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Cork Harbour


Cal McCarthy

November 2019

Richly illustrated history of Cork Harbour’s unique development from its early days as a key military hub of the British empire to the development of the modern-day port.


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ISBN: 9781785373015 Categories: , ,


Cork Harbour’s association with infamous ships like Titanic and Lusitania ensure its place in world maritime history. While such tragedies are heavily documented, the story of the modern evolution of the second-largest natural harbour in the world and its trade has received less attention. The Royal Navy’s long and extensive association with Cork makes it unique among Irish harbours, an association born of the necessity to protect trade in a growing world of ever-expanding ships and increasingly global enterprise.

The trade of the world’s most powerful empire instigated the development of Cork Harbour as a military hub, and the intensity of that development ebbed and flowed for centuries. The commercial development of the harbour proceeded in tandem with its military evolution, and each was driven and facilitated by the other and Cork’s overall development was greatly impacted by the political and military consequences of Britain’s increasing prominence on the global stage. The expansion of the British empire, and Britain’s periodically turbulent interaction with Ireland, also left their mark on the harbour we know today.

Illustrated with new and archival images, Cork Harbour examines all these interacting themes to outline not only the events that shaped the harbour’s rich history, but the complex context in which those events occurred.

Table of Contents


Part I – Military Development
1. Battling the French
2. The American Revolution
3. The Fortification of the Harbour
4. Convict Labour and Haulbowline Dockyard
5. World War One

Part II – Commercial Development
6. Building a Port
7. Running a Port
8. The Trade of Cork
9. The Shipyards of Cork Harbour

Part III – Migration
10. Early Emigration to North America and Australia
11. Steamships and Emigrants
12. Convict Transportation

About the Author

Cal McCarthy studied history and economics at University College Cork before going on to work as a civil servant. He has worked in the Department of Transport, the Department of Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht and Cork County Council, and also completed an MPhil in history. Cal is the author, or co-author, of Cumann na mBan and the Irish Revolution (2007; 2014), Green, Blue and Grey (2009), The Wreck of the Neva (2013), and A History of the Victorian Prison on Spike Island (2016). He lives in Cork and works as a heritage consultant and tour guide.

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