Cork City Antiquities

Among the remains of antiquity one of the most ancient was Gill Abbey, which, after standing 980 years, fell down in 1738; no vestiges of it can now be traced, but near the site is a cave, anciently called the cave of St. Finbarr, and several fragments of stone pillars and other sculptured ornaments have been lately turned up on the spot. An Augustinian monastery, also on the south side of the town, is the only one of which there are any remains: it is stated by various writers to have been founded at different periods, by some in the reign of Edward I., by others in that of Henry V. or VI., and by some even so late as 1472 or 1475; the remains consist of the tower, which is 64 feet high, and is called the Red abbey.

The Franciscan monastery had a stately church in which many illustrious persons were interred, but it is now entirely demolished, and Hebert's-square is built on its site. On digging the foundations of the buildings in this square in 1836, a stone curiously sculptured with the date 1567 marked on it was discovered, also a plate of metal 34 inches by 30, now in Mr. Hebert's possession, on which is represented the Nativity, accompanied by a long description, apparently in Dutch. The site of the Dominican friary, called the Abbey of St. Mary of the Island, is now occupied by Mr. O'Keefe's distillery. A nunnery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and from which St. John's-street took its name, was founded early in the 14th century; the site was discovered a few years since, when several tombstones were dug up near the spot. St. Stephen's priory for lepers was founded in the south suburbs, at a very early period, on the site now occupied by the Blue Coat Hospital; and a Benedictine priory is said to have been founded by King John on the south side of the city, and made a cell to the English abbey at Bath.

Bourke mentions a house of White friars and a preceptory of Knights Templars, of which not the slightest vestiges can be traced. Of the ancient walls of the city, with their circular towers, there are considerable remains near the North bridge, and in the rear of the foundry the wall is perfect: of the fortifications in and near it, the last, which was called from its founder Skiddy's castle, was taken down in 1785. A mint was established in the city after the English settlement, but the specimens of coinage are extremely scarce; the earliest extant are silver pennies and halfpennies of the reign of Edward I., which have on the obverse the king's head within a triangle, with the inscription EDW: R: ANGL: DUX: HYB:.

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