Cork City

Viking Cork

Keyser’s Hill. The first mention of a Viking raid on the monastery at Cork is in the old Irish Annals for 820. In 846 the annals record that the King of Munster attacked the Viking fort at Cork. We do not know where this fort was. Archaeological evidence shows that by the middle of the 12th century the Vikings, who by now were called the Ostmen, had built a small town on the south island near the South Gate Bridge and on the south bank of the Lee near Cove Street. They may also have settled along French’s Quay. Near French’s Quay is Keyser’s Hill. The word ‘keyser’ is a Viking word which means ‘the passage leading to the water’. It is one of the oldest public passageways in Cork. There was a little harbour near Cove Street which could be used by small ships. Cove Street probably gets its name from this small harbour. Nearby was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site where St. Nicholas’s Church a former Church of Ireland now stands. The Vikings may have built a wall around the settlement on the on the south island. The last leader of the Ostmen in Cork was Gilbert, son of Turgar. He was killed in a sea battle near Youghal County Cork with the Normans in 1173.

Barrack Street: This is another of Cork’s oldest street. There were many lanes running at right-angles to the main thoroughfare leading to different properties. Sullivan’s Lane is one of the few remaining. From the time of the Celts, Barrack Street was a very busy area and from the 17th century onwards many private dwellings as well as business premises sprang up on both sides of the street There were also a number of different markets there, the Fruit Market next to the present day Brown Derby pub and St. Finbarr’s Market at the entrance to the Elizabeth Fort. There is a stone plaque on the wall of Murphy’s Fuel Merchants, which shows us the site of this market, but it is hard to read. The street itself got its name from the fact that there were two military barracks situated on either side of it. Premises at the bottom of Barrack Street suffered much damage during the Siege of Cork in 1690 due to their proximity to the South Gate Bridge and City Walls.

The earliest evidence of Viking occupation in Cork comes from an archaeological dig that was carried out during 2002 at the South Gate Bridge, where the Flying Enterprise Lounge and Quay News Shop stand. A timber walkway was uncovered during the dig, with the wood being dated to around the year 1085 A.D.

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