Arthur Walker Snr: Evergreen Road, Ballyphehane



Arthur Walker Snr: Evergreen Road, Ballyphehane


Life History: Evergreen Road, Ballyphehane, Childhood, Poverty, Emigration


Arthur tells of his early life on Evergreen road and the move to Ballyphehane in the 1950s


13 September 2016




Cork; Ireland; Ballyphehane; Evergreen Road; 1950s - 2000s


Cork Folklore Project Audio Archive


Cork Folklore Project












Ballyphehane, Cork

Original Format


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24bit / 48kHz


The following is a short extract from the interview transcript, copyright of the Cork Folklore Project. If you wish to access further archival material please contact CFP,

AW: But, ‘twas there it all started. The apples, and my going down to Friar’s Walk and finally Ballyphehane and going into Paddy O’Halloran’s orchard. That’s where the church is now and the school above it, then. They built the school eventually. After building the church, then, the building of the church, there was no one that I knew around that time working on houses and friends that we knew very well and a lot of people then that got work, got houses in Ballyphehane, down the lower end, they were getting work above in the building of the church, like, it gave great work to locals and no outsiders, ‘twas all local direct labour in Ballyphehane. After that, then, it progressed, the church was packed, packed, packed and the Corporation, there was two priests arrived, and they had no house, so the corner of Joe Murphy Road in Friar’s Walk, there was two houses hadn’t been given out yet to any family or anything and they gave the priests one each, one of the houses and they lived there for years, and eventually they built four houses, eventually, we ended up with five priests, years after, we had so many priests that time, and they were all good men. They built four houses then, on the grounds of the church, there alongside of it there below. That was the beginning of it, then. And then, after that, things were picking up with the building of the roads in Ballyphehane, so to me, the greatest thing of all, there was a meeting called for everyone in the parish, and the churches used be packed that time, they were starting a credit union. ‘Twas the first in Cork.

Time Summary

0.00.00 - 0.07.30

Early Life: Evergreen Street. 3 brother and 3 sisters. Father worked in England. Mother was an invalid. The house had 1 little room. Bad conditions, no work in Cork. Would only see father once a year or once every second year. Telegram boy would come with wages every now and then.

Eldest sister looked after them. No room for 2 eldest siblings in the house. Mattress on the floor. Remembers the talk of his eldest siblings and cousin from Turners cross deciding to emigrate to England. The travelled on the InnisFallon. They were 17 or 18, embarrassed to bring friends back to the house. Arthur thinks that this may have been the deciding factor to leave.

The Grandmother lived next door, she knitted down quilts from peoples woollen jumpers and sold them to her neighbours. She also sold apples from a barrel from her front window to the school children for a penny. The apples came from an orchard on the end of Friars Walk were Ballyphehane church is now. It was Arthur’s job on the weekend to go and collect the apples. He often cried, had a boxcar with 2 pram wheels, he would go all the way to the orchard, half way down Friars walk where the Marian Pharmacy is now was a was 4 cottages and a water pump with a cup attached where Arthur used to stop to get refreshed. Where the orchard was there was also a farm house belong to Paddy Halloran with a big country yard with a lot of fowl. Get the bag of apples from him, wouldn’t get back home till 8 in the evening. He used to give Arthur an apple on the sly.

The corporation decided to build up Ballyphehane, so he had to sell his land to the corporation, and opened the Bull McCabe pub on the Kinsale Road, his son had it after him. The collecting of the apples was Arthur’s first experience of Ballyphehane.

0.07.31 - 0.09.01

The building of Ballyphehane: there was no building work at the time, so those who had been moved out here were given work on the church, all local direct labour.

The church used to be packed with parishioners.

2 priests were assigned to the area, they were firstly given corporation houses on the corner of Joe Murphy road and Friars walk, eventually they built four house at the rear of the church. The parish ended up with 5 priests, ‘all good men’. After that thing were picking up with the building of the roads in Ballyphehane.

0.09.02 - 0.14.40

The Credit Union: was the greatest thing that happened. Ballyphehane was the first Credit union in Cork, could have been the first in the country (First outside Dublin). Meeting called in the school hall about setting it up. Bishop Lucey had been in America and had met people there that told him about the credit union movement which had begun in Germany. The New Cannon in the church, Cannon Henchy was told by Bishop that it would be a good idea to set up a credit union in the area to bring people together. Great interest from the beginning, a few men volunteered to take it on, and it grew.

Due to the speed at which Ballyphehane was built, the houses got dishevelled quite quickly, with doors off hinges etc. The Corporation had a repair unit on Friars walk in a tin shed, that is still there (the pipe band is there now) and can’t be moved with out permission, it was originally a part of a market garden. The corporation weren’t very reliable when it came to repairs. The credit union filled this void and enabled the locals to afford to maintain their house.

At first the credit union was based out of the church. Arthur volunteered on Saturday with the Children’s bank.

It picked up with everybody saving locally.

To buy a mattress or anything one would have to go to Sean Jennings on grand parade where the park is now, you would be paying off for one item but when that was nearly paid off they would get you to buy something else and people would get further into debt. The credit union made these purchases easier and more affordable.

In Arthur’s case, he was able to get a loan to build some garden walls at the back of his house, eventually he was able to buy a car for £80, which was an awful lot of money, couldn’t have afforded it without the assistance of the credit union.

0.14.40 - 0.17.07

The Car: in question was a Morris Minor which had to fit a family of seven and whoever else was tagging along.

The car opened up things to the family, they would go to red strand or Youghal every Sunday.

One Sunday a friend of his daughter Pat’s was with them on a trip, he was teaching Pat to drive, got to Bandon and she wouldn’t drive through the town, so they swapped seats Arthur drove through the town and swapped back again after the town, on the way home same thing happened again but this time there was a hitchhiker on the road, while they were swapping seats the hitchhiker thought they had stopped for them and sat in the seat ‘Jesus, you’ve a big crowd in here’ he said, Arthur had to explain what was going on and the hitchhiker didn’t take to kindly to being removed from the car.

0.17.08 - 0.18.53

The Credit union Cont.: progress was made through the credit union, the council was always putting you on the longer finger, so you’d go to the credit union for money and get a local to the job in the house. Back door, windows, today he says he wouldn’t have anything if it weren’t for the credit union. The council owe them a big honour, the beauty of Ballyphehane house and upkeep of gardens is due to the CU, and the CU gets little recognition for this. Footballers and hurlers and anyone gets honoured by the council but not the CU.

0.18.54 - 0.21.20

FR Matthew, the Graveyard and the GAA: They started a hurling club called the Fr Matthews due to him being buried in St Joseph’s cemetery. His grave was a famous site where people would go for cure, they would do rounds of his grave in hope to cure cancer. The comedian Ignatius Commerford lived across the road from Arthur and he used to do rounds of the grave every morning after he had a stroke, trying to get his speech back.

Back to the GAA club, the locals weren’t happy with name, so called a meeting in turners cross school and had a vote, which passed the name Ballyphehane Hurling and Football club.

They set up street leagues for the young fellas under 12, each street had its own teams which competed against each other. They played first at Tory Top park.

Casement Soccer club then set up street leagues too

0.21.20 - 0.23.11

The Battle of Ballyphehane: One Sunday the GAA club and the Soccer team’s finals clashed. Both were to be played at Tory Top park. It was known as the battle of Ballyphehane. The men on Connolly Road were setting up soccer goal post and men on the other side were putting up the Hurling goal post, there was children and the Sinn Féin pipe band waiting to play, the nest thing they men started arguing ‘ye can play after’ and Paddy Mahoney took off his coat and shirt, they had to call the priest to settle the matter, Fr Fitzgerald came up told one group to play next week and the other to play the following week and the final should be played on these days for every year.

0.23.11 - 0.25.12

Neville’s Lane at the side of the Marian Pharmacy, the side gate to the park used to be a massive house belonging to the Neville family. They gave the pitch to the children. We used to take a picnic to the cemetery on Sundays and look at the grave, nothing else to do, no TV or radio, you’d have go through that lane way, no Derrynane road at the time no Doyle’s road to Connolly road. Connolly road was just stones and earth.

0.25.13 - 0.33.08

Getting the house in Ballyphehane: you needed a contact to get a house in the area, ‘you’d have to know the Lord Mayor’, ‘some councillor had pull’ Dino was a fierce man in those days’.

Arthur had to go to the tinny shed with the form and house would be given out the following week. Was told to pick a house on Joe Murphy Road and come back and tell them. Picked No. 52 because the sun was shining in the back garden. Got the key the following Monday. The road was not yet finished, no fences and earth and rubble everywhere. There a lot of families worse off, Arthur by then had a job in Murphy’s Bacon Factory on evergreen road (a job he kept for 33years). The Walkers were the first to move in the road, in 1957.

He had been living in a flat in Washington street, above the Washington inn looking over the roof of the court house. MacDonald’s from Bishopstown owned the pub. After he got married he had nowhere to go, a fella told him to go to Oliver Plunket street and see John Mcasey (pub by the market) he gave him a small flat as a stopgap. They were in a 1 room attic sweatbox, 4-5 flights of stairs. His sister was home, her brother -in-law was a housing officer in the city hall. They were out for a drink and a chatted about family and Arthurs situation came up, the brother in law came to assess the flat, he discovered that the Jim Barry’s (boxer and cork hurling coach) tailor was on a lower floor and had four men working and one toilet which Arthur had to share with them. He said that’s illegal, later got the call from the council and got the bungalow on Joe murphy road. Very happy on Joe Murphy road. ‘I’d go back there today’ lived there for nearly 10 years.

0.33.09 - 0.36.03

Collecting the church dues: Fr Fitzgerald called to the houses chatting to people and tell of the churches debt. He appointed Arthur and his neighbour Timmy Cooney to call to the house on their road very Sunday to collect a shilling from each and mark it in a jotter, and return the money to the sacristy. Some would pay, others would skip it. Cooney used say ‘don’t go in there now, the young fella will come out and he’ll say ‘me mam said she’s gone out’’ did that for years. Was then roped in to the credit union, for the children’s bank on Saturday mornings from 10 to 12.

0.36.04 - 0.42.46

The move to Nuns Walk: He was told that his family was too big for the house on Joe Murphy road and that he would have to move to Togher. He had 5 kids at this stage. They were all upset. No reasonable time to leave. Told a chap in the credit union and he said ‘I’ll be leaving my house on nuns walk shortly, I’ll have a word with the Fr Fitzgerald’ (he had great pull, he was known as Lord Fitzgerald, he inherited Fitzgerald Park and the Cork cricket grounds and Fitzgerald’s place by the south infirmary.) Fr Fitzgerald got on to Jimmy Dineen the housing officer who was also a founding member of the credit union and he helped out again and got Arthur and his family into the house on Nuns walk. Got the house but was to tell no one because there was loads of interest in houses at the time, but he got it through his volunteering with the church and the credit union.

The previous owner used to do shoe repairs in the house. He had worked for Hanover Shoe company where the dole office is now on Clarkes bridge, that closed down and himself and a fella named Jack Dwyer (the sunbeam dywers) decided to rent the store on Pouladuff road (ucc use it now). He was exporting boxes of shoes to Italy, in the end he wasn’t getting anything back, found out that they were going to a false address, and he lost all the whole business. He then started a repair shop here in the house. So there was smell of leather in the house from him. His wife used to give out about it, so he rent a shop on Peasre square, later he packed it in, the wife said he was over worked. He moved from here to where SuperValu is on the Togher Road. Only Fr Fitzgerald, jimmy Dineen and Arthur knew of the move.

0.42.46 - 0.47.50

The buses in Ballyphehane 1960s: they came up as far as the church, turned up friars walk and turned by the tinny shed and go around the corner, that house had massive trees. Arthur describes trees of Ballyphehane which re-date the suburb being built. The Carroll’s had a house over by where the harp bar is and got to pick a house wherever they wanted in the area and moved to Connolly road. The big weeping willows on Derrynane road (recently cut down), the bus would turn there, the conductor would sit on the wall and have a smoke or go to the toilet, and the driver and the school kids would be waiting for the conductor, the young fellas would hit the bell and the driver would head off without the conductor, and more fella would get on and hit the bell again, the conductor would be running after and the driver would have to turn back to get the conductor. The trees at lynches (Katheleen Lynch the TD, her family fierce Sinn Féin man and a Bowl player, Dinny) house were older than Ballyphehane.

0.47.51 - 0.49.30

The first shop in Ballyphehane: was down Kilreendowney avenue was owned by the Carrol family. Used stay open late, people used to get milk and cigarettes. A work colleague of Arthur’s, Sammy Forde married one of the Carroll’s daughters, and the family gave her a gift of what is now Fordes shop on Pearse road.

0.49.31 - 0.53.42

The Club House? Tory Top park The Club house? Could be Neville’s house in the park, people did have meetings there, but it got vandalised. Or it could be the

Club house on the corner of ST Patrick’s road, Deer park, across the road from the shop, was Nemo Rangers first club house.

There was a public toilet in Ballyphehane park. In the side gate off Neville’s lane, behind where the goals would be there was a square red bricked house and it was a gent’s toilet. ? Arthur Jnr has no recollection of these, must be early 1960s.

2 characters used to work with Arthur, Connie Bennett (Joe Murphy Road) and Tommy Kelleher (pauladuff Road) fierce for the drink, they could end up anywhere. They were coming home late one night from Mountain bar on Evergreen Road, everyone used the park as shortcut, the lads were going through the park and Tommy was bursting for the toilet, rushed over to the gents and tommy went in and ran out quickly shouting with his pants down round his knees, he had walked in on a young couple embracing. Connie told all of Cork about it.

The Bandstand used to have a band every second Sunday, great place for the kids.

0.53.43 - 1.01.23

The Explosion at the republican plot in St Finbarr’s Cemetery: The monument. Timmy Cooney said that they should go out to the cemetery on Glasheen road to see de Valera unveil a plaque to the old IRA, there will be a band at 3pm.

The night before there was an explosion out there. You could hear it all around. Some Sinn Féin guy’s had set a bomb at the monument to get de Valera. They had been at a dance in the Tomas Ashe hall (Sinn Féin hall) on Fr Matthew quay. Mick Collins from Evergreen Road, Madden from Upper Fr Matthew Road, and a young fella Swanton, from Blackrock. Arthur knew them, had worked in some capacity with Swanton and was quite friendly with him. They decide to have a smoke before they left the plot. Whatever happened, the bomb went off, three of them went up, one of Madden’s arms was found a distance away, he is still alive on turners Cross. Collins ran off to England. Swanton died in the blast. Timer on the bomb set wrong.

This had a fructuous effect on the IRA in the city and led to factions being set up. Sinn Féin members who attended the funeral was expelled from the party. Arthur attended the Funeral. Swanton worked for Sisk and used to do lot of jobs in the Bacon Factory.

Mr Mulcahy: form Nuns walk, took park in the boarder Campaign in the late 1950s early 1960s in the North. He was arrested in an ambush where Séan South killed. (He roped Barry Doyle into Sinn Fein). He was arrested and jailed for 12 years, wouldn’t sign out or let the family visit. Fr Fitzgerald visited him. He died and they buried in St Finbarr’s, Guards and army presence to stop the gun salute from happening. But later in the school playing field in Ballyphehane they did the gun salute, even though unmarked cars were monitoring the area.

1.01.24 - 1.05.57

What Ballyphehane means to Arthur: The greatest thing ever. It gave him a place to live and to enjoy. Never met so many great people anywhere. Wouldn’t live anywhere else, the most pleasant place. It used to all bog land, used to pick blackberries, there used to be a train line, he was on the last train to Courtmacsherry 1963. Used to pick birds nest. Would walk out to the viaduct, he was there for the lofting of the bowl by the German on the ramp. It was done it with a 16 inch bowl, the normal weight is 28. The German did it with the 16inch while Mick Barry did it with the 28. They had a ramp to help get extra height. Murphy’s brewery gave him £1000 pounds to do it.

The bishop said that Barry’s bowl only actually went through a gap and didn’t really scale it.


Interview Format