Signs from Above : Cork History


On my walk around Cork City, I came across some plaques commemorating famous people who lived in various old houses around the city.   Here is the first one, as you can see, Mary Aikenhead, who was the founder of the Religious Sisters of Charity and lived a very interesting life.    She was born in 1787 to wealthy parents, her father was a member of the Church of Ireland, and her mother was a Catholic, and they lived in Daunt’s Square, which is right in the heart of the city, where our main street, Patrick Street, meets the Grand Parade.   For the first six or seven years of her life, Mary was fostered out to a Catholic family, we don’t know why, and the plaque I found is on a house that she lived in when she was 11 years old until she was about 15 (maybe because she went to the local secondary school, the Presentation Convent).

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The next interesting character I came across was Denny Lane, who lived for a while and died in a house in the South Mall, which is now mainly the business district of the city centre, where a lot of lawyers, accountants, banks, insurance companies have their offices.     Denny Lane‘s father owned a distillery outside the city, and Denny himself is described as  ‘a highly respected citizen of Cork’  and was a director and chairman of many old Cork companies.

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The house on the South Mall, where Denny Lane lived

The house on the South Mall, where Denny Lane lived

The next interesting character I found was Richard Rolt Brash, an architect.   This plaque was over the building known as The Assembly Rooms  (The Assems),  well known to the youth of Cork inthe 50s and 60s, (and probably earlier) as it housed one of the first cinemas in Cork, and before that it was a meeting room and function room.    Richard Rolt Brash also designed the Grand Hotel in Fermoy, and coincidentally, the house where Denny Lane died, which is right across the road from the Assembly Rooms.    These buildings still look beautiful, and stand out amongst the plain steel and glass of modern times.

Designer of the Assembly Rooms and other Cork buildings

Designer of the Assembly Rooms and other Cork buildings

The grand entrance of the Assembly Rooms

The grand entrance of the Assembly Rooms

The Assembly Rooms, Cork

The Assembly Rooms, Cork

My final character for today is Richard Dowden, a former Lord Mayor of Cork, who was described as a botanist, philanthropist, and probably he is most notable for the fact that he was co-founder. with Father Mathew, of the Temperance Movement  in Ireland….back in the days when the Irish were known for their excessive drinking!  There is a statue to Father Mathew where St Patrick’s Bridge meets St Patrick’s Street,  known to everyone from Cork, or who as ever been to Cork – as ‘de Statue’!    And right beside it is another Cork landmark since the 1800s – the Mangan clock – almost as famous as the Clery’s clock as a meeting place.   I wonder how many first dates took place under these clocks?

Plaque near the Paul Street shopping centre

Plaque near the Paul Street shopping centre

Back view of 'de Statue' and Mangans Clock, 2 Cork landmarks

Back view of ‘de Statue’ and Mangans Clock, 2 Cork landmarks

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. wildsherkin
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 13:33:08

    A very interesting post! I’ve never heard of Denny Lane but love the look of his former home! Looking forward to seeing some more, Joan. P

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