The Beautiful City

John Johnson Marshall
Chapter XII

There are a number of names for Cork city, and sayings regarding it and its inhabitants.

“Limerick was—Dublin is—Cork will be

The greatest city of the three.”

Alluding to the military consequence of Limerick during the latter part of the seventeenth century, and to Dublin as the Capital. The prophecy, for so far, has not been fulfilled whatever the future may hold.

It appears to be an English rhyme localised and is found in “The Life and Prophecies of the celebrated Robert Nixon, the Cheshire Prophet.” Nixon was born in the year 1467, and the rhyme referred to runs as follows:—

“London streets shall run with blood,

And at the last shall sink;

So that it shall be fulfilled,

That Lincoln was, London is and York shall be

The finest city of the three.”

The Munster capital also rejoices in the title of “Rebel Cork,” and is said to be “God’s own town and the devil’s own people.”

Who, if “the beautiful city” is mentioned does not immediately appropriate the phrase to Cork? And why? Because it was introduced as a rhyme in a ridiculous song called “I was the boy for bewitching them,” which was a popular favourite about the year 1810. It ran as follows:—

“My father he married a Quaker,

My aunt she made hay with a fork,

My uncle’s a great grand brogue maker

In the beautiful city—called Cork.”

The ballad has been printed by Crofton Croker in his “Popular Songs of Ireland.”

“The Drisheen City”—consequent on a dish peculiar to Cork. It is not considered complimentary to a Cork man to ask him if he is a native of the “Drisheen city.”

This delicacy was made from sheep’s blood seasoned with pepper, salt and tansy, and was sold made up sausage fashion in the puddings of sheep. In a song by John Toleken, the Cork wit, entitled “Judy MacCarthy of Fishamble Lane,” are the lines:—

“The square has two sides, why one east and one west,

And convenient is the region for frolic and spree;

Where salmon, drisheens and beefsteaks are cooked best,

Och! Fishamble’s the Eden for you love and me.”

Cork has also a similar saying to that of Clogher, County Tyrone—“All to one side like Christ Church.” is a common civic proverb, applied to any extreme leader of a party. Christ Church, Cork, which was rebuilt in 1720 leans considerably, the foundation of its tower having sunk, but it is said to be perfectly secure.

Kilmallock has been termed “the Baalbeck of Ireland,” from its numerous and stately ruins. It owes its importance to the Desmond branch of the Fitzgerald family, and was first termed “the Irish Baalbec” by Dr. Thomas Campbell in his “Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland,” published in 1778.