Heritage Week was celebrated in Churchtown on Sunday 26th August when a large crowd gathered at the Market House to listen to a lecture given by John Cronin on Market Houses in North County Cork. John’s presentation was preceded by Gerry Murphy on the specific history of the Market House in Churchtown which was completed in 1845 and restored from a derelict state in 2000 as part of the renewal of Churchtown village. John explained that the Market House in Churchtown was probably the last one built in County Cork as the requirement for communities to have a market house died out in the early 1800s.

As it happened the Market House in Churchtown was not really a market house at all but offices for the landlord’s agent and was used to collect rents and to hold meetings. It was restored in 2000 as part of the Boss Murphy complex but is now owned independently of Boss Murphy’s and is the head office for Great Gas Petroleum and the North Cork office for RCCN. The event at the Market House concluded with an address on behalf of the guests given by Rosario Buckley who reminded the visitors of the progress made by Churchtown since the Trust was established in July 1997.

The Market House in Churchtown was completed in 1845 under the instructions of Sir Edward Tierney, agent for the Earl of Egmont. Sir Edward envisaged its primary uses as an office for rent collections and as a place where he could meet tenants for private discussion. It was unoccupied in 1851 at the time of Griffith’s Valuation which listed the building’s annual rent at £9 10s 0d. On 30th May 1900, Lucy Countess of Egmont, 7 Eaton Square, London, sold the Market House to Captain Thomas Sandes Trench of Glenmalyre, Ballybrittas, Queen’s County (now County Laois) for £80. Captain Trench collected rents on behalf of the Egmont Estate at that time. On 19th April 1901, Captain Trench sold the Market House to Edward Flannery for £150 sterling.

Jerry O’Sullivan purchased the Market House and other adjoining buildings (including what is now Boss Murphy’s) in 1972 from the Flannery family. The premises were acquired by Liam and Marie O’Herlihy on Christmas Eve 1992. The O’Herlihy family sold the property to Boss Murphy’s Ltd on 18th August 1997. On 6th November 2003, Gerry Murphy purchased the Market House from Boss Murphy’s Ltd. In 2000, the building was completely refurbished and it was further extended by builder Maurice Gilbert in 2006, based on a design by architect Dana Hayes.

After the Market House event the large crowd then moved to the Booney House in the village for the official Churchtown launch of Michael Leaf’s book – ‘The Serengeti and the Maasai’ – on his life as a policeman and a veterinary field officer in desert locust control in Tanganyika. Michael spoke most eloquently and at some length about his life in Kenya and explained how he was motivated to write his memoirs as a way of dealing with the sad loss of his wife Daphne. Michael presented a copy of his book to Noel Linehan the organiser of both the Market House and book launch events. Daphne’s son Stephen and his partner Pam also attended. Michael and Daphne moved to Churchtown 17 years ago. A presentation of a video about the Famine in Churchtown was also made to Patricia Murphy Jordan who was visiting with her husband Dan from Chicago. Patricia’s grandfather was born in Egmont and emigrated to the US in 1902. The evening concluded with a music session with the entertainment provided by Denny Hawe, P J O’Driscoll and Tim Brown, from Kanturk.

You can see videos of Michael Leaf and of various musical performances from the night on YouTube if you search under “Bruhenny TV”. “Heritage Week has been celebrated in Churchtown for several years thanks to the hard work and dedication of Noel Linehan who is the driving force in the Churchtown Historical and Heritage Society”, Gerry Murphy explained as the event ended.