A fortnightly round up of interesting things to read, listen to & watch

A fortnight’s worth of history-related content to read, listen to and watch today including dark tourism, the American Civil War and Ireland’s first trade fair, held in Cork in 1852.

As part of Cork World Book Festival, a digital event hosted by Nano Nagle Place about  ‘Dark Tourism’. The talk is a conversation between Gillian O’Brien, author of the fascinating book The Darkness Echoing: Exploring Ireland’s Places of Famine, Death and Rebellion and Danielle O’Donovan for Nano Nagle. Full disclosure: Danielle is on our Festival Committee.

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Gillian’s book is pictured left. And there was a related article in the Examiner on the same subject by Michael Moynihan with the catchy title – ‘Should we start marketing Cork as a destination of death and misery?’







Damien Shiels, whose really excellent website Irish American Civil War has so many fascinating stories to tell, has a new post on Irish American experiences, particularly those of Irish New Yorkers, in the Battle of Williamsburg on 5 May 1862.

The Irish Story featured the tale of HMS Wasp, which was wrecked off the coast of Tory Island in Donegal in 1884 with the loss of over 50 crew. The ship was on its way to to pick up a group of police and bailiffs who were to carry out evictions for non-payment of rents. Was it cursed, or sabotaged or was it simply human error ?

The Crawford Art Gallery highlighted this amazing digital version of the catalogue of The National Exhibition of the Arts, Manufacturers and Products of Ireland from the US National Archive, which you can flick through. The Exhibition was held in Cork in 1852 and was Ireland’s first trade fair, intended to boost morale and commerce in the aftermath of the Famine. It was located on the site where City Hall now stands.

Finally, the Ulster Museum has some good articles on its Collections blog, with various themes illustrated by images and artefacts from their collections. The one on the period 1500-1700 includes the intriguing Dungiven Costume, found in a bog in 1956 near Dungiven in Co Londonderry and pictured below. Probably dating to the early 17th century, there were the remains of a jacket, mantle (cloak) and tartan trews (trousers), along with shoes and a leather belt. Apparently, the jacket reflects English fashion and the tartan trousers Scottish influences, while the mantle is distinctly Irish. All are heavily patched and repaired.

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A post-Easter post

This was supposed to be a post for the Easter weekend, but somehow that came and went …. so instead it’s a summary of a fortnight of interesting historical content including the Belfast Blitz, the 1918-19 flu pandemic and the history of emotions.

The Irish Examiner recently featured a fascinating story of the MacCarthy family and their links to both sides of the IRA attack on the RIC barracks in Rosscarbery in March 1921. We’re delighted Flor MacCarthy, who has been a great supporter of the Festival, has agreed to speak about this part of her family’s history at our 2021 Festival.

We are also really pleased that Sean Boyne will talk at this year’s Festival about the killing of Bridget Noble by the IRA in the Beara Peninsula in March 1921. Sean’s research was featured in the Irish Times this week. Bridget Noble is one of only two women known for certain to have been ‘disappeared’ by the IRA during the War of Independence.

7 April marked 80 years since the start of the Belfast Blitz – four nights of raids between 7 April and 6 May resulting in up to 1000 deaths and widespread destruction in the city and beyond. This new website tells the story and lists the casualties.

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An intriguing series of podcasts from the RIA on the theme of the History of Emotions (and below the very striking illustration which accompanies them).

A year into the Covid pandemic, the RTE History Show this week featured Festival contributor Ida Milne talking about the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Ida is on from around 0:09 to 0:27

The Late Late Show featured artefacts from the National Museum of Ireland, with Audrey Whitty from the museum talking to Ryan Tubridy about objects from the revolutionary period including Michael Collins’ slippers and Éamon de Valera’s sock!

And finally, the Decade of Centenaries newsletter is well worth subscribing to for updates on all kinds of events all over the country – you can sign up via their website.