The Ancient Village of Glasheen

by Richard T. Cooke

If you were permitted to visit the Village of Glasheen in ancient times, you would have seen a dense forest, teaming with wild fowl; the home to species of animals including the red deer, weighing up to a half-tonne, that drank the cool fresh water of Glasheen (meaning ‘Little Stream’) that came from the surplus spring water of the Lough that flows on to the River Lee. 

Geology / Early Visitors

The forest and stream are above deposits of sand, gravel, and limestone; its terrain carved out by mother nature during the glacier period.

The forest was graced by the fair-skinned, blue-eyed, blond-haired Celts; the seventh century saw Finbarr, humble in nature (destined to become a saint) and his monks; the Vikings in the ninth century, while the Normans in the twelfthcentury brought along with them their rabbits to the banks of the Lee.

 The green fields adjacent to the textile mills were used to bleach the linen clo
The green fields adjacent to the textile mills were used to bleach the linen cloth before it could be sold.

Road

As the centuries rolled by, an earthen thoroughfare was constructed between the medieval walled city of Cork to the town of Bandon and this became known as the Old Bandon Road.

On both sides of this road, market gardens, nurseries and orchards sprang up to cater for the ever-increasing population in the walled city and suburbs. The village stream became a very important watering hole for both man and beast journeying to and from Bandon.

Village's Famous Sons Executed

After the Siege of Cork in 1690 and the demolition of the city wall, prominent families started to move out of the congested city to the peacefulness of the countryside to make their homes — including the Sheares family, who were noted bankers.  In 1729, they built their home, which is still standing today, in the village on a hill opposite today's popular Flannery's Pub.

The heritage plaque on the front wall of the house reads: 'In memory of The United Irishmen John and Henry Sheares who lived in this house and who were executed in Dublin on 14th July 1798'.

They are remembered today in parks and streets in Glasheen and in the city itself.

Home of the Sheares Family, Glasheen, Cork.
Home of the Sheares Family, Glasheen, Cork.

Great Employment

Father and son working with the flax in the millstream.  A loom for weaving yarn into cloth.  
Father and son working with the flax in the millstream. A loom for weaving yarn into cloth.

The damp marshy nature of the area was ideal for growing willow trees (where St Finbarr's cemetery — established in the 1860s — and the Clashduv Road and Park are situated today) and other species which were cultivated for cloth colouring and, due to this, a textile industry developed into the Village of Glasheen in the first half of the eighteenth century.

The village itself was established, where Flannery's Pub is situated today, when a row of small stone cabins were constructed together that ran to Glasheen Hill and were occupied by weavers.  The small textile mill however stood adjacent to Flannery's Pub car park and Clashduv with the stream running through it.  In 1781 the mill was taken over by two Tipperary brothers, John and Henry Sadlier, who converted it into the largest Cotton Manufacturing Mills in Munster and which gave extensive employment; and 6 years later, the area was described as “a neat village on the Bandon Road”.

TheGlasheen Cotton Mill survived under different owners well into the nineteenth century when it was purchased and converted into a glue factory and, with the increase in population in the area, Glasheen National School opened in 1897.

Today, when patrons of Flannery's Pub park their car in the car park, I wonder if they know that this very spot played a major role in the development of the Village of Glasheen and the textile industry of Cork city and county.

Quarrying

Due to the geology of the area, mentioned above, a quarrying industry developed in the eighteenth century giving great employment up to the dawn of the twentieth century.  The introduction of brick and cement, however, saw the Glasheenquarries chiselled into the archives of the past.  Glasheen stone however can still be seen today in many buildings in the city. 

 A row of Weaver cabins in the early nineteenth century.
A row of weaver cabins in the early nineteenth century.

Flannery's Pub

Glasheen has been graced with a public house for over 200 years and the Flannery family can boast of sharing over a century of that history.

The Flannerys began serving the noble brew in the 1880s and continued right up to 1992 when the premises passed out of the family's hands to Pat O'Halloran.  Today, the very popular premises are owned by Pat Murray and Partners.

Looking back over the long and rich colourful history of the Village of Glasheen, I dare say many of the modern developments we see today in the area were first discussed over a pint in Flannery's Pub.

From a prehistoric forest to today's twenty-first century thriving nucleus of commercial and family life, the ancient Village of Glasheen, with its old-world charm, still retains a wonderful community spirit and, at the heart of it all, Flannery's Pub with its great tradition of chitchat, entertainment, and good food served with a smile.  Who knows what well-known personality you'll see dropping in for a bit of quite time!

Described in the 19th century as ‘the Weavers Village’

How times have changed:  During long warm summer evenings, when the mill and the weavers shuttle fell silent, the only sounds you could hear were the birds chirping in the lush trees and the happy voices of children, echoing, as they played in the stream; a weaver singing a ballad and, in the distance, the sound of the Cork Bandon railway train puffing along its merry way....

Sources:

Richard I. Henchion: Bishopstown, Wilton and Glasheen

James P. McCarthy: Bishopstown House: A Summer Residence for the Bishop of Cork and Ross

M.E. Collins: Ireland Three - Union to Present Day

Richard T. Cooke: My Home by The Lee

John Windele: History of Cork

Cork Historical & Archaeological Journal

Maps/Plans in Cork City Library

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