History

Magazine Road and adjoining streets are located in the parish of Glasheen (meaning ‘Little Stream’ and referring to the stream that came from the surplus spring water of the Lough and flows on to the River Lee.)

In medieval times, a road was constructed between the 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.

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. Two sons of the house, John and Henry Sheares were executed in Dublin on 14th July 1798 on the charge of treason for their part in the United Irishmen movement (credit: Richard T. Cooke and others).

Magazine Road itself was originally part of the Bandon Road but was renamed when a gunpowder magazine was built there in approximately 1775 in the current location of Wellington Square. Previously the city’s gunpowder store was in the city centre in Skiddy’s Castle near the North Gate Bridge. For safety reasons, the magazine was moved to Wellington Square and housed in buildings with substantial blast walls, which were incorporated into houses that were built subsequently.

By 1794, a more secure facility was built adjacent to the Ballincollig Gunpowder Mills and the magazine compound was converted to housing. A plaque on the gate pillars names the compound as Wellington Square with the date 1832, but it is more likely that the square was renamed in 1815 in honour of the Duke of Wellington upon his triumph at the Battle of Waterloo against Napoleon. The square is the last remaining Georgian square in Cork (credit: Bishopstown, Wilton and Glasheen by Richard Henchion ISBN 0-9541293-0-X). The houses are listed as protected structures in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, with the following commentary:

The magazine was substantially remodelled in the first decades of the nineteenth century as housing for army officers and additional housing was constructed on the site at the time. Its historical associations, pleasing square-plan layout and architectural styles make this an interest group. Many important features and materials such as timber sash windows, limestone sills and thresholds and timber doors and surrounds are retained. The doors mirror those of the houses opposite, adding a sense of continuity to the square. 

Holts 1832 map of Cork shows the Magazine and the County Gaol, part of which still remains. It is noted that UCC was not yet constructed.

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