Blarney & District Historical Society

Programme of Public Lectures and Field Trips for 2018-2019 Season 


Wednesday 22nd  August 2018

Tales of ‘Yore’ and More

Speakers: The Gab Storytelling

Please Note: This lecture will be presented in the Church of the Resurrection, Blarney at 8.00 p.m. Wednesday 22nd August 2018

All are Welcome.

Part of National Heritage Week,  19th to 26th August 2018


Thursday 6th September 2018

2017/2018 Annual General Meeting

All Members and Intending Members Welcome


Wednesday 19th  September 2018

Field Trip to Cathedral of St. Mary And St. Anne

(North Cathedral)

Leader: Ms. Anne Twomey

Shandon Area History Group

With kind permission of Canon John O’Donovan

Meet at North Cathedral 7.15 p.m.

The Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne, known locally as the North Cathedral, is located at the top of Shandon Street, in one of the most historic areas of Cork. The Cathedral, dedicated in 1808, is located on the site of a former church built in the 1730s. The Cathedral is the principal church of the Diocese of Cork & Ross and has some of the oldest baptism and marriage records of any parish in Ireland with Baptisms dating from 1731 and Marriages from 1748. There are many notable and historic artefacts located in the building including a sunken baptistery area containing an early marble font.


Thursday 4th October 2018

Her Story

Centenary of the Suffragette Movement

Granting of the Vote to Women

Speaker: Mr. Sean Horgan

Blarney and District Historical Society

This evening’s illustrated lecture provides a good overview of the range of involvements of women in the period from 1912 onwards, highlighting their involvement in the Lockout, the 1916 Rising, working in factories during WWI (Ulster especially), formation of Cumann na mBan, women’s involvement in Sinn Féin, and women in education.

The campaign by Irish women for the right to and the granting of the vote is especially important, and links to the centenary of the ‘Suffragette’ movement. Guest Speaker Sean Horgan examines ‘Her Story’ through local history and unravels the everyday lives of women throughout this fascinating period of Irish history.


Thursday 1st November 2018

Blarney 1918

Anti-conscription – Armistice – Election

Speaker: Mr. John Mulcahy

Blarney and District Historical Society

In April 1918 the British government attempted to impose conscription in Ireland by imposing a law which was passed but never put into effect. Vigorously opposed by Unions, Nationalist parties and Clergy. No Irish person was ever drafted into the British Army. The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was the armistice that brought an end to fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and Germany. What was the effect on Blarney and the many families who lost loved ones in the war?

The General Election of 1918 resulted in a landslide victory for the Sinn Féin party, and was the first election in which women over the age of 30, and all men over the age of 21, could vote. Constance Markievicz was the first woman elected to the British House of Commons, though she did not take her seat and, along with the other Sinn Féin TDs, formed the first Dáil Éireann. She was also the first woman in the world to hold a cabinet position as Minister for Labour of the Irish Republic, 1919–1922. Guest Speaker John Mulcahy analyses the effect these three momentous events had on the Blarney and District of 1918.


Thursday 6th December 2018

Flora Sandes

Nurse Assistant – Serbian Army Sgt.-Major WW1

Whitechurch and Irish Connections

Speaker: Ms. Marie McCarthy

Blarney and District Historical Society

Flora Sandes was born a British woman in Yorkshire but always referred to herself as Irish, being the youngest daughter of a native Kerry family. Her father was a former rector of Whitechurch, Co. Cork before moving to Sunday’s Well and from there to England.

An excellent horse-woman and expert shooter she saw service as a nursing assistant during the First Balkan War, was wounded, enlisted as a soldier, promoted and awarded Serbia’s highest decoration and at the end of the war she was commissioned as an officer, making her simultaneously the Serbian army’s first female and first foreign officer. She was the only British woman officially to serve as a soldier in WWI. Guest speaker Marie McCarthy brings the story of this amazing woman to life with an illustrated lecture.


Thursday 10th January 2019

Crime and Punishment in Victorian Cork

Speaker: Mr. Ronnie Herlihy

Historian and Author

Mr. Ronnie Herlihy is a well known and respected member of the Cork South Parish Historical Society and author of a number of books, including ‘A Walk Through the South Parish – Where Cork Began’ and ‘Tales from Victorian Cork’. He takes us back to a bygone time with this evening’ s illustrated presentation which is based on a selection of the various crimes, court cases and the punishments that took place during the early Victorian era of 1837 to 1859. Criminality in Cork City of the time matched anything being perpetrated by current criminals.


Thursday 7th February 2019

Match-making Customs of Ireland

Speaker: Mr. John Arnold


Matchmaking tradition goes back a long way into the ages of the Irish people. People actually believed that these matches were made in heaven even though some of them could also be like hell on earth. Every locality had its own professional matchmaker who brought together somebody’s daughter and her prospective husband. Talks began to decide the fortune to be paid to the prospective bride and the number of cattle which might go to a farming bride-groom.  These two ‘young’ people may never have seen each other before, and it made no difference whether they liked or disliked each other on meeting. Today, the matchmaker and his profession has almost disappeared with the exception of one or two areas in the country. Our Guest Speaker, John Arnold, is an acclaimed folklorist who will take us through the almost forgotten customs of match-making.


Thursday 7th March 2019

Death On The Pier

The Cobh Pier Head Shooting 1924

The Search for the Moon Car

Speaker: Mr. John Jefferies

Historian and Author

On 21st March 1924 a group of men wearing Irish army uniforms pulled up at the main pier in Cobh, Co. Cork. Seated in a yellow Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, they watched around 50 British soldiers disembark from a ferry from Spike Island. Suddenly the men in the Rolls Royce produced machine guns and fired on the British soldiers. One soldier was killed while eighteen others and six civilians were injured. Driving away at speed, the Rolls Royce stopped briefly to fire on a British warship in the harbour. An hour later armed British soldiers returned to Cobh and more shots were fired. There followed one of the biggest manhunts in modern Irish history, making front-page news throughout the world. The Rolls Royce and its occupants seemed to have vanished into thin air. The car was not seen again for 57 years. This evening, Guest Speaker, John Jefferies unravels fact from myth surrounding the Pier Head shooting and the amazing story behind the mysterious Rolls Royce known as the Moon Car.


Thursday 4th April 2018

Thatched Houses of County Cork

Speaker: Ms. Mary Sleeman

Heritage Unit Cork County Council

Archaeologist and Author

Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, sedge, rushes, or heather, layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof. It is a very old roofing method still in use in many parts of the world. This evening, our Guest Speaker, Mary Sleeman, takes us on an illustrated tour of the many different types of thatch house still to be seen in County Cork explaining the history of thatching. Due to a shortage of thatchers, these thatch roofs have become a unique and, unfortunately, vanishing form of roof construction.


Thursday 2nd May 2019

Henry Ford – The Cork Connection

Speaker: Mr. Denis McSweeney

Sales and Marketing Director Rtd.

In 1917 Henry Ford selected Cork as the location for the first purpose-built Ford factory outside North America. Known as Henry Ford and Son Ltd., it finally closed the Marina Plant in 1984. In the 67 years of its production it saw many momentous changes to the social aspect of Ireland both nationally and locally. This year, 2019, marks the centenary of the production of the first Fordson tractor from the Marina Plant in July 1919. Our Guest Speaker for this evening Mr. Denis McSweeney, who himself was a Sales and Marketing Director with the company, brings us the story of the ‘Cork Connection’ of the Ford dynasty.


Wednesday 15th May 2019

Field Trip

St. Anne’s Shandon

Leader: Mr. John Mustard

The iconic Bells of Shandon are contained in the belfry attached to St. Anne’s Church, Shandon which was built in 1722. It is surmounted by the famous ‘Goldie Fish’ weathervane. The steeple was built using a combination of red sandstone and limestone and contains the well-known 4-faced clock and the bells which are immortalized in Fr. Prout’s, ‘The Bells of Shandon. ‘Fr. Prout’, or Francis Sylvester Mahony is buried in the nearby graveyard. Our Guest Speaker for the evening is Mr. John Mustard who leads us on a tour of one of Cork’s most prominent landmarks, the St. Anne’s church and its priceless artefacts and memorials. 

Please Note Date and Time: Wednesday 15th May 7.30 P.M.


Wednesday 5th June 2019

Field Trip

St. Joseph’s Cemetery

Tory Top Road Ballyphehane

Leader: Mr. Ronnie Herlihy

Located at Tory Top Road in Ballyphehane it was originally intended as a Botanical Garden in 1830, but was established as a burial ground by Fr. Theobald Matthew, known as the Apostle of Temperance, when he leased the land in the 1840s. It contains an impressive collection of gravestones, tombs, ornate iron railings, Celtic crosses and beautiful carved memorials from its foundation to the present day, among them those of many notable Cork people  The Cemetery Chapel is also unique being built with an extremely steep roof. Mr. Ronnie Herlihy, our leader for this Field Trip, is a highly respected local historian who is an extremely active member of the South Parish Historical Society, and an acknowledged authority on the history of St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

Please Note Date and Time: Wednesday 5th June 7.30 P.M.


Summer Vacation


Wednesday 21st August 2019

Blarney’s Rebel Trail

A Walking Tour of Places of Interest Relating to

The War of Independence.

Leader: Mr. John Mulcahy

Please Note: Assemble inside the Main Gate to The Square in Blarney for 7.30 p.m. start.

All are Welcome.

Part of National Heritage Week, 19th to 26th August 2019


Thursday 5th September 2019

2018/2019 Annual General Meeting

All Members and Intending Members Welcome


All lectures are in Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál (Blarney Secondary School) at 8.00 p.m. unless otherwise stated.  All events are correct at time of publication but some items may have to be cancelled or changed due to unavoidable circumstances from time to time. Some Field Trips may carry certain restrictions.

Everybody Welcome.

Enquiries: Mr. Brian Gabriel Email:  Mob: 087-2153216

Contact: Mr. Brian Gabriel Email: Tel: 021 4381349 Mob: 087-2153216