Cork City & County Archives

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Exhibitions and Resources

Document Spotlight Archive

90th Anniversary Exhibition
Lord Mayors Tomás MacCurtain, Terence MacSwiney and The Burning of Cork

The following are a selection of images and documents from the exhibition, which ran at City Hall in November, and which ran at the Archives until March 2011.

Lord Mayor Tomás MacCurtain

Lord Mayor Tomás MacCurtain, portrait (1920) MacCurtain was elected on 30 Jaunary 1920. He was also O.C. of Cork No.1 Brigade Irish Volunteers. MacCurtain was shot dead at his home in Blackpool, Cork City on 20 March 1920. (Photo. courtesy of Blackpool Historical Society)

Macurtain and GAA Members

Photograph of Tomás MacCurtain with members of the GAA about a week after his election as Lord Mayor. (8 February 1920) The match was a football game between Cork and Clare at the Cork Athletics Grounds. L - R : O’Sullivan (Treasurer, Cork County Board); J Foran, Captain, Clare; Sean MacCarthy (Chairman, Cork Co. Board), MacCurtain; Tom Irwin, referee (and Secretary, Cork Co. Board); Mick Murphy, Captain, Cork. The photo was originally printed in the Cork Examiner. Mick Murphy was an all-Ireland-winning dual star, and an active IRA man. (Photo. courtesy of Irish Examiner, and thanks to Mr.Dick O'Callaghan for the details).  

MacCurtain Letter
One of the final letters written by Lord Mayor Tomás MacCurtain (19 March 1920). Addessed to Liam De Roiste TD and Councillor. (Liam De Roiste Papers, CCCA)
Council Resolution 1920

Letter recording a resolution by Cork City Council of 30 January 1920 pledging allegiance to Dáil Éireann (T. MacSwiney Lord Mayor Files, CCCA).

City Hall Burnt Out 1920

Cork City Hall following destruction, on 11-12 December 1920 (Photo. courtesy of the Irish Examiner).

Patrick's Street Dec. 1920
Patrick's Street following the Burning of Cork by crown forces, 11-12 Dec. 1910.  The destruction lead to an estimated 3,000 people becoming unemployed in the city as well as massive financial losses for the businesses concerned. The unsung heroes of the night were the Cork Fire Brigade, who managed to prevent much of the city centre from being destroyed. (Photo. courtesy of Irish Examiner)

Poster from the temperance movement, 'Sketch of a Sipper of Spirits...', printed in Nile Street, Cork City, c.1840's .

The temperance movement, which gained considerable support in the 19th and early 20th centuries, campaigned against the use of alcohol, and it was closely associated with Father Theobald Mathew 'The Apostle of Temperance'.  This poster forms part of the papers of Richard Dowden, Mayor of Cork in 1845, who was active in the temperance movement in Cork.

Temperance Poster c.1840's Sketch of a Sipper (150KB)
Sketch of a Sipper

Sketch of a Sipper... Temperance Poster


Photograph of Ballinacurra port area, near Midleton, County Cork, in 1896

Photograph of Ballinacurra port area, near Midleton, County Cork, in 1896

Photograph of Ballinacurra port area, near Midleton, County Cork, in 1896. This photograph shows sailing ships at anchor, various maltings buildings in the background, and in the foreground some inhabitants of Ballinacurra village. Ballinacurra was a major barley malting location from the late 18th century, using the fine local barley of the East Cork area. Ships took the finished malt mainly to Dublin where it was used in the brewing industry. Bennett and Company maltings ceased trading in 2006, and the company’s very extensive, and interesting, business archives were donated to the Cork City and County Archives with the help of Trevor West. Mr. West’s book ‘Malting The Barley: John H.Bennett The Man and His Firm’ , was published in 2006.

Survey Map and Description of the Red Abbey Area, South Parish of Cork City (February 1780)

Survey Map and Description of the Red Abbey Area, South Parish of Cork City (Feb

The survey map is of the lands of the ‘late dissolved Red Abbey’, Cork, forming part of what was the estate of the ‘Right Honorable Viscount De Vesci and Baron Longford’. The full plan and description is of an area South of Parliament Bridge, Cork City, laid out in 4 divisions, bounded by Connor's Quay and Randal's Quay (now George's Quay) to the North and what is now Douglas Street to the South. Shows part of 'Islandagay, now Morrisson's Island…belonging to the Red Abbey, much improved and well built and well built upon within these 20 years past’, Parliament Bridge, South branch of River Lee, 'Where vessels of an 100 Tuns and Upwards have sufficient depth of water up to Parliament Bridge', part of Cove Lane, Mary Street, Margaret Street, Chapel Lane and 'Boheramontane or Road to Cove'. 

The lands are marked in sections with measurements, such as those of Mr.Randal, and a Sugar House, and Connor's land on Mary Street, and an Orchard to rear of South Chapel, and other divisions out of lease. Gives a detailed textual description the area and of various buildings. Shows West bounds of Red Abbey preserved by Connor. Randal's lands include those occupied by Savage French, including '7 houses to the Quay at 30 Gineas a Year', timber yards, merchant street, Coopers' yards, Deal Boards.

The drawing was completed by John Connor, architect and land surveyor. With outline plan of Great South Chapel and an elevation drawing of East Prospect of the Church and Steeple.  The drawing was drawn up for legal purposes, and is mainly concerned with property divisions and ownership and it probably originally complemented a set of title deeds. (Scale: 60ft. to 1 inch)  (CCCA Collection Reference: CP/AR/2005)

You can also see a version of full drawing in PDF format

Neutral Ireland

Cargo ship Irish Cedar at Cork Docks c.1943-1945

During the Second World War, Ireland adopted a policy of neutrality and a national emergency was declared. An Irish merchant marine in the form of Irish Shipping Ltd. was established by the Government in 1941 and ensured Ireland’s continued trade in foodstuffs and other vital products. As can be seen from this photograph, in an effort to ensure identification to combatant aircraft and ships, tricolours and the word "Éire" were painted on the sides of the vessels. Irish Cedar was acquired in 1943 and appears to have served until the 1960’s, when it was replaced with a more modern ship. 2 of her sister ships, Irish Pine and Irish Oak were sunk in the North Atlantic with the loss of 33 crew. (From CCCA Collection Ref. U/167, George Burke, d.1974).

Cargo Ship

Memorial card for Lord Mayor of Cork Terence MacSwiney.

Elected as Lord Mayor following the death of his predecessor, Tomás MacCurtain. Member of the Irish Volunteers and an enthusiast for the Irish language. Imprisoned following the Easter Rising. A noted writer, he wrote a drama entitled ‘The Revolutionist’, several volumes of poetry and a political tract entitled ‘The Principles of Freedom’. As well as being Lord Mayor of Cork, he was the Commandant of the First Cork Brigade of the I.R.A. On 16 June 1920, following his election, he signed an official resolution of the City Council, re-iterating that made by Tomás MacCurtain, declaring Dáil Éireann as ‘the lawful, legal and consitutional parliament of the Irish Nation…the lawful Government of this country’. On 12 August 1920 he was arrested for possession of seditious documents and of a cipher key to coded messages used by the R.I.C. He was tried by court martial on 16 August 1920 and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. After his arrest he immediately went on hunger strike. He was imprisoned in Brixton Prison, England, where his continuing hunger strike attracted world-wide attention. He died on 25 October 1920 and his body was brought home for burial. He lies beside MacCurtain in the Republican plot in Saint Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork. His funeral on 1 November 1920 attracted huge crowds.

Memorial Card

Butter Market Notice, 1866.

Cork was at the centre of the international butter trade for many generations. The Cork Butter Exchange was, at its peak in the 1700’s and early 1800’s, the largest such operation in the world. Butter was produced by farmers locally and transported to the Exchange where it was graded, weighed, and then packed (in earlier times, this packing took the form of small wooden barells called firkins) to be shipped all over the world. The trade was controlled by a Cork Committee of Merchants, and later by a Board of Trustees. (For further information on the Butter trade, see our Merchant City online exhibition.

 Notice to Butter Merchants


Profession Aloys Fleischmann Centenary 2010

Letter from Professor Aloys Fleischmann to Dr. Seamus Fitzgerald (15 Sept. 1950) and Extract from Concert Programme of Cork Orchestral Society (13 Jan 1955)

The Fleischmann letter from 1950 (2pp) concerns sponsorship for the next year's Cork Orchestral Society programme of concerts and events. The extract from the Concert Programme contains a list of officials and members of the Orchestral Society including Chairman Aloys Fleischmann. (Both items are part of the Seamus Fitzgerald Papers at Cork City and County Archives, Ref. PR6)

Alois Fleischmann Letter p2

Fleischmann Concert

Document Spotlight

Pro-Treaty Election Handbill, 1922

The Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921 was ratified by Dáil Éireann on 7 January 1922. The Irish Free State held a general election in June 1922, with a split Sinn Féin fielding both anti- and pro- Treaty candidates.  This printed election handbill appears to date from May-June 1922, prior to the election. The handbill is part of the Liam De Roiste collection (Ref. U/271). 

Liam De Roiste was one of the 2 pro-Treaty Sinn Féin T.Ds elected in Cork city, the other being J.J. Walsh.  In Cork city and county, pro-Treaty candidates of all parties secured 11 out of 15 seats, with a national total of 58 pro-Treaty Sinn Féin seats against 36 for anti-Treaty side, the other parties (mainly pro-Treaty) winning 34 seats.

Less than 2 weeks after the election, on 28 June, soon after pro-Treaty General O'Connell was kidnapped, the Irish Free State Army began shelling the Four Courts in Dublin, then occupied by irregular forces, leading to the outbreak of the Civil War.

Pro-Treaty Handbill, 1922




Frederick Douglass Letter to Mayor of Cork City, Richard Dowden, 11 Nov. 1845

Frederick Douglass Photo Douglas as a younger man, 1855

Frederick Douglass (b.1818 – d.1895) is a major historical figure in the United States. A social reformer, orator, writer and statesman, he escaped from slavery and became a leader of the slavery abolitionist movement. In August 1845 he arrived in Europe, spending 2 years touring Ireland and Britain, giving many lectures. A good deal of his time in Ireland was spent in Cork, where he found support for his ideals and where he was warmly received, particularly by Mayor Richard Dowden and family. He also became friends with Daniel O'Connell, MP,  'The Liberator', who had been campaigning for reform, Irish Catholic emancipation and the repeal of the Act of Union. During his trip, Douglass became legally free, as Irish and British supporters raised funds to purchase his freedom from his owner, Thomas Auld. 

The letter here in the Cork City and County Archives is part of the Richard Dowden collection, Ref. U.140/C/98. In the letter, Douglass gives heartfelt thanks to Dowden and his family, and refers to his own personal struggles. (See the transcript and view the orginal letter, below).

Frederick Douglass Letter- Extract
Extract from p.4 of the letter.

View original letter in full  Frederick Douglass Letter (PDF)