About Cork » History of Cork

Cork in the 13th and 14th Centuries

There is little documentary evidence for the trades and crafts which flourished in Cork in the 13 th and 14 th centuries, but is seems likely that theye were similar to those which were found in other Irish and European cities of the same period. The documentary evidence contains many references to mills, both within and without the walls of Cork, many of these mills were associated with ecclesiastical foundations. A particularly important mill was Droup’s Mill which stood on present-day Liberty Street alongside the channel of the Lee which separated the south island from Dungarvan. There are many references to Droop’s Mill right up to the 17 th and 18 th centuries.

It is known from custom returns from Ireland in the 13 th and 14 th centuries that Cork was regarded as the principal port of south-west Ireland. The ‘port’ would have been situated on the river channel separating the north and south islands and to the east of the central bridge. It’s position would have corresponded approximately to present-day Castle Street. The main imports to Cork would have been wine, cloth and spices, while the principal exports would have been wool, grain, beef and other agricultural produce from the countryside surrounding the city.

This prosperity began to decline during the Gaelic and Gaelicised Anglo-Norman resurgence of the mid 14 th century and Cork requested exemptions from its annual fee farm payment to the Crown during this period. The prosperity of the city suffered a devastating blow with the arrival of the Black Death in 1349. It was further impoverished by the need to defend itself from attack by the native population outside the city and was severely damaged by a serious fire in or around 1354. This period of relative decline in the fortunes of the city continued well into the 15 th century.