Douglas, County Cork

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Douglas (Irish: Dúglas or Dúbhglas, meaning "dark stream") is a suburb of Cork city, Ireland and the name given to the Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland and Civil parish in which it is contained. As its borders are ill-defined and it straddles the boundary between Cork city and County Cork, it is difficult to ascertain the exact population. The CSO gives a figure of 19,787 for the parts of Douglas that lie within Cork County. No figure is provided for the parts within Cork City, although the combined population of the Tramore A, Tramore B, Tramore C and Browningstown electoral divisions, which lie in Douglas, is 5,868. This suggests a total population of approximately 25,655. The 2017 Mackinnon Report proposed that Douglas and surrounding residential areas be moved to within an extended Cork city boundary, potentially ending the division of Douglas between the city and county administrative areas.

There are a number of extant or proposed prehistoric sites in Douglas and the surrounding area, including a shell midden, ringforts, souterrains, and a fulacht fiadh. Further evidence of prehistoric settlement in the area includes the finding of a Bronze Age decorated beaten gold disc in the townland of Castletreasure; although reputed to be related to the ruined castle of the same name, it has actually been dated to 2500-2000 BC.

Douglas was first mentioned in an inquisition on the lands of Gerald de Prendergast in 1251, and in a 1291 taxation document which records the lands as being an appurtenance of the Church of Bauvier. It is alternately listed as "Duffelglasse" and "Duglasse" in 1302 and 1306, respectively, as part of the parish of Carrigaline. In the year 1603, it became one of the liberties of Cork City.

In 1615, parochial records mention the chapel of Douglas being laid waste, reportedly due to theft of the foundation stones, and in a 1700 entry of the same records it is mentioned that the ruined chapel in question had been the church of the Carrigaline parish for a century prior to the construction of a new church in Carrigaline.

By the mid-seventeenth century, it had a population of 308 people (of whom 33 were English) and consisted of a number of large farms.

The area began to develop as an urban settlement in the early eighteenth century with the opening of the "Douglas factory" in 1726, reported in August 1755 to be the property of "Messrs. Perry, Carleton and Co.", with 100 looms initially operational. The mills produced sail-cloth and supplied sails to the Royal Navy, amongst other clients. The industry was established by Huguenot weavers and textile workers, such as the Besnards, who acquired the Mills by 1783 and in 1801 installed the first powered spindles in Ireland, along with skilled workers from Ulster and Scotland. In addition to the mill workers, employees included over 1,000 spinners working from their houses, and hacklers, bleachers and labourers tasked with preparing raw material in Douglas village.

Douglas developed as a suburban area throughout the later eighteenth century and the nineteenth century, and was noted for the high concentration of 'big houses'(1). The popularity of the area among the nobility was such that elevated prices were commanded for the surrounding lands, and as a result, the acreage of the estates was lower than average.

Douglas was made a separate Roman Catholic parish sometime before 1768. St. Columba’s (Roman Catholic) church was built in 1814 by the Rev. Thomas Barry, according to local legend using the stones of the ruined castle of Castletreasure. A Douglas "Chapel of Ease" to the Church of Ireland parish of Carrigaline was established on the 17th September 1786, with the establishment of a full separate parish in February 1875. In 1855, the Protestant population of the parish was reported as having been 310, with 150 children attending the parish school.

In the second half of the twentieth century, Douglas underwent major changes as it became a suburb of Cork. A large amount of new housing was built and the area between Douglas and Cork City became entirely built-up. Schools, shopping centres, cinemas and other amenities developed to serve this new population. Douglas Community School was built in 1968 and the original Douglas Shopping Centre was completed in 1972. This shopping centre underwent a significant redevelopment at the turn of the 21st century. A second shopping centre, Douglas Court Shopping Centre, was built in the late 1980s and a 5-screen multiplex cinema was also built. Several hotels, including the Rochestown Park Hotel and Maryborough House Hotel were also developed. Douglas has two golf courses, Douglas Golf Club at Maryborough Hill and Frankfield Golf Club in Frankfield. The Frankfield course also contains a driving range.

Following the release of the MacKinnon Report in 2017, covering a possible extension of Cork city's boundary, it was proposed that the Douglas area (including Douglas, Frankfield, Grange and Donnybrook) would be moved to the administrative area of Cork City Council. This, if implemented, would move all of Douglas to the city, ending the divide of the town between the city and county.

In the 2011 census, the percentage of Irish nationals living in Douglas was 88.8%. UK nationals accounted for 1.7%; Polish nationals 3.2%; Lithuanians 0.6%; Other EU nationals 2.1%; Other nationals 2.9%; 0.7% did not state their nationality.

In the 2011 census, 84.7% of Douglas residents identified as Catholic; 7.9% were members of other religions; 6.2% were irreligious; 1.2% did not state a religion.


Notes:
1. Amongst the 'big houses' were Douglas Hall and Douglas House.

Douglas Hall with its tiled outer walls, is mostly noticed from the rear as one moves along the Well Road, after leaving the Douglas Road. It was the home of Dr. Francis Moylan, 1735-1815, born in Douglas the son a 'Merchant Prince'. Because of Penal Laws restrictions on education for Catholics, Francis was sent to France and graduated from the University of Toulouse with a doctorate in theology. He was ordained in 1761, and firstly administered as a priest in Paris before returning to serve in Cork, from where he was appointed Bishop of Kerry in 1775. In 1787 he became Bishop of Cork, and ruled that diocese until his death.

As Bishop of Cork, his flock had divided opinions on his legacy. He was an outspoken Unionist, and denounced the French force's arrival in Bantry, and on Christmas Day 1796 issued a pastoral letter urging loyalty and obedience to the English Crown. He subsequently received the Freedom of the City for his support. At Douglas Hall he entertained his friend from student days in France, Abbe Edgworth, confessor to King Louis XV1, who was at the monarch's side at the guillotine.

On the plus side, he was responsible for encouraging Edmund Rice and Nano Nagle to provide education for the Catholic poor, the latter founding the North Presentation Convent in Philpott Lane, and Rice founding the North Monastery. Moylan is best remembered for the construction of the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne, which was completed in 1808, and also founding nearby St. Mary's College, which was the forerunner of Farranferris Seminary. He was also a prime mover in the establishment of Maynooth College, and was one of its founding trustees.
In the early 1900s the property was purchased by the Duggan family, who farmed the land, before selling parts to provide for the building of Douglas Hall Lawn housing estate, and Douglas tennis club. It was purchased in the 1970s by its current owner Mr. Sean Cooper.

Douglas House was occupied by the Horgan family for most of the 1900's. Previously occupied by Daniel S. Stoker. In the photograph, above, the house appears to have been recently modernised. Are those bars on the windows?  It may now be owned by Sean Cooper.




 

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Last modified: Wednesday, 18 July 2018