Cork City Council taken to task over stopped Shandon clock

If it happened to Big Ben, Boris would get the boot, says Fine Gael election hopeful

The famous Shandon clock  which has stopped at 5 minutes to 7. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

The famous Shandon clock which has stopped at 5 minutes to 7. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision


The return of Roy Keane to the Republic of Ireland football team may have a sense of turning back time, but down in Shandon, time is literally standing still.

The clock on St Anne’s of Shandon is affectionately known as the Four Face Liar, as it is reputed the four faces on each side of the tower tell different times – but not any more. All four faces are stuck at 5 minutes to 7 and have been for the last three weeks.

The horological nightmare was spotted by Roy’s namesake and Fine Gael candidate in next year’s local elections, Barry Keane, who, from his vantage point in Glasheen on the south side of the city, looked across to the north side and saw Cork had a problem.

“Over the last year, Cork’s most famous landmark has been losing time and now the clock has stopped altogether.

“Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the city council own the clock and have failed to keep it wound or more importantly get it serviced. Did anyone look out the windows of City Hall, the Tourist Office or the Chamber of Commerce and wonder why?

“It’s not a clock you can miss,” he observed, adding he had contacted Cork City manager Tim Lucey to have it repaired immediately. He also urged “all true Corkonians to contact their local councillor to make sure this gets the urgent attention it deserves”.

The clock consists of a single mechanism with one pendulum measuring 14 feet, while each of the four clock faces which look out north, south, east and west across the city, measures 15 feet, 8 inches in diameter.

Now though the clock mechanism, which was added to the tower in 1847 by Cork clockmaker James Mangan and bears the inscription: “Passenger measure your Time, for Time is the Measure of your Being”, has stalled.

Cork City Council is searching for a suitably expert horologist to either carry out the necessary repairs or replace the 19th century mechanism with a more modern device. “The clock has required frequent attention in recent months as it has been repeatedly slowing down. The maintenance engineer from John Smith & Sons has advised the council that major works need to be carried out if this is to be prevented from happening again,” a spokesman said.

“The costs associated with such works are not yet known. Before any decision can be made, the Council will also need to consider alternative options such as converting the clock mechanism to electronic control, as has recently been carried out to the clock at City Hall.

“Cost constraints, the historic significance of the original clock mechanism and the value of Shandon Tower to the city and as a major tourist attraction will also be taken into account.”

Mr Keane though is not impressed. “How much more embarrassing can it get? Could you imagine London without Big Ben – Boris would get the boot .”