Passage West Town Commisioners (Now Passage West Town Council)

Repository: Cork City and County Archives

Identity Statement

TitlePassage West Town Commisioners (Now Passage West Town Council)
Archive ReferenceIE CCCA/PWTC
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates(1910) 1920-1980s
Extent Medium52 items (9 boxes)


Creator(s): Passage West Town Commissioners

  • Administrative History ↴

    Passage West Town Commissioners (today Passage West Town Council) was established in 1920. Efforts had been made prior to 1920 to establish Town Commissioners under the Towns Improvement Act (Ireland) 1854. This Act enabled settlements of a reasonable size to establish Town Commissioners with responsibility for lighting, paving, drainage and water supply. Sanitary and water facilities in the town were inadequate and there was no public lighting. In 1898, the Local Government (Ireland) Act established a publicly-elected system of local government in Ireland, including county councils, urban district councils and rural district councils. After a major push on the part of local electors, the adoption of the Towns Improvement Act for Passage West and Monkstown was finally approved in March 1920. The Town Council was to comprise 15 elected members. Five were to be elected for South Passage/Monkstown and the remaining ten for Passage town/North Passage. The election was held on 14 July 1920. The first meeting of the new Passage West Town Commissioners was held on 19 July 1920 and Mr. Henry O'Mahony was elected to the Chair. Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act, urban districts could be created from the larger of the Town Commissioner towns. This gave increased responsibilities to the elected council. In January 1922, the Passage West Town Commissioners were granted Free State government approval for urbanisation and they became the Passage West Urban District Council in 1924. The new Urban District Council (UDC) set about upgrading and modernising housing and services in the town. By 1930, major investment had been made in local water supply. Landlords were asked to install toilets in all houses and several sewers were modernised. In 1932, public lighting was installed in both Passage West and Monkstown. Passage West suffered economically from the loss of the local dockyard and the UDC suffered financial and other problems. In 1938, the Minister for Local Government and Public Health ordered the dissolution of the UDC and on 10 March the Council's duties were temporarily transferred to the secretary of the South Cork Board of Health. The de-urbanisation of Passage West/Monkstown took place in 1942 when the Council became once more the Passage West Town Commissioners, and all road, sanitation and lighting responsibilities were transferred to Cork County Council. The Local Government Act 2001 created the single title of Town Council for Boroughs, Urban District Councils and Town Commissioners. Thus in 2001, the Passage West Town Commissioners became known as the Passage West Town Council.
  • Archival History ↴

    The collection was deposited in Cork Archives Institute in 2001 by the Town Clerk.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Passage West Town Commissioners ↴

    The records consist of official documents in the form of minutes, registers, accounts, correspondence files, and some maps, dating from 1920 onwards.

    The most important documents which have survived to the present day are the minutes of monthly meetings of the elected town representatives, meeting over the years either as a full Urban District Council (UDC) or as a scaled-down Town Commission. The minutes record the discussions and resolutions of the representatives as they undertook the responsibility of running the town’s services.

    The very first set of surviving minutes start in July of 1920, and they cover the turbulent period of the War of Independence and the Civil War, and the transfer of power to the Free State (PWTC/1)

    One of the notable changes in Passage West after 1924, when Saorstát Éireann had returned to the normal business of running a country following the trauma of civil war, was the ‘urbanisation’ of the district. The area was to be designated as an Urban District presided over by an Urban District Council, which had more extensive powers to control certain matters in the area than that of a Town Commission.

    The collection of local tax in the form of property rates was the responsibility of the UDC, and this seems to have absorbed much time and effort. The Finance Sub-committee minutes of 4 April 1924 record that ‘some residents occupying large houses had not yet paid their rates…’ Mr. Cotter, a rates collector, was present at the meeting and explained to the UDC that amongst other reasons, ‘…the want of employment in Passage had operated very much against him…’

    A problem with rates collection and finance continued through the 1920’s and 1930’s and it may to have been a stimulus for the de-urbanisation order by the Minister for Local Government in 1942. This re-established the Town Commission and transferred many functions to Cork County Council, relieving the town’s representatives and officials of many financial headaches but also resulting in the loss of some of their decision making powers.

    For the Emergency period 1940-1945 there are a few notable entries in the minutes. At a meeting in September 1940, it was suggested to convert the disused Passage and Blackrock Railway tunnel at Glenbrook for use as an air raid shelter. (This was referred to the County Council.) In May 1942 the Local Security Force received fire brigade equipment, perhaps reflecting concerns that Cork Harbour might be subject to an aerial bombardment or become a target in an invasion by sea. The town occupies a strategic point in Cork Harbour, with downstream port facilities and road access to Cork City. The key position of the town had been illustrated dramatically during the Civil War when the National Army came ashore at Passage West, en route to attack Irregular forces at their strongholds in the city.

    The records also document some of the social and economic problems common in the early 20th century. On many occasions we find entries recording the concern of officials and elected representatives and others regarding the living conditions of some of the poorer inhabitants of the area, variously overcrowding, unemployment, disease, inadequate sanitation or water supplies.

    The Town Commission and Cork County Council made major remedial efforts over the years and many of these problems were reduced, despite an ever-present lack of financial resources. The investment in local services and infrastructure was secured with loans and other monies for projects such as the development of water supplies, labourers’ cottages, sewers, urban housing schemes, and the technical school.

    Housing provision seems to have been a major priority, and many houses were built or improved and eventually sold to their occupiers under tenant purchase schemes.

    In more recent decades the matters which occupied the attention of the town’s representatives included involvement with Cork County Council and with Cork Corporation (now Cork City Council) on matters affecting the locality, the role of the area in county or city development plans, the siting of the fertiliser plant across the river Lee, the employment situation in the area, the development of educational facilities, industrial development, the need for investment in amenities and leisure facilities, tidy towns competitions, management of property, efforts to improve the upkeep of roads and footpaths, buildings and the general environment.

    Apart from the minutes of meetings, other records that survive include correspondence with various local and national organisations, financial accounts and other material relating to the administration of housing schemes, planning, property, maintenance of roads and other infrastructure.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    The collection is arranged as follows:
    A: Minute Books
    B: Registers
    C: Accounts and Housing Rentals
    D: Files and Folders
    E: Maps, Plans and Drawings

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Open by appointment to those holding a current readers ticket
Conditions Governing ReproductionSubject to rules governing reproduction of records of CCCA
Creation Dates(1910) 1920-1980s
Extent Medium52 items (9 boxes)
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Related MaterialCCCA: Various records from other Town Councils in Cork e.g. Mallow, Cobh, Bandon, Clonakilty, Youghal.

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteBrian McGee
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: International Council on Archives, 2000. IGAD: Irish Guidelines for Archival Description. Dublin: Society of Archivists, Ireland, 2009.
Date of Descriptions40269