Cork City

French Church Street and the Huguenots

The area around French Church Street and Carey’s Lane is known as the Huguenot Quarter of Cork City. The Huguenots were French Protestants who fled from religious persecution during the seventeenth century. The Edict of Nantes (1598) had granted religious freedom to French Protestants, but it was revoked in 1685. Many Huguenots left France and some 5,000 of them settled in Ireland. The community of Huguenots in Cork numbered around 300. In the latter half of the 18th century many more arrived. Finally the French Revolution ended the denial of religious and civil liberties to the Huguenots. On coming to Ireland, some of the Huguenots conformed to the principles of the Church of Ireland while others choose to worship in independent or non-conformist churches of their own. The non-conformist Huguenots bought some property in 1712 and established a church between the modern-day French Church Street and Carey’s Lane. A graveyard was later established adjacent to the church (still can be seen with the permission of the shop owners now on the site). The Huguenots worshiped here until 1813, but declining numbers caused the closure of the church. The original building was demolished in 1845 and a new church was erected by the Primitive Wesleyan Methodists, who used it until 1897. The Huguenots became prominent in the commercial and civic life of the city. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries many Huguenots served as Sheriffs and Mayors of Cork. In the commercial field the Huguenots were prominent in trading and textile manufacture, while as craftsmen they were noted as goldsmiths and silversmiths. Some of the best known Huguenot surnames in Cork included: Lavit/Lafitte,Pick, Godsell, Besnard, Hardy, Mallet, Delacour, Perrier, Quarry and Perdian.

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