Waterside Stories

The 20th July 1969, the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Eagle
on the moon was a momentous event for the world. However, for the inhabitants of my local
village, Ballinacurra, Midleton, Co. Cork, my family and myself it was a date which has always
been very special for a different reason. It was the evening that we were watching the big event on
the T.V. There was a knock on our door. When I answered it, the Engineer from the Cork County
Council, on his way home from work, asked if he could speak to my mother. He had the most
fantastic news for her – soon we would have a Water and Sewerage scheme in the village. It was
like winning the lotto.
There was great excitement in the village. We no longer would we have to go collect the buckets of
water. Most important of all, we could have toilets and bathrooms. At the time, money was very
scarce. About 10 women on our side of the street got together and approached Mr. Pierce Forrest,
who owned a hardware shop in Midleton about getting credit to purchase the necessary materials,
which he did. He did get paid. These same women, had threatened the council workers, who had
been sent to replace the footpaths in front of their houses. This all happened prior to the granting of
the water scheme. The women had told the men to go back to their boss and tell him that if they
continued on the paths they (the women) would empty the contents of the po over them, they all
took flight. That is how important Water was to us.
Ballinacurra is a very old village and built where the Owenacurra River, the Dungourney
(Roxborough) River and an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean converge. A cemetery and the ruin of a
church are situated at a bend where all three waters meet. There is a headstone inside the ruin,
which belongs to the ancestors of an important man, who was almost forgotten. In 1785 Edward
Bransfield was born at No, 3 Rosehill, Ballinacurra. While out fishing the 18 year old was press
ganged by the British, who reckoned he had a good knowledge of the sea. He rose through the
naval ranks and was appointed Ship’s Master in 1812. He played a major role in naval events. In
December 1819 Bransfield was in command of a brig called “Williams”. He was sent to investigate
reports of land south of Cape Horn. Eventually on 30th. January 1820, Edward was the first person
to chart the Antarctic. I am proud to say that a beautiful monument was erected to the almost
forgotten man in Ballinacurra on 25th. January 2020. Many of his relatives travelled from America
for the 200th. Anniversary.
Due to the strategic situation of my village, it was the ideal place to build quays and wharfs. In later
1700s, a Maltings store was erected on the edge of the water. This business provided many jobs for
local people as well as being a great asset to farmers from the hinterland. Later other stores were
built near the quayside. Ships took produce to England, Scotland and especially to Guinness in
Dublin. They also brought materials and good from abroad, especially coal which was used in
furnaces in the distillery and brewing industry, as well as used in the gas works to provide light,
heat and cooking facilities to the local area.
It is very obvious that WATER has played a major role in my little part of the world.