Cork City & County
Cork from corcach, meaning “marsh” is a city in Ireland, located in the South-West Region, in the province of Munster. It has a population of 119,230, and is the second largest city in the state and the third most populous on the island of Ireland. The greater Metropolitan Cork area(which includes a number of satellite towns and suburbs) has a population exceeding 300,000. In 2005, the city was selected as the European Capital of Culture.
County Cork (Irish: Contae Chorcaí) is the largest and southernmost county in Ireland. Located in the province of Munster, it is named after the city of Cork (Irish:Corcaigh). Cork County Council is the local authority for the county. Its largest towns are Cork City, Carrigaline, and Ballincollig. In 2011, the county’s population was 518,128, making it the second most populous of the Republic of Ireland’s counties.
The city is built on the River Lee which splits into two channels at the western end of the city; the city centre is divided by these channels. They reconverge at the eastern end where the quays and docks along the river banks lead outwards towards Lough Mahon and Cork Harbour, one of the world’s largest natural harbours.
The city’s cognomen of “the rebel city” originates in its support for the Yorkist cause during the English 15th century Wars of the Roses. Corkonians often refer to the city as “the real capital” in reference to the city’s role as the centre of anti-treaty forces during the Irish Civil War
Cork was originally a monastic settlement, reputedly founded by Saint Finbarr in the 6th century. Cork achieved an urban character at some point between 915 and 922 when Norseman (Viking) settlers founded a trading port. It has been proposed that, like Dublin, Cork was an important trading centre in the global Scandinavian trade network. The ecclesiastical settlement continued alongside the Viking longphort, with the two developing a type of symbiotic relationship; the Norsemen providing otherwise unobtainable trade goods for the monastery, and perhaps also military aid.
The city’s charter was granted by Prince John, as Lord of Ireland, in 1185. The city was once fully walled, and some wall sections and gates remain today. For much of the Middle Ages, Cork city was an outpost of Old English culture in the midst of a predominantly hostile Gaelic countryside and cut off from the English government in the Pale around Dublin. Neighbouring Gaelic and Hiberno-Norman lords extorted “Black Rent” from the citizens to keep them from attacking the city. The present extent of the city has exceeded the medieval boundaries of the Barony of Cork City; it now takes in much of the neighbouringBarony of Cork. Together, these baronies are located between the Barony of Barrymore to the east, Muskerry East to the west and Kerrycurrihy to the south.
The city’s municipal government was dominated by about 12–15 merchant families, whose wealth came from overseas trade with continental Europe — in particular the export of wool and hides and the import of salt, iron and wine. The medieval population of Cork was about 2,100 people. It suffered a severe blow in 1349 when almost half the townspeople died of plague when the Black Death arrived in the town. In 1491, Cork played a part in the English Wars of the Roses when Perkin Warbeck a pretender to the English throne, landed in the city and tried to recruit support for a plot to overthrow Henry VII of England. The then mayor of Cork and several important citizens went with Warbeck to England but when the rebellion collapsed they were all captured and executed. The title of Mayor of Cork was established by royal charter in 1318, and the title was changed to Lord Mayor in 1900 following the knighthood of the incumbent Mayor by Queen Victoria on her Royal visit to the city.
Since the nineteenth century, Cork had been a strongly Irish nationalist city, with widespread support for Irish Home Rule and the Irish Parliamentary Party, but from 1910 stood firmly behind William O’Brien‘s dissident All-for-Ireland Party. O’Brien published a third local newspaper, the Cork Free Press.
In the War of Independence, the centre of Cork was burnt down by the British Black and Tans, and the city saw fierce fighting between Irish guerrillas and UK forces. During the Irish Civil War, Cork was for a time held by anti-Treaty forces, until it was retaken by the pro-Treaty National Army in an attack from the sea.
The county is colloquially referred to as “The Rebel County”. This name has 15th Century origins, but from the 20th century the name has been more commonly attributed to the prominent role Cork played in the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921) when it was the scene of considerable fighting. In addition, it was an anti-treaty stronghold during the Irish Civil War (1922–23). Much of what is now county Cork was once part of the Kingdom of Deas Mumhan (South Munster), anglicised as “Desmond”, ruled by the MacCarthy Mór dynasty. After the Norman Invasion in the 12th century, the McCarthy clan were pushed westward into what is now West Cork and County Kerry. Dunlough Castle, standing just north of Mizen Head, is one of the oldest castles in Ireland (A.D. 1207). The north and east of Cork were taken by the Hiberno-Norman FitzGerald dynasty, who became the Earls of Desmond. Cork City was given an English Royal Charter in 1318 and for many centuries was an outpost for Old English culture. The Fitzgerald Desmond dynasty was destroyed in the Desmond Rebellions of 1569–1573 and 1579–83. Much of county Cork was devastated in the fighting, particularly in the Second Desmond Rebellion. In the aftermath, much of Cork was colonised by English settlers in the Plantation of Munster.
In 1491 Cork played a part in the English Wars of the Roses when Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the English throne, landed in the city and tried to recruit support for a plot to overthrow Henry VII of England. The Cork people fought with Perkin because he was French and not English, they were the only county in Ireland to join the fight. The mayor of Cork and several important citizens went with Warbeck to England but when the rebellion collapsed they were all captured and executed. Cork’s nickname of the ‘rebel city’ originates in these events.
In 1601 the decisive Battle of Kinsale took place in County Cork, which was to lead to English domination of Ireland for centuries. Kinsale had been the scene of a landing of Spanish troops to help Irish rebels in theNine Years’ War (1594–1603). When this force was defeated, the rebel hopes for victory in the war were all but ended. County Cork was officially created by a division of the older County Desmond in 1606.
In the 19th century, Cork was a centre for the Fenians and for the constitutional nationalism of the Irish Parliamentary Party, from 1910 that of the All-for-Ireland Party. The county was a hotbed of guerrilla activity during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921). Three Cork Brigades of the Irish Republican Army operated in the county and another in the city. Prominent actions included the Kilmichael Ambush in November 1920 and the Crossbarry Ambush in March 1921. The activity of IRA flying columns, such as the one under Tom Barry in west Cork, was popularised in the Ken Loach film The Wind That Shakes The Barley. On 11 December 1920 Cork City centre was gutted by fires started by the Black and Tans in reprisal for IRA attacks. Over 300 buildings were destroyed, many other towns and villages around the county suffered a similar fate including Fermoy.
During the Irish Civil War (1922–23), most of the IRA units in Cork sided against the Anglo-Irish Treaty. From July to August 1922 they held the city and county as part of the so-called Munster Republic. However, Cork was taken by troops of the Irish Free State in August 1922 in the Irish Free State offensive, that included both overland and seaborne attacks. For the remainder of the war, the county saw sporadic guerrilla fighting until the Anti-Treaty side called a ceasefire and dumped their arms in May 1923. Michael Collins, a key figure in the War of Independence, was born near Clonakilty and assassinated during the civil war inBéal na Bláth, both in west Cork.
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