Glounthaune: formerly New Glanmire and Queenstown Junction.

Glounthaune by Dennis Horgan

Dennis Horgan’s aerial view of the original village of ‘New Glanmire’. The village was built on reclaimed land created in 1780. The railway cut the village off from the mainland in 1859 so a bridge was built to reconnect the village. At the bottom of the picture is GC Ashlin’s Sacred Heart Church which opened1898.n

(Apologies: somehow I pressed ‘publish’ before my draft was completed, and some readers may have read the incomplete and garbled version. To all who were shocked and disappointed by my falling standards, I offer my apologies! Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! You’ll be glad to know that someone very kindly alerted me to my mistake and I’ve completed the post as intended. Furthermore I have recently – October 2015 – had new information from Mike Garde who had some fascinating insights into Ashbourne House/Hotel and its history and gardens. I wish to thank him for getting in touch with me on the subject and providing the information to correct some mistakes and to update the post!) 

Many Irish villages have origins lost in the mists of time. But some are very clearly the result of someone’s decision to create a village in a particular spot. This is the case with Glounthaune, located about nine or ten kilometers east of Cork. Until recently all traffic for Midleton, Youghal, Waterford and Rosslare had to go via Glounthaune. However the completion of the dual carriageway from Dunkettle to Midleton put an end to that. Traffic now by-passes Glounthaune, allowing it to slip into a new existence as a very desirable commuter village.

Annmount was built by Riggs Falkiner in 1775 but was heavily modified in the 19th century. It burned down accidentally in 1948. The grounds are now filled with a housing estate.

Annmount was built by Riggs Falkiner in 1775 but was heavily modified in the 19th century. It burned down accidentally in 1948. The grounds are now filled with a housing estate.

The local community have set up a series of sign boards to illustrate and explain the history of the village – which was only created in 1810 by the Falkiner family of Annmount, a local ‘big house’. When I say ‘village’ you must remember that it was a really small place. Firstly, Riggs Falkiner (then MP for Clonakilty, later MP for Castlemartyr) had a quay built in 1780 for the extraction of local stone and importation of coal. This quay extends some distance out into the waters of the inner reaches of Cork Harbour to ensure that vessels would not ground on the mudbanks. The local parish priest, Fr Murtagh Keane, had a chapel built there in 1803, at a cost of £500 or £600. . A village began to grow up around the quay and the chapel, but in 1819, the local landlord, Sir William Falkiner, had some ‘superior dwellings’ erected in New Glanmire to create a planned village laid out on a T-plan. Sir William’s dwellings were given some of the highest valuations for ordinary houses by th Griffith Valuation – the houses or cottages were valued at £3.10 which was very high compared to the national average of £1.

The sea wall at Glounthaune is built of Little Island limestone. This view shows how vulnerable the original village is to rising sea levels.

The sea wall at Glounthaune is built of Little Island limestone. This view shows how vulnerable the original village is to rising sea levels.

In the 1830s the village got a National School, which by 1837 catered for some 250 pupils. A new school building was erected in the village in 1901, which, happily, is still in use, but as a community center. The current National School is now located on high ground overlooking the village. In the meantime, vast changes had taken place that affected not only the topography of the village, but also its transport links.

Glounthaune's former National School was built in 1901. Beautifully preserved, it now serves as the community center.

Glounthaune’s former National School was built in 1901. Beautifully preserved, it now serves as the community center.

The creation of the village led to the making of a new road on the shoreline to link Cork to Midleton and Youghal.  However the only access to this road from Cork was still by way of the bridge in Glanmire. Up to this point the only route to the east from Cork was by boat, as Arthur Young experienced in the 1770s, or via the upper road from Glanmire which ran along the crest of the hills above ‘New Glanmire.’This road passed over what was popularly known as the ‘Dry Bridge’, or Lackenroe Bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1811 by Sir Samuel Falkiner to provide a smooth road from his house at Annemount, overlooking Glounthaune, to Cork on one side and Midleton and Youghal on the other side. The ordinary people at the time didn’t understand the word viaduct, so this bridge was given its popular name. It still stands as one of the most famous fearures of the village. The bridge also allowed the creation of a proper paved road down the steep hill to ‘New Glanmire’, probably replacing an old trackway. The Lackenroe Bridge is still a landmark in Glounthaune, and causes headaches for truck drivers who don’t realize that their trucks might just get caught under the bridge.

Lackenroe Bridge is a viaduct built in 1811 to carry the old main road from Cork over the road leading down to the village of 'New Glanmire'.

Lackenroe Bridge is a viaduct built in 1811 to carry the old main road from Cork going right to left  over the road leading down to the village of ‘New Glanmire’ (on the right). Its popular name was the ‘Dry Bridge’ because it didn’t cross a stream.

The most important changes came about in the late 1850s when the Cork to Youghal railway was built along the shoreline. The embankment to carry the track smoothened out the shoreline and created a series of ‘ponds’ on the landward side. The line from Dunkettle to Midleton was completed by 10th November 1859 and reached Youghal by May 1861. By that time the Cork and Youghal Railway Company had been amalgamated with the Great Southern and Western Railway, which proceeded to built the line linking Glounthaune to Queenstown (now Cobh) by 1862. In 1896, the line from Glounthaune to Youghal, vial Carrigtwohill, Midleton and Killeagh was downgraded to a branch line, with the Queenstown line being upgraded to a main line. This was the route that so many Irish emigrants took to meet their passage to North America. Railway halt at Glounthaune was initially called New Glanmire Junction. Then it became Queenstown Junction in 1866, Cobh Junction in 1925 and finally became Glounthaune Station in 1994. With the final closure of the line from Glounthaune to Midleton and Youghal in 1978, Glounthaune became a mere suburban halt on the Cobh line. But the reopening of the rail link with Midleton in 2009 made Glounthaune a busy spot again, since it was now possible to travel by rail from Midleton to Cobh – and Fota Wildlife Park!

Sacred Heart Church replaces a chapel built in 1803. The present church opened in 1898 and was designed by George Coppinger Ashlin, who was born in nearby Little Island.

Sacred Heart Church replaces a chapel built in 1803. The present church opened in 1898 and was designed by George Coppinger Ashlin, who was born in nearby Little Island.

One effect of the building of the railway was the demolition of the chapel built in 1803 and its replacement by a new building designed by George Coppinger Ashlin, which was opened in 1898. Ashlin recycled his design for the church at Ballyhooley for the church at Glounthaune, although it seems likely that  the parish priest at the time specifically asked for this design. Today, Sacred Heart Church remains the most distinctive monument viewed as one passes the village – for the original village was cut off by the railway line and a bridge was built to link it to the new road on the northern side of the railway. The church stands directly opposite this bridge, close to the site of the original chapel of 1803.

Ashbourne House was the residence of Richard Beamish in the early 20th century. He created fine gardens that were neglected when the house became a hotel in the 1950s.

Ashbourne House was the residence of Richard Beamish in the second half of the 19th century. Beamish created the fine gardens with plants and trees from all over the world on the triangular grounds between the Old Cork Road (up the hill) and the New Cork Road running along the waterfront.  It was later bought by the Hallinan family, who ran the Avoncore Mills in Midleton.  They maintained the gardens into the 20th century, until it was put up for sale. After a few years of lying empty the house was finally bought by the Garde family who turned it into a hotel and proceeded to restore the gardens for the enjoyment of their guests. It is thanks to the Gardes that these gardens were listed for protection. Sadly with the closure and sale of the hotel the gardens have not been maintained to the same standard.

One claim to fame that Glounthaune has is the rich planting of specimen trees, especially conifers, from all over the world, but especially from the west coast of North America – at times the place feels like parts of Northern California. These trees and other shrubs were planted by the occupants of the ‘big houses’ such as Annmount and Ashbourne House. Ashbourne House was the home of Richard Beamish in the late nineteenth century. He used the railway halt directly opposite his house for importing specimen plants for his gardens. (No doubt the denizens of Fota did the same, with their very own railway halt!) Richard Beamish, scion of the brewing family that made up one half of the Cork brewers Beamish and Crawford, was recognized for his contribution to propagating plants when a poppy was named for him – Meconopsis Beamishii.  With its sheltered position and sunny southerly aspect, it is no wonder that Glounthaune became a favoured habitat for wonderful specimen plants from the late 1800s. Ashbourne was later acquired by the Hallinan family who ran the Avoncore Mills in Midleton (formerly Hackett’s Distillery). The Hallinans employed some of their mill workers to develop the gardens at Ashbourne – given that their mill was close to the railway in Midleton, it was easy for such workers to get to Ashbourne to work there! The Hallinans kept up the gardens (one would love to know what additions were made by them) but eventually they sold Ashbourne in the 1960s. It appears that the auctioneer removed some of the more valuable plants to Dublin before the sale of the house! The development of the house into a hotel secured its future, with the gardens being carefully maintained throughout these years. Sadly the closure of the hotel in the year 2000 and its current use as an asylum seekers reception center means that the gardens are not properly maintained. The good news is that the grounds are actually listed for protection, so there’s hope for restoring them!

Meconopsis Beamishii - Glounthaune's 'national flower'?

Meconopsis Beamishii – Glounthaune’s ‘national flower’?

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8 thoughts on “Glounthaune: formerly New Glanmire and Queenstown Junction.

  1. Once again a brilliant piece of history from the locality. You put a lot of work into your blogs to give us a lot of very interesting reads. Well done. Waiting patiently for the next one.

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  2. Ellen, I was helped by the community’s wonderful Glounthaune Heritage signs all over the place – they put a lot of work into them and they are a model for every community! The signs don’t tell you everything, but they whet the appetite for more!

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  3. Tony I came across your site yesterday and am delighted you are giving us so much background to the history of East Cork. I have a couple of corrections to your article specially related to the Ashbourne House Hotel which are quite inaccurate.
    First I reference the issue of the National School in Glounthaune. “In 1825 the village got a National School.” As the Stanley Letter which gave rise to the National School system was not published till 1831 I wonder where the idea it was a National School in 1825 comes from?
    “Ashbourne House was the residence of Richard Beamish in the early 20th century. He created fine gardens that were neglected when the house became a hotel in the 1950s.”
    First of all the house went into the ownership of the O’Halloran family associated with the Mills in Midleton so the Beamish connection must have ended earlier.. The gardens were well kept and workers from the Mills were involved. In fact the daughter of this family was in fact the mother of John Magnier of Coolmore fame. My mother Timi Garde visited Cork with her sister in 1960 and by then some of the garden plants had been removed by Woodwards an auctioneer from Dublin. It was purchased in 1960 for £5000 and we moved in 1960. After a lot of work the hotel was opened by Sylvester Barrett, Lord Mayor of Cork in May 1961. A gardener who had grown up there Paddy Grandon was retained and so was Nellie O’Mahony who was the cook till her retirement. She lived to reach 100 in Little Island. The garden was treated with great respect and was worked on for years. In fact the Yew Walk, the Mimosa, and the rockery were wonderful places to explore as kids. The gardens were opened every year for Lota. Also until the hotel closed in the year 2000, there was a great gardener called Sheila Miller and the standards were very high. In around 1996 when Enda Kenny was Tourism Minister we were considering becoming a Great Garden of Ireland which would have involved European funding. We did not in the end proceed with this. As part of this we produced a book on the history of the garden which I still have copies of It is entitled, the Gardens of Ashbourne House. It was published by Raven Design and City Press in 1997. This work was ably assisted by John Anderson then at Mount Ussher
    It was clear that when the Directors of the Ashbourne House Hotel sold the hotel it was destined to be used as an Asylum Centre, with a view to running it down and then building on it. This was obviously interrupted by the crash. However, the grounds are protected but they have been allowed to fall into decline. I saw them last about 3 years ago and no work seems to be happening. I would be grateful if you would correct your article as it fails to give the the true story of this great house..

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    • Mike,

      Thanks for this! I wasn’t paying attention when I noted the foundation of the Glounthaune National School in 1825 – you’re absolutely right of course. There WERE no National Schools before 1831! I’m not sure where I got the information, I’ll have to check the excellent notice boards put up around the village to see if they have that information. I have to admit I wasn’t aware of the Hallinan connection with Ashbourne House! Given that family’s connections I am not at all surprised by this. The story of the sale and later management of the house as a hotel makes for important additional information. Sadly as you say it is now being kept as an ‘asylum center’ with the grounds neglected. I can vouch for this because I’ve never noticed any work going on there. Given the importance of nearby Fota and the loss of Annemount up the hill one hopes that the grounds of Ashbourne will be preserved and eventually maintained to a decent standard. I am correcting the post to take account of your information. Thank you for that!

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  4. Thanks for your reply. You are correct it was in fact the Hallinans not as I wrote, “O’Halloran family associated with the Mills in Midleton so the Beamish connection must have ended earlier.”
    Other staff members who were there included Rose Grandon, Finbarr Twohig, and his sister Margaret who also worked at the Little Island Golf club, Pauline Coleman, Pauline Purcell, We also had the son of Martin Corry TD who will go into the annals of infamy as the person involved with Sing Sing near Knockraha. Some of the staff are still working in the Asylum Centre. One who should also be mentioned is Breda Hurley from Midleton now living in Co Waterford. My brother Chris Garde who managed the place from 1979 till we closed down in 2000 lives behind the hotel on the old Youghal Road. Cork County Council could be contacted because the gardens are preserved. It would take some intervention from local residents to get some action. I do hope this system of direct provision will end soon. So we have the old Youghal Road behind the Ashbourne and the newer old Youghal Road in front and the new road which is closer to Little Island. Interestingly my mother was German, the owner of the Vienna Woods was Austrian. Both houses had interesting connections. One was connected to the Beamish family the other to the Crawford family. Both connected to the brewery.
    You might be lucky to find the booklet on the garden if that company is still active. There is a picture of the opening of the hotel in 1961, though it has 1960 on it. .

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