotten and not so familiar past. The entrance pillars on the Mardyke, the Lord Mayor’s Pavilion, the museum, the fountain in the middle of the central pond dedicated to Fr Mathew and timber posts eroding in the river were once parts of one of Cork’s greatest historical events, the Cork International Exhibitions of 1902 and 1903.

Just like the magical spell of Fitzgerald’s Park, the Mardyke exhibitions were spaces of power. Revered, imagined and real spaces were created. They were marketing strategies where the past, present and future merged. The entire event was the mastermind of Cork Lord Mayor Edward Fitzgerald, after which the park got it name.

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