Eureka... readers helped solve our Throwback Thursday mystery

We asked... and you delivered! JO KERRIGAN clears up the riddle of the Cork city horse trough location, plus more of your memories of roads around the city
Eureka... readers helped solve our Throwback Thursday mystery

Horse drinking from trough in Cork city in the 1920's old black and white

WELL, you are a lot of street experts out there, aren’t you?

We had plenty of responses to our mystery photo query last week, and all were unanimous in identifying it as Alfred Street.

Not Albert Street, Alfred Street - splitting off from the Lower Road a little way beyond the junction with Summerhill North.

We showed a photo of a horse trough in Cork city in the 1920s, and asked if readers could identify where it was taken, in last week's Throwback Thursday.

West Cork Railway (Albert Quay) Station in February, 1968. Des Barry remembers the sound of steam trains here, not far from Alfred Street, the spot where the horse trough stood
West Cork Railway (Albert Quay) Station in February, 1968. Des Barry remembers the sound of steam trains here, not far from Alfred Street, the spot where the horse trough stood

John O’Regan was one of the first to respond.

“I believe it was on Alfred Street. When I look at the photo it reminds me of that street, because the railway was at the end of the road, and that was where the horse carts were loaded for delivery by CIE in the ’50s and ’60s.”

John well remembers the horse-drawn carts and drays coming from the CIE depot, as, he says, he used to spend a lot of time around the docks and railway when he was very young.

“I can still remember The Whistler on his cart (Micky Halloran, I think his name was.) You could also see him at Kellehers at the bottom of Barrack Street on occasions. He would whistle all day long as he drove around, as happy as the day was long.”

Yes, people used to whistle and even sing in the streets back then, and nobody thought it odd. Why don’t we do it any more?

(Perhaps because, increasingly, younger people have their ears shut off by headphones and are listening to something completely alien to the sounds and life of the Cork streets. Is that sad or what?)

John adds: “I would also spend my time back then collecting scrap or dropped coal in the docks, and selling it on. 

"We had nothing, but everyone seemed happier in those days somehow. Thank God I still have the memories!”

And we are thankful too, John. We will have to hear more about that opportunistic coal- collecting.

Matthew O’Sullivan writes to say that he read last week’s Throwback Thursday, as always, with great interest.

“You raise the question about the location of a particular horse trough. I believe the photo may have been of the Glanmire Road trough, with a modern picture shown and mentioned in your column.

“The photo, I think, shows Alfred Street opposite St Patrick’s Church.”

Matthew, like several other readers, made use of the modern, technological version of the classic Ordnance Survey sheets - Google Maps - and observed: “The shape and colour of the windows and brickwork of the building on the left are very similar, but appear to be of a newer vintage than in the original 1920s photo.

“I have no expertise in the area, but this building may have been demolished and rebuilt with the lower floors having the same frontage as the original?”

Mr O’Sullivan also harks back to a discussion of Hang Dog Road in a previous Throwback Thursday, and refers to an OS map of the city around 1950. Hangdog Road is shown there, so it would appear that this road name was ‘official’ and not a local ‘nickname’. It seems to apply only to the section from Togher Road to where the Togher Garda Station is now located. It’s not clear from the map if the continuing road over to the junction of Kinsale Road had the same road name.”

Having been born in the late 1940s in Glasheen, which was then in Cork County, says Matthew, he hadn’t realised how ‘rural’ / not built-up the whole area was at the time.

“Looking back, there is no comparison to the Ballyphehane/Togher/Glasheen area, as it is now.” 

Indeed, sometimes it is difficult to notice the gradual encroachment of buildings and city life on former quiet country lanes - can anybody remember Carr’s Hill when it was a wonderful leafy climb on your bike, before free-wheeling all the way down towards the little village of Carrigaline? 

"Now, you have to hunt for Carr’s Hill, bypassed as it is by a major routeway, and as for the little village of Carrigaline - well, good luck if you’re trying to get through there at a busy time of day. It’s a city in itself now.

Perhaps the biggest shock comes to those who revisit the Cork of their youth after a long absence. One woman told us of her confusion and disbelief at finding the original street- and road-scape entirely changed.

“I found myself on this huge motorway thing, circling the city on the outside, and had no idea at all where I was going!

“I grew up with going from northside to southside, over bridges, turning left or right, and eventually reaching the country roads. Now I was being whisked to Heaven knows where!”

Matthew also mentions that he remembers some of our other correspondents from days of yore.

“Mike English, Ernie Nelson, etc. Hi out there, guys! And I still have a stamp collection from the 1950s. Many of the stamps were purchased in the Book Mart on Washington Street - a place I’m sure you knew well.”

Can’t deny that, Matthew! I honed my love of reading on a steep ladder in the back section of that shop, where the children’s books were, and where I first discovered a wartime edition of The Hobbit (have it still).

And, as Mr O’Sullivan concludes: “Cork was a small place back in the day...”

Owen Kelly got in touch to say that he thinks we identified the correct trough as being on the Lower Road area, “but it’s likely moved back a little bit from its original position when Ship Street was altered down through the years”.

Owen added: “The angle of your photo appears to be the opposite of the angle of the original. If you turn 180 degrees around on Google Maps, the buildings on the left still exist on Albert Street, albeit in modern form, and probably had their facades reconstructed to retain the features of the originals, but there are minor changes.

“It looks like one of the chimneys in Google Maps still exists before the hotel construction took place.”

Isn’t it fascinating how just one picture can raise so many details and facts - like Ship Street being altered and the trough being moved slightly?

Paul Healy confirms that the horse is drinking on Alfred Street, “at the back of the now Driving Theory Test Centre”. He suggests that we should focus on the red building only, “as it has been built onto since the 1920s. And yes, you can still see one of the old chimneys/poles? in the distance.”

Mick, from Ballyvolane, says the original picture was taken on the Lower Road across from the Unity Garage, outside McLoughans.

“The chimney in the background is from a laundry that was based where Chris O’Mahony’s Volkwagen garage was located. The houses on the right were demolished and replaced by a warehouse, which is now Penrose Wharf. The rail line would have been where the van is parked.”

Alfred Street it is, then, and heartfelt thanks to everybody who took the trouble to contact us with such lovely details and information.

Elephants for Duffy’s Circus at Penrose Quay, Cork, after their arrival on the Innisfallen in 1931
Elephants for Duffy’s Circus at Penrose Quay, Cork, after their arrival on the Innisfallen in 1931

Somebody with good cause to know that thoroughfare intimately is Des Barry, former champion photographer with this paper and our sister publication, the Examiner.

“I know that street so well. My grandfather, Jack Crowley, was in charge of the stables down at the end, belonging to the City of Cork Steam Packet Company. His house was part of that whole stabling complex and he lived there. He looked after all those huge Clydesdales that drew the drays, saw to their feeding and watering and grooming, and general care.

“My mother would bring me down there to see him. I remember walking down from Mayfield, down Summerhill, and across by the Coliseum to Alfred Street, when a very little boy, holding Mum’s hand all the way.

“My grandfather spoiled me - he would take me into Aherne’s pub down at the bottom of the street and buy me a red lemonade. I can remember, as a little three-year-old boy, how the bubbles went up my nose and made me sneeze, and my grandfather laughing…”

Des pauses, seeing in his mind’s eye a scene from so long ago, yet still so vivid.

The stables, he reveals interestingly, were also used for transferring cattle to the boat for their onward journey to the UK.

“I remember seeing them being driven in, and then they would be hoisted on to the Innisfallen one by one by a net hoist, just like the ones they used for taking cars off that had crossed from Wales.”

Oh Innisfallen, Innisfallen, we grieve for you yet!

Our great link with the outer world, on which so many embarked, and from which so many came back on visits or to spend the summer with friends and family in a quieter, more peaceful world than the one to which they had gone.

Bring back the Innisfallen, we say!

Des’s grandfather had four daughters, “and while my mother got married and had me, and my brother, the other three daughters entered the Poor Clares. Often times, when one of us was being a bit difficult or mischievous, my mother would say feelingly, ‘Oh if only I’d joined the Poor Clares...’ I don’t think she really meant it. Or did she?!”

Des remembers vividly that legendary visit by President Kennedy back in the 1960s.

“We stood on Summerhill and waved as his cavalcade drove by. The whole city was out that day, and a good bit of the county too came in to witness the great event.”

But, in even earlier years, Des can still remember the sound of the steam trains crossing from Glanmire Station to Albert Quay Station, along the Lower Road, through the cutting that is now a walkway, and over Brian Boru Bridge.

West Cork Railway (Albert Quay) Station in February, 1968. Des Barry remembers the sound of steam trains here, not far from Alfred Street, the spot where the horse trough stood
West Cork Railway (Albert Quay) Station in February, 1968. Des Barry remembers the sound of steam trains here, not far from Alfred Street, the spot where the horse trough stood

“The whistle and bells of the train, the clip clop of those horses drawing the drays, it was all part of Cork life back then.”

And, of course, using horses for so many purposes meant you also required regular supplies of hay, oats, straw, and of course water.

And that’s another thing. How were those legendary water troughs kept refilled with fresh water, so that the next equine along could be sure of drinking his fill after a long, hard pull along the quays?

If you can contribute anything on this topic, or indeed have any other childhood memories of growing up in Cork to share, email or leave a comment on our Facebook page:

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more