Architecture in Cork City

Layout and Development of the City

The centre of Cork city is built on marshy islands in the tidal estuary of the river Lee. Channels of the river originally separated these islands, and some of these channels were spanned in the eighteenth century to form the principal streets of Cork city centre. Among these is Saint Patrick's Street: the position and general shape of the street is clearly visible in the very first plan of Cork city, dating from circa 1545.

Following the Siege of Cork in 1690 and the partial destruction of the mediaeval city walls, the city expanded in the area outside the old walled city. Maps from 1690 and 1714 show some structures on the island on the northern side of the present St. Patrick's Street and a bowling green to the south. By 1726 considerable developments had taken place on both sides of the river channel. Carty's map of that year shows present-day French Church Street and Bowling Green Street. On the map, French Church Street is named as French Church Lane. French Church Street was named after the church established in 1712 by the Huguenots who immigrated to Ireland, from France, in the late seventeenth century. Many Huguenots left France at the time as a result of religious persecution.

By 1750, the streetscape on both sides of the channel began to assume a recognisably modern form. Carey's Lane, French Church Street, Bowling Green Street and Drawbridge Street are all shown on the northern side of the channel. On the southern side of the channel, what later became Princes' Street is shown with two names: the section from St Patrick's Street to Oliver Plunkett Street is named Presbyterian Meeting House Lane, while the section from Oliver Plunkett Street to the Mall is named Playhouse Lane. The outlines of Marlborough Street and Cook Street are shown but the streets are not named. A drawbridge, spanning the channel from Drawbridge Street to the opposite side of St Patrick's Street, is also shown.

Click on the links on the right to explore areas within Cork City.

For pre-1940 views of Cork city and environs from the Day collection click here.


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