11/08/2022

1852 Cork IR – Irish Industrial Exhibition

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1852 Cork

Name:Irish Industrial Exhibition
Dates:10 Jun – 10 Sep 1852
Days:92 days
Venue:Purpose built temporrary building at Albert Quay.
Theme:This was the first Irish world’s fair, though the BIE does not recognise it as one. Its goal was to revive local crafts and industries and increase employment. More formally, the report of the event states its aim was to ‘display to the country its own resources and capabilities’.
Exhibitors:The major local merchants and manufacturers.
Awards:No data
Visitors:138,375 – 74,095 paid at the door, inc 9,344 children.
Admission charges ranged from 6d to 2s with total income of £8,715 2s 5d, half from admissions and season tickets, expenditure was £8,735 0s 1/2d.
Legacy:Census returns showed an ensuing decrease in employed males in manufacturing, so that goal was not achieved.

Calls for Irish independence had grown through the 19th-century, In the mid-century a series of failed potato harvests caused by a fungus (Phytophthora infestans). This led to a Gorta Mór, the Great Famine or Great Hunger from 1845-1852 – one third of the Irish population had become dependent on a single variety of potato. One million deaths and the emigration of a further million reduced Irish population by between 20-25%.

Irish politicians stated that if Ireland was indeed an integral part of the British realm, then the exchequer of both islands should be used to provide employment on public works.

Letterhead showing venue

This show sought to spread some of the benefits enjoyed by London’s Great Exhibition of 1851. It was organised by The Industrial Movement in Ireland, via an Executive Committee chaired by the Mayor of Cork, opearted with subcommittees for Bandon, Clonmel, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford (Maguire, J.F., 1853).

Cork venue 1852

A special cruciform building was erected at Albert Quay (the latter named for Prince Albert in 1849). Today this is the site of the Cork City Hall and Corn Exchange. It had three transepts dedicated to industry and one to fine arts, with artworks and sculptures of leading Irish artists.

Hogan’s The Dead Christ

Special features included The Dead Christ or Redeemer in Death, a statue of Jesus Christ executed in white Carrara marble by the Irish sculptor John Hogan while in Rome. It was shown in its own darkened room within the Fine Arts section.

Parade as part of the opening ceremony

Product launches included agricultural implements,hydraulic presses, Norton’s projectile shells, fabrics like gingham, barley, ale, porter, whiskeys and slate from the western Irish island of Valentia (five years later this island would become the terminus for the first transtalantic telegraph cable), artificial flowers and stuffed birds.

Materials from the exhibition venue were salvaged and re-cycled in building the Athenaeum theatre.

The lack of any significant success led to Dublin’s Great Industrial Exhibition of 1853 needing to be privately financed.

Cork next organised fair was not until 1883 and its Cork International Exhibition in 1902.

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