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Wed 19 Dec

Passage West/Monkstown News, 19th November 2007

Southern Star reports on Passage West ...
Reporter Leo McMahon has kindly sent copies of reports on Passage West carried by the Southern Star over the past couple of weeks.

THE SOUTHERN STAR, is a local weekly newspaper covering Cork and County and with a large readership among 'exiles' abroad, many from the Lower Harbour area. Founded in 1889 in Skibbereen, it provides regular coverage of meetings of Passage West Town Council and other local happenings. On sale
locally, it also has a website . News items are always most welcome and your contacts are:

PASSAGE WEST-MONKSTOWN NOTES - Therese Flannery 087-2508566
PHOTOS - Howard Crowdy 087-6790800
AREA REPORTER - Leo McMahon 021-4293514

Edith Wilkins Calendar

Ideal in the home or workplace, is the Edith Wilkins Street Children Foundation India calendar now on sale at €8 with proceeds going directly to the ongoing work of the Douglas nurse and overseas director and her team in Darjeeling, India.

All the photographs taken in Darjeeling highlight the people and places of a city near the Himalayas famous for its tea plantations but also the refuge for countless children either sold or migrating due to poverty and abandonment from neighbouring states and prone to every type of abuse.

Cork based charity Edith Wilkins Street Children Foundation India (EWSCFI), established in 2003, provides shelter, support, care, love, health screening, nutrition, basic education and life skills for ‘at risk’ children through the provision of drop-in and night-shelters. It works closely with indigenous non governmental agencies in attempting to stop the trail of human misery on the railway line to Calcutta further south.

The calendar, which has been compiled by committee members Teresa Owens and Brenda O’Connor and printed by Snap Print, has been kindly part sponsored by Hugh Looney Signs, Michael Hegarty Auctioneer, M. Burke Construction, Gable Holdings Property Developers, Lee Cabs, McCutcheon-Mulcahy Chartered Planning Consultants, O’Flynn Construction, Kevin O’Leary Group in Douglas, Frank McNamara Construction, Ulster Bank in Wilton and an anonymous donor.

Fund raising is ongoing and enquiries regarding donations, direct debit or purchase or distribution of the calendar for sale can be obtained from Bert Wilkins of EWSCFI at 5, Trabeg Avenue, Douglas Road, Cork, Tel 021-4291865 or from fellow voluntary committee members Fr. Hugh Harkin, SMA, Leo McMahon, Teresa Owens, Brenda O’Connor, Margaret Smith, Conor Moloney, Karen Wilkins, Mary Looney, Lillian Coughlan, Jane O’Connor, Marie Couglan, Emma O’Brien or Dr. Eimear O’Flynn. Full information is contained on the calendar.

  • The EWSCFI sheltered housing complex in Darjeeling on a site purchased earlier this year by the charity, was officially opened at a ceremony on Sunday, December 2 by a street child accompanied by the Irish Ambassador to India, H.E. Kieran Dowling and Bhupender Singh, Indian Police CID. Some members of the voluntary committee in Cork travelled to India to attend the historic event.

Leo McMahon (Chairman

Edith Wilkins Street Foundation India - brief outline of activities for 2007
  • EWSCFI founded in January 2003. Overseas director and qualified nurse Edith Wilkins has over 23 years experience working in the Third World. Foundation working in the Darjeeling area of Northern India caring for homeless children sold or migrating from neighbouring Himalayan states making them easy prey for child traffickers, drug, sexual, physical and labour abuse, many of whom would inevitably end up in the streets of Calcutta. The foundation works in co-operation with local organisations such as the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny and Hayden Hall. Voluntary committee based in Cork.
  • Drop In Centre at Darjeeling run by Edith and her team on a daily basis providing street children with a full meal, medical screening, basic education, counselling, love and play.
  • Sick Bay Clinic for children and adults on a weekly basis in an area where malnutrition and disease are rampant.
  • Night Shelter for abandoned children and those at high risk of sexual abuse.
  • Other services include visitation and an outreach programme working with community leaders (e.g. local hill council), the police, health care workers and teachers as well as Irish and Indian volunteer workers.
  • Project for 2007 – Grant aid from Development Co-Operation Ireland (DCI) approved. The foundation recently purchased a site with buildings at Darjeeling to incorporate a Half Way House with accommodation and care facilities for high risk older children and provide vital Pre-Vocational training leading to full training in the ‘outside world’. Official opening on December 2. Total estimated cost around €160, 000. Fund raising ongoing. For information, contact Bert Wilkins at 021-4291865.

Reclaim Glenbrook for Park and Ride - TC
If a commuter and tourist ferry service was going to be provided for Cork Harbour, a section of foreshore between Glenbrook cross river ferry terminal and the old pier should be in-filled in readiness for necessary ‘Park and Ride’ parking, said Mr. Michael Murphy at the monthly meeting of Passage West Town Council.

Such a car park would be of benefit not only to local people and tourists but also to walkers on the railway amenity path and commuters using the cross-river ferry to Carrigaloe for the Cobh-Cork train or the proposed harbour water bus. Ms. Jo. Kelleher agreed.

In doing this, Mr. M. Murphy, added. the county council would be able to generate income for the disposal of fill thereby making the project almost self-financing. It was agreed to write to the Department of the Marine, the Port of Cork and Cork County Council enquire about reclaiming a section of foreshore for parking. The manager, Ms. Angela Murphy and Mr. Seamus McGrath MCC said they would specifically find out if such a project could be undertaken by the council’s recreation and amenity section.

In the short term, councillors unanimously supported a call by Ms. Kelleher that the area directly across from Glenbrook cross-river ferry terminal be cleared of overgrowth, resurfaced and lined out as a car park. She said this would also serve to remove boats and trailers either parked long term or for sale.

In agreement, Mr. McGrath and Mayor Dominick Donnelly said that at a recent meeting of the county council’s Carrigaline Area Committee, members were assured that any complaint about vehicles, boats or trailers being advertised for sale at the side of the road would be followed up. A sticker would be placed and the owner contacted and given a period of time in which to remove the object. If the same number was logged twice to the roads department in County Hall, it could be impounded and where there was no registration displayed, a vehicle or trailer could be removed. The town council urged members of the public to notify the county council in an effort to stop vehicles, boats and trailers taking up public parking space.

Mr. McGrath said that if there was no registration number display, a vehicle or trailer could be removed while Mr. M. Murphy contended there was also a case for classifying such items as abandoned.

It was agreed to write to the county council, the Department of the Marine and the Port of Cork regarding the situation of trawler berthed in tidal water at Monkstown Creek. The matter was highlighted by Ms. D’Alton and Mr. Neil O’Sullivan

Proposal for Harbour Ferry welcomed by Passage TC
To develop and operate a cost efficient, environmentally friendly, scheduled commuter and tourist fast-ferry service on the River Lee and within Cork Harbour is the objective of Cobh based Harbour Cat Ferries Ltd. an estimated €30million proposal for which was circulated to members of Passage West Town Council at their recent meeting.

The company believes that such a service would provide the city and harbour area with a competitive advantage by enhancing and developing the existing infrastructure, promoting job creation and helping to develop tourism. Furthermore, an environmentally friendly, safe, comfortable and efficient harbour ferry utilising the natural resources of the River Lee and Cork Harbour would be a welcome new, innovative and alternative mode of transport at a time when most roads in the environs of the city and satellite town are heavily congested resulting in noise and air pollution.

Harbour Cat Ferries is interested in working in partnership with other public transport providers which would include the provision of park and ride facilities at ferry stops where possible.

The utilisation of a modern catamaran type ferry with low wake attrributes and easy docking would reduce the impact on the waterway and marine environment. The company believes there is scope to develop the harbour as tourist hub with easy access by ferry to heritage attractions such as Blackrock Castle, Cobh Heritage Centre and the forts, harbour excursion and the servicing of Cobh Cruise Liner Terminal, sporting and conference venues, all of which is good for job creation, the local economy and cross-river social inclusion and integration.

It’s proposed to operate all-weather ferries, each with a capacity of over 200 passengers. in the harbour and all going well, the service could be up and running in 2010. The traffic-free commuter journey time from Cobh to Cork would take 35 minutes. Similar ferries operate on the River Thames in London, Singapore and the Phillipines.

Mr. Aidan Coffey is managing director of Harbour Cat Ferries Ltd., The Old Town Hall, Ballast Quay, Cobh. While a lot of research, including a feasibility study, has been carried out in conjunction with Cork City Council, members of Passage West TC were informed that a full consultation process had to be completed ahead of a formal presentation and a planning application being lodged. Information meetings were held last week in Passage West, Crosshaven and Cobh.

Potential routes are 1) Hugh Coveney Pier, Crosshaven to Horgan’s Quay, Cork City via the Old Town Hall (Harbour Hub) and Deepwater Quay in Cobh, Monkstown Pier, Ballynoe/Carrigaloe, Steampacket Quay in Passage West, Little Island and Blackrock Pier and 2) a ferry service linking Crosshaven and Rostellan/Lower Aghada in East Cork via Cobh.

Potential future development sites which the ferry could service include Currabinny, Ringaskiddy terminal, Haulbowline Island, Spike Island (heritage development), Marino Point and the city docklands developments on both side of the River Lee.

All councillors welcomed the proposed ferry service and complimented Mr. Coffey and Harbour Cat Ferries Ltd. but Mr. Michael Murphy said he did not believe ferry stops at Monkstown Pier and Steampacket Quay in Passage West would be suitable due mainly to the lack of parking and the need to retain these as amenity, leisure and water sports areas. He again called for partial reclamation and development of essential ‘park and ride’ parking to be provided between Glenbrook Wharf and the cross river ferry terminal at Glenbrook.

Mayor Dominick Donnelly said he understood the company did not favour this since it had earmarked a ferry stop in between Passage West and Monkstown directly across the River Lee at Ballynoe where it was hoped a new railway station to accommodate people using the harbour and cross-river ferry would be built by Ianrod Eireann.

Mr. M. Murphy however, re-iterated that for such a ferry service to succeed, adequate off-street parking would have to be readily available. He disagreed with a suggestion by Ms. Marcia D’Alton that the channel would be too narrow and the water too shallow at the site he proposed at Glenbrook and said both Passage West and Monkstown couldn’t take any more vehicles, many of which were parked all day long.

Mr. Seamus McGrath MCC said he was fully in favour of the concept but agreed that parking was a key issue to its success. It was agreed to await further developments.

In a report, area engineer Mr. John Forde said the harbour ferry was only a proposal as of yet and there was no funding available to provide car parking facilities to facilitate this. To Ms. Jo. Kelleher, he undertook to examine the area opposite the cross river ferry terminal at Glenbrook after she requested it be cleared of overgrowth, lined for car parking only and that trailers and vehicles advertised for sale or left there on a long term basis be removed.

Town clerk Mr. Niall O’Keeffe said it had been confirmed that the proposal by the Port of Cork to relocate and develop at container terminal at Oyster Bank, Ringaskiddy qualified as a major infrastructural project under the Planning Act which An Bord Pleanala could decide on as opposed to Cork County Council.

Passage joins Bandon and Bantry in seeking equality
Passage West Town Council has joined with Bandon and Bantry TCs in adopting a motion seeking local government reform whereby all former town commissioners will be given the same status of local authorities which were formerly urban district councils.

The motion moved by Mr. John Daly at the monthly meeting of Passage West TC read: “The Local Government Act 2001 stated that all 75 Irish town based local authorities formerly known as UDCs and town commissioners, would forthwith be known as town councils. However, it did not provide equality of powers or functions to the former town commission towns that became town councils as a result of which an inequality has prevailed. Since all Irish citizens are equal under the Constitution, we seek that all citizens of the 75 Irish town councils should have equality in functions, responsibilities and accountability”.

Mr. Daly said the motion followed on a recent meeting with fellow councillors from Bandon and Bantry in the latter town attended by president of the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland (AMAI) Mr. Tom Ryan. All three were former town commissioners and both Bandon and Bantry had already adopted the motion seeking equality. Mr. Michael Murphy seconded.

Mayor Dominick Donnelly and other members who attended were agreed the meeting in Bantry was very useful and a further one was arranged for Bandon on December 4 followed by another in Passage West in the new year.

The council also agreed to sign the submission from the AMAI on Local Government Reform being forwarded to Minister John Gormley TD.

Members considered the annual financial statement and were informed the capital account stood at €89,012.

On a proposal by Mr. J. Murphy, seconded by Ms. Marcia D’Alton, Passage West TC supported a motion from Monaghan TC expressing disappointment with the Government for its intention to implement a new Community Childcare Subvention Scheme without any real consultation with community childcare providers and demanding that the proposed scheme be abandoned in favour of a more equitable one based on the current model which was more equitable.

It was unanimously agreed that any publication using material from the website compiled by Ms. Marcia D’Alton and launched earlier this year by Passage West TC should acknowledge it.

Sympathy was extended to Mrs. Tim Cronin, Dan Desmond Place on the death of her brother Mr. Frank O’Connor.

Infrastructure not there for 121 more houses says Passage TC
“No further major housing development should be permitted in the area until proper infrastructure is in place”, declared Mr. Jim Murphy at the November meeting of Passage West Town Council which unanimously agreed to formally object to a planning application for 121 dwellings at Lackaroe, Carrigmahon between Glenbrook and Monkstown.

The application from O’Brien and O’Flynn would include a new vehicular access, creche and car parking and there would be Part V housing (i.e. whereby a developer is obliged to allocate 20% of dwellings for affordable and social housing or money in lieu), said Ms. Marcia D’Alton who told fellow members she inspected the planning file at County Hall.

She agreed with Mr. J. Murphy that in no way did the locality have the infrastructure to cater for the additional traffic that would be generated by the proposed new hillside development but acknowledged the land was zoned residential and met the criterion on density.

Mr. J. Murphy said he seriously questioned the findings of a traffic count on a road near the site carried out on a Tuesday, saying one would see 80 cars passing up and down from 8.45 to 9am alone. He maintained the application still amounted to over density given the topography and pointed out that there was no capacity in terms of schools, roads, footpaths, water and sewage. He proposed the council formally object. Ms. D’Alton agreed.

“The infrastructure just isn’t there” said Mr. Michael Murphy. If one wasn’t on the road to Cork by 7.15am any weekday morning, one could expect to join a long queue between as far back as Hop Island. Mr. Seamus McGrath MCC in agreement, said there was already gridlock on the main road from Passage West to Rochestown without even the completion of up to 600 houses at Harbour Heights and the proposed dockland development.

All councillors were agreed that an objection to the application which was lodged to the county council on October 12 should be made and Ms. D’Alton undertook to pass on the suggested wording for this to the town clerk. The mayor added that councillors were also free to object as individuals if they so wished.

Mr. J. Murphy repeated his demand that the completion of resurfacing on Carrigmahon Hill be given top priority.

Mr. M. Murphy and Mayor Dominick Donnelly agreed adding that area engineer Mr. John Forde, in a meeting with some of the councillors prior to the meeting, said that instead of a low grade surface all the way up, the county council had provided a super surface half way up and would complete the job as soon as possible after funding was provided next year.

Mr. J. Murphy however, said the upper part of Carrigmahon Hill was a disgrace with cars getting destroyed and stressed he wasn’t saying this just because he was a resident of the area but received complaints from taxi drivers. While accepting funding wasn’t there, he was disappointed that all the hill wasn’t resurfaced as originally intended and requested it be given top priority, adding that it was the main road leading to Scoil Barra Naofa, Monkstown and the churches, Ms. D’Alton concurred.

A continuous instead of a broken white line should have been painted on the centre of the road at the bottom of the hill to stop illegal parking, continued Mr. J. Murphy. Mr. M. Murphy agreed and supported the call for double yellow lines along one side and for the Gardai to place tickets on vehicles parking on the new footpath and forcing pedestrians on to the road. At times he added, an emergency vehicle would not be able to get through due to parking on both sides.

Ms. D’Alton referred to a letter with photographs she received from Chris and Amy Ramsden, Neptune Lodge at the bottom of Carrigamahon Hill who pointed out that surface water was flooding their premises since the road was resurfaced. The road level had been raised near house by three and a half inches resulting in more water on to the path and driveways. They asked for the concrete kerbside gully to be reinstated, widened and deepened as this was covered by tarmacadam and was level with the road putting their property in grave danger of flooding in even a moderate rain and for the blocked double drain to be freed of lumps of tarmac. Mr. J. Murphy concurred and said a similar problem resulted after resurfacing at Chapel Hill.

Mr. Jerry Cronin said this matter was foreseeable but Ms. D’Alton said the surface water flooding problem was there even before resurfacing with a big lake at the bottom of the hill due to a poor drainage system. It was agreed to refer the matter to the engineer and write back to Chris and Amy Ramsden.

* It was agreed that as many councillors and interested people as possible should attend a meeting called by East Cork Area Development at Moran’s Silver Springs Hotel, Cork this Friday, November 16 on the subject of Leader funding.

More funding required to complete restoration of Monkstown Church
A motion from Ms. Marcia D’Alton seeking support for grant funding from Cork County Council towards the restoration of the Sacred Heart Church in Monkstown was unanimously adopted at the monthly meeting of Passage West Town Council.

“The Sacred Heart Church is the longest serving public building in Monkstown. Built in 1871 as a result of a huge parish effort, it sits on one of the most picturesque sites in Cork Harbour,” said Ms. D’Alton. “It was designed in the French Gothic style by renowned architects Pugin and Ashlin, the same people who designed St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh and a notable feature is its magnificent stained glass rose window made by Francis Barnett of Leith, Edinburgh. Built with brown sandstone from Glanmire, its rare and understated beauty has it listed in the Record of Protected Structures”.

In recent years, she stated, it became evident that major structural work was required to keep the church standing for the next 150 years after the ravages of 135 years of wind, rain and sea salt. The work, estimated over three years ago. to cost around €1 million, started last year and despite a major fund raising effort by the parish community, much more finance was required.

On behalf of parish priest and the committee, she had tabled a motion requesting the support of Passage West TC for rehabilitation of the church. In doing so, she pointed out that there were two major avenues of funding, Cork County Council and the Heritage Council and asked that the town council write to both bodies seeking financial support for such a worthy project.

Mr. Jim Murphy seconded and in support Mr. John Daly said the figure for restoring the church would eventually be way in excess of €1m.

Planning and fund raising committees are working at local level on a project which commenced when Fr. John Cotter was parish priest followed by Fr. Denis O’Leary (now PP Bandon). The new parish priest is Fr. John Newman. Plans were drawn up by locally based architect Alexander White and the contract signed on April 8 in The Bosun, Monkstown by David Higgins on behalf Cornerstone Construction, Cobh.

Much progress has been made most notably with the restoration of the tower and major work on the roof and some of the windows. A leaflet detailing the schedule of works is available as well as an interesting history compiled by committee member Joe Burns who stressed that the aim is not only to restore a beautiful church but also to create a new community focal point for parish events.

Building and finance committee members include Fr. Newman, Joe Burns,John Cunningham, Sean Gill, Michael Foy, Nuala O’Reilly, Donal McDonnell, Tess Geary (sacristan), Paddy Kearns, Donal McCarthy, Charlie Hennessy, Michael Fitzgerald, Kieran Boland and Barry Lynch. Fund raising ideas, sponsorships or donations (e.g. standing orders) are most welcome and enquiries most welcome at the Parochial House, Monkstown, Tel 021-4863267 or from any committee member.


(photo: Howard Crowdy)

Very successful in September was the Monkstown Heritage Flower Festival in aid of and held in Sacred Heart Church which was opened by internationally acclaimed author Alice Taylor from Innishannon. There was a gallery of top class floral exhibits from Passage West, Monkstown, Kinsale, Carrigaline, Bandon and other centres, a plant sale and super draw. Organisers included Chris Bailey and Cathy Concannon while Charlie Hennessy was master of ceremonies at the opening which featured choral singing from Cantate and a cheese and wine reception and was attended by Most. Rev. John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross, Fr. John Galvin, PP, Passage West and Frs. Denis O’Leary PP and Paul O’Donoghue, CC in one of their last duties in the parish before taking up new appointments to Bandon.

Driving test delay plea at Passage TC
A motion from Mr. Jim Murphy calling on the Minister for Transport to postpone implementation of the new rules concerning provisional licence holders, until the waiting period for a driving test has been reduced to a maximum eight week target as set down by the government, was unanimously adopted at the November meeting of Passage West Town Council.

Stressing that he welcomed measures outlined in the new Road Safety Strategy, Mr. J. Murphy said the eight week target was still a very long way off. His son, for example, had to wait 12 months for a driving test while Mr. Michael Murphy, in support, said his son was waiting ten months.

Seconding the motion, Mr. Seamus McGrath MCC said that while the driving licence situation neededreforming, with some drivers on their tenth provisional licence, the proposals as originally outlined were ill-thought out and not practical. Mayor Dominick Donnelly said there was need to sort out the problems in actually getting a driving test.

Mr. J. Murphy said there were many parents on a provisional licence who would be faced with the prospect of driving illegally in order to get their children to and from school. Mr. Jerry Cronin concurred said it was one of the most ludicrous pieces of legislation he had heard of. Members welcomed that implementation of the regulations in full had been deferred to June by Minister Noel Dempsey. It was agreed to circulate Mr. J. Murphy’s motion to all other local authorities.

Bid to restore Monkstown Castle welcomed by TC
A proposal to restore into a dwelling, Monkstown Castle was welcomed by Ms. Marcia D’Alton and other members of Passage West Town Council at their November meeting.

Ms. D’Alton referred to the application she recently viewed in County Hall from Mr. Niall Fitzgerald, Dun Eoin, Carrigaline for change of use of the disused golf club house to a dwelling house, renovation of the existing castle ruin, construction of a stone boundary wall with entrance gates and associated site works.

The planning application, she said, included an architectural and historical building assessment by historic building consultants John Cronin and Associates, who described the castle as being essentially a shell at present with a bad crack in the northern tower. The interior had been much altered over the years and the internal walls were badly damaged.

All work being done to the castle, if the application was approved, would be carried out by David Kelly and Partners, consulting and conservation engineers, overseen by John Cronin and Associates and done in conjunction with the conservation office of Cork County Council. The developer had already been in talks with the Office of Public Works.

Proposed works include the restoration of the two large fireplaces in the main hall, installation of a new roof with roof lights for essential natural light, a possible lift in the southern tower, a one metre high sod and stone wall around the three exposed sides of the castle and rendering of the exposed stone on the castle exterior. All window and door opes would be retained as far as possible.

The new house within the castle would have a living room, library, utility room, bedroom and main stairway on the ground floor, a living room, kitchen, family room and stairs on the first floor and a gallery walkway, one bedroom and two ensuites on the second floor while the third floor would have three bedrooms and a living room, said Ms. D’Alton who added that overall, it all looked very good.
A history of Monkstown Castle with illustrations appears on the website compiled by Ms. D’Alton.

It was built in 1636 of limestone and mortar at the request of Dame Anastasia (Gould) Archdeacon for her husband John Archdeacon while he was serving as an officer in the wars of King Philip of Spain. Dame Archdeacon came from a merchant family in Cork and had a shop in Castle Terrace, Monkstown, the profit from which, it is reputed, enabled the construction of the castle to cost just 4d.

Located at the side of a steep glen overlooking the inner harbour, the castle entrance was near the old Monkstown-Cork road. There were various owners over the decades including the Earls of Longford and Viscount de Vesci. Monkstown Castle served as a military barracks during the Peninsular War 1808-1814 and after that was occupied by the Shaw family (ancestors of playwright and author George Bernard Shaw) who lived in the adjacent Castle House. The castle was re-roofed and repaired by Bernard Shaw in 1814 and there is a stone and his initials to be seen in the building.

Monkstown Golf Club, which celebrates its centenary next year, used the castle as its clubhouse from 1980 to 1971 and electricity was installed in 1938. Major refurbishment was carried out after World War II and the golf club purchased the castle from the De Vesci estate in 1958. Vacant since the golf club moved out in 1971, the castle fell into ruin although the walls still stand and it is listed on the Record of Protected Structures and National Monuments. Concerns as to its safety have been expressed in recent years. A more detailed history appears in the website.