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BLACKROCK & DISTRICTS: HERITAGE SYNOPSIS

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BLACKROCK CORK @ Town & Village Life-Times Past @Cork Hall Of Fame

Village by Tradition & A SPECIAL HERITAGE TO PRESERVE

Blackrock is a name attributed to several Irish towns and villages in Ireland but in Cork the old residents of Blackrock will have you believe that their Blackrock is the Real Capital of All Blackrocks. Cork’s Blackrock is located in Cork City suburbs, three miles down river from the city centre alongside the Banks Of the Lee. Up to 1965 Blackrock was in the barony of the county of Cork and the small hamlet was renowned for its tradition of fishermen who lived off the sea and lived simple easy going lives as country folk. That tradition is long gone.

District of Co. Cork up to 1st July 1965

When the city boundary lines extended on 1st July 1965 and Cork Corporation inherited a vast range of new territorial lands around all the perimeter lines of north, south, east and west, Blackrock and Districts was one of the new city catchment areas that came under the microscope. The city extension had a major impact on old Blackrock and suddenly what had been in the pipeline for several years became a reality. Blackrock citizens were now entitled to claim Cork City citizenship.

Whilst the population of Blackrock remained static for many more years after the 1965 boundary expansion, the former Cork Corporation authority now inherited a whole new expanse of prized land to evaluate new residential, commercial and industrial developments. Around Blackrock old roads gave way to new thoroughfares to cater for upcoming new major developments and the old road leading to the local Blackrock St. Michael’s Cemetery and onwards to the Mahon Peninsula, once a winding narrow road, became a major new highway extension of Skehard Road.

Interestingly the old village of Blackrock retained its unique village character and shape and the new housing developments that blossomed were built far away from the harbour village in Ballinure and Mahon, simply because building land wasn’t available in the old village. In early 20th century picture postcards, the village is seen as a journies end destination at the mouth of the famed Marina Walk. In the summer of 2017 major upgrading of the Pier Head landscape was completed and a new vibrant impression of an old Cork village still remains in place. The roads leading into Blackrock village have always been narrow and have not changed in shape or streetscape for over 100 years.

Magnificent River Frontage:

The heartbeat of the village is the village itself, facing out to the River Lee, where residents and day trippers alike can merrily sit and watch small and large boats float along the river. It’s very peaceful looking out on the waterside and idle chat is the order of the day, whilst people with spare time to offload, wander along the banks of the peaceful Marina.

The newly renovated Pairc Ui Chaoimh stadium is now also a major tourist attraction with the scenic Atlantic Pond the jewel haven for flocks of Cork’s own rebel swans. In close proximity is the famed Shandon Boat Club and Cork Boat Club, whilst on the western end is the famed Lee Rowing Club. Casual walkers along the Marina can always marvel at the sight of oarsmen and women cruising up and down the River Lee.

A lament often cited around Blackrock village is that blow-ins will never be permitted to lay claim to the natural heritage of Blackrock village and that dates to a bygone era when every single family in the hamlet knew each other body and soul. Even fervent Blackrock GAA players and fans from outside the pale of the little village would not lay claim to be a “Rockie”. Native Rockies people became very scarce as the sons and daughters of bygone generations moved out on marriage to other city and county districts due to the scarcity of new housing in the village. Times have changed and people have changed also and traders in Blackrock village had to adapt to a whole new way of life as the satellite regions of Mahon and Ballinure townlands utterly changed the landscape around Blackrock.

The Famous Rockies Hurling Club:

Cork’s Blackrock is famously known all over Ireland for its proud hurling heritage and though senior county honours do not visit the region as frequently as in decades past,in the 21st century the tradition to be upheld is a huge motivating factor for the club. Hurling people in Cork always expected a new generation of Blackrock hurlers to emerge like mushrooms overnight and the foundation stones for a major recovery have been in place for a few years.  We await the next chapter and verse.

Major Heritage Along Castle Road:

Leaving the village centre and following along the waters eastern edge, visitors will experience one of Ireland’s most famous heritage buildings, the famed Blackrock Castle. The castle has been a landmark building at the mouth of Cork harbour for several generations and it is now known as CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory.

Just a stone throw away from the Castle is the headquarters of the Cork Camogie Board who are now the proud owners of a brand new major complex. Further along the road you stroll across the schoolboys pitches of the renowned Cork Constitution Rugby Club and again in near residence is the homeplace of Ringmahon Rangers FC and also Ballinure GAA Club. To further emphasise the sporting aspect of the Blackrock barony, the sister club of the famous Blackrock GAA Club, St. Michael’s Gaelic Football Club, also have a brand new major complex.

Commercial; Industrial & Retail Developments:

As the Castle Road ring road journey continues up pops the huge Mahon Point Shopping Centre and across the road from the centre is the Mahon Point Retail Park. As we extend our journey along the Lee Tunnel sliproad towards Blackrock village and Mahon, a new commercial centre at Blackrock Hall is a hive of business activity. This new commercial centre is home to a number of medical services who cater for residents from a wide expanse all around the local Blackrock districts and a foreign retailer has also set up business at the complex.

Historic Soccer Pitches At Church Road:

Fronting the sliproad and Skehard Road is the huge CSO Government Central Statistics Office building and now you are in the heart of a relatively new Cork satellite town, the suburb of Mahon.

Mahon Industrial Estate is a huge hub of industrial business and further downhill leads to the Mahon Estuary and the Ted McCarthy Municipal Golf Course and Clubhouse. Based at the golf complex is The Blackrock Inn, a hugely popular restaurant and lounge and to the western rear of Blackrock Inn, a whole new residential development was completed in recent years. Other major businesses located in the heart of Blackrock is the SuperValu complex at the junction of Skehard Road and Church Road.

Church Road for many years in the 1950’s/60’s was the very popular home of four much used soccer pitches synomonous with junior soccer in Cork and directly across the road is the famous Blackrock National Hurling Club.  

New Sattelite Town Of Mahon:

Established in the late 1970’s and also throughout the 1980’s, Mahon’s population is in the region of 13,000 citizens and with such a large population and also as a new district of Cork City, the area urgently awaits further retail and commercial development projects. With such a sizeable population to serve, no major retailer has taken up residence on Avenue De Rennes, which is the core central area for the large Mahon population. The community is served by one loungebar, whilst another major former licensed premises remains closed for a few years. 

The splendid Holy Cross Church at the junction of Skehard Road and Avenue De Rennes commands a very prominent location, whilst also sited on Avenue De Rennes is the Mahon Community Centre and a cluster of small retail units.

Walkers Paradise On Mahon Peninsula Along Former Railway Line:

The Mahon Peninsula boasts a walkers paradise starting at Blackrock Castle and winding all around the edges of the River Lee where walkers can exit at Rochestown village and take up their journey again outside Rochestown at Hop Island and walk right through to Passage West.

This leisure walk was the old Blackrock/Passage Railway line, described by 18th and 19th centuries travel writers, as one of Europe’s most scenic train rides. Train passengers enjoyed breathtaking views all along the journey from Blackrock to Passage, onwards to Monkstown, Carrigaline and they completed their unique rail journey at the seaside village of Crosshaven.

Sadly the demise of the former railway line ceased in the mid 1940’s and in 2017 Passage West commuters (just 6 miles from Cork City) will endure at peak times, over 60 minutes to reach the city centre by car, compared to a 20 minutes train journey in 1940.

Local Educational & Convents Establishments:

Blackrock and Mahon are an interlocked community and sports clubs in both parishes depend on the local schools to nurture a flow of young schoolchildren into sport as a better way of life. Mahon has its own Gael Scoil, a primary school (Holy Cross Boys and Girls) and Nagle Community College is the second level teaching establishment for post primary students.

In Blackrock village the Ursuline Convent hosts a boys and girls primary section whilst the Ursuline Secondary School was the first secondary school set up in Ireland after the Penal Laws. In our Blackrock historic trawl we discovered the Ursuline Order have endured almost a two century association with Blackrock.

It was at the invitation of Nano Nagle (who founded the Presentation Sisters) that the first four Ursulines sisters landed in Cork and took up residence in the Presentation convent in Cove Lane (now Douglas Street) on Ascension Thursday, 9th May 1771. It was in Douglas Street the Ursuline Sisters began the ministry of education for girls of the south city parish, alongside Nano Nagle, and they also took in boarders.

In October 1825 the Ursuline Community of Sisters found a new residence at Blackrock for their order and their girl boarders. A term often used in 19th century Ireland was “Poor School” a term for pupils of poor backgrounds and in 1826 the Ursulines set up such a school on their Blackrock based grounds.

The “Poor School” was later renamed as Scoil Ursula and in 1940/41 the sisters operated a fee paying junior school and that was later amalgamated with Scoil Ursula. Ursuline’s Blackrock boarders ceased in the early 1980’s. The Blackrock Ursuline Order occupied huge tracts of land in Blackrock and in recent years most of their lands was sold for residential development and Eden Court is a new housing estate currently in final phase of construction.

Destination Blackrock:

Blackrock village was also a famous end of journey destination for the old Cork electric trams that traversed from Cork City to the Pier Head at Old Blackrock. A rejuvenation and construction programme at the Pier Head by Cork City Council has transformed the area into a magnificent new riverside amenity. Roads in the village have been realigned with old world cobblestone and the waterfront has been converted into a major plaza. Fishing and Blackrock have a close affinity over several centuries with local men who toiled long and hard as full time fishermen, to provide financial wellbeing for their families and the boats used were very small craft. Today fishing is no longer an industry out of Blackrock harbor.

The inhabitants of the old village of Blackrock all knew one another in the same vein as residents of small rural Irish towns and the village was under the domain of Cork County Council until 1965, when it transferred over to the borough of Cork Corporation. The local hurling club, first called Cork Nationals and later as Blackrock National Hurling Club, gave huge prominence to the name of Blackrock all over Ireland. Their silverware deeds and exploits in hurling are renowned in Cork hurling history and many of their hurlers became national sports icons.

Outline Blackrock Districts:

Closer to the city centre and on the direct route for city bound traffic from Blackrock, Ballintemple Village has retained all its old world character. The through road through the heart of the village is the very same width as it was when first laid out as a carriageway for horse cart and sidecar a few centuries ago.

Ballintemple was for many decades a sporting mecca with nearby residence the old Cork Athletic GAA grounds, the old Cork Agricultural Showgrounds and then in the 1960’s, along came the Flower Lodge Soccer Stadium, now home to GAA venue Pairc Ui Rinn. Cork’s soccer community were rocked to their shinbones when the GAA acquired ownership of Flower Lodge in 1989 from the trustees of the Cork branch of the Ancient Order Of Hibernians amid huge controversy.

The history of Cork’s League Of Ireland soccer clubs in matters of owning their own grounds has always been a contentious concern since Cork’s first ever League club, Fordsons, who played out of Pic Du Jer Park, Ballinlough and also The Showgrounds, Ballintemple. No Cork League Of Ireland club, with the exception of Cork City under Mr. Pat O’Donovan, owned their own ground.

Ballinlough: Famous In Times Past For Its Market Gardens:

Berthed on Temple Hill is the renowned Cork rugby club; Cork Constitution, founded in 1892, and Temple Hill was the birthplace of so many Irish rugby internationals over many decades. Also in close vicinity is the Ballinlough Pitch & Putt Club, whose previous place of residence was at the rear of the well known Silver Key pub and restaurant. The Silver Key was once a Beamish owned house and also one of the very last tied houses under Beamish control.

Opposite Pairc Ui Rinn is an overnight resting place where breakfast is never served to its residents simply because this funeral parlour is the last unwanted port of call for citizens from all around Blackrock and Districts. O’Connor’s Funeral Home has slotted in amongst the community several years ago and it is one of the most respected and dignified overnight venues where mourners can congregate and bade their final farewells to family and friends.

Historic Sporting Meccas:

Pairc Ui Rinn commemorates the memory of famous Cork hurler, Christy Ring, born in Cloyne and Christy lived with his wife Rita and family, a few hundred yards downhill from the stadium on the way to Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Adjacent to the Silver Key pub a cluster of retail outlets are nestled together cosily and provide services for the local community. An old schoolhouse on Churchyard Lane, Well Road, was converted to a Post Office sorting office many years ago and across the road a number of small industrial units are based providing further services.

Pairc Ui Chaoimh’s heritage is written in gold leaf letters over several generations of Cork and Blackrock people and in 2017 the opening of the brand new revamped stadium will serve Cork sports fans for many decades.

This Cork Heritage synopsis of Blackrock and districts was compiled by Derry JF Doody for Cork Hall Of Fame

 

Internet Image CORK HALL OF FAME REVIEW The Ring of Blackrock   

 

The Ring of Blackrock... A Walking Guide & History by Diarmuid O'Driscoll Excellent reading

Editorial Review

The publication of The Ring of Blackrock... A Walking Guide & History by Diarmuid O’Driscoll is a book I can highly recommend to all Cork people with an interest in matters of history and it takes in the areas of Marina (city end) right down the Lee coastline to the famous Black Bridge near Rochestown. The book traverses the old Cork; Blackrock and Passage West railway line and many more local districts and it is meticulous in phrase and word description.

The intense level of research is highly commendable, informative and especially educating for the ordinary person with only a minute interest in the times past history of Blackrock and its famous environs.

In reviewing the publication, I bought my copy (€20) at Murphy’s petrol forecourt on Blackrock Road, Cork, and despite my interests in all historic matters over many decades, this book would appeal to Corkonians all around the globe.

Blackrock and Districts is steeped in folklore and history and this is primarily because of its famous geographical location running side by side with the River Lee from the western end of the Marina to Blackrock Castle. Its location has been a mecca also for sporting history dating from the early 19th century through to the current 21st century and of course the old trams and trains to Blackrock occupy great historic records.

For G.A.A. fans the author is well versed in the annals of sporting folklore and presents many interesting facts on sporting venues specific to Blackrock. The publication also answers so many previous unanswered matters, it will be a huge source of educational value for local schools who believe in preserving and promoting the history of Blackrock and its hinterlands.

The Atlantic Pond and how it was created is an immense subject, whilst the navigational wall that commenced at the city end of the Marina Commercial Park, stretching right down the eastern riverside to Blackrock’s Pier Head, will be most enjoyable reading.

For senior citizens of Blackrock and Districts, drifting through the pages of times past within the book, the hardships of daily existence endured, the fishermen and their struggles to support their families, will be subjects very well remembered from their childhood days. Documented accounts of the chequered history of Blackrock Castle to its current daily life, also make interesting reading.

In summary this 272 pages of The Ring of Blackrock... A Walking Guide & History, is a book presenting intense reading with facts and figures, and once you open the first chapter, it has the potential to captivate its readers attentions for days, weeks and months.

Great entertainment for just €20.

This independent review was undertaken by Derry JF Doody @ Cork Hall Of Fame

 

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