Buildings in the South Parish, Cork

Red Abbey Tower
This is the tower of the 13th century Augustinian Abbey, known as the Red Abbey, a much larger series of buildings that once occupied this site. The Augustinians were forced out of the abbey in the 16th century during the Reformation, but had managed to re-occupy it for a period until finally being forced to leave in the 17th century. For a few years in the 1660s it was home to the Protestant Bishop of Cork, Michael Boyle. During the Siege of Cork in 1690 it played a major part in the conclusion of the battle. A battery of cannon was located in the gardens just to the north of the Abbey, while John Churchill, the Earl of Marlborough, perched on the Red Abbey tower, was able to accurately play the cannon on the old city wall about where the City Library is today. This created a breach in the wall, allowing the British troops to pour into the city. For most of the 18th century the abbey was used as a sugar refinery, known as the Red Abbey Sugar House. A huge fire in December 1799 destroyed most of the refinery buildings and the following century saw many of them being taken down. Some of the stone from the abbey was believed to have been re-used in extending the South Chapel in 1809. The 64 ft tower is all that survives today, and up until 1951 it was in private ownership. That year saw it given over to the people of Cork in the form of the City Council. It is the oldest structure in the city today.

South Gate Bridge
Unique among the bridges of Cork, this bridge is actually two different bridges with construction dates over a century apart. The upriver side [shown above] is the original stone bridge erected in 1713, making it the oldest bridge in the city today. However, in around 1824 the downriver side was added, almost doubling the width of the original bridge. This is most clearly evident in looking at the undersides of the arches, and in the different stonework used in the parapets on either side of the bridge [the image below shows the downriver side]. It marks the location of the first crossing of the River Lee constructed by Viking settlers over 1000 years ago when they began to reclaim the marshes in this area on either side of the river. Their settlement on the northern side of the river would eventually become the medieval city of Cork following the arrival of the Normans in the 12th century. Just a short walk west along French’s Quay brings you to a narrow stepped lane called Keyser’s Hill, a Norse name which recalls its origins as a pathway to the quayside that’s been in existence for over a millennium.

St Fin Barre’s Cathedral
One of the city’s most impressive and beautiful buildings stands on the western edge of the South Parish. The Church of Ireland St Fin Barre’s Cathedral opened for worship in 1870, though the three spires were not completed until 1879. A number of cathedrals had previously occupied the site, which itself is thought to date back to the 7th century monastic settlement founded by St Finbarr. A tall round tower also stood there up until it disappeared shortly after the Siege of Cork in 1690. The preceding cathedral, built in the 18th century, was a much plainer building [see image below taken just before its demolition in 1865]. Today’s cathedral is adorned with over 1200 pieces of sculpture, both inside and outside. The best-known piece is probably the Angel of the Resurrection [also shown below], or as Cork people like to call it the “Goldy Angel”, a gift from the architect of the cathedral William Burges in 1870. The interior of the cathedral is a feast for the eyes, and a must-see for anyone interested in local history. Among the artifacts, there is a memorial to Elizabeth Aldworth, an 18th century Cork woman who became the only female Freemason, two small timber crosses that marked the graves of Cork soldiers who died in France in the Great War 1914-1918, and a cannonball that dates to the Siege of Cork in 1690.

Elizabeth Fort
The present Elizabeth Fort is the second to occupy this site and was completed around 1626. It replaced a fort named after Queen Elizabeth I, which dated to around 1601. Despite having been altered over the centuries, the lines of the original outer walls from 1626 can still be traced in the present-day fort. It was one of two military barracks that stood on either side of Barrack Street, the second one being located where the houses of Prosperity Square stand today. Both barracks were given up by the military when the so-called “New Barracks” [today’s Collins Barracks] opened in 1806 on the northside of the city. Shortly after the military vacated Elizabeth Fort it became a Female Convict Depot, and remained so for around three decades. Many of the women held here would have been transported to Australia. For a few years either side of 1840 it was used by the Irish Constabulary as a training depot for recruits. Later, during the Potato Famine it was used as a fever hospital. After that the Royal Irish Constabulary were back in occupation of the fort, and remained there until Irish independence. Unfortunately, all the old buildings inside the fort were destroyed in 1922 during the Civil War by the anti-Treaty IRA, and it would take a number of years before the present buildings were constructed. The first batch of Civic Guards, later called An Garda Síochána, occupied their new barracks in August 1929. The Garda barracks closed in 2013. Since then Elizabeth Fort has become one of the top tourist attractions in Cork, allowing wonderful views across the city from its ramparts. It also has one of the few remaining air-raid shelters built during World War II located just inside the main entrance.
The above photo is a detail from an aerial image taken in 1945 and is courtesy of Cork City Library.

Callanan’s Tower
This image of the tower was taken over fifteen years ago, when it stood in the garden of a public house called the Tower Inn. It was built in 1865 as part of a local amenity in the area called the Tower Gardens, attached to a pub run by Michael Callanan. The tower was accessed by people, for a small fee donated to charity, to give them stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Callanan advertised a wide range of facilities that were available to patrons, including archery, cricket grounds, lawn billiards, croquet, and an open-air gymnasium. On top of that he claimed that horse racing could take place on a short racecourse there. It’s very debatable though as to how much of these were actually available, and it’s highly likely that Callanan was prone to over-exaggeration. Drunkenness and indecent behaviour by those frequenting the gardens caused problems for people living in the area, and occasionally the local clergy would lead protests outside Callanan’s pub. Ten years after the Tower Gardens opened, it was closed, and Callanan had given up the pub license. The tower remains a significant local landmark, though today much of its bare stonework has been rendered, and it stands in the centre of a housing complex rather than the garden of a pub.

Cork City Hall
This part of the South Parish began to be developed from the 1820s and in the following decade a major building was constructed on this site as a Corn Exchange. This Exchange building was used later in the 19th century for two major exhibitions, the 1852 National Exhibition and the 1883 Cork Industrial Exhibition. Cork Corporation took over the Corn Exchange in 1891 for use as the city’s Municipal Building [known by Corkonians today as the “old City Hall”]. In 1906 they added a large hall to the rear of the building that could be used for public events such as meetings, concerts, balls, etc. The old City Hall and the adjacent Carnegie Library were destroyed in December 1920 by the Crown Forces during the infamous “Burning of Cork”, along with a large section of St Patrick’s Street. Construction work on the present City Hall began in 1932 and took four years to complete, becoming the first purpose-built Municipal Building in Cork. It was opened by Eamon de Valera in 1936 in his role as President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State. Since then the business of running the city has taken place from here, and from its more recently added new building to the rear. The City Hall has seen international figures such as US President John F. Kennedy and US Senator George Mitchell, as well as local heroes like Jack Lynch, Roy Keane and Sonia O’Sullivan all receive the Freedom of Cork inside its walls.

Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway
This limestone building stands on Albert Quay, adjacent to the City Hall, and is the oldest surviving railway terminus in the city. It was built between 1850 and 1852 for the Cork and Bandon Railway. In 1845 work started on the line at Bandon and began to make its way into the city. Many obstacles had to be overcome to complete the line into Cork, resulting in tunnels having to be constructed at Goggin’s Hill and Kilpatrick, as well of course as the Chetwynd Viaduct over the Bandon Road. The company began running trains between Bandon and Ballinhassig in 1849, with large horse-drawn coaches bringing passengers to and from the city, but it would take until December 1851 before the first trains operated into Albert Quay to what was then an unfinished terminus. Following its amalgamation with two other local railway lines, in 1888 the company became known as the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway. Trains continued to run to many of the main West Cork towns until the closure of the line in the mid 20th century. The final train made the return journey from Albert Quay to Bantry and back in March 1961. At different periods in the 19th and 20th centuries the terminus here was also used by the Cork and Macroom Direct Railway. A third railway company, the Cork City Railways, also used this station. Their remit was to transfer goods between the South Jetties and Glanmire Station, later renamed Kent Station. To carry out this work, both Clontarf and Brian Boru Bridges were constructed. These trains ran from 1912 until the company ceased operations in 1976.

Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway
These buildings on Albert Street were the terminus for the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway, the first railway company to operate in the city when trains began running as far as Passage West in 1850. The above image shows the company’s second terminus, which opened in 1873. The original terminus, which no longer exists, was located at the eastern junction of Victoria Road near the quayside, and the initial stretch of track ran adjacent to the river until it turned in by today’s Atlantic Pond towards Blackrock Station. That section of riverside track was moved inland in 1872 following the route of today’s Monahan Road before joining up once more with the original track above the Atlantic Pond. At the same time the new terminus shown above was constructed and the first trains departed from there in February 1873. For the first fifty years of its life the company only ran trains to Passage West on a broad gauge [5ft 3in] line. In 1900 the company became a Light Railway when the broad gauge track was replaced with narrow gauge [3ft] rails. The line was also extended, first to Monkstown, then to Carrigaline, and finally in 1904 to Crosshaven. The relatively short distance covered by the railway meant it came under pressure in the 1920s with the increasing use by the public of buses. The company closed the line in September 1932.

Cork Electric Tramways and Lighting Company
Just across the road from the former Cork, Blackrock and Passage terminus is this unusual red-brick building. Today it is the home of the National Sculpture Factory, a hub for artists to work in, develop their ideas and create some incredible pieces of art. Its original purpose though was completely different, which was the dual function of being the home depot of the electric trams that ran in the city as well as being a power station, providing electricity to the city. The building was completed in 1898 and the trams began operating in December of that year. There were three cross-city routes running on just under ten miles of track, Blackpool to Douglas, Tivoli to Blackrock and Summerhill North to Sunday’s Well. The trams were a very popular mode of transport for the people of the city, but comfort on them wasn’t a priority, and they also fell victim to the increasing use of buses in the 1920s. At the end of September 1931 the electric trams made their final appearance on the streets of Cork before heading back to the depot on Albert Road and disappearing through the now bricked-up arches that had been the entry and exit points. The power station had been closed a couple of years earlier when the new hydro-electric scheme at Ardnacrusha Co. Clare had begun generating electricity. It’s interesting to note that the gas company was also in this area, just to the south of the tram depot.

St Nicholas’ Church
This former Church of Ireland building stands on high ground just to the south of Cove Street on a very historic site that goes back to the time of the Viking settlement. A church called the Holy Sepulchre, as well as the court of the Hiberno-Viking leader of Cork, Gilbert, son of Turgar, stood here. Following Gilbert’s defeat by the Normans they took over his court in 1177 and introduced monks from St Nicholas’ Benedictine Priory in Exeter to the church there. It was then renamed St Nicholas’ Church, a name which was retained as subsequent churches were built on the site. Construction work on the present building began in 1847 and was completed in 1850, although the spire was not added for another twenty years. The land in front of the church was occupied by a Protestant national school and industrial school. With the numbers attending the church declining through the 1980s and 1990s, the last service took place there in January 1997. Following the de-consecration of the church some of the furniture, including a number of pews, the pulpit and baptismal font went to Bunratty Folk Park to be used in a rebuilt church there. A beautiful, and very large, 18th century marble sculpture known as the Tracton Monument was removed from the church in 2000 and can be seen today among the other fine pieces on display in the Crawford Art Gallery.

St Finbarr’s South
This church, known by all as the South Chapel, has been a place of worship for the people of the South Parish since the penal times. It was built in 1766, making it the oldest Catholic church in the city. Its origins can be traced back to a church that stood in the vicinity of today’s Tower Street from around 1635. Later in that century, a new church, or “mass house” as it was called, stood on Cove Lane [now Douglas Street], which had to be rebuilt following a fire in 1727. After his arrival in 1760, the new Parish Priest Fr Daniel O’Brien undertook the building of the present church, not far from the old mass house. Being a Catholic church of the Penal Era it couldn’t be a very prominent building, nor in a very public location, so it ended up being built at the end of a lane and set back from the roadway. The section of what is today Dunbar Street from the point just beyond the church exiting on to Douglas Street didn’t exist when the South Chapel was built. People could only enter the church via Margaret Street or the main thoroughfare of George’s Quay, and something that’s as true today as it was back in the Penal Era is that if you stand on George’s Quay and look up Dunbar Street, you cannot see the South Chapel. It was originally an L-shaped church, but additions in 1809 and 1866 gave it its present cruciform shape. The church was at the centre of the push for Catholic Emancipation here in Cork, when the “Liberator” Daniel O’Connell attended two great meetings there in 1827 and 1828. One of the finest pieces of sculpture in the city forms the altar-piece of the South Chapel. It is the “Dead Christ” [see image below], created by the talented hands of John Hogan, arguably Ireland’s greatest 19th century sculptor, and placed in the church in 1832. Hogan grew up on Cove Street, a short distance from the South Chapel, where he would have attended mass.

Holy Trinity Church
This Catholic church stands on Fr Mathew Quay and is a total contrast to the nearby pre-Emancipation, or Penal-Era, South Chapel. Holy Trinity was one of the early Catholic churches to be built in the city following Catholic Emancipation. Others include St Mary’s on Pope’s Quay and St Patrick’s on Lower Glanmire Road. At the time they were built Catholic churches no longer had to be hidden away or of modest designs. Now they could be sited in prominent locations and be as tall and ornate as funding would allow. The Capuchin Order, who built Holy Trinity, were replacing their old small chapel that was hidden away on Blackamoor Lane, just to the south of Sullivan’s Quay. Although work began on the church in 1832, problems with the foundations, issues with the architect, and general slowness in raising the required funds meant that the first mass wasn’t held there until 1850. However, it would take another forty years before the portico and spire were added to the church. The church was also extended in 1908, when sixty-five feet was added to the sanctuary. Inside there are some fine examples of stained glass to be seen. The magnificent sanctuary window is a memorial to Daniel O’Connell, the only such memorial in the city, and was installed in 1850, just three years after O’Connell’s death. On the eastern nave of the church are three very impressive windows by the famous Irish stained-glass artist Harry Clarke, which were installed at different periods between 1919 and 1929. Holy Trinity Church is dedicated to the great Apostle of Temperance, and Provincial of the Capuchin Order, Fr Theobald Mathew.

The Imperial Hotel
This hotel is the oldest still operating in the city. It opened 200 years ago in 1819 as the Commercial Hotel and Tavern. The main front of the building that we see today on the South Mall was originally built in 1813 as the Commercial Buildings by a group of city businessmen known as the Committee of Merchants. They were established in 1769 to regulate the quality of various products important to the city’s trade, such as butter, tallow and hides. In 1818 they added a large tavern on Pembroke Street, to the rear of the Commercial Buildings, and the following year they added the hotel. The second proprietor of the hotel changed the original name to the Imperial Hotel when he took it over in 1825. He was followed by Agnes Cotton in 1847, who remains to this day the only female to have run the hotel, either as proprietor or manager. Her son Charles Cotton followed her as proprietor in 1868. The Cotton family were heavily involved in the hotel business, and Charles was one of the men responsible for building Dublin’s famous Shelbourne Hotel. Another man involved with him in that enterprise was William Jury, founder of the famous hotel chain, who was married to Cotton’s sister. The main entrance to the Imperial Hotel was on Pembroke Street, something that didn’t change until the mid 20th century. In 1946 a new company took over the hotel, consisting mainly of the directors of Thompson’s Bakery, and they undertook major renovations of the building. The work included extending the hotel into the vacated Commercial Buildings on the South Mall, which in 1951 became the new main entrance. Many well-known historical figures of the 19th and 20th centuries have stayed in the hotel….too many to mention here, bar these few. The pianist and composer Franz Liszt in 1840 and the writer Charles Dickens in 1858. Tragically it was where Michael Collins spent his last nights alive just before he was killed at Béal na mBláth in 1922. One of the most famous royal couples also stayed in the Imperial, when Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco stayed for a night during a trip to Ireland in June 1961. The hotel continues to be upgraded and improved under the ownership of the Flynn family, who have had it for around twenty years.

Provincial Bank
Staying on the South Mall and another of the city’s ornate buildings, this former Provincial Bank was completed in 1865 at the junction with Parnell Place, replacing an earlier and much plainer bank that stood on the site. Lots of intricate carvings and details can be seen on both sides of the building, including the coats of arms of the various places in which the Provincial Bank operated at the time. These are set into in the arches of the windows along the first floor, while high up on the parapet are carvings portraying aspects of commerce [a mill factory], industry [a beehive], agriculture [a ploughing team] and shipping [a sailing ship]. The Provincial Bank later became a branch of Allied Irish Bank, and up until recent years was the home of Thomas Crosbie Holdings. Currently it is occupied by a global events booking company called Eventbrite.

Gresham Assurance Company
This narrow quirky building is at No.5 South Mall and was constructed c.1890. It was then the home of the Gresham Assurance Company, who had designed it, replacing an earlier building belonging to the Royal Exchange Assurance Company when the latter moved out. High up on the facade is the bust of a 16th century financier called Thomas Gresham, after whom the company was named. The previous Royal Exchange building also had an interesting piece of art set in its old facade. That was a large wooden sculpture of the Roman Goddess Minerva, carved by a young man starting out back then on his artistic career, the sculptor John Hogan. Minerva was saved when the old building was being demolished in 1889 and was donated that year to the Crawford School of Art, now called the Crawford Art Gallery, where it can still be seen today.

Assembly Rooms
Still on the South Mall, No.22 is seen here peering out from between the trees. This ornate Victorian building was completed in 1861 and its origins lie in a religious controversy that occurred in the city three years previously. In 1858 a series of what were expected to be anti-Catholic lectures were due to be given in the Athenaeum, later known as the old Opera House. They were cancelled at the last minute by the Athenaeum directors, but still went ahead at the Imperial Hotel. The Protestants of Cork were so annoyed by the cancellation that they resolved to build a hall in the city that would negate the same thing happening again. The result was the Assembly Rooms, or to give it its full title, the “Protestant Hall and the City and County of Cork Assembly Rooms”. The Assembly Room itself, basically a large hall, was built well back from the street frontage, and the front of the building that we see today, which wasn’t erected until ten years after the hall opened, is all that remains of the old building. Throughout its life all sorts of events were held there, including operas, boxing matches, bird shows, concerts, and temperance meetings. It is probably best remembered though for being a cinema. Moving pictures were first shown there in 1896, and those “movies” continued to be shown in “The Assembs” until it closed in 1964. A few years later it was demolished, leaving just the street frontage to stand as a reminder of a religious controversy that led to one of the most-loved entertainment venues in Cork.

Royal Victoria Theatre
Today the home of Woodward’s Auction Rooms on Cook Street, this building was another Cork entertainment venue for a period in the 19th century. From 1838 until it closed in 1858 it was the Royal Victoria Theatre, run for most of that time by the very eccentric, and sometimes erratic, Frank “Schemer” Seymour. He got the nickname “Schemer” because of the dodges he undertook to avoid paying his debts, and in some cases this included payments to the actors who appeared at his venue. He was also suspected of having burned down his main theatrical rival and close neighbour, the Theatre Royal on George’s Street [now Oliver Plunkett Street], which we’ll look at next.

Theatre Royal
Looking at the GPO on Oliver Plunkett Street people might wonder why the different stonework in its facade. Simply put, the section with the combination of red sandstone and limestone was part of a building that stood on the site before it became Cork’s General Post Office. This was at one time the city’s premier entertainment venue, the Theatre Royal, playing host to many well-known national and international performers of the 19th century. The original Theatre Royal on the site opened in 1760 and remained in use until the fire mentioned in the previous piece. That fire destroyed the theatre in April 1840. Although there was some suspicion that the fire was started deliberately, nobody was ever held accountable for it. What remained of the building was demolished shortly afterwards and the ground was idle for the next ten years. Towards the end of 1850 a temporary wooden theatre was built on the site, which was dismantled after about six months and all the construction materials were auctioned off. A new theatre opened there in 1853, the facade of which is shown in the image above. The people of Cork were entertained there for the next twenty-two years, until it was sold to the postal authorities in 1875. Over the next two years they reconstructed the interior, and it opened in 1877 as an extension to the GPO. The GPO already existed in a building located just around the corner on Pembroke Street, so with the addition of the old theatre, it now became an L-shaped GPO. Up until around 1900 a number of small businesses occupied the corner of Pembroke and Oliver Plunkett Streets between the two sections of the GPO. They were bought out by the postal authorities who subsequently demolished them, along with the old post office building on Pembroke Street and a fine new limestone building was constructed in their place. Thankfully the old Theatre Royal facade survived this major extension of the GPO, and is still with us today.

Jewish Synagogue
For over a century this building has stood on the South Terrace, and for most of that time, indeed up until a few short years ago, it was Cork’s Synagogue, the place of worship for the city’s Jewish community. It was opened in 1915 by those Jews who arrived initially in Cork from Lithuania in 1881 and over subsequent years. However, this part of the city, and indeed the South Parish, had far longer associations with the Jewish people, as a cemetery connected with an earlier 18th century Jewish community stood just to the south of this much later building. Many Jews belonging to the second 19th century community settled in the Hibernian Road and Albert Road area, which gave rise to it being called “Jewtown”, a name still in use to this day, although there is no Jewish community there now. The community peaked at around five hundred people by the mid 20th century, but there are very few Jews living in Cork today. This led to the Synagogue closing in 2016 and the building being sold. Sadly, before that year was out, the last leader of the Jewish community in Cork, Fred Rosehill, passed away. The best-known member of the community here was Gerald Goldberg, who became Cork’s first Jewish Lord Mayor in 1977.

Cork City Fire Station
This pretty red-brick building on Sullivan’s Quay was built in 1893 as the HQ of the Cork City Fire Brigade. The brigade had been formed in 1877 and was using the site here as their base to store equipment from its earliest days. And it was then basically just a site, a large open yard behind a high wall. The firemen and their families were accommodated in two houses a little further down the quay, where the now demolished Government Buildings stood. The site itself had an interesting history for it had been earmarked at different times in the 19th century to be the location for the new Holy Trinity Church and also for the new Town Hall that was planned by the Cork Corporation in the 1850s. In order to build the Town Hall, which never happened, Cork Corporation had taken a long term lease on the site, and they still had it when the Fire Brigade was formed over two decades later. The wheels of local Government turn slowly, and it would take another sixteen years after the Brigade was formed before a proper fire station was built. It remained in use by the Fire Brigade until 1975, when a new HQ was opened on Anglesea Street. Even though it moved, Cork’s main fire station has always been in the South Parish.

Sullivan’s Quay CBS
This large rather plain building was once one of the great educational institutions in the city. Over its lifetime many thousands of boys passed through its doors. It was built by the Christian Brothers in 1828 on a section of the quayside that had only been developed a few years before. Known by most people as “Sully’s Quay”, or simply “The Quay”, the original school building had a row of five shops along the ground floor, with the classrooms above. The rental from these shops helped the Brothers to fund the school in the early decades. By the turn of the 20th century the Brothers needed more space to accommodate the boys, so the ground floor then became part of the school. With the shops gone, the newly renovated school opened in 1905. This proved not to be sufficient though and eventually some old buildings to the rear of the school, facing onto Cove Street, were purchased by the Christian Brothers. They were also helped by the Cork Corporation giving them a section of Blackamoor Lane that ran between the school building and the newly purchased properties. This allowed the Brothers to erect a new school building on Cove Street and have a large school yard for the boys. The new school, called St Nessan’s, opened in 1934. Numbers attending the school began to decline dramatically in the second half of the 20th century, falling from around five hundred in 1970 to just thirteen when the school closed in 2006. This brought an end to 178 years of education on the site. Deerpark, the secondary school that opened on the southern boundary of the South Parish in 1968, continues to educate the young men of Cork, and now, following recent changes, the young women of Cork are being educated here as well.

School of Commerce
The view from the eastern end of George’s Quay gives an interesting snapshot of the different styles of architecture as it developed from the 19th, through the 20th and into the 21st century. The magnificent 19th century Holy Trinity Church contrasts sharply with the modern design of the 21st century School of Music that follows the bend in the river at Union Quay. Sandwiched between them is this fine example of 20th century architecture, the Cork College of Commerce. Known originally as the School of Commerce, it was established in 1908 and previously occupied a building on the South Mall. Among its early teaching staff was Terence MacSwiney, who, as Lord Mayor of Cork, would die on hunger-strike in 1920. The foundation stone for the present building was laid in 1935, and it opened three years later, though the rooftop section was only added in this century. The footbridge crossing the river here is called Trinity Footbridge, but it’s better known in Cork as the “Passover Bridge”. This is due to the fact that it was opened in 1977 by our only Jewish Lord Mayor Gerald Goldberg.

South Presentation Convent and Schools
This is arguably one of the most important sites in the country in terms of educational history. It is made up of a range of buildings that date from the 18th century right up to the 21st century and it owes its origins to one of the great historical figures in Ireland, Nano Nagle [for information on Nano, go to the “People of the South Parish” link]. The education of the children of the parish first began here in 1754 and continued right up until 2006, a period of 252 years. As was the case with the nearby Sully’s Quay, South Pres had seen numbers fall dramatically over its last couple of decades, and just fifteen pupils were attending the primary school the year it closed. The secondary school had been closed much earlier, in 1997. Nano Nagle founded the Presentation Sisters here in 1775, an Order of nuns that would later open schools in many parts of the world. Just four years prior to that she had introduced the Ursuline Order of nuns to Ireland, to a convent she had built on this site. The Presentation Brothers can also trace their roots to here, when they opened the South Monastery on Douglas Street in 1827. The graves of those early Presentation and Ursuline nuns, as well as the first Presentation Brothers are all located on the grounds, including of course Nano’s recently modernised tomb. The site today includes the South Presentation Convent, a housing complex, a new school of architecture and the heritage centre called Nano Nagle Place. Having just opened in 2017, Nano Nagle Place is quickly becoming one of the must-see visitor attractions in the city, but it’s so much more than that. A wide range of events and activities take place there on a continuous basis, and the beautifully kept garden, tucked away behind tall buildings and a high wall, is one of the hidden gems of the city.