In 1908, Queen’s Square, named in honour of Queen Victoria, was the scene of a massive fire which destroyed several buildings on its northern side. Despite the assistance of the Cork City Fire Brigade and fifty soldiers from the military barracks, several buildings in the square collapsed but luckily, nobody was killed. The rebuilding of the premises destroyed in that fire is noted by the date ‘1908’ on one of their facades.
During British rule, Queen’s Square was often the scene of military parades and band recitals. After independence in 1921, the square was renamed Pearse Square to honour the memory of Pádraig Pearse (1879 – 1916), who was one of the most intellectual of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. It was Pearse who issued the orders for three days of ‘manoeuvres’ which became the signal for the outbreak of the Easter Rising. He played a prominent and heroic part in those events but was arrested and executed on the third of May 1916, alongside others including Thomas MacDonagh, who had been a teacher at Saint Colman’s College.