Cork City Council Archaeological Publications


Launch of Archaeological Excavations at South Main Street Cork 2003-2005

The Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr. Kenneth O’ Flynn officially launched the publication Archaeological Excavations at South Main Street 2003-2005 on 26th August 2014 in the Council Chambers, City Hall, Cork.

Archaeological Excavations at South Main Street 2003-2005 is the eighth book on the archaeology and history of Cork to be published by Cork City Council. This publication outlines the results of two large-scale excavations, which took place at 36-39 and 40-48 South Main Street. Both sites are located in close proximity to the South Gate Bridge, one of the main entrances to the medieval walled city of Cork. The results of the excavations are significant, as they have added to our knowledge of the formation and development of Cork City.

The excavations were carried out as a condition of planning permission with the financial support of the owners and developers of the sites, Mr. Paul Kenny of Kenny Homes Ltd and also Mr. Michael Conway and Mr. Michael Cronin of Frinailla Developments. The excavations were undertaken by Sheila Lane and Associates and the Department of Archaeology, UCC. Cork City Council, through the Cork City Heritage Plan 2009-2012, proposed an action to disseminate information on these significant archaeological excavations.

With the financial support of the Heritage Council and in partnership with the Department of Archaeology, Cork City Council, through the City Archaeologist, undertook to publish the reports.

Cork City Council and the Department of Archaeology, University College Cork have an exemplary record of collaboration and this book shows what can be achieved by pooling resources, experience and expertise.

The Heritage Council, through funding and support of this publication, has helped in positioning Cork City as a leader in the field of urban excavation publication. Mr. Conor Newman, Chairman of the Heritage Council was also in attendance at the launch.

This publication greatly demonstrates why we need to protect and record our archaeological heritage, but most importantly why it is incumbent on all those involved to make the information publicly accessible. It is co-edited by Dr. Maurice F. Hurley and Ciara Brett, City Archaeologist Cork City Council.

The publication is available directly from the City Archaeologist, Ciara Brett (, 021-4924705) and is also available in Liam Ruiseal's Bookshop.

 Launch of Archaeological Excavations at South Main Street 2003-2005

 Left to Right: Prof. William O'Brien, UCC; Ciara Brett, City Archaeologist; Dr. Maurice F.Hurley; Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr O'Flynn; Conor Newman, The Heritage Council & Patrick Ledwidge, Director of Services, Strategic Planning & Economic Development.


Preserving Our Past to Enrich Our Future - - A Guide to Archaeological Considerations in the Planning Process

Cork City Council’s Planning and Development Directorate have recently published A Guide to Archaeological Considerations in the Planning Process.

This guide has been produced to provide assistance and practical information to developers, property owners, planning consultants, architects, engineers and archaeological consultants. It details the role of archaeology in the planning process while also briefly outlining the archaeology of the city.

Cork City is one of the oldest cities in Ireland and has a rich archaeological heritage. Only through an understanding of the past, obtained from the study of archaeology, can the factors which have influenced the shape of the city be appreciated.

Archaeology in its various forms, ranging from fragmentary buried remains to the fabric and contents of domestic and industrial buildings, is a vital component of the character and culture of the city. As these remains are fragile and vulnerable in the face of current development methods and proposals it is essential that they are properly safe-guarded and managed.

Old Blackpool-An Historic Cork Suburb

In 2000 an integrated study of the Blackpool area was undertaken by the archaeology section of Cork City Council. The discrete studies that make up this book provide an overview of the archaeological and social history of Blackpool.

The Blackpool Valley is an area of industrial archaeological importance. During the 18th century the area developed as an industrial suburb of Cork City with its many streams enabling the development of water powered factories. Its industries included tanning, distilling and various elements of the textile industry. This book details the importance of the industrial heritage of Blackpool while also recognising the social and cultural aspects which were linked to the various industries and the development of the area.

In recent years the physical environment of Blackpool has changed with the construction of the Blackpool Bypass. Now that Blackpool has been saved from the stranglehold of traffic gridlock it is free to move forward in a new era of growth and development. A knowledge of the unique history and traditions of Blackpool is essential in order to facilitate the sustainable development of the area. This publication provides us with a clearer understanding of the origins and identity of Blackpool.

Cork City Council is committed to promoting and protecting the archaeological heritage of Cork City and is delighted to produce this interesting and worthwhile book. This publication was funded by the Heritage Council, under the Archaeology Grant Scheme and Cork City Council’s Roads and Transportation Directorate, under the European Regional Development Fund. 

Excavations in Cork City 1984-2000

This book presents the results of thirteen excavations carried out in Cork City over a sixteen – year period from 1984-2000. The sites vary from relatively small-scale excavations to larger sites and each provides a link in the interpretation of the origin and development of the City. In future years, further work in Cork City may allow for different interpretations and the factual record of the sites in this book may be used to build a more complete picture of the past.

These excavations provide the information for a thematic discussion on the elements of the City including housing, the City Wall, infrastructure and laneways. All excavations in Cork produce a multitude of finds and an overview of the material culture gives an insight into the economy, society, trade patterns and urban life from the twelfth century to the post-medieval period.

The Laneways of Medieval Cork by Gina Johnson

The medieval lanes of North Main Street were identified and demarcated as part of the refurbishment of the historic core of Cork. This study was undertaken to identify their positions, names and associations. Archaeological, cartographic and historic research were combined to create an understanding of the current form of the old city.

A Guide to Cork City’s Historic Plaques and Signs

In 2002 Cork City Council undertook a study of the historic plaques in the city. A preliminary list of plaques was compiled from documentary sources and from existing lists held by Cork Public Museum. A street survey was then carried out to record the known examples and to identify previously unrecorded plaques.  

A Guide to Cork City’s Historic Plaques and Signs, which was edited by Ciara Brett, Executive Archaeologist and Niamh Twomey, Heritage Officer, highlights a selection of the plaques that were recorded in the study.  

The plaques highlighted in this book emphasis the diversity and range of Cork City’s Heritage. Some of the plaques demonstrate the wide ranging contributions made by extraordinary people such as Frank O’Connor and Father Mathew. Others commemorate historic events such as the meeting of the newly formed GAA. The miscellaneous section illustrates a number of signs that are visible on many buildings in the city but are often over-looked such as benchmarks and firecall signs.  

Excavations at the North Gate Cork 1994 by Maurice F. Hurley

North Gate was one of the two principal gateways to the medieval walled city of Cork; it has always been the main point of entry from the north. A bridge spanned the North Channel of the River Lee since medieval times and its existence was crucial to the development of the linear main street. The city walls and gateway were altered and replaced periodically over 500 years. Street-fronting houses were replaced more frequently and alleyways were regularly relocated. Water powered metalworking industry flourished during the late 13th/14th century in conjunction with bake ovens in the backyards.

The excavation was undertaken in 1994 as one of Cork Corporations’ EU assisted Urban Pilot Projects. In addition to the necessary excavation of the site in advance of re-development, the project aims included raising public awareness of Cork’s heritage and demonstration of the excavation process. Of particular importance was the organisation of guided tours to school groups and impromptu presentation of tours and leaflets to interested passers-by.

Skiddy’s Castle and Christ Church Cork Excavations 1974-77

In 1974 when urban archaeology was in its infancy in Ireland, the spectacular success of the Dublin excavations encouraged the late Professor M.J. O’ Kelly of the Department of Archaeology, University College Cork, to organise a series of excavations in Cork City. Aided by grants from the National Committee for Archaeology of the Royal Irish Academy, excavations were undertaken by the late Dermot Twohig on vacant grounds at two sites – Skiddy’s Castle, North Main Street, and Christ Church College, South Main Street. The excavation took place over a four-year period. The extent of the surviving remains, the depth and complexity of the stratigraphy, as well as the remarkable preservation of organic material such as wood, bone and leather, took everybody by surprise. The ground contained evidence for over 800 years of Cork’s history and development.

Since 1977 many more excavations have taken place in Cork City and the Skiddy’s Castle and Christ Church archive has contributed enormously to the understanding of Cork’s development. With this publication all the information now becomes available to the wider academic community and to the general public.