To Sheare’s Street, and an unassuming lampost with a truly gross 19th Century function
Ever heard of a Cork stink pipe?
You may have passed one a thousand times on Sheare’s Street, just behind the Courthouse, but to the naked eye, it simply looks like a very tall lampost.
Look a little closer however and you’ll see it’s missing the all-important lamp at the top.
Now the history buffs at Abarta Heritage have revealed what the post was originally used for… and fair warning, friends; it ain’t pretty.
“This innocuous pole on Sheare’s Street #Cork, made to look like a lampost, is a throwback to 19th-century plumbing.” they tweeted today.
“It is known as a vent pipe or stinkpipe, and it’s role was to vent noxious gas from the underground sewer to prevent explosions.”
Have you seen the Cork Stinkpipe?
This innocuous pole on Sheare’s Street #Cork, made to look like a lampost, is a throwback to 19th century plumbing. It is known as a vent pipe or stinkpipe, and it’s role was to vent noxious gas from the underground sewer to prevent explosions. pic.twitter.com/Qkjt0CJcY2
— Abarta Heritage (@AbartaGuides) May 21, 2021
“The height of the pole was to ensure the gases released higher in the air and made the street less stinky for pedestrians.”
Installed around 1860, these cast-iron vent pipes are increasingly rare in Ireland, although others can be found on Cork’s Clontarf Street, Prospect Row, Paul Street, Patrick Street, Bandon, Ballycotton, Youghal, Riverstick and Monkstown, as well as in Dublin, Kilkenny, Laois, and Wexford.
It might be grim but it is a fascinating piece of local history… and happily, one we no longer need to keep our sewers from exploding.