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Your guide to Blackpool, Cork: Old factory neighbourhood with a new generation moving in

The home of Christy Ring and Jack Lynch on the northside of Cork city.

Your Neighbourhood is a series of local area guides from TheJournal.ie, presented by KBC. We’re bringing you the best of city neighbourhoods combined with the latest property data.

BLACKPOOL IS AN old neighbourhood of Cork. It started to develop several hundred years ago along the main road out of the city to Dublin and Limerick. 

From the 19th century onwards it became a manufacturing area, home to some of Cork’s most notable industries including the Cork Dry Gin distillery and the Sunbeam Wolsey textile plant (which burned down in a huge fire in 2003). Murphy’s brewery was also a major employer.

This made Blackpool a centre for thousands of factory workers, and it became known as a close-knit working class community with a network of sporting and other clubs – Christy Ring played hurling for Glen Rovers, in the heart of the neighbourhood. That has changed a bit, with a lot of the industry moving away in the second half of the 20th century. Today the neighbourhood has a lot of older residents, with a new influx of young ones just moving in. 

Historically, the area’s main artery is Thomas Davis Street leading into Dublin Street, the old route leading out past the shopping centre. In recent times the retail park has taken a lot of the commercial activity, but new investment is on the way.  

Take me there! OK, here you are on Thomas Davis Street facing the Church of the Annunciation – built in 1945 and funded by local factory owners and workers.

So what’s the big draw? Blackpool is a historic neighbourhood that’s changing. It’s a long-standing community that is often tight-knit, with a lot of community groups and organisations. Like many former industrial areas it has its problems. But it is getting significant investment in new housing and there are plans to regenerate areas of the old main street that have suffered in recent decades. 

What do people love about it? The people, says local business owner Bill Dunlea. 

They’re just salt of the earth type of people, great community spirit, everybody looks out for everyone else. And now we have a lot of young couples moving in, of all nationalities I suppose. We welcome strangers.

And… what do people NOT love about it? Some areas, especially along the old main street, are quite run-down. Bill hopes that new investment will change this. 

I’d like to see more people living here now. There’s plans in place to build more houses, and that’s going to be great. Freshen it up a bit. There are some streets badly hit with dereliction. But it’s looking good for the future.

He adds that plans to address repeated floods in Cork are causing some controversy. 

They have come up with a plan for sorting it out but there’s a lot of people don’t agree with it. They’re going to cover over the rivers, if this happens it could change Blackpool. That’s ongoing at the moment. That’s the main worry I have.

What’s the story with house prices? Relatively low. The average asking price for a property in Blackpool is €171,224 according to Daft.ie. That is the lowest price among Cork city neighbourhoods tracked in the Daft.ie analysis, and puts it in the bottom 25 per cent of areas nationwide by price.

How long will it take me to the city centre? From the Tomás Mac Curtain monument by the church, it’s a 15-20 minute walk down to Patrick Street. 

The 203 and 215 buses also run out through Blackpool, on their way to Fairhill/Farranree and Cloghrea respectively. 

Where should I get lunch? Try the Garden Cafe for lunch and a coffee. Located in a Victorian-style greenhouse on the grounds of the former convent, it claims to be “the greenest cafe in Cork city”.

Alternatives: Bracken’s Bakery, an outpost of the cafe in the city centre, does excellent cakes and sandwiches.

And what’s my new local? Geaney’s is a small one-room bar at the top of the neighbourhood that’s been in the same family for almost 170 years. 

Alternatives: At the other end of the village, the Constellation is a venerable watering hole which still delivers the goods. For something a little more lively, try Quinlan’s

Schools and supermarkets? There’s a Dunnes Stores and an Aldi in the shopping centre. There’s also a Lidl just to the west in Fairhill. 

There are five primary schools nearby: St Brendan’s (Catholic, girls, 99 pupils); North Presentation (Catholic, mixed, 229 pupils); St Vincent’s (Catholic, mixed, 280 pupils); Scoil Mhuire Fatima (Catholic, boys, 145 pupils); and Scoil Iosagain (Catholic, boys, 355 pupils). 

There are six secondary schools in the area or nearby: St Vincent’s (Catholic, girls, 216 pupils); North Monastery (Catholic, boys, 388 pupils); Gaelcholáiste Mhuire (Catholic, mixed, 561 pupils); Christian Brothers College (Catholic, boys, 903 pupils); St Angela’s (Catholic, girls, 564 pupils); and Scoil Mhuire (Catholic, girls, 414 pupils). 

OK, I’m sold. Give me one piece of Blackpool trivia to impress a local. The Sunbeam factory was a pillar of the area for decades, providing jobs for thousands of residents. Here’s a short documentary about their experiences.

Source: Eamon Pearse/YouTube

Do you live in Blackpool? Share your opinion in the comments!

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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