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St Peter

More information on Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)
Accompanying Lewis map for Cork

Cork city (Part 1)

CORK, a sea-port, city, and a county of itself, and the head of a diocese, locally in the county of CORK, of which it is the capital, and in the province of MUNSTER 51 miles (S. W. by W.) from Waterford, and 126 (S. W. by S.) from Dublin ; containing 107,007 inhabitants, of which number, 84,000 are in the city and suburbs. This place, which in extent and importancge is the second city in Ireland, and is distinguished for its fine harbour, derived its ancient names Corcach and Corcach-Bascoin, signifying in the Irish language "a marshy place," from its 'situation on the navigable river Lee. The earliest authentic account of its origin occurs in Colgan's life of St. Nessan, to whose preceptor, St. Barr or Finbarr, is attributed the foundation of a cathedral church, to which, as the abode of that saint, such numbers of disciples resorted from all parts, that the desert in which it stood soon became the site of a considerable city. St. Nessan, according to the annals of the four masters, died in 551 : if this be correct, he could not be a disciple of St. Finbarr, unless the latter flourished at a period much earlier than that stated by Sir James Ware, namely, about the year 630. The original city was built on a limestone rock, on the margin of the south branch of the river, and appears to have grown up around the cathedral and westward as far as the monastery called Gill Abbey ; but what from a very early period has been more especially regarded as the city was erected on the island formed by the Lee, and its origin is ascribed to the Danes, who, after repeatedly plundering the old city and its religious establishments for more than 300 years, settled here in 1020, but did not long retain possession, being eighteen years afterwards defeated with great slaughter, and the whole of their property destroyed by fire. In 1080 the city is said to have been destroyed by lightning ; and eight years afterwards the Danes of Dublin, Waterford, and Wicklow united their forces to recover possession of it, but were defeated by a large body of the natives of Oneachach, now forming the district of West Carbery. According to other accounts, Dermot, the son of Foird-healbhach O'Brien, in the same year, laid waste and plundered the town, and carried away the relics of St. Finbarr.

Cork city (Part 2)

The noble harbour of Cork, which gave rise to the motto of the city, "Statio bene fida carinis," is admirably adapted to all the purposes of the most extended commerce ; and from its convenient situation, the perfect security with which numerous fleets may winter in a land-locked basin, and its excellent anchorage at all times, it became in time of war the rendezvous of large fleets and convoys, and the port from which the British navy was supplied with all kinds of provisions cured and prepared in a superior manner. The number of small craft on the coast, and of fishing hookers, pilot boats, lighters, and pleasure yachts in the river ; the dense population of its shores, inured to hardships and privations, and other considerations, tended to render Cork in the estimation of British statesmen one of the most important places in the empire: and the vast expenditure of public money for supplies during the war ; the detention at Cove, sometimes for months together, of large fleets of war, and powerful expeditions, with vast numbers of merchant vessels ; the sums laid out on public works in the harbour, the barracks at Cork, Ballincollig, and Fermoy, the powder-mills at Ballincollig, and various other works, for many years gave an extraordinary impulse to its commercial prosperity. What is considered more peculiarly the harbour is situated nine miles below the city, opposite the town of Cove, where ships of any burden may ride in safety ; the best anchorage for large ships is off Cove fort, now dismantled and occupied as a naval hospital, where there are from 5 to 8 fathoms of water ; vessels of great draught can pass up the river as far as Passage, within five miles and a half of the city, where they discharge and load by means of lighters ; and vessels drawing only 14 or 15 feet of water can proceed to the town qunys. On the east side of the entrance from the sea to the harbour is Roche's Tower lighthouse, having ten lamps which exhibit a steady deep red light towards the sea, and a bright light towards the harbour. The only naval depot and victualling-yard in Ireland were at Cove , but the establishment now consists merely of an agent and two clerks, and is maintained at an expense of #225 per annum. During the war and for several years after this was the port station of an admiral having a large fleet under his command ; but the admiral's flag and the navy have been withdrawn, and at present, the King's flag is seldom seen on the Irish coast, except on the Lord-Lieutenant's yacht. On Hal-bowling island are the spacious and admirably designed naval storehouses, tank, and other requisites, now abandoned ; on Spike island are powerful batteries commanding the entrance of the harbour, and on Rocky island is the depot for gunpowder. The ballast office, situated on Lnpp's island, was established by act of the 1st of Geo. IV., cap. 52, which also provided for the regulation of pilots and the improvement of the port and harbour, by a Board of Harbour Commissioners consisting of the mayor, two sheriffs, the parliamentary representatives of the city, five members of the common council, and 25 merchants, of whom the five senior members go out annually in rotation. Among the various improvements made by this board is the line of quays extending on both sides of the river from the North bridge on the north channel, round the eastern extremity of the island, to Parliament bridge on the south, a distance of one statute mile and a half. From the end of Penrose's quay a new line extending eastward is now nearly completed, and the marsh lying between it and the lower Glanmire road is in course of drainage: when this is accomplished the main central portion of the city will be encompassed with a noble line of quays, 18 feet high and nearly four statute miles in extent, built and coped with limestone principally from the quarries on the Little island and Rostellan. From 1827 to 1834 not less than #34,389 was expended on new quays from the proceeds of the harbour dues. The commissioners have also made an important improvement by deepening the bed of the river, which formerly admitted only vessels of 120 tons, but is now navigable to the quays for vessels of 250 tons ; shoals and dangerous banks have been removed by a steam-dredging machine, and buoys laid down to mark the limits of the channel ; excellent regulations have been adopted for the conduct of the pilots ; lights have been placed on the castle of Blackrock, and various other measures calculated to promote the prosperity of the port have been carried into effect. The average receipts of the commissioners, arising from duties on imports and exports, tonnage duty, and the sale of ballast, for six years to 1835 inclusive amounted to #7549. 16. 8., and the expenditure to #7762. 12. 0. A navigation wall, commencing nearly opposite to the custom-house and extending about an Irish mile along the south shore of the river, was commenced in 1763, to prevent the channel from being choked with the mud which is washed up at every tide ; and it is in contemplation to reclaim the extensive slab on the south of it, and render it available to the increase and improvement of the city. The custom-house, completed in 1818, and in which also the business of the excise is transacted, is a plain edifice situated at the eastern extremity of Lapp's island: the central front is ornamented with a pediment, in the tympanum of which are the royal arms, and connected with it are very extensive and appropriate buildings ; the long room is spacious and well adapted to the purpose ; the commercial buildings, on the South Mall, were erected in 1813, from a design by Sir Thomas Deane, by a proprietary of 129 #100 shareholders incorporated by charter in the 48th of Geo. III., for the accommodation of merchants, for which purpose they are much better adapted than the old exchange: they are fronted with cement, and ornamented with Ionic columns between the windows ; the coffee-room, on the first floor, in which the merchants meet, is 60 feet long, 35 feet wide, and 20 feet high, with a coved ceiling chastely embellished, and is well supplied with the English and Irish newspapers and periodicals. Communicating with the commercial buildings, and belonging to the same proprietary, is the Imperial Clarence hotel, well conducted by Mr. McDowel: attached to it is a ball-room, 70 feet long and 36 feet wide, elegantly fitted up, with a refreshment room adjoining, 50 feet long and 36 feet wide ; and there are twelve drawing-rooms for private families, and a commercial room for travellers, with every accommodation requisite in a first-rate hotel: all the principal mails start from it. The chamber of commerce, a neat building in Patrick-street, was erected by a body of seceders from the proprietary of the commercial buildings, who, within the last few years, in consequence of a dispute, associated under the above designation, but not, as the name implies, with any reference to the commercial interests of the port, which are under the superintendence of the committee of merchants : the large room is well supplied with newspapers and periodicals, and, like that of the commercial buildings, is open to naval and military officers and to all strangers ; the lower and other parts of the building are appropriated to the purposes of a commercial hotel. The post-office is a small but convenient building near the centre of the city: its revenue, in 1835, was #13,022. 4. 11. The first mail coach that entered the city was established between Dublin and Cork, on the 8th of July, 1789: there are now day and night mails from Dublin, and one from Waterford every morning, each carrying the English letters, but letters from London come through Dublin, unless ordered via Waterford ; and there are several other mail-coaches from Limerick, Bar try, Tralee, and other places, which arrive in the evening before the departure of the Dublin night mail.

Cork city (Part 3)

In the R. C. divisions Cork forms a separate bishoprick, comprising 35 parochial districts, containing 81 chapels: of these, 71 are parochial, 3 annexed to presentation convents, and one to each of the Dominican, Capuchin, Augustinian, Carmelite, and Franciscan friaries ; one to an Ursuline convent, and one to the Magdalen Asylum, Cork. The total number of the R. C. clergy, in 1835, including the bishop, was 74, of which 35 were parish priests and 39 coadjutors or curates. The parochial benefice of the bishop, who resides in Cork, is the union of Shandon, called the North Parish. The county of the city comprises a populous rural district of great beauty and fertility, watered by several small rivulets and intersected by the river Lee and its noble estuary: it is bounded on the north by the barony of Fermoy, on the east by that of Barrymore, on the south by Kerricurrihy, and on the west by Muskerry: it comprehends the parishes of St. Finbarr, Christ-Church or the Holy Trinity, St. Peter, St. Mary Shandon, St. Anne Shandon, St. Paul and St. Nicholas, all, except part of St. Finbarr's, within the city and suburbs, and those of Curricuppane, Carrigrohanemore, Kilcully, and Rathcoony, together with parts of the parishes of Killanully or Killingly, Carrigaline, Dunbullogue or Carrignavar, Ballinaboy, Inniskenny, Kilnaglory, Whitechurch, and Templemichael, without those limits ; and contains, according to the Ordnance survey, an area of 44,463 statute acres, of which, 2396 are occupied by the city and suburbs. The Grand Jury presentments for 1835 were as follow: new roads, bridges, &c., #611. 19. 7.; repairs of roads, bridges, &c., #2641. 14. 0?. ; public buildings, charities, officers' salaries, and miscellaneous expenses, #14,592. 1. 1. ; police establishment, #1148. 14. 3.; repayment of advances by Government, #1254. 19. 6. ; wide street commissioners for lighting, paving, &c., #8800 ; making a total of #29,049. 8. 5?.


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