All posts tagged Cork

  • Cork is the Lee: an audio exploration of the River Lee

    2019-04-22 12.03.58-1

    This auditory project explores the cultural and natural heritage role of the river Lee in the life of Cork city through a podcast series and a workshop during Heritage Week 2019. Using the unique capacity of sound to convey meaning and evoke emotions, this project will interview people who use and appreciate the Lee (eg. rowers, fishers, naturalists), utilise historical sources, and take field-recordings along its length, which will be combined to create a rich and unique insight into river as geographical and cultural force. The project has received funding under Cork City Council’s Local Community Heritage Grant 2019 and is supported by the Department of Geography, UCC.

    You can contact Richard by email – – or on Facebook:


    Cork is the Lee series benefits from the popularity and accessibility of the medium and its capacity to reach larger audiences. It will be disseminated through my podcast, Littoral Space.

    Heritage Week workshop, Tuesday 20th Aug, Geography Department, UCC

    Participants will listen to a series of recordings that display distinct aspects of the river by combining the soundscape with people’s stories. This audio journey will take place in a slightly darkened space enabling attuning to rhythms and flows of the Lee.

  • Creative Ireland Project

    (Re)sounding holy wells is an artistic and cultural heritage project being led by Vicky Langan, independent artist, and Dr Richard Scriven, Department of Geography, UCC, to imaginatively explore holy wells in Cork through workshops, audio recordings, and oral histories. It is being funded by the Creative Ireland County Cork Grant Scheme under the community participation strand of the Creative Ireland Programme 2017-2022. Using a collaborative approach with both primary schools and community heritage groups, the project will examine and highlight the roles of holy wells as cultural amenities and sites of vernacular heritage. Fresh understandings of the wells will be produced through the use of audio by combining field recordings with accounts of the holy wells from young people and community members. Participative workshops and performances will be advertised in local media and online; also, all materials will be available on a forthcoming website.

    Vicky Langan is a Cork-based artist whose practice operates across several overlapping fields, chiefly performance, sound, and film. She has gained bursary awards from Cork City Council and the Arts Council of Ireland. She has also been awarded a residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris.

    Dr Scriven is an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow and a Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Scholar in the Department of Geography, UCC.

    CI_Mark_Right_Gold Cork County Council logo.jpg

  • Lady’s Well, Cork: Renovations

    I had previously commented on the deteriorating state of Lady’s Well in Cork city. Thanks to works by Cork City Council* the site has been cleaned up and new structures have been put in place around the well. The necessity for grids over the well may be seen as unfortunate, but will not impinge on the well excessively as does not seem to be used for religious-spiritual reasons. These additions will ensure the preservation of the site and perhaps a revival of devotional activity in the future?

    DSC_0847 DSC_0854


    *I had raised the matter with one of my local representatives, Kiernan McCarthy (, who has done significant work in promoting Cork’s heritage.

  • Excursion to ‘The City’ and Tubrid

    Last week Vickie Langan (artist, soundy person and all round lady) and I visited two holy wells, The City, near Rathmore, Kerry and Tubrid, Millstreet, Cork. Below are a number of photos, videos and audio recordings, punctuated with text, that came out of the excursion. I also have a post on Researching with your Smartphone, based on our previous excursion.

    This photo of the well, which was posted while we were on site, shows the cement structure along with a cup and glass. Unlike many other wells, the one at the City is not adorned with many votive offerings or extra materials. Like the site itself, it has a certain rawness. On a wind swept Tuesday in February, with the threat of serious rain, we had the places to ourselves.

    Using the Soundcloud App on my phone, I took several recordings of the cup in the water, you can hear me lifting it, submerging it, pouring out some water and replacing it. This simple activity is central to these wells.

    Vicky with her hydrophone, a superb piece of equipment for working with wells.

    The altar at Tubrid holy well, on the Rathmore side of Millstreet. The altar is sheltered by a structure with offerings, signs and memorial cards throughout.


    This short video of the candles on the altar indicate the recent visits by numerous people that day. Each one serving as an elemental remnant of a believer’s intentions and memories.

    The site is very well maintained, as is demonstrated by this rack made especially to hold the cups used to drink the water and the other structures. It is at this point, where the water bubbling up in the well flows out, that people collect and drink the water.


    Another recording using the SoundCloud App, of the water flowing.

  • Cork Christmas: SHARE

    One of the most distinct aspects of Christmas in Cork is the presence of SHARE collectors throughout the city centre in the week leading up to Christmas Day (which, obviously from my point of view, creates unique geographies). SHARE (Students Harness Aid for the Relief of the Elderly) is a Cork-based charity which supports older people through housing, socialising and activities. It is a most excellent organisation that does a massive amount of work throughout the year. Also, it involves a special connection between older people and students in the city.

    The annual Christmas collection is one of the charity’s main fundraising initiatives. It is run by young volunteers, mainly 16 and 17 year olds from secondary schools across Cork city, with a core group organising the project since September and hundreds of volunteers who give up their time to collect during the hectic days of Christmas shopping.

    The SHARE Crib acts as a focal point for the week's activities.

    The SHARE Crib acts as a focal point for the week’s activities.

    The presence of collectors across the city centre, with their distinctive yellow jackets and vests, gives the city a unique feel in the lead up to Christmas. Although, other worthy organisations and causes may be collected for, during this week Cork is SHARE territory. Collectors can be found on every street corner, while some go on fasts and collect throughout the night. The sheer volume of volunteers, along with their enthusiasm, means it is in your own interest to support them and get a yellow sticker, which provides you with an ‘immunity’ from other collectors. In an age of chuggers, the earnestness of the collectors and transparency of the organistion ensure the support of the shoppers.

    The SHARE sticker, found on every coat for Cork people, leading up to Christmas.

    The SHARE sticker, found on every coat for Cork people, leading up to Christmas.

    The devotion and passion of the students, the local cause and the festive tradition combine to give SHARE a special status in the life of the city. The patterns of giving, the spread of volunteers, the shaking of the collection boxes, the meaning of the stickers, the Crib and the sentiments behind students helping the elderly, produce some of the geographies I feel compelled to mention!

  • The Lough, Frozen

    The Lough

    The Lough (pronounced lock) is one of Cork city’s most well known features. It is a freshwater lake, with a selection of birds and fish, that serves as a centre of recreation. December 2010, when the photo was taken, was first time I’d ever seen it frozen, with the abnormally cold temperatures that winter causing many freak events. Until then, I never thought, I would actually see the Lough like this. The place has been forever changed, maybe enriched, after this, I am always aware of the potential changes that exist within the waters.

    Reflecting from a much wilder winter, I am struck at how relatively minor temperature fluctuations have significant impacts on our understandings and experiences of place. Although my preference for human geography has involved me moving away from climatology and meteorology, it is still important to acknowledge the power of physical forces in defining and shaping our worlds.

  • Observing what is there at Kent Station

    Among the distinct features of Kent Station, Cork city’s train station, is this section of wall which is jam packed with so much stuff: functional and cultural, pragmatic and odd. My interest with this small space, which prompted me to take the photo, highlights the role of basic observation in not only research but in our daily lives.

    A side interior wall of Kent Station, Cork.

    A side interior wall of Kent Station, Cork.

    While the physical limits of a photo can sometimes be rather frustrating, in this case they actually frame the scene perfectly. These different objects have clear functions, many of which make sense in the context of a train station, but a still find it necessary to comment. On this patch of wall there is:

    • an internet kiosk (out-of-order) (modern-ish, but increasingly irrelevant with the rise of smartphones),
    • a public phone (an utter rarity with the growth in mobile phone ownership in the last 15 years, although their role in places such as trains stations ensures their presence for another while, until they’ll all be stored in museums, right next to the home phone section, complete with hall table),
    • a change machine (an object in a symbiotic relationship with the phone/kiosk),
    • a post box (a continuing strong feature of the Irish landscape testifying to the role of post and the letters),
    • a fire hose (seems a little high to reach in an emergency) and a poster outlining the ‘Public Evacuation Plan’ (although, I doubt many of the public actually check it out),
    • a wireless internet router (in many ways a direct challenge to the internet kiosk and even pay phone – and by implication the change machine)
    • a vending machine (when everything else is closed),
    • a statue of Our Lady/Blessed Virgin Mary – dubbed ‘Our Lady of Kent Station‘* by Eoin O’Mahoney (check out his excellent blog 53 Degrees) (the Marion statue is another prominent aspect of the Irish landscape; this statue, there since 1966, was on the opposite wall until renovations a few years ago saw it move across – indicated a recent intentional decision to retain this religious/cultural icon),
    • a security camera – the bottom of which is visible on the top left (a cog of the constant CCTV-based surveillance in which we lead our urban lives), and,
    • the arches and drain pipe (the Station is a pro-typical old train station in many ways, with high pitched roofs, long platforms and ornate red-bricked walls; although, the main platform is curved making it rather distinct).

    Although this wall-space is a noteworthy thing to write a short blogpost on, the greater point is the importance of observing the world around us. The world is generally filled with things ready to be noticed and appreciated. Observation was one of the primary skills emphasised in my geography undergraduate courses. It is in truly engaging with the world around us that we can understand it and be motivated to preserve, change or improve it, as required.

    A good example of this is in an episode of the podcast 99% Invisible (it explores architectural ideas in a very interesting and insightful way) which highlights the great many public staircases in California. It shows how these fascinating features are generally unknown and under-used; how they can be discovered and explored with enthusiasm; but also, how they can be blocked by private interests and re-opened by committed activists.

    Ultimately, while observation is an essential research tool, it is also a duty of the citizen more generally to be observant. Take in what is going on around you, be involved in the world. While the commuters, tourists and people of Cork pass by the wall-space the eclectic collection will remain, or maybe not, have you noticed?

    *For more photo’s of statues of Our Lady check out: Shooting Statues

  • Lady’s Well, Cork: Slipping Away

    Lady’s Well is one of the few wells within Cork city. It is located north of the city centre, on the eastern slope of the small valley that leads out to Blackpool. It gave Lady’s Well Brewery, just below the well, its name, while what is now Leitrim Street was formerly called Lady’s Well Street.

    The well has had a varied modern history. There seems to have been no record of religious activity on the site and by the 1980s no surface trace of the well existed, although the shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary was on the site, which was demolished in the later 1990s. A City Council sponsored excavation in 2000 revealed a cast-iron basin surrounding by sandstone flags as being the likely earliest flooring at the well. At that time, the well and grotto were consolidated.

    I visited the site on 26th Feb 2012 and again on 24th Feb 2013. When I intended to blog about the site recently, I returned to get more recent photos. On my initial visit I found the site to be untidy and generally a bit run down – in particular, drinks cans allover the site and in the well. This poor state was one of the main motivations for revisiting the site, as it didn’t want to misrepresent its current condition. However, the site was in an even poorer state on my second visit. Messiness and evidence of drinking was compounded by neglect and vandalism. The photos below which compare the site over the two visits clearly illustrate the change, especially in terms of the well itself, which is now inaccessible as the basin is completely filled in with bits of broken paving.

    Although, the well is an acknowledged heritage feature and was renovated with community support, it seems to have slowly deteriorated. Its location on a secluded section of the hillside above the brewery but out of site of the houses above means its an ideal location for ‘anti-social’ behaviour, with evidence of drinking, vandalism and fire-lighting.

    I am slightly conflicted over what the visits have revealed. Firstly, it is a shame that one of the few examples of a holy well in the city is in this condition; and, as a result, I have contacted one of my local councilors about the issue, who will raise it at the City Council. However, this  also presents a study in the decline of a holy well. Many hundreds of the 3,000 holy wells that were believed to have existed across Ireland can no longer be found or have deteriorated beyond recognition. Although, intentional actions are involved here, the site is a metaphor for what has happened to so many sites. Wells which are no longer the focus of devotional activity can fall into disrepair and become unattractive, furthering their demise. It would seem the central reason for the survival of so many wells is the role of devoted people who frequent and upkeep them.

    While the physical structures and role of Lady’s Well in the nomenclature of the city ensure the site will remain in the future, what exact form this will take is uncertain. I shall return to the site and the topic.

    Looking south at the site: it is two levels.

    Two views, one from each visit, looking south at the site: it resembles a mini-amphitheatre, with a curved shape on one side and it is spread over three levels – a back support level with the ground behind it, a middle level with an empty grotto at the far end and the lower level which has the well at its centre.

    LadysWell Cork Compar

    The well’s poor condition, marked by litter mainly, in Feb 2012 is replaced by one of complete disrepair in Feb 2013, presumably through intentional vandalism.

    The view of the site in Feb 2012 from the laneway between Richmond Hill and Leitrim Street.

    The view of the site in Feb 2012 from the laneway between Richmond Hill and Leitrim Street.




    Cork City Council, 2009 Coburg Street and Saint Patrick’s Hill Area Action Plan 2009

    Lady’s Well Excavation Report, 2000

    CO074-062 (Archaeological Survey of Ireland, Record Details) on Posted: 14 Jan 2009

  • Searching: Toberbarry Edition

    Part of research, in fact a large part, involves activities that are unsuccessful or at least not what you had hoped for. A trip to archives only turned up a book that was not what the title suggested, or an important interview is cut short or an event is cancelled.  This is a necessary part of research The adventure and curiosity that drives research centres on the fact that you don’t know what you are going to get. But we can, of course, learn from these instances.

    The map and areial photo detail from the archaeological record:

    The map and areial photo detail from the archaeological record: CO074-018 (Archaeological Survey of Ireland, Record Details) on Posted: 14 Jan 2009

    This morning, a cool but sunny spring Sunday, I went in search of Toberbarry, a holy well, in Kilbarry just north of Cork city. The well, a spring in a depression, was linked with St Fin Barre’s first Church in Cork. Working off archaeological records, maps and google maps, I knew fairly accurately (within a few square metres) where the well was. However, the site does not appear to be in use and it is located in overgrown rough land. Even with precise directions it was going to be a challenge.

    I was unsuccessful in finding the well. The search was challenging in that the area I needed to get to was beyond a large patch of brambles, which I had to work my way through, over and across with the assistance of a stick. The small area in which I estimated the well was located was less overgrown but it was still very difficult to make out surface features. I did come across a hollow or pit, which may potentially have been the well, but there was no sign of water. Despite not achieving my main objective I did photograph the site and record some thoughts, as well as being reminded that research involves interesting experiences in which you never know that you’ll find, or not find!

    Any future attempts to locate the well, or its remains, will be based on local knowledge. Timing didn’t allow knocking on a few doors, but maybe next time I can ask a few residents if they could offer assistance on the quest.

    The rough land I had to get through to the well site.

    The rough land I had to get through to the well site.

    The rough location of the well.

    The rough location of the well.

    A depression in the ground, a potential holy well.

    A depression in the ground, a potential holy well.



    CO074-018 (Archaeological Survey of Ireland, Record Details) on Posted: 14 Jan 2009