Pure Cork - Michael Lenihan

The second book I have chosen to read this year for my National Year of Reading challenge is Pure Cork by Michael Lenihan.

I saw this book advertised and immediately ordered it as I have ancestors who came from Cork. I didn't stop to think that the book might be about the city Cork and not the County. My ancestors Patrick and Hanora Flynn and their daughter Ann and her husband Thomas Moylan came from County Cork.

Pure Cork is a pictorial history of the city of Cork. Chapters include:

  • Entertainment
  • Transport
  • Industry
  • People
  • Shawlies
  • Buildings
  • Churches
I was hoping to discover what life was like in Cork when my family lived there. As they left in 1821, 1824 and 1826, I needed fairly early references.  Although living in County Cork, I don't know if any of my ancestors actually went to the city of Cork. Who knows, perhaps they did?

So what did I discover?

  • Cork's oldest hotel, Victoria Hotel was established in 1810.
  • The Imperial Hotel was established in 1816.
  • I wonder if they ever purchased a lottery ticket? Advertisements for lotteries have been found for as early as 1799.
  • In 1810 a carriage works was established by James Johnson
  • A brewery had been in existence as early as 1667. By the 1830s Beamish and Crawford was the largest brewery in Ireland.
  • The English market was in existence since 1788.
  • The Hive Iron Works was established by Thomas Addison Barnes in 1800.
  • I wonder if they ever held a bank note?
  • A new barracks had been built for Cork in 1801.
  • Donkeys were used to transport goods.
  • Did they ever walk at Mardyke Walk?
  • The county jail had been remodelled in 1818. (Although both Patrick Flynn and Thomas Moylan were convicts, neither was tried at Cork)
  • Many of the women wore shawls and were known as shawlies. The shawls would be used to carry fruit, vegetables or babies.
It's quite likely that the Flynns and Thomas Moylan never went to Cork. I don't know how far they may have travelled. However, Patrick Flynn was tried in County Wexford and Thomas Moylan in County Limerick, so perhaps they did travel longer distances. I like to think that perhaps Hanora wore a shawl and that the images of shawlies in Pure Cork give me an idea of what she may have looked like.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Lenihan's collection of images paint a very complete picture of life in Cork. The back cover of the book advertises Hidden Cork. Looks like I'll have to purchase this book as well!