Cork City

Former Mansion House, Henry St

 Up to the mid seventeenth century the medieval walls of Cork City were still intact, when they were breached by the Williamite army, so as to root out any Jacobite strongholds in Ireland. The cities defensive walls were never rebuilt and the city began to spread beyond the confines of the overcrowded medieval city. The city was surrounded by a marshland which was reclaimed in the first half of the eighteenth century. Hammond’s Marsh (or Hamon’s Marsh) to the west of the city was reclaimed, and the waterways which now run below Sheares Street and Henry Street were arched over. Then part of the British Empire Eighteenth Century Cork went through an economic prosperity as a thriving mercantile port. Cork Corporation set aside monies for the building of a Mansion House for the Mayor of the city to reside in and hold council meetings. The Mayor also hosted lavish balls and functions, which would have been held in the grand ballroom and dining room. During an economic downturn in the nineteenth century the Cork Corporation could no longer justify the huge expense involved in the upkeep of the Mansion House. The house having only been used for approximately 75 years was now leased to a religious order namely the Vincentians, who used it as a presbytery. The Order of the Sisters of Mercy founded a hospital in the former Mansion House in 1857, an extravagant residence for one person, was now open to all the citizens of Cork. Here patients were nursed back to health in the lavish surroundings of the Mayor’s dining room and ballroom, under ceilings decorated with elaborate stucco and through Venetian windows idyllic river views. The Mansion House, built in 1767, was a significant representation of Georgian architecture and construction of large houses built in eighteenth century Ireland… It is a five bay three storey house, its limestone steps lead up to a decorative neo classical frontispiece of Doric order, comprising of engaged columns flanking the doorway and window openings, its facade features limestone quoin, window surrounds and string course. Of notable interest the windows include Italian style window openings on the first and second floors and oeil-de-boeuf style on the third. Many original interior features have been retained, neo-classical Corinthian door cases and wood panelled walls, a grand mahogany double staircase with flying ramp. In the dining room, ballroom and stairwell the ceilings are in Elaborate Rococo style by Patrick Osbourne of Waterford. A Sardinian named Daviso de Arcort (Davis Ducart) was commissioned to build the Mansion House in 1756. Ducart was actively involved in building large houses and civic buildings around Ireland i.e. Lota House in Cork and the Custom House in Limerick in 1760 (now the Hunt Museum). Ducart was involved in the industrial construction of the Newry Canal in 1741, the first inland waterway to be constructed in the British Isles. It is now known as the Mercy University Hospital.

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