Cork and Flooding

On Thursday 19th November 2009, Cork City and County experienced major flooding. Several key buildings in Cork City were badly affected. Flooding in Cork City was also a feature of the past. I quote a book entitled “Of Timber, Iron and Stone” by Antoin O’Callaghan (published in 1991 in Cork), in which he discusses the history of the waterways of Cork City. 200 years ago, the description of the flooding seems eerily close to the recent breach of the quay wall at Bachelor’s Quay, near the Mercy Hospital!

“On the 17th January 1789, a flood such as had not been seen in the city in living memory swept through the valley, submerging everything in its path in a matter of hours. The entire city from the Mayor’s residence (the present Mercy Hospital), to the lower reaches of the harbour were completely covered, forming an inland lake. Only the vigilence of the citizens prevented a major catastrophe….”

Bachelor's Quay after floods Nov. 2009

As a genealogist, I am concerned that the new Cork County Library… purpose-built, which opened to the public on the 19th October 2009, having transferred from the Model Farm Road location, is now “closed until further notice”.  The library which had been housed in County Council premises on the Model Farm Road, closed its doors there on the 9th October 2009 and re-opened on the 19th October 2009 in a custom build annexe of the County Hall on the Carrigrohane Road (Straight Road). Its availablity to the public lasted a month before it closed again, seemingly due to flooding in the basement, where, it is reported “collections” were stored. As I write it is the 4th December and the notice on the Cork County Council website has a notice posted on the 27th November stating that the library is closed until further notice.

The Cork Examiner, 24th January 2006, describes the proposed library as follows:

For the first time in its 80 year history, the Cork County Library is to have its own purpose-built headquarters.

It will be housed in a six-storey state-of-the-art building to be constructed beside the County Hall (skyscraper) on the Carrigrohane Road. The County Library building is next door to it!

The library, currently located adjacent to the old Liebert property on the Model Farm Road – will take up an estimated 32,000 square feet in the new building.

The lower ground floor will be used for cataloguing and book storage, with natural light and ventilation from landscaped courtyards….”

The Southern Star newspaper on the 4th December 2009, quotes the Mayor of County Cork, as saying:

“NOBODY could have predicted the “deluge” that swept through towns and villages in the county over the weekend, causing extensive damage to homes and businesses, devastating County Hall and the newly-opened County Library headquarters, the Mayor of County Cork Derry Canty said this week.”

I fear the worst for the collections housed in the basement of the new library!

Below, a YouTube video of the Carrigrohane Floods, showing the Cork County Hall (skyscraper) on the top right hand side. The Cork County Library is next door to it!

See more videos of the Cork Floods on Donnacha O’Caoimh’s blog.

Does anyone remember the flooding of the 5th August 1986?

Here is a Cork Examiner image from that newspaper on the 7th August 1986, taken from the top of County Hall. Note the old Outdoor Baths to the bottom right:

View from Co. Hall, Aug 1986

View from Cork Co. Hall, Cork Examiner 7th Aug. 1986

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7 Responses to Cork and Flooding

  1. Pingback: Cork Floods « Holy Shmoly!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    What a shame. I hope the records survive. Prayers.

  3. Lisa says:

    Any word this month on the library’s collection after the flood, Margaret?

    Hoping for good news,

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    • mjordan says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Although, I haven’t been back to the County Library yet, I know it is open since late December 2009. I believe the water damage from the November flooding, was mostly to modern books which were stored in the basement.


  4. Sharon Rose says:

    You can keep up to date on current Cork news and events at the Cork News newspaper digital edition every week. It’s at Or search The Cork News on Facebook.

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    If you send us what you would like on our links page, please link back to us with the following:

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  6. mjordan says:

    Thanks to someone on twitter, I discovered that in September 1875, there was a very bad flood in Cork City. The tweet linked to an entry on, for an old Victorian print which was for sale. The image and text were from the 9th October 1875 edition of The Illustrated London News. When I googled this event, I found the wonderful account and images on the website. Here is the link to the webpage:
    You will be able to click on the transcribed article, the original article and view an image of the flood at Pope’s Quay, Cork City.

    A big thank you to for this information on Cork City.

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