So imagine our excitement when freelance multi-media journalist, Kevin O’Brien, contacted us looking for some archive images of Cork in times-past so he could create some then-and-now photo blends. We were not disappointed when he finally shared his hard work with us and we hope you enjoy as much.
Munster Arcade, St Patrick St 1900s
The Munster Arcade was one of Cork’s biggest department stores until it ceased trading in the 1970’s. The premises, along with many others in the area, were destroyed in 1920 during the Burning of Cork after a group of British Auxiliaries were seen throwing a bomb into the ground floor.
In the image, the original Munster Arcade façade can be seen.
Also in shot is a tram making its way down St. Patrick’s Street, while suppliers make deliveries with their horse and carts. Vehicles belonging to the City of Cork Steam Packet Company, which imported and exported goods from Britain, can also be seen outside some of the street’s stores.
Dunscombe Fountain, Shandon Street 1920s
The Dunscombe Fountain was located at the bottom of Shandon St near the North Gate Bridge in the area known as Brown’s Square from 1883 until 1935, according to historian Tim Cadogan’s book, Cork in Old Photographs.
The fountain, which functioned as a gas lamp in its later years never returned to the square and remains lost today.
In the past, the area depicted in the photograph was used as a place for traders and vendors to sell their goods. Here in the old image, ‘shawlies’ sell Christmas holly to well-dressed passers-by.
Patricks Hill 1932
This 1932 Peugeot 201 looks a lot different from the newer models but it is well able to mount one of Cork’s steepest inclines, St Patrick’s hill.
Looking down the hill, nowadays large trees as big as the period buildings line the street on the left hand side, but the top of the climb still offers amazing views looking down towards toward St Patrick Street and beyond.
Shandon Street 1953
Shandon Street is one of Cork’s oldest inhabited areas and has developed a rich legacy over the centuries. Corkonian’s of a certain vintage will tell you that the street was once one of the busiest retail areas in the city.
A period of decline in recent decades saw the street lose some of its charm, though it has always held a special place in the hearts of many locals.
More recently, Shandon has undergone a €15m renewal project which has helped to rejuvenate the street. Visitor attractions in the area have also been developed, such as the Butter Museum, St Anne’s Church and the Shandon Bells.
Culturally, the popular Shandon Street Festival celebrates the heritage and history of the area each year, proving that Shandon retains a special place in the heart of Corkonians.
Electric Tram, Blackrock 1902
Electric trams served Cork from 1898 – 1931 until they ceased operations due to the growing popularity of buses. In this photo a tram on the Tivoli to Blackrock route makes its way through Blackrock village in 1902.
The building in the centre of the photo has a sign reading “Tramway Refreshment Room”, while these days, that building is a sign makers.
Although the trams no longer run to Blackrock, recent work during the village renewal scheme found that much of the tram lines were intact under the road surface. These will be dug out to form a feature of the new designs for the area.
Cork Opera House, Emmet Place 1920s
Taken in the early 1920s, the old snap of Emmet Place here offers a glimpse of the original Opera House. Built in 1852, the old building had a beautiful curved front and hosted some of Ireland’s best touring opera companies and actors until it burned down in 1955 over a hundred years after it was built.
In 1965, the Opera house was rebuilt with a new design and was officially opened by President Eamonn de Valera. The new modern façade was later constructed in 2000.
Also visible is the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery building, to the left of the Opera House, and Queen Anne House, at the corner of Opera Lane, which dates back to the 1730s.
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