Checkpoint 4: Skiddy’s Almshouse, Bob and Joan Walk

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Congratulations on reaching Checkpoint 4.

You are now standing in front of Skiddy’s Almshouse - the oldest inhabited building in Cork City.

This wonderful building was constructed in 1719 as a home for Cork City’s elderly poor. Its unusual name comes from a Cork man named Stephen Skiddy (also known as Scudamore), who made a fortune as a wine merchant in 16th century London. In his will, Skiddy stipulated that £24 must be sent annually to fund an almshouse in Cork City. True to his word, money has been set from Skiddy and the Vintners Federation in London for the last 400 years.

 The architecture of Skiddy’s Almshouse is of particular interest, as few early 18th century institutional buildings survive in Cork City or indeed Ireland. In fact this Almshouse claims to be the oldest civic building in the country!

 If you look up you will see it has a hipped slate roof with round-headed dormer windows. These upper floors were the female dormitory rooms. While the lower floors were used as male dormitories.  Each room had a sash window to let light and air in.

 On the ground floor, you can see the unique arcade/loggia, similar to a church cloister.  This was used by the elderly inhabitants as a walkway protected from the weather. The French-style dormer windows in the steep roof and the arcaded courtyard, are reminiscent of continental influences. This unusual building may have been inspired by buildings in Europe or perhaps even Dublin’s Royal Hospital at Kilmainham.

 There are also a number of limestone plaques on the external part of the building which commemorate the foundation and the building’s history.

Skiddy’s Almshouse continued to be used right up until the 1960s when the building was taken over by the North Infirmary Hospital. They wanted to demolish this wonderful building to create apartments for their staff. Luckily locals saw the historic value of Skiddy's Almshouse and formed the Cork Preservation Society (CPS). They objected to the demolition. The Taoiseach; Jack Lynch, supported the calls for the preservation of the building as he had grown up in the area.

The Almshouse was added to the National Record of Monuments and Places in 1968 and restoration began some years later. The Almshouse was then used as affordable apartments for Cork's artists until the year 2000 when it was sold to the Social Housing Development Company, a non-profit housing organisation creating some continuity with Stephen Skiddy’s legacy from 1584. 

 The entrance gate features ashlar limestone walls and a pair of wrought-iron gates. Statues of school children once stood at the gates and the statues were popularly known as Bob and Joan. They were moved to Shandon Church in the 1950s.

CLUE 4: Our next checkpoint is located on a street that has connections with Francis, Benedict and John Paul. It can be found close to this feature.

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