Fota History Nuggets – Stories From Cork, Ireland and Beyond
On this day, April 1st, 1823, the Cork Crown Court sat to hear a case which “excited great interest and occupied several hours, not being closed ‘til 8 o’clock in the evening”.
The Grand Jury in Cork had given permission to John Smith Barry, Esq, to allow a portion of his land to be used for a new road from Cork to Cove. Mr Abraham Hargrave lodged an objection (a “traverse”) to this on the basis that part of this new road would see his “plantation” cut in two. Mr Hargrave was leasing 35 acres from John Smith Barry. While the objection was aimed at the Grand Jury and Smith Barry, it appears that the main reason for the hearing was to allocate compensation to Mr Hargrave.
According to newspaper reports, it took some time to select a jury “sufficiently disinterested to be considered impartial”, suggesting that the issue was a divisive one for the locals. Both sides agreed that the new road was needed to replace the existing one which was in poor conditio
n. This new road had to be designated a “post road”, suitable for the riders and post coaches bringing letters, parcels and people from the busy port of Cove. The objections put forward were, firstly, that the road for which permission was granted was only 21 feet wide, when the law stated that a post road should be 32 feet; secondly, that notices regarding the planning permission should have been on display locally, but were not; thirdly, that an alternative route “along the Strand” should be used.
Concerning the planned route, counsel for the Grand Jury and Mr Smith Barry argued that a road along the Strand would be “subject to inundation (flooding), therefore not suitable. Both sides had witnesses in court, with Mr Hargrave side calling neighbours, surveyors, architects and even Mr Baylor of Fermoy, a nurseryman with expertise on landscapes. His counsel argued that John Smith Barry should pay the cost of building the new road, rather than placing this “burden” on the public purse. After Judge Burton’s summing up, the jury were sent to consider the arguments. They returned within half an hour, telling the Judge that the permission for the new road should stand but awarding £60 damages as compensation to Mr Hargrave.
A note on Mr Abraham Hargrave: it seems that he was the son of Abraham Hargrave Snr, an architect and builder who built Belvelly Bridge and many other notable buildings in Cork City and County This Abraham Hargrave was also an architect. He lived at Ballynoe House in Cobh, with his wife and 16 children. He was an active member of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, alongside John Hugh Smith Barry and had a racing yacht called Giaour. (It is said that, in 1853, Abraham’s son, Charles Townsend Hargrave, sailed in this boat (with three of his brothers) to Australia, where he became a very successful architect, becoming inspector general of roads and bridges for South Australia). Abraham Hargrave died in 1837. (With thanks to Sally O’Leary for her nautical input).
This image shows a section of a 6” B&W Ordinance Survey Map (1829-41) of the area around Ballynoe House, Cobh.
Today’s post is thanks to our volunteer Catherine Coakley who lends her history skills to research and write for our #FotaHistoryNuggets – our volunteers make exceptional contributions to Fota House & Gardens with their individual expertise, skills and passion.