The history of Sunday’s Well GNS and its environs
We are very fortunate in that our school is situated in a history-rich location. We make good use of our local environment, and place heavy emphasis on local History and Geography when delivering these subjects. The following is just a quick sample of what our senior pupils will learn about their local area:
Sunday’s Well (Tobar Ríogh an Domhnaigh) is one of Cork’s oldest suburbs. Its name is derived from an ancient holy well which was situated on the present Sunday’s Well Rd. Crowds made rounds at the well on Sunday afternoons, arriving by ferry. The ferry service crossed the river at the point where the Shaky Bridge now stands. Wellington Bridge had yet to be built.
The well had a wooden roof and a cup from which pilgrims could draw and drink the holy water.
In 1947, Sunday’s Well Rd had to be widened to accommodate increasing traffic. The well was covered in, but the stream continues to run under the present road. A plaque on the wall shows where the well originally stood.
Sunday’s Well was a very fashionable residential quarter during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Sunday’s Well Girls’ NS
Sunday’s Well Girls’ NS was built in 1835, 10 years before the Famine. The building of the school came about as a direct consequence of the building of the Gaol.
The Old Gaol was completed in 1822. For that building a tremendous amount of quarrying had to be done on the hillside to level the site. This quarrying yielded enough stone to build the Gaol and the road in front of it; a huge amount of stone was left over, lying in a field alongside the Gaol. The stone was donated free to build Sunday’s Well Schools, and this led to the school being locally known as the “Gaol School.”
The school was originally located on Strawberry Hill, and transferred to its present location on Blarney Rd in 1978.
Around 1818, and for many years before this date, the slopes of Strawberry Hill were planted extensively with strawberries. Two narrow hilly lanes intersected this area, connecting Blarney Road with Sunday’s Well Rd.
The strawberries grown were of the most superior kind, according to local sources.
George Boole, a very famous mathematician who worked in UCC, once lived on Strawberry Hill. Many other UCC lecturers also lived on Strawberry Hill, and cobblestones had to be laid on the hill to prevent their horses from slipping on frosty mornings.
Blarney Street can be seen on the first map of Cork in 1595. Originally called Irish Town, Blarney Lane and the Old Kerry Road, it was the principal road to Blarney and Kerry from the city. During the golden age of the butter industry in Cork, farmers from all over Cork and Kerry brought their butter along this road to the market at Exchange Street.
One of Blarney Street’s most famous residents was Frank O’Connor, who lived at number 251. He attended Sunday’s Well BNS for a period -his attendance was very bad.
Blarney Street is said to be the longest residential street in Ireland. It is certainly one of the oldest.
The Old Cork City Gaol
The jail was built in 1824 to replace the older jail that spanned the North Gate Bridge. it was designed by Robert Deane, who also designed University College, Cork. sandstone, quarried locally in Strawberry Hill, and limestone blocks from the old North Gate Jail were used in it’s its construction.
The jail had 54 cells and could accommodate 162 men and 48 women. In 1873, it became solely a Women’s jail. The jail was closed in the 1920’s. From the 1930’s to 1957 the premises were used as a Broadcasting Station.
The Jail has now been Renovated and is now open as a Visitor’s Centre.