Heading west from South Gate Bridge we go along Proby’s Quay, so called because it was once a water channel. Now covered over you can see where the channel enters the Lee under Proby’s Bridge. Nearby is today’s Dean’s Hall complex and St. Marie’s of the Isle Convent once the home of the Dominican Abbey of medieval times. The Dominican Order first came to Cork in 1229, being introduced by Philip Barry, a welsh nobleman. The abbey was erected on one of the marshy islands just west of the walled city, the area becoming known as Holy Island. The church was called St. Mary’s of the Island to distinguish it from another church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, which stood on the site now occupied by the Elizabeth Fort; this church was known as St. Mary de Nard, as it stood on higher ground overlooking the medieval city, (“ard” being the Irish for high). The Dominicans suffered suppression under the rule of King Henry V111 of England, around 1544, but managed to regain possession of the abbey when times became better. In 1689, King James 11 spent a night at the abbey but by the following year, after the accession of William of Orange and the Siege of Cork, the Dominicans were finally forced to leave Holy Island for good. It came into the possession of a Captain Crosse, who built a house nearby and it is from him that the present area gets its name, Crosse’s Green. The brewing and milling industries were very prevalent in the area for many years during the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1852 the Mercy Sisters moved to this area from Rutland Street where they had their original convent in Cork and they have kept the name of the 13th century Dominican Abbey alive to this day through using the name St. Marie’s of the Isle for their convent. Today there are two window niches, now blocked up, in the wall where there is an entrance to the gardens of St. Marie’s of the Isle, on Convent Place. These are believed to have been part of the old Dominican Abbey and if you enter the archway to the Dean’s Hall complex you will see a history of the area laid out in drawings and photos of the archaeological excavation that took place on the site.