Saturday 29 October 2011

Back on the Rails III - The Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway

Having looked at the Albert Quay Terminus in the last post, I want to look at the sites and sights of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway in this. In fact, part of this line was one of Ireland's first railways, befitting the 'real' capital and, at the time, Ireland's most populous County. It is also the longest of the lines that I'm exploring, so I'm going to cover it in stages. Firstly, the line runs through the suburbs of the city.

From the Albert Quay Terminus the railway travelled along the line of what has now become the South City Link Road. Termus and line begin in the South Parish, one of the two Catholic Parishes of Cork in the early modern period. In fact, the South Chapel is the oldest Church in the City and a rare survival from the period of the Penal Laws when Catholic Church building was technically illegal. The poverty of the construction can be seen from the way that limestone and sandstone are used almost indifferently as they came to hand.

In 1808, the Bishop of Cork, Dr. Moylan was able to open a second Church to the North of the River Lee (already featured on this blog for the Corpus Christi Procession), only the second in the city, giving to the two chapels, as Catholic houses were diminutively and dismissively known by the Anglican ruling class, the titles of 'South Chapel' and 'North Chapel' respectively. Later ages would christen them the 'South Parish Church' and the 'North Cathedral' but they were always known to me by their earlier titles.

Standing on Dunbar Street outside the South Chapel you can see three monuments to our Catholic heritage. Looking North you see the Capuchin Friary, home of the great Father Mathew. To the West is the tower of the Red Abbey of the Augustinian Canons, the last medieval building in Cork.

To the South are the buildings of the South Presentation Convent (there is also a North Presentation Convent across the road from the North Chapel), the first foundation of Nano Nagle and the Presentation Sisters, one of the largest of the Irish Orders of Nuns, another gift of Bishop Moylan to the City. Nano Nagle is buried in the grounds of the Convent that is still, thank God, occupied by the Nuns.

As the City expanded the South Parish became so large that it was necessary to divide it in two by creating the new Parish of Turner's Cross. Continuing south along the line of the old Cork, Bandon and South Coast railway, now the line of the South City Link Road, we pass the famous modernist Church of Christ the King at Turner's Cross, dedicated just a few years after Pope Pius XI created the feast of Christ the King. The Church is stunningly modern and abstract in style and construction but it should also be said that in its modernity it retains the traditional liturgical forms - Sanctuary/Nave - High Altar/Side Altars - Sanctuary Rails/Devotional Shrines - more perfectly than many traditional churches wreckovated since Vatican II. It's an interesting idea to imagine the steam locomotives puffing past Turner's Cross for more than 30 years.

The line next passes through the Parish of Ballyphehane. The Parish Church of the Assumption was one of the 'Rosary' Churches of the City that I looked at this time last year. Ballyphehane Parish includes Cork Airport, which is another reason why the destruction of the railway line wasn't just useless but also a waste of a great potential resource.

Between the City and the Airport the line turns West towards Chetwynd, where is climbs majestically towards Spur Hill. The last two images in this post are the small road bridge crossing the line at Chetwynd, just before the famous Chetwynd Viaduct that carries the line over the Bandon Road, and the viaduct itself, which is occasionally used for a variant of road bowl playing, the unique Cork sport. Mick Barry, still remembered in UCC in my time, was the first to pitch the iron bowl over the viaduct.


Phographic Mementos said...

Its interesting to see this old church. Its surprising that we don't hear more about churches as old as this. Its also been kept really beautiful unlike the north chapel/cathedral. They ruined it judging by the pictures on the cathedral website. Im loving this railway journey. Its a bit like Michael Palin or Michael Portillo. Its drawing together other threads that you posted on before that makes it more interesting. History books always fail to bring together the threads in the way that they were experienced by the people living there at the time. Your posts give us an idea of the various things that have been going on in Cork at some historical points like the era of bishop Moylan. Thank you for all the work you put into bringing us these posts.

Jessie said...

I never knew that there were such beautiful churches in Cork. Maybe next summer I will take a weekend trip there. Who is the patron saint of Cork?

Shandon Belle said...

Glad you've been inspired! If the TV companies call you can bet I'll say maybe!! I think I've said before that the cross cuts are the bits of history I like. God bless you!