Heritage Cycles


From June to October 2018, the Cork Cycling Campaign led a series of Heritage Cycles thanks to the generous support of Cork City Council’s 2018 Heritage Grant Scheme and the 2015-2020 Heritage Plan.  Many thanks to Electric for their generous support as cycling can be hungry work!

These cycles highlighted key aspects of Cork City’s built and cultural heritage while also promoting cycling as a viable – and enjoyable! – way to explore the city.  The cycles explored Cork’s maritime heritage as part of the Ocean to City Race during the Cork Harbour Festival (2 June 2018), Cork’s multifaceted involvement in World War I (14 June 2018), the city’s often overlooked connection with Napoleon (16 July), an immigrant’s-eye view of some favourite heritage sites (22 August), and a nature and beautification cycle during Urban October (20 October).

Some highlights and photos from each cycle are below.

Ocean to City (Harbour Festival), 2 June 2018


Starting at Lapp’s Quay we cycled along the Marina – with a short stop at Blackrock Castle – and out to Passage West to watch the first boats in the Ocean to City Race as they sailed into Cork City.  After a picnic lunch and some relaxing boat spotting — currachs, stand-up paddleboards, etc. — we cycled alongside the competitors joining them at the finish line at Lapp’s Quay.

World War I Cork (Bike Week), 14 June 2018

Meeting at the World War I Memorial on South Mall, we cycled to the Imperial Hotel (which housed family members of the victims of the Lusitania), Magnan’s Clock on Patrick Street (formerly in front of the British recruiting office in Cork and site of multiple draft riots), the Volunteer’s Hall on Shear’s Street (where the Cork IRA were barricaded in during the Rising and which was shortly thereafter ordered to close) and the Bodega (a munitions factory during the war).  Dr John Borgonovo, an expert on World War I Cork and author of The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918, joined and regaled us with stories of draft riots, pro-British parades (and their counterprotesters), funeral processions (that often became protest marches), and even some of Cork’s youngest rabble rousers.

Our last stop was the World War I memorial on South Mall (interesting in that it was funding by subscriptions from World War I veterans, rather than the British Foreign Legion, and which states that the Irish soldiers in World War I fought for “the freedom of small nations.”  We ended the night at the Electric for more stories of Cork’s history as well as discussion of how to improve and promote cycling in the city.

Napoleon in Cork (Cork Cycling Festival), 16 July 2018


Adam D’Arcy led a cycling tour of Cork city on the theme of ‘Napoleon in Cork’ as part of the Cork Cycling Festival.  The tour started at the Fountain on Grand Parade with the first stop nearby at the site of the former equestrian Statue of George the Second. This was an opportunity to discuss Napoleon’s horse Marengo and  the rival claims of two north Cork villages, Buttevant and Bartlemy, as the original sellers of Marengo at their horse fairs. We then proceeded to Parnell Place where a stone street name survives embedded into the facade of a corner building which reads ‘Nelson’s Quay’ named after the famous British Admiral.
Next stop was the Fionnbarra rowing boat (which was away on tour) which is normally moored outside the Clayton hotel and the history of the boat was recounted.  We next met Cllr. Kieran McCarthy outside City Hall who was able to tell us about the social and economic history of Cork at the time of the Napoleonic Wars.  The last leg of the tour brought us up St. Patrick’s hill to wonderful views of the city and onto Collins Barracks which was the main British Army barracks in Cork city at the time and from where Wellington left for Spain in 1808.

New Voices in an Old City (Heritage Week), 22 August 2018


Meeting at Berwick Fountain (itself and interesting piece of Cork’s built heritage) the cycle visited some of the favourite heritage sites of the two leaders – Maria José Rivas and Sarah Thelen – both of whom are (comparatively) recent arrivals in Cork (Maria from Paraguy and Sarah from the United States).  The tour visited St Peters Market (now the Old Town Whiskey Bar), Elizabeth Fort, Nano Nagle Place, and Red Abbey.

Nature Cycle (Urban October), 20 October 2018

Together with Mad About Cork, Conn O’Donovan led a nature cycle through the Marina and Old Railway Line in Blackrock to explore the city’s natural heritage.  In addition, participants brought bulbs to plant along the way so as to contribute to the city’s natural beauty for years to come.

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