What’s in a name … Glebe Road, Coachford

Notice is hereby given that Cork County Council proposes to temporarily close the following road … L-6850 School Road, Coachford‘ … to facilitate a pipeline for Coachford’s new waste water treatment plant.

That’s what it says on the Council website, at the time of writing. These works, by the way, are badly needed to secure the prosperity and future development of Coachford village and environs.

Outside Aghabullogue GAA grounds, at the southern end of the village, is an illuminated mobile sign, which up to recently advised motorists and pedestrians that works would continue for five weeks at ‘Beech Road’. It’s since been changed to read ‘Glebe Road’. The same works, on the same road … the L-6850. So which is it … School Road? Beech Road? Glebe Road?

Beech Road becomes Glebe Road

This road in living memory, and probably for centuries, has been known as the Glebe Road. It bisects the townland of Glebe (one of the smallest townlands in Aghabullogue parish, and one of five townlands upon which Coachford village exists today). It passes by Old Magourney Church & Graveyard, and the former Glebe Lodge, and deconsecrated Christchurch. It passes by the old entrance to Glebe House, which is now the entrance to Coachford College. The road then goes on to join another local road to the north in Coolacullig townland, known officially as the ‘L-96192’.

A glebe is a piece of land which serves as part of a clergyman’s benefice, and provides income. This particular glebe existed in the 1650s, as depicted on the Down Survey map. It existed, along with a glebe house, during the 1700s, when Robert Bulfell took charge. During the 1800s Rev. Thomas O’Grady (father of Celtic revivalist Standish James O’Grady) and family lived here, and it became known as the ‘rectory’.

By the 1950s it had been sold and became a Vocational School (now Coachford College). The original rectory was demolished, despite efforts to save it by school principal Mícheál Ó Murchú, and was replaced with a poor imitation.

Coachford AFC has an interesting connection to Glebe townland. The original team are pictured in front of the now demolished rectory, and once played on a pitch directly in front of it. Today the club’s facilities (clubhouse and pitches) are to the east, but still located in Glebe townland. Directly adjoining the soccer club is an uncompleted housing development, named Vicar’s Glebe, in a passing nod to the townland’s past.

Coachford AFC in the early days. The rectory can be seen behind

The incorrect use of placenames is nothing new, and is not peculiar to the Council. A few kilometres to the west is a local beauty spot known as Mullinhassig Wood and Waterfall, and owned by Coillte. The original signage informed the visitor of their arrival at Poulanassig Wood, and referred to Mullinhassig Waterfall. It should have read Mullinhassig Wood and Poulanassig Waterfall. Presumably this wasn’t properly researched, or checked, before signage was put in place.

It can be difficult to preserve local heritage, and entities specifically charged with this task, at a local or national level, should always ensure to take proper steps to do so. The L-6850 is not the ‘School Road’. It’s not ‘Beech Road’ either. This is Glebe Road and the traditional, long-established name should be used, particularly when issuing public notices.

Now you might say this is just a name, and what’s the big deal, but it’s actually quite significant. Names are part of the local fabric, tell a story, and form part of its history and heritage. Omitting this leads to dilution, confusion and potential loss, over time, of an important focal point within a locality. When all it really takes is for those in charge to do some research, or even consult with locals in the know, who inevitably are willing to help, and many of whose ancestors have lived within the area for generations.


County Cork Alerts

The Down Survey of Ireland

The Coachford Record, vol. 1 (Coachford Historical Society, Dec 1990)

The Coachford Record, vol. 2 (Coachford Historical Society, Dec 1991)