Skiddy’s Almshouse takes its name from Steven Skiddy, a wealthy Cork-born wine merchant who lived in London. He was moved by the scenes of poverty in his native city and responded by setting up a charity to house some of the elderly poor of Cork. He left £24 per annum in his will in 1584 for “ten of the City’s honest and poorest persons aged 50 and over”. This annual payment from Skiddy’s estate commenced in 1606 after the death of Stephen Skiddy’s wife Helen. To this day, over 400 years later, the Vintners Federation in London still sends on the £24 payment annually to Skiddy’s charity. The almshouse was also funded by Roger Bettridge in his will of 1717. Skiddy’s first almshouse was located near North Gate Bridge and opened in 1620. That almshouse was destroyed during the Siege of Cork in 1690 but subsequently repaired. By 1718 it was seen as unsuitable and as being “too narrow and incommodious for want of good air”2 and therefore a replacement almshouse was proposed. The almshouse was sold and a new almshouse was constructed with the proceeds of the sale. The middle building on the left shows how Skiddy's Almshouse was represented in John Carthy's restored map of Cork city in 1726.
The foundation for Skiddy’s almshouse was laid in 1718 and construction was completed in 1719. It continued in the service of Skiddy’s Charity until the 1960s when the trustees of Skiddy’s Charity opened new homes on Pouladuff Road and sold the property to the North Infirmary Hospital. The North Infirmary intended to demolish the almshouse and to build nurses apartments on the site. Locals objected to the demolition of the almshouse and formed the Cork Preservation Society. The CPS was supported by Taoiseach Jack Lynch and was successful in getting the almshouse placed on the official Record of Monuments and Places in 1968. The CPS founded a company to fundraise in order to purchase and restore the house. The restoration was completed in 1975, and the almshouse was rented out to members of the artistic community. In 2000 the CPS sold the almshouse to the Social Housing Development Company, a non-profit voluntary organisation. The almshouse was restored for a second time in 2005, helping to preserve Skiddy’s Almshouse as an important part of Corks architectural heritage for future generations.
John Crowley, Robert Devoy, Denis Linehan, Patrick O'Flanagan, Atlas of Cork city. Cork University Press, Cork 2005, pp. 144-5.
1Irish Examiner, 3 October 2011, p. 19.
2National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, www.buildingsofireland.ie
Michael V. Conlon, 'Some old Cork charities', in Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Cork, 1943, pp. 86-94. (p. 88.)