300-year-old Cork warehouse that survived the Black and Tans comes back to life, this remarkable relic of Cork’s mercantile history has been brought back from the brink.
With all of the talk of dereliction and decay in Cork city center – the remarkable revival of a 300-year-old survivor stands as a shining example of what can be done with skill, heart and imagination.
Number 6 Maylor Street started life as a merchant’s warehouse in (it’s believed) the early to mid-seventeen-hundreds, a time when ships from all over the world would dock on Leeside quays and our merchant princes traded out of one of northern Europe’s great mercantile ports.
When it was built, Patrick Street was still a busy river channel and Georges Street – today Oliver Plunkett Street – ran down towards a marsh where today we find the bus station, old warehouses and the Clayton Hotel.
On the 11th of December, 1920, the street on which it stands, Maylor Street (named for Samuel Maylor – a merchant and Sheriff of Cork in 1766) – was one of the worst-hit on the night British forces burnt out the centre of Cork City.
Many of the buildings around No 6 Maylor street and much of Patrick Street were gutted as the Black and Tans and British regular soldiers rampaged through Cork City centre, seeking revenge for the ambushes at Kilmichael and Dillons Cross.
One eyewitness account of that December night in Cork said: “The whole skyline was a shifting orange glow.”
The recent restoration work to Number 6 Maylor Street revealed the scars of that night – the craftsmen brought in to do the work found evidence of severe and historic fire damage to the bricks and stones of the building.
Youghal-based Kieren and Michael Aherne of stone masonry and restoration specialists Ahern Brothers have spent seven months bringing what was a historic building on the brink back to life.
They carried out the work for a new owner who is looking at options for a new life for the old warehouse – possibly as a stylish bar and restaurant.
“When we took the plaster off it to assess what state it was in, it was pretty scary,” Kieren Ahern told CorkBeo.
“It was sand and cement plaster, which is bad for these old stone buildings, as they need to breath.”
“Our first job was to strip it back and see what condition it was in and it was pretty bad, it had moved a lot.”
“So we had to first work on stabilising it, we took down much of the front, took the bricks and stones down one-by-one, numbered them and then worked to make it stable and build it back again. “It needed quite extensive surgery”.
What followed was a kind of giant, 3-D jigsaw challenge with the Ahern Brothers craftsmen working literally brick by brick, and stone by stone.
The team discovered extensive historic fire damage, which must date from that night in December 1920 when much of Maylor Street was gutted but the old warehouse somehow survived.
They also uncovered the original, brick-lined and arched entrance and the two upper-floor doorways that would have once been used to handle cargoes swung up from the street on a crane fixed under the roof.
The work was carried out over 7 months, with delays due to Covid, with Kieren saying: “Without the shutdowns, we probably could have done it in half the time.”
The restoration is faithful and full, with a reclaimed slate roof, re-laying of original brick and stone and traditional lime-mortar repointing to bring it back to how it would have looked in the 1700s.
Kieren Ahern, who has worked on other major projects on Leeside including Holy Trinity Church and Kent Railway Station, says he believes the restoration of these old buildings makes sense when it comes to cold, hard cash.
“A building like this, done right, could be worth four to five times more restored as in a derelict state,” he says.
But for the Aherns – and the new owner who was determined to do the restoration in the right way – the real value is in preserving the heart of the city.
“These old buildings are our heritage and history, they are part of who we are and they deserve the chance to come back to life,” he says.
“There’s nothing wrong with building new – but there’s a heart and a soul in these old buildings in Cork and if we lose that, we lose something that can never be brought back.”
The next phase of the restoration is expected to start shortly and after the painstaking work done so far – No 6 Maylor street could be good for another 300 years to come.
Works by Ahern Bros.
Call: Kieren 087 908 2931 or Michael 087 988 9042
Original article: https://www.corkbeo.ie/news/history/300-year-old-cork-warehouse-21359769