Saturday, July 9, 2011
Cork Chapter Visit to Crosshaven on 17th April 2011
Members of the Cork Chapter gathered at Holy Trinity (Templebreedy) Church of Ireland in Crosshaven (courtesy of the Rev. Isobel Jackson) on a cloudy, cool Sunday morning on 17th April 2011. The poor weather was soon forgotten as members heard of the fascinating history of the church from Chapter Head, Kevin Hurley. He revealed some of the interesting stories and design features of the building which was the creation of architect William Burges in 1864-1866. Burges also designed St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral in nearby Cork city. Members enjoyed looking around the church and the children’s choir was starting practice as the group left the building to travel the short distance to Fort Camden.
Improved weather and a warm welcome greeted the group at the entrance to the fort. Situated on either side of the entrance to Cork Harbour, Camden and Carlisle Forts were substantially developed in the 1790s to guard the area from attack by the French. They are fine examples of classical Coastal Artillery Forts. Camden remained in use until the mid-twentieth century and was acquired by Cork County Council in 1989 as a tourism project. It was later abandoned and vandalised, but has recently begun a new lease of life thanks to the hard work of a local group ‘Rescue Camden’ in conjunction with Crosshaven Tourism. The enthusiasm of the guides was infectious as they led the group through some of the many buildings, gun emplacements and tunnels on the site. The guides brought the fort back to life with their explanations of its history and the many stories associated with the site. The group saw evidence of recent work in clearing back overgrown vegetation and the start of careful building restoration. It was clear to see the excellent strategic siting of the fort in the magnificent setting of the harbour entrance. Thanks to Deirdre and Noel Condon for helping to organise our visit.
All that walking around the fort meant that members of the group had worked up a good appetite for lunch at the nearby Royal Cork Yacht Club. The club, now situated in the attractive setting of Crosshaven, was originally founded in 1720 on Haulbowline Island in the harbour. It is the oldest yacht club in the world and a brief talk on its history was given after the meal by club archivist Dermot Burns and by Dr. Alicia St. Leger who has published a history of the club. They pointed out some of the important historical paintings and other artefacts on display in the clubhouse.
The final visit of the day was to Crosshaven House. The Cork Chapter originally saw this building in 2004 when it was undergoing restoration, so it was very interesting to return to the house now that it is complete. It was built in 1769 by William Hayes and is prominently sited in the centre of Crosshaven village. The main five bay house is flanked by free-standing wings or pavilions. Members of the group admired the fine cantilevered staircase, the attractive plasterwork in the principal rooms and the lovely sense of space and light in the building. Ted Emery kindly facilitated this visit.
Thanks are due to all of those who kindly provided access to the church, fort, yacht club and Crosshaven House. Thanks also to Kevin Hurley for his work in organising a most enjoyable day.