Liam Ó hUigín: Henry Street, The Marshes, Childhood



Liam Ó hUigín: Henry Street, The Marshes, Childhood


Life History:


Liam grew up in Henry Street during the 1940s. He talks about the marshes of Cork and Pike’s Marsh, named after a Quaker merchant family.
He recalls the practice of adding “a” to the end of some placenames, such as Pana for Patrick Street. There were many more shops in his day, and shopping was done in small amounts because there were no fridges. He remembers the various shops in Henry Street. Bills were paid weekly and at Christmas, regular customers were given a present. Glass bottles could be redeemed for pennies at Ogilvy and Moore’s. He borrowed bicycles from visitors to the Mercy Hospital while they visited patients. He talks about William Penn, who went on to found Pennsylvania, USA. Cake shops and poor hygiene. Bath time and being given syrup of figs. Robert Day’s shop used to be at Dunnes Stores, Patrick Street (which opened in 1944). He recalls shops which sold comics; these could be swapped between friends later.
Wartime meant that food was rationed and gas masks were issued, specially fitted for each member of the household. He talks in detail about the types of sweets that were available; a Lucky Ball might have a coin inside it. He recalls milk and cake shops, known as milk and nods.
Liam talks in detail about the old pubs of the city and tells a story about a man hiding in a pub. He talks about the lanes of Cork and the churches; Catholic churches had to be called chapels. Henry Street, Grattan Street and Sheares Street were all built on what used to be rivers.
Shawlies would work as poultry pluckers.
Crafts and industries included Farm Products, Hornibrook Builders, Charlie Nolan’s that dealt in butter and feathers; tinsmiths, box-makers; quilters sewed and sold quilts. He details the slang language for different coins. He lists a lot of childhood games played by boys and girls. Cigarette cards were called 'fagas'. He recalls many slang words they used when he was a child. He lists the many characters that used to frequent the city such as Mackey Gumboil.
There were tenement houses in Blarney Street, Barrack Street and The Marshes. They had one outside toilet, and sheets of newspaper were used as toilet paper. Houses did not have clocks, and time was told by the movement, arrival and departure of various groups of people. They got free shoes from Cork Corporation.
He lists some famous sportsmen who came from Cork and The Marsh. He tells the story of how the Shaky Bridge came to be built.


22 August 2012




Cork, Ireland, 1940s-2000s


Other Interviews with Liam in the CFP Archive

CFP_SR00539_OhUigin_2015; CFP_SR00727_OhUigin_2019;

Other Interviews in the Colection:

CFP_SR00387_sheehan_2010; CFP_SR00388_sheehan_2010; CFP_SR00389_healy_2010; CFP_SR00390_kelleher_2010; CFP_SR00391_crean_2010; CFP_SR00392_mckeon_2010; CFP_SR00393_twomey_2010; CFP_SR00394_stleger_2010; CFP_SR00395_speight_2010; CFP_SR00396_lane_2010; CFP_SR00397_obrienoleary_2010; CFP_SR00398_jones_2010; CFP_SR00399_saville_2010; CFP_SR00400_magnier_2010; CFP_SR00401_marshall_2010; CFP_SR00402_marshall_2010; CFP_SR00403_murphy_2010; CFP_SR00404_prout_2011; CFP_SR00405_walsh_2011; CFP_SR00406_prout_2011; CFP_SR00407_newman_2010; CFP_SR00408_newman_2010; CFP_SR00409_leahy_2011; CFP_SR00411_newman_2010; CFP_SR00412_newman_2010; CFP_SR00413_finn_2011; CFP_SR00414_ohorgain_2011; CFP_SR00415_oconnell_2011; CFP_SR00416_sheehy_2011; CFP_SR00417_mcloughlin_2012; CFP_SR00418_gerety_2012; CFP_SR00419_kelleher_2012; CFP_SR00420_byrne_2012; CFP_SR00421_cronin_2012; CFP_SR00423_meacle_2012; CFP_SR00424_horgan_2012; CFP_SR00425_lyons_2012; CFP_SR00427_goulding_2011;


Heritage Week 2011: CFP_SR00429_casey_2011; CFP_SR00430_tomas_2011; CFP_SR00431_newman_2011; CFP_SR00432_stillwell_2011; CFP_SR00433_oconnell_2011; CFP_SR00434_lane_2011; CFP_SR00435_montgomery-mcconville_2011; CFP_SR00436_ocallaghan_2011; CFP_SR00437_corcoran_2011; CFP_SR00438_jones_2011; CFP_SR00439_ohuigin_2011; CFP_SR00440_mccarthy_2011; CFP_SR00441_crowley_2011; CFP_SR00442_obrien_2011; CFP_SR00443_jones_2011; CFP_SR00444_mcgillicuddy_2011; CFP_SR00445_delay_2011; CFP_SR00446_murphy_2011;

Video Interview: CFP_VR00486_speight_2014

Published Material: 

O’Carroll, Clíona (2011) ‘The Cork Memory Map’, Béascna 7: 184-188.

O’Carroll, Clíona (2012) ‘Cork Memory Map: an update on CFP’s Online Project’, The Archive 16: 14.

Dee, Stephen and O’Carroll, Clíona (2012) ‘Sound Excerpts: Interviews from Heritage Week’, The Archive 16: 15-17.

O'Carrol, Clíona (2014) 'The children's perspectives: Place-centred interviewing and multiple diversified livelihood strategies in Cork city, 1935-1960'. Béaloideas - The Journal of Folklore of Ireland Society, 82: 45-65.

The Curious Ear/Documentary on One (Cork City Memory Map)

To view the Cork Memory Map Click Here


Cork Folklore Project Audio Archive


Cork Folklore Project






2 .wav Files






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 for this interview or other interviews please contact CFP,

LOH: But regards to the, the Marsh area or the city as ‘twas called, I mean there’s several marshes there. You have the western marshes and you have the eastern marshes, Dunscombe’s Marsh now would be around Patrick Street and all these places but the marsh that we grew up would be, you had Pike’s Marsh which came up the side of Bachelor’s Quay. You had Hammond’s Marsh then which would be around by the Mercy Hospital there in Henry Street, Peter Street, Moore Street and then you had Fenn’s Marsh which would be where Sheares Street is and you go over further then where Clarke’s Bridge is and you have Clarke’s Marsh. So I mean people say they lived in the Marsh but no one would think of asking them what Marsh did they live in. You know I mean, well most people just call it the Marsh area, you know, they don’t put names on it but me being a local historian, I’m supposed to know all these things. When people are talking to me they want to know, you know what part was Pike’s Marsh you know and all this business. Now they were all called after Merchant Princes’ if you like, they were all well to do Quakers and things like that now and em like Pike’s they had, the Pike family, they had a boat building place in Water Street. They had a timber yard. They had a bank in Adelaide Street, you know that just give you an idea of the type of person, people, the families I’m talking about and they actually lived eventually, they moved, when the city expanded and the city walls were demolished and things like that, they moved to Bessboro in Blackrock, now if you are ever in Bessboro and to see the size of house and the lands all round it, you will know the type of family I was talking about. They were big, big merchant princes. So that would have been the Pike family. There’s not much information on the Hammond family and you know Hammond’s Marsh and why they’re called, why they’re called, how they got their names were when the city walls were demolished after the siege in 1690, the city council as we call ‘em, the corporation decided to lease out the Marshes outside the city walls. Now in actual fact by reading about it, I don’t think they were marshes at all, there was just waterways with islands, you know that the water went around the islands because I mean you’d be asking yourself if there were marshes how did they build on them. That’s just my own interpretation of it now but they filled in all the waterways anyway and they built big houses on the outskirts of the old city walls.