Postcard from Mogeely, 1910.

Mogeely Postcard obverse

Mogeely, near Castlemartyr, County Cork, as photographed by the Horgan brothers of Youghal before 1910.

This blog has already featured a postcard sent from Queenstown (now Cobh) to Ladysbridge in 1904 (see ‘The history that is lost to us as hinted in an old postcard.’ Posted January 2nd.)  However, the postcard discussed in today’s post is, perhaps, more interesting, both for its local provenance and its pictorial subject matter. it makes your realise that before the age of texting, even before telephones became commonplace, the half-penny postcard was the way to send a quick message.

The card was sent by someone called ‘Katty’ to Miss Ciss Donovan in Ladysbridge.  The postmark on the green half-penny stamp depicting King Edward VII is dated May 3rd, 1910. This mark was impressed on the card at Castlemartyr Post Office at 8.15 pm that evening, clearly in preparation for delivery the following morning. It is almost certain that the card was actually posted in Mogeely, and stamped with the postmark during sorting in Castlemartyr. One other detail is of interest – the divided back of the postcard indicates that the card could not have been produced before 1902, for that was the year in which the Post Office introduced the divided back to separate the address from the message.

There are two locations called Mogeely in East Cork – one is near Conna, not far from the Waterford county boundary and the town of Tallow; the other is further south in the barony of Imokilly, about six or seven miles east of Midleton and just a over a mile north of Castlemartyr. This small village of Mogeely, really a hamlet in 1910, is barely three miles due north of Ladysbridge, the destination of the postcard; Castlemartyr is situated on the road between them.

The front of the card consists of a photograph the Horgan brothers of Youghal, famous local photographers and early cinema operators. They opened the first cinema in Youghal, but, more importantly, they took photographs of the towns and villages throughout East Cork and West Waterford in the first half of the twentieth century. In the evening, having taken their photographs, the Horgan brothers would retire to a local hostelry to present a slide show of the images to the local people as a way of saying thank you, and providing an early form of pre-cinema entertainment. Indeed such a show may have been the subject of the postcard’s message. Their signature is on the bottom right of the photograph.

Mogeely Postcard obverse

Mogeely photograph close-up. The road to Dungourney heads due north, directly ahead. The road to Killeagh and Youghal veers off to the right (east). Behind the photographer is the road south to Castlemartyr, with the railway line crossing the road immediately behind the position of the camera. Just south of the railway line, the direct route to Midleton heads west (left). The telegraph pole and the pub sign are the only concessions to modernity in the image. At the time the new church was being constructed to the photographer’s immediate right. (Image by the Horgan Brothers of Youghal.) 

In this case the photographer has placed his heavy tripod box camera in the middle of the road leading from Castlemartyr to Mogeely. The site is very specific, because this road was crossed by the Cork to Youghal railway line directly behind the cameraman! Furthermore, it can be noted that the road is dusty, because there were very few motorcars in Ireland at the time and the roads were all designed for horse-drawn transport. There is no way a modern cameraman would take such a photograph today without all sorts of signs and traffic cones to ward off the busy rural traffic. The camera faced directly north into the village (really a large hamlet) of Mogeely. The road continuing due north between the cottages and the hedgerow trees leads to Dungourney, situated in the hills that can be discerned between the trees in the background. The road leading to the right heads east to Killeagh and Youghal. Behind the photographer, and beyond the railway line, there is a road leading to the left, west to Midleton. This road joins the main road from Midleton to Castlemartyr and Youghal at Churchtown North, two miles from Midleton.

Because of the nature of the cameras at the time, it was necessary for the photographer to get the co-operation of the local people. The subjects had to stand still for a few moments while the camera captured the image – and this is what happened with this photograph of Mogeely. As you can see the people of the small village are present in force. They are posed in groups – a small group by the pub on the left, a larger group by the cottages in the background in the centre, and a man with his donkey in the middle of the road in front of them. There is another man stepping onto the roadway on the right, and in front of him a village dog got in on the act by posing perfectly on the road!

There are only two buildings in the photograph that have more than one storey. All the rest of the village consists of single-storey dwellings, many of them thatched. What is interesting in this image is that the only concessions to modernity are the telegraph pole on the left, and the name of the pub – the Railway Saloon, otherwise the village looks very much like it did before the railway arrived in the 1860s.

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The romanesque revival church of the Sacred Heart in Mogeely was being built when the postcard was sent in 1910. Opened in 1912, its decoration was completed over many years. My great -great-grandfather cut the stone for this church, which was built by JJ Coffey & Sons of Midleton. The church stands beside the road to Castlemartyr, just north of the railway line.

To make matters more interesting, the photographer avoided any suggestion of the biggest event in the village’s history at the time – the building of the new Sacred Heart Church to replace the humble old village chapel. The site of the new church was immediately to the right of the photographer, out of picture. This church was started in 1908 and completed in 1912.

Mogeely Postcard reverse

The green half-penny stamp depicts King Edward VII. The divided back postcard was introduced by the Post Office in 1902. Sadly, Miss Ciss Donovan does not appear on the 1911 Census for Ladysbridge. (Postcard in a private collection)

The message on the reverse of the card from Katty to Ciss Donovan says:

Thank you very much for your lovely nib. I hope you enjoyed the play. I heard the machine got broken. It was fair in Mogeely. In the upper left corner the message ends: Hope to see you on Sunday.

Presumably the nib in question is the one that was used to write the message and address in red ink. The ‘play’ is likely to be the slide show put on by the Horgan brothers that evening, presumably in Ladysbridge for the locals there. The reference to the ‘machine’ breaking down suggests that there was a technical hitch during the show. And the note that ‘it was fair in Mogeely’ does indeed suggest that the breakdown happened during a show in Ladysbridge – it’s hardly a reference to the weather given the proximity of the two villages!   Finally, Sunday was the normal day for visiting and greeting friends and family, being the only day off during the week.  Since I have family connections to Ladysbridge, I would love to see the slides that the Horgan brothers showed that evening in Ladysbridge. I’m not certain if they are among those images from the Horgan Collection made available online by the Cork County Library.

Unfortunately Miss Ciss Donovan is not named in the 1911 census for Ladysbridge – she had either moved away, or married and moved away. As for Kattie – there are several candidates. However, I suspect, but cannot prove that our Kattie may be Kate Harte, aged 30, of House 7 in Mogeely, wife of the blacksmith John A Harte.

Mogeely’s history goes back a long way – it was certainly extant when Robert FitzStephen and his band of knights invaded Cork in 1177. The site was almost certainly a parish by that time and fragmentary remains of the medieval church are extant in the local graveyard. Mogeely seems to have been the seat of the local ruling family, the Ui Mac Tire, before the Anglo-Normans arrived. In 1182, the Mac Tire clan murdered a party of five Anglo-Norman knights, on their way to a parley in Waterford, sparking off a general revolt against the invaders in Cork. In the 1640s a senior Anglican clergyman, collecting evidence of Catholic atrocities against Protestants during the 1642 rebellion was murdered nearby. These murders will be the subject of a future post.

Mogeely old church

The fragmentary remains of the medieval parish church of Mogeely are situated in the centre of the grossly overcrowded old graveyard. When the new church was completed in 1912, the old early 19th century chapel next to this graveyard was taken down and its site was later incorporated into the graveyard. My grandparents were buried in this new section.

Both Mogeely and Ladysbridge have expanded considerably since the postcard was sent in 1910. This is due to the building of housing estates on the edges of the villages. But the centre of each village is pretty much as it was in 1910.

Now I must declare a personal connection to both Mogeely and Ladysbridge. At the time the postcard was sent, Mogeely’s new church was being constructed by the firm of JJ Coffey & Sons of Midleton. My own great great grandfather on my mother’s side was a stonecutter who worked for Coffey’s. He cut and dressed stone for this church. My paternal grandparents came from Wexford, but eventually settled in Ladysbridge. Both are buried in Mogeely graveyard.

My thanks to Jim Horgan of Youghal for encouraging me to publish the images of the postcard, and to my aunt loaning it to to me..

More images from the Horgan Collection can be viewed on the website of the Cork County Library:

http://www.corkcoco.ie/co/web/Cork%20County%20Council/Departments/Library%20&%20Arts%20Service

The Horgan Collection can be found under the library’s Digital Collections link.

If you recognize any scene or any person depicted in these images, please be so good as to inform the Cork County Library at: corkcountylibrary@corkcoco.ie

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Midleton’s Brodrick Street gets a History Board

Brodrick street c1900

Brodrick Street, Midleton, also called Coolbawn by the locals, seems to have been laid out around 1800. The fine terrace of five late Georgian town houses were owned by the Callaghan family in the first half of the nineteenth century. The second house from the right is now undergoing restoration. This photo was taken sometime between 1900 and 1918 and is the view eastwards towards the Main Street. The view is somewhat more cluttered now, with electric cables and buildings closing the view on Main Street. The motor car was a rarity at the time, but the more common ‘car’ is the tipped up covered jaunting car seen in the distance. I love the way the motor car has complete freedom to drive in the middle of the roadway!

Please note:  I just did a quick update on this post by including the early twentieth century photo from the National Library of Ireland’s collection.

On the very sunny morning of Friday 5th December 2014 I joined Monica and Tony Moore for a press photocall at our new history board recently set up in Brodrick Street, Midleton.  The Moores have very kindly sponsored the production of this history board, which originated from an idea proposed by and encouraged by Anne McCarthy, who runs a gift shop on the street.  She really wanted to tell something of the history of the street to go along with the advertising that is so common in Midleton.  Anne told Tony and Monica Moore, who promptly offered to sponsor the history board.  I offered to do the text – which required some research, amendments and corrections until all parties were satisfied.  Mrs Mary Cott and Tony Moore contributed their own knowledge to the research. The photos and text of the history board were published in a local newsheet, Midleton and District News on Wednesday 10th December.

Coolbawn History Board

The Brodrick Street/Coolbawn history board in situ. From left to right are: Monica & Tony Moore, sponsors, and, squinting into the low winter sun, yours truly as the author of the text.  (Photo courtesy of Midleton & District News.)

Brodrick Street is also called Coolbawn by the locals – it must be very confusing if a visitor to the town stops to ask were to find a certain premises and the locals say ‘Coolbawn‘ when the correct address is Brodrick Street!  The title of the history board text was Brodrick Street/Coolbawn: one street two names?  I put forward the idea that the name Coolbawn was original name of the area stretching from the Roxborough River (or Dungourney River) in the south to the wall of St John the Baptist churchyard in the north and from Main Street in the east to the Owenacurra River in the west.  Coolbawn may mean ‘back meadow’ and the area is still liable to flood when the two rivers are high and the winds are right.  The opening of Brodrick Street into this area around 1800 was designed to provide a fine residential address in the middle of the town, as indeed it must have been in the early years.

Brodrick Street overhead full

A relatively short street, Brodrick Street didn’t actually lead anywhere until it was linked to the Bailick Road in the 1890s. The mast is part of the electrical grid system. The Midleton Gasworks were based on Brodrick Street from the 1850s to the 1950s. (Image courtesy of Midleton & District News)

One of the families associated with the street were the Callaghans – the descendants of a successful woolen draper, Mathias Callaghan, and his wife, Charlotte Fitzgerald, who married in 1815.  They had some thirteen or fourteen children, the eldest of whom, John Callaghan, became a major figure in the commercial life of Midleton.  The construction of the terrace of five late Georgian town houses is attributed to him by some authors.  However, although he was the immediate lessor of nine properties on the street in Griffith’s Valuation (1840s -1850s), it is not confirmed that he or his father built these.  Certainly the last of John Callaghan’s descendants to live on the street, Richard John, died in 1935 and the house was sold to the Coffey family, members of the biggest building firm in the town.

The firm of JJ Coffey & Sons operated from Brodrick Street in the latter half of the nineteenth century.  This firm built much of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Midleton, their masterpiece being the large Holy Rosary Catholic Church (1894-96).  They also built the spire of Holy Rosary Church in 1907-08.  I have reason to believe that my great grandfather worked for JJ Coffey as a stone cutter.  One of his descendants still lives in the house purchased after the death of Richard John Callaghan in 1935.

Brodrick Street overhead

The terrace of five late Georgian town houses is still inhabited, with the fourth house getting a much needed restoration. The small two story house next to the terrace was a local ‘taxi’ service (pony and trap) before motor cars became commonplace. This photo is taken from the multi-story carpark located behind Pugin’s pair of houses! (Image courtesy of Midleton & District News)

Another family that flourished on Brodrick Street were the Moores.  Two entrepreneurial sisters, Marie and Nora Moore ran a paid parking garage for bicycles and motorbikes next to the cinema during the 1950s.  For good measure, the Moore sisters also ran a sweet shop to satisfy the cravings of cinema patrons.   But more seriously the two ladies also stored coal (brought up by horse and cart from the port at Ballinacurra via the Bailick road) and raw wool from Australia for the Midleton Worsted Woolen Mills.  And they say that Irish women were repressed in the 1950s!  Not these two!

Sadly, I was obliged to be suggestive rather than totally prescriptive in my text for the history board, because, despite the valiant work of a very few individuals, the full history of Midleton has not yet been properly researched and published.   Hopefully the Brodrick Street history board (and the publicity about it!) will get people interested and we’ll be able to put up more such boards around Midleton.  Maybe then the demand for an accessible history publication will generate the momentum for research.  Signs are hopeful since I’ve had one comment about the history board – ‘I never knew there was so much history on the Coolbawn!’

I would like to thank Anne McCarthy for proposing the idea, Monica and Tony Moore for sponsoring the history board (and sharing some memories of the street),  Mrs Mary Cott for sharing her memories of the street – and showing me the original photograph of her formidable grandfather, the builder JJ Coffey.  Furthermore I should record my thanks to Ms Becky Grice at Midleton & District News for the publicity and for the images shown on this post. 

Link:  midletonnews.com