Shandon – the historical fort on the hill.
This distinctive district is located on the hills just north of the River Lee (between the modern day Christy Ring Bridge and North Gate Bridge), with the clock tower of Shandon Steeple at its visual core.
Named after Sean Dún, (Irish for old fort), this area is probably the oldest inhabited community in Cork. Its unique location, its narrow streets, living lanes, long history, shops and community buzz as well as population mix creates a unique and authentic atmosphere rarely found in modern cities.
As the ancient and medieval defensive castles and forts crumbled, Shandon grew as a commercial hub with its world famous Butter Market and developed as a center for meat and hides along with pubs, drapers and hardware shops to service the influx of country farmers and families bringing their products to the local markets.
The neighbouring churches of the North Cathedral and St Anne’s, Shandon grew larger and more impressive and began to dominate the elevated skyline over Shandon while the Dominican Church, St Mary’s on Popes Quay dominated the river views. With the building of Skiddy’s Almshouse (1719), the North Infirmary (1720) and the later brewery industry, Shandon retained its own sense of place and history.
In the 2000s Shandon has become the village of festivals and creativity. The famous Shandon Street Festival (on the Saturday closest to the June solstice) is special with thousands spilling onto the streets to enjoy the diverseness of the community. The Dragon of Shandon Parade (organised by the Cork Community Artlink) emerges from Shandon’s shadows on Halloween and the ancient streets are filled with ghostly spirits, strange otherworld creatures and a sense of horror where the children of Cork partake.
The Spirit of Mother Jones festival and summer school pack the local meeting venues during late July early August each year with a local and international audience (Mary Harris/Mother Jones was born nearby in late July 1837). Dozens of events are organised by the Cork Mother Jones Committee to celebrate Mother Jones who campaigned for social and labour justice in the USA. Talks, lectures, films, discussions, music, singing and street theatre ensure long days and late nights.
Shandon is just five minutes’ walk from the Cork City Centre.