Cork National Exhibition
The 1852 National Exhibition in Cork was to help lift the country out of the doldrums of the barely-concluded Great Famine.
The event was staged in the corn market at Anglesea Street, with the Corn Exchange building (in later years, Cork Municipal Buildings, destroyed in the December 1920 burning of Cork) converted for use as part of the exhibition venue. While not quite matching the glazed luxurious surroundings of the Crystal Palace that a year earlier held the first such grand-scale event, the Cork event did take some inspiration from that pioneering display. With a temporary extension to the Corn Exchange hall, designed by architect John Benson and completed within a matter of weeks in April and May 1852, the exhibition was nonetheless the subject of plenty positive press reportage in local, national and London newspapers.
More than 129,000 visitors, close to 55,000 of them season ticket holders, made their way through the halls; so too, during August and September, did 9,344 boys and girls, pupils of 75 city and county schools, who were admitted for free between 9am and 11am. As well as examples of traditional and emerging crafts and industries, aimed at promoting and encouraging local and national economies, visitors enjoyed the works of many fine artists. Works by the city's better-known masters like the late James Barry and then-flourishing Daniel Maclise hung near those of lesser-known artists.
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