This area looks like any inner city area now, with rows of terraced houses. However there is an interesting history behind the bricks and mortar.
The Albert Road area around the docks in Cork became a Jewish quarter from the end of the 19th Century.
While there were some Jews in Cork from the mid 18th Century, a big influx of Jews from the Vilna and Kovno areas of Lithuania arrived from the 1880s onwards. These folk were fleeing Russian pogroms and settled in the Albert Road area.
People always wondered why Jews settled in Cork, a city in what was then a very Catholic country. Allegedly the immigrants with no English may have thought the port of Cork was in fact ‘New York’.
Whatever the reason for their arrival, the area became locally known as "Jewtown" though not in a pejorative way. While poor it was more a Jewish quarter rather than a Jewish ghetto.
At its peak the Jewish population of Cork in the early part of the 20th Century was about 500 with the bulk living in Jewtown. Now the Jewish population is estimated somewhere between 20 to 30 in a city of almost 200,000.
The most famous Jewish native of Jewtown was Gerald Goldberg (several times Lord Mayor of Cork). While not Jewish, James Joyce's father, John Stanislaus Joyce, lived near the Goldberg family home in Jewtown.
Today, the streetscape is more or less as it was more than a century ago but alas there is very little trace of the Jewish community today. The Jewish meeting house at the corner of Electric Terrace is now a residential property. The nearby synagogue (technically Orthodox) on 10 South Terrace which is well over 100 years old is still in use. There are sadly only a handful of Jews in the congregation though it is occasionally inflated by visitors.
Additionally there is a green area called, Shalom Park opened in 1989, in the heart of Jewtown. In Dec 2011 an art installation marked the Jewish Hanukkah festival and a similar lighting show is planned for the next 50 years!
There are a few decent bars in the area (on Albert Quay) such as the ‘Idle Hour’ and ‘The Sextant’ which serves food.
Hibernian Buildings, Albert Road, Monrea Terrace and Eastville streets in Cork.
Google map: bit.ly/HNIPca
Great food market located in the centre of Cork city. Open as a market from 1788 and still thriving. When the British Queen visited Ireland in 2011, the English market was one of the places on her itinerary.
Quite a range here from exotic fruits, vegetables, artisan breads, handmade chocolates, fish and meat. Additionally there are numerous cafes in which you can take a pit stop.
Peaceful and stunning if you are interested in stone circles but feel nothing at over commercialised sites come here, aligned for winter solstice, you will really feel a connection with people from the past.
Masters of Tradition is six days of pure, traditional Irish music, performed in the library of the magnificent Bantry House, west of Cork. Performances are intimate, relatively informal and are delivered by some of the finest musicians from across the world. Loose yourself in the music or gaze out of the windows into the beautiful formal gardens (which you are free to explore during the interval).
If you believe in it, you can kiss the Blarney Stone on the top of Blarney Castle, about ten kilometres from the city. The legend derives from Cormac Teige McCarthy who, when he promised loyalty to Queen Elizabeth l, but would not give in to her, got the response from the Queen that he was giving her, “a lot of Blarney.”
If after climbing the Medieval stone staircases, hanging upside down over the edge of the castle you still feel like kissing the stone, well and good. Me, I can’t help thinking about everyone else who has kissed it!
With two sides of the tower in red sandstone and two sides in white limestone. “Partly coloured like the people, red and white is Shandon Steeple,” goes the local doggerel. The famous chimes of 8 bells can be rung by visitors for a few Euro. It was known locally as “the four faced liar” as each of the four clocks on the church used to show a different time. Now modern technology means they all show the same time. Ah well, it’s progress!
Church Street, Shandon
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