The Glen, Cork

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The Glen (Irish: An Gleann, meaning "The Valley") is a predominantly residential area in the northeast of Cork City, Ireland. The area consists of mostly Local Authority housing estates located near an ancient glacial valley today known as the 'Glen River Park' (also the 'Glen Amenity Park', formerly 'Goulding's Glen'). Most of The Glen is in electoral area 'Glen A', with a population of 2,354 as of 2011.[1]


Looking eastwards at The Glen valley in 'Glen River Park'. The Glen River (obscured by foliage from this angle) runs parallel to the left of the footpath.

During the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene periods it is believed that the River Lee valley was occupied by a glacier which melted and the water which sought an outlet created a ravine or glacial valley that now makes up what is known as 'Glen River Park', so named because the 'Glen River' flows through the valley on an east-west axis, and joins the 'River Bride' and the 'Kilnap River' in the Blackpool Valley to form the 'Kiln River'.[2][3] In the 1850s W. and H.M. Goulding built a large factory in The Glen that was used to make phosphate fertilizers and the area became known as 'Goulding's Glen'.[4] The factory closed and was demolished in the mid-20th century and very little of it remains today. The land was donated to the people of Cork by Sir Basil Goulding in the late 1960s and was subsequently developed as an amenity park.[5]

Most of the present housing estates in The Glen were built in the 1970s in an area to the south of the valley and generally consisted of three bedroom terraced houses (generally six per block) and a number of free standing flat blocks (two bedroom flats with 18 per block).[6] Most of the flats were demolished or refurbished during the Glen Regeneration Project. Like most housing estates and urban areas developed on the outskirts of Irish cities in the 1960s and 1970s, the area was not equipped with adequate facilities for new families that had moved in, an issue that would later be rectified by a regeneration plan. Initial facilities developed with the housing estates include St Brendan's Church and two primary schools; St Mark's Boys National School and St Brendan's Girls School. The area also includes two shops and is near Blackpool Shopping Centre and Retail Park which was developed during the 2000s.


View across the Glen valley of new housing built during Phase I of the Glen Regeneration Project.

During the 2000s, The Glen underwent significant changes as part of the Glen Regeneration Project. Phase I of the project which was completed in 2006 involved using new infill housing to occupy obscure areas and provide passive supervision of public space. A series of new, mainly single-storey terraced houses were used to form a coherent edge to the development where it meets the Glen amenity park, with the re-formed embankment to the park planted with native trees and shrubs in keeping with local biodiversity. Much needed community facilities were provided in the form of a day-care centre which overlooks the Glen Park. The centre is flanked by a care-taker’s apartment, and opens onto a semi-private landscaped garden which is shared with a number of the residential units. Additional community facilities will be provided as part of subsequent phases of the Regeneration. One of the existing flat blocks was demolished and the other two refurbished to provide a mix of housing with private outdoor space and better security. Much of the unresolved public space was addressed by extending private space out to the existing road network, which allowed for new gardens and boundary walls as well as new driveways or parking bays to be provided to the existing houses. A new green space was created in the centre of the scheme.[6]

Phase II of the project commenced in October 2010. This phase of the project comprises the development of 59 new houses, and a substantial community facility adjacent to St Brendan's Church in the heart of the Glen. The community services centre will house a number of local educational, family and youth services when completed.[7] This scheme builds on the substantial work undertaken in the first Phase of the Glen Regeneration where over 84 homes were upgraded and 80 new homes were provided at a cost of €26.5M.[8]

A new housing estate was developed in a large field in The Glen known as 'Susie's field'. The houses are now in areas known as Glentrasna Crescent & Glentrasna Avenue. The development commenced on site in January 2007 and was completed in July 2009. The scheme is housed on a 3 hectare / 7 acre site and comprises 109 housing units all of varying types and sizes. Units include 3 and 4 bed semi-detached houses, 2 bed sheltered houses, two and three bed apartments, duplex units as well as a Crèche. There are 26 dwellings, both 3 and 4 bed, allocated as Affordable type units. The layout of the scheme was dictated by the sloping nature of the site, which resulted in a terraced development from a North-Westerly to a South-Easterly direction. Many of the units have views of the City and of North Cork.[9] Cork City Council collaborated with the Steiner Kindergarten to provide a preschool facility as part of the Susie's field development.[10]

Cork Military Graveyard, at the top of Assumption road and adjacent to the Susie's field development was converted into a small park with a playground for children in 2010. It is now called the Military Cemetery Park.[10]

Glen River Park[edit]

View of 'Glen River Park'. The Glen River can be seen in addition to walkways and a large soccer pitch. A Cork City Council depot can also be seen in the background.

Since the land (then known as Goulding's Glen) was gifted to the people of Cork in the 1960s, Cork City Council have developed the area as the Glen Amenity Park (Glen River Park) - with walkways, seating and plenty of green space in what is otherwise a totally urban setting. Care has been taken in the development of the Glen River Park to preserve the natural attractiveness of the area.[11]

The park is located in a deep steep-sided valley and includes a range of habitats that are of biodiversity value. At the heart of the site is one of the city’s most diverse wetland areas which includes ponds, wet grassland, wet woodland and swampy areas of emergent vegetation including common reedmace, sweet-grass, canary reed-grass and common reed, providing a valuable refuge for birds, insects and other wildlife and of biodiversity value. Bird species which nest in the area include some that are restricted to wetland areas such as moorhen and reed bunting. Artificial lagoons created at the Glen are a feature of the park.[12][13] The park also includes a soccer pitch and a Cork City Council depot.[14]

The park was at the centre of a controversy in 2002 and 2003 when some local politicians and environmental groups opposed a decision by An Bord Pleanála to permit a housing development in an area of the park known as 'Murphy’s Quarry' which contained sandbanks used by sand martins as a nesting area.[15][16] The development went ahead and is now known as Pynes Valley, Ballyvolane.

The park has two main entrances. One is located on the 'North Ring Road' near a bottle-bank just beyond the junction with 'Glen Avenue'. The second entrance is located at approximately the midway point of the 'Ballyhooly road' adjacent to Keating’s Furniture.

The park was mapped by Ordnance Survey Ireland for walkers in 2004 (see reference link).[17]

Road network and transport[edit]

The main road through The Glen to which all housing estates are connected is 'Glen Avenue'. The 1.2 km road commences at a junction with the 'North Ring Road' (R635) on the west and ends at a junction with 'Ballyhooly Road' (R614) in Dillon's Cross in the east. The main access routes to the city by vehicle are via the N20 (connected to the North Ring Road) and the R614 which encompasses the Ballyhooly Road and 'Summerhill North'.

The Glen is primarily served by Bus Éireann route 7A. The route operates between the city centre and Glenthorn via The Glen, Blackpool Village and Dublin Hill. Buses depart hourly from Glenthorn between 8.25am and 6pm on Mondays to Saturdays.

History and people[edit]

On Saturday, 11 December 1920, the day after martial law was proclaimed during the Irish War of Independence, a six-man IRA squad ambushed a convoy from K Company of the Auxiliary Division at 'Dillon’s Cross', not far from Victoria Barracks (renamed Collins Barracks after independence) in Cork City. British forces sustained casualties of one dead and twelve wounded, while the IRA squad escaped unharmed. The usual route taken by military convoys to or from the barracks took them past Dillon’s Cross. There was an old stone wall roughly 50 yards long running between Balmoral Terrace and the houses at the corner of the Cross. It was here that the members of A Company decided to lay their ambush. Behind the wall was a field known as 'O'Callaghan's Field', leading down to 'Gouldings Glen', which would provide an excellent escape route for the ambush party. Due to the proximity of Victoria Barracks - just a few hundred yards, the action would have to be quick. It was planned to stop the convoy of Auxiliaries, hurl bombs into the lorries, fire a quick volley of revolver shots and get away as rapidly as possible.[18] Sean Healy a member of the ambush party, described their escape through The Glen after the attack was carried out:

It was now a case of every man for himself to try and make a safe getaway. Under cover of darkness, and hugging the walls, we ran towards 'Goulding’s Glen' and reached it in safety. A large stream ran through The Glen. This was swollen by the winter rains. We crossed the bridge over the stream and got away into the open country by Blackpool. I stayed at the house of Lt. D. Duggan’s father that eventful night. Bloodhounds were used in the search but all their efforts to trace us failed.[19]

Retaliation by the Auxiliaries resulted in the Burning of Cork.

The first of four ventilation shafts constructed c. 1850 for a subterranean railway tunnel connecting Mallow to Cork city. The adjacent metallic train sculpture was added c. 2000.

The Glen is also the location of a subterranean railway tunnel that was constructed from 1847 to 1855 to connect Mallow to Cork city. The tunnel had four ventilation shafts, all of which are still standing and two of these are located in The Glen. One is located in Arderin Way and the other can be found in Glentrasna Drive.

Of the ventilation shaft in Arderin Way, the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage describes it as "...a fascinating reminder of the early days of train travel when steam engines created large quantities of vapour and smoke, and consequently ventilation shafts were required. It retains its original form and massing, and remains an notable addition to the urban landscape." [20]

In his story "The Ugly Duckling", Irish playwright, novelist, and short-story writer Frank O'Connor writes of the relationship between a man and his home town. Here he describes his return to Cork city from Dublin:

Then, long after, he found himself alone in Cork, tidying up things after the death of his father, his last relative there, and was suddenly plunged back into the world of his childhood and youth, wandering like a ghost from street to street, from pub to pub, from old friend to old friend, resurrecting other ghosts in a mood that was half anguish, half delight. He walked out to Blackpool and up 'Goulding's Glen' only to find that the big mill pond had all dried up, and sat on the pond remembering winter days when he was a child and the pond was full of skaters, and summer nights when it was full of stars. His absorption in the familiar made him peculiarly susceptible to the poetry of change.[21]

Comedian Des Bishop lived in The Glen in the late 1990s when he started doing comedy. In 2004, he described his feelings after returning to The Glen for a gig: " was quite nostalgic for me to go back to the place where I was living when I started comedy."[22]

Michael Rawley, a film actor who starred in Strength and Honour and War of the Buttons grew up here before leaving for acting.

Sport and leisure activities[edit]

Glen Rovers GAA is located here just beyond the North Ring Road near Dublin Hill. The Glen Boxing Club is also located on the North Ring Road near Glen Avenue.

The Glen Resource and Sports Centre which opened in March 2001 offers a range of activities, from six all-weather soccer pitches (two convertible to tennis courts) to the zip-line in addition to indoor activities such as yoga and karate classes.[23] In 2014, the country's first publicly owned artificial ski slope opened in the centre. It is 30 m long, 5 m wide with a gradient of about 14%, consisting of an artificial all-weather perma-snow surface with an in-built pad underneath to absorb the shock of falls.[24] Educational courses are also provided in the centre, some of which are run by University College Cork for adults continuing their education.


  1. ^ "Population Classified by Area" (PDF). Central Statistics Office. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "County Cork Geology". 13 July 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Landscape strategy" (PDF). Cork City Council. 13 May 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Phosphorus: From urine to fire". UL. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Group seeks to protect the nests of sand martins". 15 May 2003. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Glen Regeneration Project – Phase I". Cork City Council. 1 January 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Director's Report to the City Development Board" (PDF). Cork City Development Board. 21 September 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Official opening of major housing refurbishment projects in the city". Cork City Council. 11 October 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Susie's Field Development". Cork City Council. 1 January 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "Cork City Development Plan 2009‐2015 – Two year Progress Report ‐ April 2011" (PDF). Cork City Council. 10 April 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  11. ^ "Recreation & Amenity". Cork City Council. 18 September 2011. Archived from the original on 19 November 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  12. ^ "Cork City Development Plan" (PDF). Cork City Council. 10 April 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  13. ^ "Biodiversity in Cork city" (PDF). The Heritage Council. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  14. ^ "About us". Cork City Council. 16 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  15. ^ "Group seeks to protect the nests of sand martins". 15 May 2003. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  16. ^ "Cork's Glen - JCB protest halts demolition of bird sanctuary". 29 April 2003. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  17. ^ "Glen Recreation Park" (PDF). 29 April 2005. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  18. ^ "Auxiliaries ambushed at Dillon's Cross". 16 May 2005. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  19. ^ "The Burning of Cork by Gerry White & Brendan O'Shea". 16 May 2006. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  20. ^ "Cork City Buildings". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  21. ^ "I am filled with longing to be back in my home town". The Independent. 21 October 2000. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  22. ^ "Des Bishop's life". Des Bishop’s life. 16 June 2004. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  23. ^ "The Glen Resource Centre". The Glen Resource Centre. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  24. ^ "Northside ready to go on piste with ski slope". The Irish Examiner. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 

Coordinates: 51°54′45″N 8°27′46″W / 51.91250°N 8.46278°W / 51.91250; -8.46278