Cork’s Famous Quays

As Cork’s famous quays undergo a process of change, Maurice O’Brien takes a look back at their interesting history

Cork’s Coat of Arms bears a timeless message, namely that sea and seaport are defining features for the city.
Its accompanying motto Statio Bene Fide Carinis (translated as a safe harbour for ships) can certainly be taken as a reference to the enormous lower harbour between Cobh and Roches Point, where the greatest of modern vessels find sufficient depth to enter the calm waters away from the Atlantic and Irish Sea.

However, the age-old motto refers also to the fact that Cork city, nearly fifteen nautical miles inland, has for centuries boasted a dockland on its doorstep.

Coal boats plied to the famous Coal Quay, now part of the city centre. Bridges near the City Hall and Brian Boru Street once had opening spans to allow ships to travel to George’s Quay and Merchants Quay on the south and north channels of the River Lee respectively.

At the height of its activity the city quays occupied an extremely busy series of wharfs below and around the meeting point of the two channels. From the 1940s to the 1980s these thriving docks were at their maximum tonnage feeding the automotive, grain, livestock and fruit importation industries to mention but a few. They added colour, character, sound and spectacle to city life.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own