6th July, 2000
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
A REGENCY GEM
Dear Editor of the Douglas Weekly,
I do hope that you will see fit to publish this item, as it involves an important piece of Southside heritage. I have checked that my facts are correct - obviously the early history of the building is not easy to research. I really think that it is time for ordinary people to stand up and be counted on these matters; after all, it can't be argued that there isn't the money in the economy to enable us to go that extra step to protect threatened historic structures. A decision on this is due in days. I have enclosed a photograph of "Tellingana" for your use.
Readers may not be aware of the threat that hangs over an important landmark Cork building, Tellingana. This imposing three storey Regency mansion (apparently built sometime between 1804 and 1820) is sited on the cliff off Blackrock Rd, opposite the African Mission Fathers establishment and above Monaghan Rd., Ballintemple. It is a superb example of 19th century merchant residence, which in the pre-reclamation days of its construction would have occupied a riverbank position on the River Lee's southern edge. Still surrounded by the remnants of fine formal gardens , with some magnificent mature trees in its grounds, the site of Tellingana probably once formed part of an earlier 18th century estate. There are a few hints to suggest that there may have been an 18th century house on the site, but most of the location's early history is mysterious. (The house has been long known to the locals as "The Spook" and "The Mystery House".) The architect, builder and first occupants of the house are unknown, but from 1875 until 1969 it was lived in by a branch of a prominent Quaker family, the Newsoms, who were well known in the grocery wholesale business - they even had their own brand of coffee and other goods at one time.
Sheehan and Sullivans Coal Merchants (now known as SHUL) acquired the property in 1970 and the house has been allowed to deteriorate to the point where it is now in urgent need of remedial works to protect it, although its exterior and main structure are essentially sound and certainly saveble. The owners have applied to Cork Corporation for permission to demolish this architectural gem and build a four-storey interactive technology centre on the site. Local residents and the heritage organisation An Taisce are opposed to these plans, on both heritage and environmental grounds - there are objections to the height of the proposed building and increased volumes of traffic on the already congested Blackrock Rd. A decision by the Corporations Planning Department is due within days.
I earnestly hope that both the Corporation and SHUL will look for another option for this lovely old building. I have considerable sympathy for SHUL's desire to develop a technology centre - in many ways it is an admirable and visionary plan, but it should not be done at the expense of Cork's remaining historical and folkloric heritage. I have drawn attention before in the Douglas Weekly and elsewhere to the fact that a huge and irreplaceable chunk of Cork's builing heritage has been destroyed over the past 35 years. The Quaker connections alone of Tellingana should be enough to ensure its protection, given the long and honourable associations of the Society of Friends with this city. The wanton destruction of Woodhill house (once home to Quaker anti-slavery activist Cooper Penrose and with important links to Robert Emmett and his lover Sarah Curran) in Montenotte during the 1990's erased an important piece of the cities history that also had tremendous potential for cultural tourism. Cork people have shown that they are prepared to rally to defend their inheritance recently, as in the case of Havisham House in Rochestown. Tellingana deserves no less: but time is running short.
Re the application by Westbrook Development Co. for planning permission to construct over three hundred houses adjoining Cooneys Lane. We wish to lodge the strongest possible objection to it on the following grounds.
1. As you are well aware every housing estate built in the greater Grange area exits onto Grange Road from Donnybrook Cross down to the Kinsale Road Roundabout, namely Kingslea, Grange Park, Grangewood Court, Pinecroft, Clifton, Hollyville, Ashford Court, Newton Court, Grange Vale Court, Belle Vue, Woodlands, Dun Vale, Curragh Woods, Alderbrook, Frankfield, The Maples, Seven Oaks, Park Gate, Amberly, Arbour Court and Grange Erin, that is a total of twenty three estates already coming onto the main road causing gridlock at peak times, and at various times during the day. We do not have the infrastructure to carry the amount of traffic that is travelling this road at the moment, so imagine what another six hundred cars will do! It will be mayhem.
At this point in time people are finding it impossible to get onto the main road coming out of several of these estates, and returning is just as bad. Children crossing the road to the shops are putting their lives at risk and parents are becoming nervous wrecks because of it. Also I would presume you are aware of the amount of accidents on this road through speed and the damage that has been done to property through these accidents. So putting an extra three hundred houses only increases chances of more problems.
2. The density of housing in this estate does not compare with existing estates; it seems they want to get as many houses as they can to maximise their return. The different types of houses is also a concern, as the amount of terraced housing accounts for more than one third of the development when we feel it should be the other way around, but preferably if there was no housing at all.
3. The Health and Safety of the residents around this development is of the utmost importance. The machinery and the amount of lorries that will be using Belle Vue and Cooneys Lane is of concern to the residents of Belle Vue and Newton Court as they will be the only exits and entrances to this development therefore causing further traffic problems. Imagine the filth and muck that will accrue from this, and who is going to clean this up on a daily basis.
The amount of toxic fumes that will be generated by having at least five hundred more cars will have an adverseaffect on the purity of the air we breathe, thereby affecting both young and old. This developer already has a poor record of his health and safety in his other sites, so please do not put our people at risk.
4. In this development the developer states that he is supplying a football pitch and this constitutes as an amenity for the community. A football pitch is not an amenity in the middle of a housing estate but a drawback as some club will have to take over this pitch and after a period of time will want to build dressing rooms and put up perimeter fencing around it making it look like Long Kesh. In all estates there are green areas for the kids of an estate to play ball so by saying he is putting in a football pitch is a load of cod's wallop.
We already have a fabulous amenity in our area named Foleys Woods. We have some beautiful bird-life and wildlife there and what would happen to them. Why doesn't the Council develop this wood and put in walkways and make an amenity of it. We have a lovely stream that runs through it and on either side of the stream it could be turned into a social amenity.
I would like to invite officials of your local authority to come up to Cooneys Lane any day or evening especially in Spring and Summer to see the hundreds of people who use Cooneys Lane for their daily walk. From people walking their dogs to mothers pushing buggies to people fighting the flab, they use this lane as their walk because it is serene and peaceful, as the amount of traffic on it is minimal and it is safe. This is part of our tradition and slowly but surely all of our heritage is being eroded by greedy developers who have no respect for tradition, this can be seen by everybody who knows the greater Douglas area, nothing but eyesores add blights to our landscape, so please when you come to make your decision on this application, take our concerns on board and do not turn our area into a concrete jungle and an unsafe haven with all of the extra cars and please appreciate some of our traditions.
P.S. This land was re-zoned without any consultations with the community of Grange.
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