Tuesday, 26 April 2016

In the Night Mountain

Montenotte - the 'Night Mountain' - is a suburb of Cork City located on the north-east bank of the River Lee. The suburb is situated on a steep hill overlooking the river, and affords very fine views of the port, the city, and the southern slope of the Lee Valley. The suburb was first developed in the 17th century by Italian and Dutch merchants who had grown wealthy through trade in Cork's then bustling international port, and wanted to avoid the stench and squalor of the inner city (as well as keep an eye on their ships as they sailed  into the port!).

The area remained an attractive prospect for wealthy Corkonians throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and many fine houses were built on, and into, the hill. Although not quite as desirable now as it once was - many impressive Georgian terraces have sadly fallen into disrepair or been brutally sub-divided into flats - the area still retains a considerable charm, consisting of large 18th and 19th century properties on narrow, winding roads that snake their way up the hill, leaving little room even for a single car.

A very good way to approach the area on foot is to cross St Patrick's Bridge from St Patrick's Street and turn right onto Sidney Place from Bridge Street. The long, gentle slope of Sidney Place and Wellington Terrace (itself a fascinating street, which deserves a post of its own) takes one to St Luke's Cross, the gateway to Montenotte proper (although technically a part of the larger area). After a quick drink in John Henchy & Sons charming pub, one can walk north up the Ballyhooly Road (incidentally, this blogger spent his earliest years near the village of Ballyhooly - again, a story for another time!) or east along the Middle Glanmire Road.

For those with an interest in historic street furniture, the walk along the Middle Glanmire Road has considerable attractions. First, there is this lovely (I would guess 18th century) 'boundary stone' built into the wall on the northern side of the street:

It is wonderful to see that this ancient stone has been preserved by being built into the wall here, although one does wonder - is its current location where it was originally placed, or has it moved over the years? 

Next, opposite the Montenotte Hotel on the northern side of the street we find this wall-mounted 'EVIIR' (Edward VII, 1901-1910) postbox:

It's a real shame that this box has been allowed to fall into such considerable disrepair. However, it has survived: and although its paint is chipped and its front has been lost, it is still quite beautiful. Here is exactly how it would have looked when it was first installed (this example is from the little village of Beaumaris in Anglesey):

But all is not lost for the historic postboxes of Montenotte: a little further up the road, on the northern side again and opposite the entrance to the winding, twisting, Montenotte Road, sits this fine VR postbox:

The front may be cracked and the paint may be a little faded, but this Victorian postbox - made by W. T. Allen & Co of London between 1881 and 1890 - is still serving the residents of Montenotte over 120 years after its installation. Let's hope it continues to do so for another 120 years.