There were many lanes in the Barrack Street area in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Brothels were kept in some of these lanes. Among the most notorious of the lanes were Cuthbert's Lane and Lag Lane. In June 1876, The Cork Examiner described the area in the following terms: 'We refer to the occupants of about a score of houses in some of the streets and lanes off Barrack Street, the business of whose lives was vice of the lowest kind, complicated with drunkenness, robbery and violence that made the place notorious and detested, and its denizens feared and abhorred by every respectable citizen'.
Prostitution was not confined to the lanes off Barrack Street; it was common throughout the city and the presence of so many soldiers and sailors in Cork added to the problem.
On 26 June 1876, Fr. Michael Shinkwin of the South Parish appealed to the prostitutes in Cuthbert's Lane to abandon their trade. His efforts met with some success ; some of the prostitutes left the houses and went to the Good Shepherd Convent, the Workhouse and the Magdalen Asylum. In the weeks following, he continued his crusades in the other lanes nearby.
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