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The Cork International Exhibition 1902-1903: A Snapshot of Edwardian Cork


Daniel Breen & Tom Spalding

An illustrated history of Edwardian-era Cork as seen through the records of the International Exhibition of Manufacturers, Arts, Products and Industries which was held in Cork in 1902–1903. Beautiful colour illustrations give visual breadth to this spectacular occasion in the history of this proud city.

Limited Edition Hardback

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In this accessible and attractive book, beautiful illustrations accompany an involving contextualisation of life in Cork City at the beginning of the twentieth century. Focusing on the International Exhibition of Manufacturers, Arts, Products and Industries, a monumental event which opened its doors in the summer of 1902 and which Cork City has not paid witness to before or since, local historians Daniel Breen and Tom Spalding provide an enlightening account of an Irish city during a time when civic and cultural life was celebrated in the spirit of the age, and not obscured by the divisive politics that severely marked the preceding century and following decade.

This book provides a picture of Edwardian Cork, going beyond reportage to instil a real sense of the age. The International Exhibition was emblematic of this remarkably cooperative period, seeing individuals of strongly opposing political backgrounds working in unison and interacting with a huge array of international exhibitors from as far away as Russia, China and Turkey. As an exhibition devoted to art and industry, the Cork International Exhibition acted as a focal point that expanded upon contemporary art, architecture, music, sports and more. Filled with coloured illustrations of archival material, this elegant book presents a complete picture of the astonishing scale and vibrancy of this immense occasion in Ireland’s social history. Exhibitions of this kind were showcased in major global cities such as London, Paris, Glasgow, St Louis and Chicago; the fact that it came to a burgeoning city such as Cork ahead of Belfast or Dublin, was of historic import within Ireland.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Coming Out of the Shadows
The Opening Day: A City on Display
Timekeepers of Progress: The International Exhibition Tradition and the City of Cork 1852-1904
Defining Ireland: Exhibitions and Politics
‘Not Grit Enough’: Committees, Funding, Location and Style
The Architecture of the Cork International Exhibition
Exhibition Exhibits
Amusements, Entertainments and Royal Visits
Exhibiting Culture: Displaying Art, Music and Sport
The Legacy of the Cork Exhibitions

About the Authors

Daniel Breen is the Assistant Curator at Cork Public Museum, and the author of Cork City Through Time, with Kieran McCarthy (2012).

Tom Spalding is a writer and educator and has written many articles on Cork’s architectural and social history.