The industrial revolution which began in England in the late 18th century and spread globally during the following centuries is one of the key turning points in human history. The replacement of animal and human labour by water power and later by steam power multiplied the amount of work that could be done and the number of goods that could be produced to an extraordinary degree. The growth of factories, the development of industrial cities and the rise in population consequent on the revolution affected every aspect of human life and relations with the environment. It was the most profound change in human history since the invention of farming in prehistoric times.
The industrial revolution had several different phases; we are still living through one today. One of the peaks of its earlier phases occurred in the period 1850 to 1870 and a notable aspect of that phase was the spread of industrial exhibitions to showcase the range and variety of goods available. The Great Exhibition held in the Crystal Palace in London in 1851 is the best-known of these. Although Ireland was economically undeveloped by comparison to England the National Exhibition held in Cork in 1852 followed closely after the Great Exhibition. The exhibition in Cork was intended to stimulate the local economy after the disaster of the Famine. The exhibition was held in and alongside the Corn Exchange in Anglesea Street near the site of the present-day City Hall. A similar exhibition was held in 1883 on the same grounds. In 1902/1903 the Cork International Exhibition was held on the grounds of what later became Fitzgerald’s Park. The park is named after Edward Fitzgerald, a Lord Mayor of Cork and a prominent businessman, who proposed the exhibition. All the exhibitions proved spectacularly successful in the number of visitors they attracted.
The catalogues and guides to the Cork exhibitions provide a window into the material culture of the later 19th and early 20th centuries in Cork and the wider world and are important sources for students and lovers of this seminal period of history.
The catalogues, guides and reports can be viewed or downloaded from this page; please select an option from the menu on the left to view a gallery of images from the exhibitions, and exhibition plans.
Select a book cover below to view each exhibition book in Flipping Book format
Select a book cover below to view each exhibition book in PDF format (average size 12.4Mb)