LITTLE ISLAND - Cork Harbour Islands
A History of Little Island and District

Although the ancient name of Little Island would appear to have been Inis Meic Neil (Inis Mhic Neil) in modern Irish, the Gaelic name of Inse Ratha was used for many years, from at least from the end of the 19th century until it was officially replaced in 1975. Today, the national school at Little Island Cross, which was built in 1881, is still known as Scoil Inse Rathabut in former state solicitor Patrick Twomey’s younger days, the area was referred to as Inse Ratha instead of Little Island.

In his book, The Way We Were: A History of Little Island and District, Mr Twomey provides a comprehensive history of the area illustrated by original photographs. The book, which was published two years ago, is now out of print. He writes: “What is not clear is how this name (Inse Ratha) came about, and when it was not used by the church authorities at any stage. There are various theories as to where the name came from. The most favoured version is that it was an Anglicisation of the name Inchera(Inis Iarthair), which of course was a townland at the western end of Little Island, and prior to the 19th century was a separate island to Little Island.”

The book explains that originally two seperate islands existed in Little Island which were known as Inis MhicNeill and InisIarthair (Western isle), but over the centuries, the names changed and these islands were no longer islands as such. Mr Twomey notes that the first connection onto Little Island from the mainland at Rockgrove and Castleview was probably some type of ford or crossing during the 18th century. This location was where the Island Bridge was subsequently built. The location was the narrowest point between the high ground of Castleview (Ditchley-Radission Hotel) and Rockgrove Demesne. Once the bridge was built, Little Island was no longer an island.

The Bury family reclaimed the marshland between Inchera and Inse Ratha around 1820. This is the strip of ground between theCognis factory and the Punch factory at the western end of Little Island and south of both Inchera and Bury’s bridges. This reclamation probably facilitated the erection of the bridge, and subsequent causeway at Bury’s Bridge. This meant it was now possible to traverse the whole of Little Island, including Inchera by land.

“A good vantage point to view what Little Island may have looked like when it really was an Island, and prior to the building of all the bridges and retaining walls to inhibit the tide, is Tower Hill at Kilcoolishal. The low lying lands, both east and west of Tower hill, on the island were almost certainly the 300 acres of Marsh mentioned in 1360 as being granted to James, the Earl of Desmond. This location is now extremely difficult to envisage, due to the new roads, rail, and industrial developments which have taken place over the centuries on these marshes. The course of the tidal waters were only inhibited from flowing around the northern side of the Island by the natural topography of the lands at both sides of these waters at Kilcoolishal, Rockgrove, Castleview and Wallingstown.” Michelle McDonagh
May 1, 2016
May 1, 2016
May 1, 2016
May 1, 2016