Bold Fenian Men – a lecture to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Fenian Rising in East Cork.

Rock Terrace 2

A view to a killing: Rock Terrace, Midleton, was built in 1861 – a mere six years before the Fenians under Timothy Daly shot dead Sub-Constable Sheedy and injured Sub-Constable O’Donnell across the street at the entrance to Mr Green’s house. Note the date of construction made out in yellow brick on the right of the photograph.

A hundred and fifty years ago this month (Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th March 1867) the Fenian Rising took place in various parts of Ireland.  A major series of incidents happened in Knockadoon, Midleton and Castlemartyr. No official ceremonies have been arranged but on Saturday 18th March, there will be a lecture on the subject in Midleton Library. Appropriately the library is housed in the old Market House.which was used to house troops from the 14th Regiment in the aftermath of the Rising.

The lecture will take place on Saturday 18th March at 12.00 noon in Midleton Library. Admission is free and all are welcome!

 

Albinia Brodrick Remembered.

 

Gobnait Ni Bruadair

Albinia Brodrick (1861-1955) as Gobnait Ni Bhruadair, a woman who changed from being an aristocratic English Tory Unionist to an Irish revolutionary Republican.

Today’s lecture in Midleton Library on Albinia Brodrick: from English Aristocrat to Irish Revolutionary Republican (12.00 noon, Saturday, 16th Jan, 2016) was a resounding success on the 61st anniversary of Albinia’s death. Part of the 1916 Centenary Commemoration Programme promoted by Cork County Council, the lecture was attended by some 50 to 60 persons (according to the library staff).

We covered her family background and her family’s link to Midleton (her father and brother held the title Viscount Midleton) and her nursing career. We also looked at the transformation of this Englishwoman to a ‘native’ Irish Gaelgeoir.

I hope that everybody learned something new about Albinia Brodrick’s conversion from Tory Unionism to moderate Home Rule Irish nationalism and then, following the execution of the 1916 rebel leaders, to hard-line Irish Republicanism, a stance she held to the day she died on Sunday, 16th January 1955. This conversion to a more hard-line republicanism was typical of many in Ireland from May 1916 as news of the executions began to hit home.

I wish to thank, first, the library staff for preparing the venue, Conor Nelligan (Cork County Heritage Officer & 1916 Centenary County Co-ordinator), Mr Martin Preston (Midleton College) for operating the computer slide show whilst I addressed the audience from the screen, and everybody who attended the lecture.

The Honorable Albinia Brodrick: from English Aristocrat to Irish Revolutionary Republican. A public lecture to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising.

Hon Albinia Brodrick Nurse

The Hon. Albinia Brodrick as a nurse.

As part of the Cork County Council 1916 Centenary Commemoration programme a public lecture will take place in Midleton Library on Saturday 16th January.

The Hon. Albinia Brodrick (sometimes incorrectly called Lady Brodrick) was born into the English aristocratic Brodrick family, the absentee landlords of Midleton in County Cork. Brought up in a firmly Unionist milieu she supported her family’s commitment to preserving the Union between Britain and Ireland and their rejection of Home Rule for Ireland. This stance was so pronounced that as a young woman she read the newspaper to her partially blind father, William, 8th Viscount Midleton, but only on the stipulation that she never read out William Gladstone’s name whenever it was mentioned in the news reports. Gladstone, of course, tried to pacify Ireland with various Home Rule proposals but nothing came of this endeavour.

Albinia's Hospital

The remains of Albinia Brodrick’s hospital at West Cove, near Caherdaniel, County Kerry.

Extremely well educated privately, and well travelled, Albinia later acted as hostess to her uncle who was Warden of Merton College, Oxford. At some point in the early 20th century Albinia underwent an extraordinary change in her political, social and national loyalties. First, she trained as a nurse and became a staunch advocate of reform in nursing education – especially in training nurses to deal with venereal disease. Then she became interested in the condition of the Irish rural poor, particularly in the Caherdaniel are of County Kerry, where she established a hospital to provide improved treatment for local people. But her most radical change was to identify herself entirely with Ireland – she learned to speak Irish, changed her name to Gobnait Ni Brudair. Albinia went further by becoming a radical Irish republican, supporting the 1916 Easter Rising, opposing the Treaty of 1921, supporting the Anti-Treaty forces during the Civil War. During this time, Albinia’s brother, William St John Fremantle Brodrick, 9th Viscount Midleton, was the leader of the Southern Unionists -a very different group from the Ulster Unionists.

St John Brodrick as Minister

William St John Fremantle Brodrick as a British Minister, at the dispatch box of the House of Commons, The leader of the Southern Unionists, he became the 9th Viscount Midleton, and in 1920 was created 1st Earl of Midleton.

Albinia died in relative poverty in 1955 and was buried in the Church of Ireland graveyard in Sneem, County Kerry. She left her property to the members of the old IRA – but in fact the true heirs could not be identified by the High Court in Dublin. The lecture will illustrate Albinia Brodrick’s life and radicalism.

The 1916 Centenary Commemorative lecture will take place at Midleton Library on Saturday 16th January at 12.00 noon. All are welcome.

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Monumentitis in Midleton – a public lecture

Cashman Monument 1

‘Who was Nellie Cashman?’ is a question frequently raised by people when discussing this monument. Hopefully the question will be answered on Thursday.

For decades there was only on solitary public monument in Midleton – the Clonmult monument that marks the northern end of Main Street.  In 1998 a second monument was added just a couple of meters from the Clonmult Monument. Then in the early 2000s came the Gyrator on the site of the former Goose’s Acre, again, not far from the Clonmult Monument. From 2014 to 2015 Midleton installed FIVE sculptures or monuments, four of them in the area around the Clonmult Monument and one isolated in the park on the Bailick Road. This latter is dedicated to the Choctaw people who donated $170 of their very scarce and hard earned money  towards Irish Famine Relief in the 1840s. There can be few other towns in Ireland with such a number of public sculptures or monuments, but the townspeople know very little about them. Indeed the discussion has generally been about the large sum of money spent on them. This raises questions about their quality as public art.

Choctaw evening 2

The magnificent ‘Kindred Spirits’ by Alex Pentek. Situated in Bailick Park, it is dedicated to the Choctaw people who made a donation to Irish famine relief in the 1840s despite their own poverty and tragic history.

On Thursday, 26 November, at 1.00 pm in Midleton Library I will present a free public lecture on these monuments and public sculptures, with the emphasis on the history of the monuments, of the characters and events commemorated by them, and some consideration of their artistic merits. The aim is to move the discussion away from the money spent on them to the appreciation of their role in the town. As a lunchtime lecture the presentation will take 45 minutes at most. All are welcome.

The Brodricks, the ‘bribe’ and the borough of Midleton – Lunchtime talk in Midleton Library.

Alan Brodrick (1656?-1727), 1st Viscount Midleton, former Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Alan Brodrick (1656?-1727), 1st Viscount Midleton, former Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Who were the Brodricks of Midleton? Where did they come from? How did they get the land on which Midleton now stands? What was this ‘bribe’?  What did the Corporate Borough of Midleton actually do?

These are just some of the questions to be addressed – but perhaps not fully answered – at a public lunchtime lecture I am presenting in Midleton Library on Friday 29th May 2015 at 1.00 pm.  Expected duration: 45 minutes.

The aim of this lecture is to give some insight into the relationship between the Brodrick family and the Corporation of Midleton up to 1840.  Do come along if you are in the area!

Midleton Workhouse – a lecture by Sean Horgan at MyPlace, Midleton, on 22nd May 2015.

Built to the designs of George Wilkinson in 1840-41 and opened in August of 1841, the Midleton Workhouse was considered too big by the local Poor Law Guardians - it was designed to take 800 inmates.  Little did they know that during the Great Famine of 1845-1850 the workhouse had to be supplemented by an auxiliary workhouse during the worst years!  The former workhouse became a hospital in the 1920s and today serves as Midleton Community Hospital.

Built to the designs of George Wilkinson in 1840-41 and opened in August of 1841, the Midleton Workhouse was considered too big by the local Poor Law Guardians – it was designed to take 800 inmates. Little did they know that during the Great Famine of 1845-1850 the workhouse had to be supplemented by an auxiliary workhouse during the worst years! The former workhouse became a hospital in the 1920s and today serves as Midleton Community Hospital.

Carrigtwohill invades Midleton!

Actually, the Carrigtwohill and District Historical Society will present a public lecture by Sean Horgan on the history of Midleton workhouse.  This lecture will take place on Friday 22nd May (yes, tomorrow, so be sure to vote in the two referenda before you come along). The venue is the former Fire Station (Firehouse to the Yanks!) which has been superbly converted into a new community facility under the name MyPlace. The lecture starts at 7.30 pm and the society’s usual entry fee of 5 Euros per person applies.  Do come along!

The principal range of Midleton Workhouse is still preserved as Midleton Community Hospital.

The principal range of Midleton Workhouse is still preserved as Midleton Community Hospital.

MyPlace is a new community facility set up by a group of local citizens to provide, first and foremost, a comfortable (i.e. dry!) and sociable gathering place (with supervision!) for young people (teenagers) in Midleton.  The organisation has leased the former Fire Station on Mill Road from the local authority. The structure has been converted (and upgraded) to be a two-part facilty – the youth cafe/hangout/club and a community facility. The building (which was of no architectural merit) is a modern structure that had been lying idle since the new Fire Station was built.  Pat Horgan was the architect who transformed an eyesore into a superb bright and warm facility with triple glazing and passive heating into a youth centre, community hall (where the fire tenders were housed – the windows are huge!) and smaller rooms for various activities, as well as a kitchen and dining room with that rarity in Midleton – a sheltered riverside terrace (it’s a suntrap too!)!  I viewed it last weekend when it was opened for a public preview and I was VERY impressed.  The large windows are the most unusual feature – Irish community halls generally look like factories or bunkers whereas this has large and inviting windows. At present it is unfurnished but will be fully equipped for its official opening in September.  Well done to everyone involved!

The former Fire Station with the large doors for the fire tenders prior to work starting on converting it to MyPlace.

The former Fire Station with the large doors for the fire tenders prior to work starting on converting it to MyPlace.

Sean Horgan teaches in Mallow, but is a native of Midleton and his MA was on the subject of the Midleton workhouse and the famine.  Copies of Sean’s book on the topic will be on sale following the lecture with the proceeds going to benefit Midleton Community Hospital – which is housed in the former workhouse!  There will be a visit to the former workhouse and to the Famine Graveyard following the lecture if the weather permits.

The architect's sketch for the proposed conversion of the former fire station into a new community facility.

The architect’s sketch for the proposed conversion of the former fire station into a new community facility. The finished design dispensed with the wooden siding in favour of floor to ceiling windows. A MUCH better idea!

The Carrigtwohill and District Historical Society was established in 2013 and has been doing very well indeed.  It hosted a spectacular World War I event last Autumn that drew a lot of people from Midleton.

I think that it is extremely imaginative of the Carrigtwohill and District Historical Society to present this lecture in Midleton – especially since they are not threading on anyone’s toes.  You see, for all its history, Midleton doesn’t have an historical society.  Shocking but true!  Despite the fact that there are societies in Aghada, Cloyne (the senior local history society), Castlemartyr (a new one!), Little Island and Carrigtwohill, Midleton, the largest population centre in the middle of this area, has no historical society.  I hope this presentation by the CARRIGTWOHILL & DISTRICT HISTORICAL SOCIETY will prove embarrassing enough to stimulate some action on this issue!