When we were walking on Tuckey Street by Bishop Lucey Park, we saw writing on the tops of two pillars. We went to have a better look.
On one it says ‘Leabharlann’. The other says ‘ Cárnéigí’. We went to find out more about this. We learnt about libraries, Mr. Carnegie and the Burning of Cork.
Page 8 / 1
Chapter 4.5 has a ghostsign of the old Cork Library which says that it was established in 1792.
This was a private members library. It only had serious books. The cost of joining was very high. Lots of people did not have much spare money and so they could not join.
The first public library in Cork was opened in 1905. Cork Corporation gave the site behind City Hall to allow a library to be built. The Corporation Civic Offices with the glass walls is there now. Mr Andrew Carnegie made a present of the money to build the library.
Mr. Carnegie was a Scotsman. He made lots of money from steel in America. He gave money for the building of lots of libraries – not just in Cork.
Page 8 / 2
My neighbour, Ruby, was visiting her grandparents in Skerries over Christmas. She took a photograph of the Skerries Carnegie Library for us because she knew it was in our project. My mum’s friend lives near Millstreet. She took a photograph of the old Carnegie library there.
Page 8 / 3
The Carnegie Library in Cork only lasted 15 years. In December, 1920, it was burned down. Lots of buildings in Cork were burned and looted in The Burning of Cork. All the books in the building were burned and it took years to get new books.
The current City Library on Grand Parade opened in 1930. The gate on Tuckey Street is into the carpark for the current library.
Page 8 / 4
We went to the library to ask about the piercaps. Some people working there use the carpark but did not know there was writing on the piers. No one knew when they were put in their new location. We all think that they came from the old library by City Hall.
We had to find out some more about the Burning of Cork.
Page 8 / 5
On our first walk down St Patrick’s Street in September, Emma and I pointed at a curvy window and we asked if it was special, or maybe a ghostsign. We were told it was called an ‘oriel window’ but was not special or a ghostsign, just old.
We now think that the grown-up was wrong and that window is very special. It is in lots of photographs that we saw in papers and books. It survived the Burning of Cork.
Page 8 / 6
We read in the book Cork Cinemas by John McSweeney that the building was the Lee Cinema. My dad and granddad both remember going to films at this cinema. It was upstairs.
The cinema opened on 1st November, 1920. Less than six weeks later, the Burning of Cork happened. In the photos, we can see that all of the buildings around the cinema have been knocked in the fire. The cinema with the window can be seen on their own.
Page 8 / 7
Many of the buildings like Cash’s and Roches Stores were not rebuilt for many years. The Lee Cinema was damaged in the Burning of Cork. It was renovated and it opened again in September 1921 – nine months later. The Lee Cinema closed down in 1989.
Page 8 / 8
When we went to learn about the Burning of Cork , there was lots of information about the War of Independence, killings and things that happened around 1920. We watched the documentary by Cónal Creedon. We looked at old newspapers in the library and also in Revolution Papers. We looked through lots and lots of books – parents read the important bits to us.
Cónal said that when he was researching for his documentary, it was not well known by people in Cork.
Page 8 / 9
The War of Independence started on 21st January, 1919 when Dan Breen and Seán Treacy attacked a group of R.I.C. officers who were bringing explosives to a mine. Two constables were killed. There was a lot of tit-for-tat retaliation throughout the War of Independence. One of the early retaliations happened in March 1920. On 19th March, R.I.C. Constable Joseph Murtagh was shot dead on Pope’s Quay.
Tomás MacCurtáin was elected Lord Mayor of Cork in 1920. He was getting ready for bed. It was after midnight so was 20th March – his 36th birthday. R.I.C men with black on their face burst into his house and shot him dead.
We learned a lot about this Lord Mayor.
Page 8 / 10
Tom Curtain was born in Ballyknockane, not far off the road to Mallow. He had 11 brothers and sisters. He went to school in Burnfort.
At the age of 13, he moved to Cork city to live with his sister and go to the North Mon. One of his schoolmates was Terence MacSwiney.
After school, he was very involved in Irish language, Irish music and the campaign for Irish freedom. He loved the Irish language and changed his name to Tomás MacCurtáin.
Page 8 / 11
He became leader of the Volunteers.
In 1916, the Volunteers in Cork were waiting for arms and their orders to take part in the Easter Rising. The orders and the arms did not come but the men were all in the Volunteer Hall in Sheares Street. Tomás spoke with the British Army to allow all the men to leave.
After this, Tomás was sent to Frongoch in Wales. It was a type of prison.
Page 8 / 12
We met his granddaughter Fionnuala MacCurtain. She wrote a book called ‘Remember It is For Ireland’ about her granddad who she never met. She also did a special version for schoolchildren. She was very kind and gave us the last copies of the children’s book and told us lots about her granddad.
Tomás wife was Eilís Walsh and they had five children – Patrick died when he was only three. Eilís was pregnant when Tomás was killed. The twins did not survive when they were born. Fionnuala said that her grannie used to say that three members of her family were killed on that night.
Page 8 / 13
Fionnuala said that both her dad and her granddad nearly didn’t get married. They were both looking for Irish freedom. They thought that they might die or be killed fighting for freedom and did not want a wife to be upset. Fionnuala said her grannie and her mum both knew that their husbands might die young but loved them and wanted to be married.
Tomás opened a shop with his brother in Blackpool. Fionnuala still has the till from the shop. She said that last year she gave all of the rest of her grandparents things to Mr Dan Breen in the Museum. She has to wear the white gloves like we did now when she goes to look at them.
Page 8 / 14
In January 1920, there was an election in Cork City. Tomás was elected to the Corporation and then became Lord Mayor. We wrote about this in Chapter 2. He was the first Republican Lord Mayor of Cork – ever.
Tomás was in charge of the Volunteers and many messages would come into the shop. The R.I.C. and the British Army knew that he was involved in trying to get Ireland free. They sent him to England for a long time – not a prison but he had to stay in a certain area. He didn’t see his children for lots of time when they were small.
When he was at home the house was regularly raided by the Army trying to find guns or notes. Fionnuala told us that he had a secret hiding place for his gun. It was underneath the mattress in the cot in which baby Eilís slept in his room. It was there the night he was killed. Fionnuala had the gun until a short time ago. It is now in the museum.
Page 8 / 15
That night the R.I.C. burst into the house. They ran up the stairs and shot him. Fionnuala’s dad was Tomás Óg and he saw it all from his bedroom. Tomás Óg was only five but he walked all the way behind his father’s coffin from the North Cathedral to St Finbarr’s Cemetery. They did not go the shortest way. They walked down King Street which is now MacCurtain Street. Tomás Óg walked near Terence MacSwiney who was his godfather. Terence MacSwiney became the next Lord Mayor and he died on hunger strike eight months later.
After the killing, Eilís and her children moved to Switzerland because of her health. She returned after a few years and the family lived at Grovesnor Place which was next door to the sculptor, Seamus Murphy.
Page 8 / 16
The I.R.A wanted revenge for this killing. Michael Collins asked Eilís for Tomás’s gun. It was used to kill Inspector Oswald Swanzy on 22nd August. He was the man who the Volunteers thought had ordered that the Lord Mayor was killed.
On 11th May, Sergeant Denis Garvey and Constable Daniel Harrington left work at the R.I.C Barracks which was in this building on Lower Glanmire Road. The Volunteers believed that they were involved in the death of the Lord Mayor. When they got on the tram, the two of them were killed by the Volunteers.
Page 8 / 17
When I was on the way to swimming in Mallow, we saw this mural painted saying that after the Volunteers ambushed the barracks, the army retaliated by burning lots of buildings in the town on 28 September. Many other towns were burnt like that, including Lahinch, Ennistymon (where they have lovely pancakes), Balbriggan and Tuam.
Page 8 / 18
On 21st November, Michael Collins ordered that 11 British Army officers were killed. They were all killed separately in the morning. That afternoon there was a match in Croke Park. The British Army went there with a machine gun. They killed 16 and wounded lots more. That night the British Army killed three prisoners including Peadar Clancy. Peadar Clancy was from Co Clare and over Christmas, I went to visit the Seamus Murphy bust in Kildysart.
This day was known as Bloody Sunday.
Page 8 / 19
All of these were before the 11th December when there was an ambush in Cork. Local Volunteers had a plan to attack a lorry as it went back to Barracks. In the previous weeks, Terence MacSwiney had died. Tom Barry and his Volunteers had ambushed and killed Auxilaries at Kilmichael, near Macroom. There was a big sense of danger. There was a curfew so people could not walk in Cork at night.
It is all built up now but it was all countryside. My grandad’s photos from 1973 show new houses being built and only fields.
Page 8 / 20
There was a wall at end of Balmorral Terrace. They hid behind the wall and opened fire with guns and grenades. They then ran away through the fields.
Some ran towards Dublin Hill. The army used dogs to track the Volunteers . When they saw the Dublin Hill direction, the Army went to the house of Jerh and Con Delany and shot them dead. They are buried in the Republican plot in St Finbarr’s.
Page 8 / 21
The Army were very angry at being attacked so close to their barracks. They set fire to houses near Dillons Cross. One of the buildings burnt was this one at Dillons Cross with the plaque to Brian Dillon.
In Colm Murphy’s house we saw in a book that Seamus had to correct a mistake on the plaque.
Page 8 / 22
They went into Cork city and ransacked lots of shops. The army set fire to lots of buildings. The fire brigade was based at this building on Sullivan’s Quay.
When they were trying to put out the fires, the British Army were telling them to stop and also were cutting the hoses.
Page 8 / 22
The next morning there were lots of building burned to the ground. From where Debenhams is now all the way to Tiger were burned down.
City Hall and the Carnegie Library were on the other side of the river. They were burned too.
We have coloured the map with the properties that were destroyed. We saw a map in the book that Cónal allowed us to borrow. It was made by the English and showed City Hall on Patrick’s Street. They said that a spark from the other fires spread to City Hall and Carnegie Library.
Page 8 / 23
Cónal said that the pressure from other countries after The Burning of Cork helped force the British to talk to the Irish Republicans. This led to The Treaty and then the Republic of Ireland.
It was very many years before the new buildings were finished. City Hall was not built until 1932.
Page 8 / 24
We would love to read what you thought of this chapter and our project.