Cork Past & Present
Cork's history, culture, places, people, and events
Red Abbey Street was formerly known as Cumberland Street. William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland defeated the Scottish Jacobite army at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The tower of the Red Abbey is the only structure in Cork which has survived since medieval times. It was an Augustinian friary founded in the late 13th or early 14th century. Despite the suppression of the religious orders during the Reformation, the friars appear to have occupied the friary until the rebellion of 1641. The site later became the property of Dean Boyle of Cork.
In 1690 a battery of cannon guns placed in the gardens of the Red Abbey breached the walls of Cork during the siege of the city by a Williamite army under the command of the Duke of Marlborough. The tower of the abbey was used as an observation post.
By 1717 the Red Abbey was being used as a sugar refinery. A fire in the sugar refinery on 7 December 1799 destroyed much of the structure.
Archaeological excavations near the Red Abbey in 1977 and 1992 uncovered evidence of medieval walls and pottery. A number of skeletons were also found during the excavations. Cork City Council is restoring the Red Abbey which is listed as a national monument.
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