People of the South Parish, Cork

Captain Jeremiah Collins
1854 – 1939

Jeremiah Collins was born in the South Parish in March 1854. He followed his father’s path in life by choosing a career at sea. He would eventually become a Master Mariner, and was widely known thereafter as Captain Collins. A committed nationalist, he played an important role in the escape of Robert Monteith from these shores in 1916. Monteith had landed on Banna Strand, Co. Kerry, with Roger Casement, but unlike Casement, had managed to evade arrest. Captain Collins brought Monteith to his home at No.35 South Terrace, where the latter remained until Collins organised seaman’s papers for him that allowed Monteith to get to Liverpool and eventually to America. It wouldn’t be the last time Captain Collins carried out such a task. He helped many so-called “on-the-runs” to escape from the British both before and during the War of Independence. Although he supported the pro-Treaty side afterwards, he helped the anti-Treaty IRA capture a huge shipment of arms and ammunition that the British were transporting back to England in March 1922, in what became known as the Upnor Raid. He was aged 68 when he skippered the IRA’s commandeered vessel at the time of this daring raid at sea. Later in the 1920s he teamed up with the owners of the Evening Echo to bring Echo boys on excursions down the harbour in his own steamship the Aron. He also organised fun days at his then home in Monkstown, with music, games and plenty of food for boys from the Greenmount Industrial School. Captain Collins died in April 1939, having just passed his 85th birthday.
The image of Captain Jeremiah Collins above is reproduced courtesy of his great great grand daughter, Rachel Kinney Wheeler.

Michael Deering
1858 – 1901

Although born in Limerick, Michael Deering spent a lot of his adult life in Cork, where he lived in the South Parish. He worked for Arnott’s Brewery on Sharman Crawford Street, opposite St Marie’s of the Isle school. He was heavily involved in the GAA from its earliest days and in 1886 he organised one of the first inter-county competitions when he arranged for teams from Tipperary to travel to the Rebel City to play teams here. That same year Deering was one of the founding members of the Cork County Board, and for most of the 1890s he held the position of President of the Cork County Board. His leadership qualities as a GAA official were recognised nationally in 1898 when he became the fifth President of the GAA. He died at his home on Quaker Road in 1901 during his third year in that role, and is the only GAA President to die in office.

Edward Mulhare
1923 – 1997

Born in April 1923 on Quaker Road, Edward Mulhare’s family moved when he was still a baby to a terrace of houses a short distance away called Tonyville, just off High Street. Having been educated at Sully’s Quay CBS, he went on to study medicine at UCC. It was while in college that he joined a dramatic group, and he quickly caught the acting bug. He then joined the Little Theatre Society in the city, making his acting debut at the old Opera House at the age of 19. By the late 1940s he was working on the stage in England, appearing in a number of London venues before becoming leading man with the Liverpool Repertory Company. His career progressed on an upward spiral and he was soon holding his own alongside such great actors as Orson Welles, Peter Finch and John Gielgud. He had moved to America by 1957 to take the lead role in the Broadway hit “My Fair Lady”, and this brought far greater opportunities for his talents. He soon began to appear in a variety of TV series and made a number of films also. He’s probably best remembered by different generations for his roles in two different series. In the late 1960s he played one of the lead roles in the TV series “The Ghost and Mrs Muir”, and in the 1980s he was one of the stars of the iconic TV series “Knight Rider”. Mulhare continued to act until shortly before he died. The last film he made was a comedy called “Out to Sea”, which was released after his death in 1997. Although he had been working abroad for most of his life, he never forgot his Cork roots and made frequent visits home to his family. Having had a career spanning six decades, he could fairly be described as one of Cork’s greatest actors.
The image of Edward Mulhare above is reproduced courtesy of his niece Paula Mulhare.

Liam Ruiséal
1891 – 1978

Liam Ruiséal was born on White Street in November 1891. His name is synonymous with books and the book-selling trade in Cork, and it was sad to see the bookshop close in 2018 after many decades of trading in the city. His connections to the trade began as a teenager when he started working for a local bookseller in 1907. In his youth he was a member of the Gaelic League and the Irish Volunteers, and attended the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa in 1915 along with his Cork comrades in the Volunteers. In 1916 he opened his first bookshop on the Grand Parade, the Fountain Bookshop, also called An Siopa Gaelach. He was elected to the Republican-dominated City Council in January 1920, which saw its first two Lord Mayors dead before the year was out. Tomás MacCurtain was killed at his home in Blackpool, while Terence MacSwiney died on hunger-strike in an English prison. Ruiséal was also heavily involved in the Legion of Mary and played a major part in the purchasing of the old City Club House on Grand Parade for the Legion in 1952. He closed his business on the Grand Parade in 1926 to manage another bookshop on Cook Street. Three years later though he was his own boss again when he opened a new bookshop on Oliver Plunkett Street in 1929. For almost the next ninety years that shop would remain on the street, selling books to generations of Corkonians. Liam Ruiséal died at his home on the Western Road in 1978.
The image of Liam Ruiséal above is from a Cork Examiner article published in 1977 celebrating his 70 years in the book-selling business.

Bishop Thomas O’Callaghan
1839 – 1916

Born in the South Parish in 1839, Thomas O’Callaghan was ordained into the Dominican Order in 1863, before becoming the Bishop of Cork in 1886. He was highly educated and was a teacher of philosophy. His years as a priest saw him attached to a number of parishes, both here in Ireland and in Italy, where he had been ordained. He spent two different periods in Cork. The first was for three years in the early 1870s at St Mary’s on Pope’s Quay. He contracted smallpox at that time during an outbreak of the disease in the city, and was fortunate to survive. In 1884, while he was Prior of San Clemente in Rome, he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Cork, the chosen successor to the See of Cork. The incumbent, Bishop William Delany, was far from happy, as he had his own preference as to who should eventually succeed him. Over the next two years, when Bishop Delany died, he did little to make Thomas O’Callaghan feel welcome in Cork. His installation as Bishop of Cork took place in December 1886, a position he held until his own death in June 1916. He is the only Bishop of Cork to be buried in St Joseph’s Cemetery in Turner’s Cross.

John Hogan
1800 – 1858

Born in Waterford in 1800, John Hogan spent his formative years in the South Parish, in a house that stood on Cove Street. His father was in the building trade and the family moved to Cork shortly after Hogan was born. As a youngster he was keen on architectural drawing and carving, and his talents became known to one of the city’s great architects Thomas Deane, when the latter was working on the new City Jail on Sunday’s Well. This was the beginning of Hogan’s life as a sculptor. He began to carve ornamental features for some of the buildings designed by Deane, including the two owls on the old Cork Library doorway that can still be seen on Pembroke Street today. In 1822 Bishop John Murphy commissioned him to carve twenty-seven saints in wood for the North Cathedral. Money was later raised to allow Hogan to travel to Italy, where he lived from 1824 to 1849, creating some of his greatest works. One of his most important commissions was the marble statue of Daniel O’Connell for Dublin’s City Hall. Another O’Connell statue in bronze by Hogan stands in Limerick City. Many of his pieces can be seen here in Cork, including around two dozen pieces in the Crawford Art Gallery, and in churches like the North Cathedral, South Chapel, St Michal’s C. of I. Blackrock, St John the Baptist in Kinsale and St Joseph’s in Glanmire. He was commissioned in 1857 to create the Fr Mathew statue for Cork, but died before the work was carried out. He passed away at his home in Dublin in March 1858 and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. The street where his home stood was later renamed Hogan Place. He is recognised as one of Ireland’s greatest 19th century sculptors.
The portrait of John Hogan above is in the collections of the National Gallery of Ireland.

Fr Theobald Mathew
1790 – 1856

Although born in Tipperary and initially based in Kilkenny after his ordination into the Capuchin Order in 1813, Fr Mathew is most closely associated with Cork, his home for more than forty years. He came to serve the people of Cork in 1814, to the then small Capuchin chapel on Blackamoor Lane, tucked away just to the south of Sullivan’s Quay. He quickly made a strong impression on his new flock and on his fellow Capuchins, so much so that in 1822 he became Provincial of the Irish Capuchins, a position he held for the next thirty years. Following the arrival of Catholic Emancipation in 1829, it allowed for greater scope in the siting and designing of new Catholic churches. The Capuchin Holy Trinity Church, also called the Fr Mathew Memorial Church, was the result of this new found freedom. Even before the foundation stone of Holy Trinity had been laid, in 1830 Fr Mathew opened St Joseph’s Cemetery on Tory Top Road. He is best known for his involvement in the crusade against intemperance, when he founded the Cork Total Abstinence Society in 1838. In the years that followed, he travelled the length and breadth of the country administering the pledge to hundreds of thousands of people. He did likewise during trips to England, and during a long spell in America. At the height of the Great Famine in 1847 Fr Mathew’s soup kitchen on Barrack Street was feeding up to six thousand people per week. His time spent in America from 1849 to 1851 promoting temperance took a heavy toll on his health, and he was never the same after his return home. A number of months in the Portuguese island of Madeira between 1854 and 1855 saw him improve slightly, but by the following year he was once again in decline. The last few months of his life were spent in Queenstown, today Cobh, where he died in December 1856. His funeral to St Joseph’s Cemetery was one of the largest ever witnessed in Cork, and his statue has stood proudly on Patrick Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, since 1864.

Nano Nagle
1718 – 1784

In terms of nationally important historical figures, it would be hard to match the achievements of Nano Nagle. Born near Mallow in 1718 into a well-to-do family, she would make her name among the poor of the city for the betterment of Irish society. She was educated in Belgium and lived in Paris for a period before returning to Ireland to live in Dublin after the death of her father in 1746. By 1754 though she was living in Cork, with her brother and his family on Cove Lane, today called Douglas Street. Being very much aware of the importance education played in people’s lives, and seeing the plight of the very poor children in the locality where she was living, she began to teach young girls in a little mud cabin on Cove Lane. In doing so, she was acting against the anti-Catholic Penal Laws in Ireland at that time, one of which was that Catholics, as she was, could not set up schools. Nano was a determined woman however, and she carried on with her endeavours by beginning to teach young boys also. Drawing other like-minded women to her, she continued to expand, and by 1769 she had seven schools operating in various parts of the city. In 1771 Nano opened her first convent on Cove Lane, which became home to Ursuline nuns, the first Ursuline convent in Ireland. A few years later she opened a second convent, and that became home to an Order of nuns founded by Nano herself, the Presentation Sisters. In later decades Presentation convents would expand into towns and cities, not just across Ireland, but around the world, and all from the humble beginnings of Nano’s original foundation on Cove Lane. She died in her convent there in April 1784 and was buried in the little cemetery on the grounds. The legacy she left behind saw her being voted “Ireland’s Greatest Person” in 2002 and “Ireland’s Greatest Woman” in 2005 in two national media polls. Even today, more than two centuries after her death, her grave on Douglas Street continues to attract people from all corners of the globe.

Rev. Augustine Maguire
1823 – 1899

Born in the South Parish in August 1823, Augustine Maguire was the younger brother of John Francis Maguire, who among other businesses he was involved in, founded the Cork Examiner newspaper in 1841. He was ordained in 1846 and was chaplain to the old Mercy Convent on Rutland Street, as well as the Cork Workhouse. The scenes he witnessed there would stay with him for the rest of his life. For much of his time as a priest he was based in St Peter and Paul’s Parish. Towards the end of the Crimean War, in November 1855 he went to serve as a chaplain to the Irish troops there, and was fortunate to escape death shortly after his arrival in the Crimea when he was almost drowned in a boat accident. In 1874 he was appointed Parish Priest of Ballincollig, where he was promoted to Canon, and remained until 1890. In that year he was moved to his home parish of St Finbarr’s South by Bishop Thomas O’Callaghan. During his years as P.P. of the South Parish Canon Maguire became Monsignor Maguire, and was also made President of the Cork Catholic Young Men’s Society. He celebrated his the Golden Jubilee of his ordination in 1896. In October 1899 he travelled to London for an operation but never fully recovered from it and he passed away there the following month. His body was later brought back to Cork for burial in the family grave in St Joseph’s Cemetery.

Mary Aikenhead
1787 – 1858

Mary was born on Daunt’s Square in January 1787 and was baptised in St Anne’s Shandon into the Anglican faith. Her father David was a Protestant and her mother Mary [Stacpole] was a Catholic. The family moved to a large house on Rutland Street in 1798, when Mary was aged 12. Being very much influenced by her mother’s side of the family, and also by her father’s conversion on his death bed in 1801, Mary converted to Catholicism the following year. She was deeply affected by the plight of the poor and when asked in 1811 to set up a new religious Order to visit the poor in their homes she agreed. Mary spent three years in England undertaking her novitiate, returning to Ireland in 1815, where she began her work as head of the newly formed Sisters of Charity in a convent on North William Street, Dublin. She would open her first convent in Cork in 1826 in a tumble-down building on the northside of the city, which was replaced in 1844 by St Vincent’s Convent. Her Sisters were the first Catholic nuns to staff a hospital in the English-speaking world when St Vincent’s Hospital opened its doors in Dublin in 1834. A few years prior to that Mary had been invalided through inflammation of the spine, but continued to lead the Order, despite her pain and discomfort, up until a short time before her death. She passed away in July 1858 at Harold’s Cross, Dublin.

Jerome Collins
1841 – 1881

Jerome Collins was born in a house located just beyond the South Infirmary Hospital on what’s today the Old Blackrock Road. Though it would later become part of the new parish of Blackrock, at the time of Collins’ birth it was in the South Parish. He worked as an engineer for the Cork Town Council, now the City Council, in the office of the City Engineer Sir John Benson. Among the projects he was involved with was the building of the new metal North Gate Bridge, completed in 1864. Collins acted as Clerk of Works during its construction, and it served the people of Cork until it was replaced in the early 1960s. He then moved to England and involved himself in Fenian activities there, attempting to organise a mass break-out of IRB prisoners from Pentonville Prison, where he was employed at the time on the building of a new prison wing. He went to America in 1866 and the following year founded an organisation in New York that would later become known as Clan na Gael, the most important Irish revolutionary movement in the States. It would be a thorn in the side of the British Establishment for many years as it strove for Irish independence through force of arms. Collins worked for the New York Herald newspaper as their Clerk of the Weather, sending storm warnings across the Atlantic to this part of the world. This led to him becoming part of an Arctic Expedition that was funded by the owner of the newspaper. The “Jeannette Expedition”, as it was known, left San Francisco in 1879, but only thirteen of the crew of thirty-three would ever return to America alive. The rest, including Jerome Collins, perished on the ill-fated expedition. Collins’ body was returned to Ireland in 1884 for burial in the family grave at Curraghkippane Cemetery. His body was brought from where he had died in Northern Siberia, overland through Russia and by sea to America, and then back eastwards across the Atlantic to Cork. The journey took a year to complete, and the body of Jerome Collins travelled a distance of around 14,500 miles to its final resting place. His funeral is known today as “The Longest Funeral in the World”.

Jackie Morley
1934 – 2013
In his teens, Jackie, originally from Evergreen Street, played soccer with Ballyphehane Utd and GAA with Redmonds. Having grown up in an area that produced Irish internationals Peter Desmond, Tommy Moroney and Owen Madden, Jackie, not surprisingly, preferred soccer, and was signed by Evergreen Utd in 1954. Within twelve months he was transferred to West Ham Utd and spent three seasons at Upton Park. League of Ireland newcomers Cork Hibs won the race for his signature when snapping him up on his return home in 1958. Under his captaincy Hibs soon became a force to be reckoned with and the Mardyke venue became a fortress dreaded by visiting teams. He had the honour of representing the League of Ireland on six occasions including prestigious crowd pulling matches against the English and Scottish Leagues. Jackie led Hibs to two FAI Cup finals in 1960 and 1963 when they were conquered by the star studded Shelbourne. He transferred to Waterford in 1967 and within the space of five seasons had collected four League Championship medals with the glorious Blues. The only award missing from his trophy cabinet was an FAI Cup winners medal. With the Blues Jackie got to play in the European Cup (Champions League) against Man Utd and Galatasaray. After his retirement from League football Jackie played with Examiner Utd in the AUL and was joint manager of the AUL Youth Inter League side which reached the final of the National Inter League. A year later in 1973-74 he was appointed player manager of Rockmount and was chosen on the Cork AUL Oscar Traynor team. In 1979 he declined an offer to return to the League of Ireland as manager of Cork Utd preferring instead to continue coaching in youth football. In the early nineties he was one of the leading personalities linked with the proposed formation of a new League of Ireland team. In 1999, in recognition of his immense contribution to soccer, Jack was honoured in his home town when inducted into the Cork Soccer Hall of Fame. His wife, Joan, is a former camogie player while children Pat, Dave and Sheena have all represented Cork. Sheena followed in her mother’s footsteps while Pat, an Inter League player like his dad, ended his career as second highest goal scorer (182 goals) in the history of Irish soccer. His contribution to the game in Cork should never be underestimated, and is something for which he will long be remembered.
My thanks to Plunkett Carter for the image and information in this section.

Daniel Florence O’Leary
c.1801 – 1854
Daniel Florence O’Leary was born on Barrack Street around 1801, the son of a Butter Merchant named Jeremiah O’Leary. He received his early education at an academy located on Mary Street, where the family moved to in 1812. Five years later the teenage O’Leary left Cork for London. At that time men were being recruited there to fight for Simon Bolivar’s independence campaign in South America. O’Leary joined the Red Huzzars and sailed for Venezuela in December 1817. Over the next few years he took part in many of the major battles of the campaign, and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a General just over a decade after his arrival in South America. He also became quite close to Simon Bolivar, acting as his aide-de camp, and in 1828 married one of Bolivar’s nieces, Soledad Soublette. The couple would go on to have nine children. Following his retirement from the military, O’Leary took up a diplomatic role and visited a number of European cities in 1834 as part of a Venezuelan delegation. During that period he returned to Cork for the first time since he left these shores in 1817. Having made his name as a fine soldier and diplomat in South America, Daniel Florence O’Leary passed away in Venezuela in 1854 and was buried with full military honours in Bogota. In 1882 his remains were reinterred in the National Pantheon in Caracas alongside his great friend, the Liberator, Simon Bolivar. O’Leary left behind an extensive collection of manuscripts recording his time in South America, which were collated and edited by his son Simon Bolivar O’Leary, and published in 32 volumes as “Memorias del General O’Leary”, a copy of which resides in UCC. A bust of Daniel Florence O’Leary can be seen today in Fitzgerald Park, and a commemorative plaque is located in Elizabeth Fort, close to where O’Leary came into the world on Barrack Street.