1209a. Horse jumping at Cork Summer Show, Cork Showgrounds, Ballintemple, late 1920s. (picture: Munster Agricultural Society Archives)

Recasting Cork: The Cork Summer Show resumes

After its cancellation in 1922, the Cork Summer Show run by the Munster Agricultural Society came back for its three days, 3-6 July 1923, in the Cork Showgrounds in Ballintemple.

The previous year there were difficult logistical issues due to the ongoing Civil War and the near impossibility of transporting livestock in particular across destroyed roads and rail infrastructure. The 1923 edition was an ideal situation to get the show back ‘on the road’, to show the progress and potential of farming in the Irish Free State and to profile the need for improved farming methods.

The principal aim for the 1923 edition was to encourage Irish producers and exporters to adopt the best modern methods and by taking advantage of the expert guidance and instruction in situ at the show as well as becoming more aware of what competition was out there and what approaches to marketing that are taken.

Editorials in the Cork Examiner more than once referred to the idea that the prosperity of the country depended to a very large extent on the ability to place products in the market in such a way that they will hold their own in competition with the products of competing countries. A Cork Examiner editorial on 4 July refers to Denmark’s continuous success in farming exports deserved the serious attention of Irish agriculturalists. Despite, its physical size being smaller than Ireland and that most of its soil was less fertile than the generality of Irish land and considerable areas were marshland, Danish dairy produce and eggs commanded the readiest sale and the best prices in the British market place.

Reference is also made to a successful Danish business model whereby there were close inter-working between producer and distributor, the employment of up to-date methods, and the “rigid elimination of the unfit article from the products intended for export”. Products did not leave Denmark if the quality could not be guaranteed, with the result that their products enjoy an “unenviable reputation for excellence”.

The editorial relates that Ireland derives a considerable portion of her export revenue from eggs. But Irish methods of placing eggs on the market are inferior to those adopted in Denmark.

Danish eggs were always clean, which was not always the case in terms of Irish eggs. There was also a lack in appreciation of the importance of packing and display. A marketing section of an education section of the Summer Show illustrated the difference between cases of eggs cleaned and properly packed and others where negligence and glovelines were apparent.

The same thoroughness distinguished the grading of Danish butter. A government mark called the Lurmark was affixed to every consignment leaving the country. Its presence was

a guarantee that the butter was made in pasteurised cream does not contain more than 16 per cent of water and was all round good quality.

The editorial further relates that the Danish creamery societies pledged themselves to the most stringent rules for the milking, feeding, and general treatment of the cows and permit inspection at any time by an officer of the society. The rules also provided for general cleanliness, especially in regard to the vessels used.

The faithful following of the rules rendered possible the production of a commodity of invariable and uniform quality, which was maintained irrespective of the season. Such a brand was a threat to the diminishing brand of butter at the Cork Butter Market.

The July 1923 Cork Summer Show was well attended. The different railway companies issued tickets at reasonable fares.

There was much to entertain the visitor. The horses and the jumping were the main feature, but there were also classes for swine, poultry, butter, flowers and vegetables. The display of agricultural implements and machinery was deemed extensive.

The industrial exhibits of Cork manufacturers were a notable feature of the show and aimed to highlight the progress of such exhibits. Boot making, slate making, candle making, hosiery, garage and touring, engineering, bicycle sales and farm machinery making companies from Cork and its region, as well as Ford Company car, tractor and truck products, were the core Irish products being celebrated by their display.

The Irish industrial section of the show, organised by the Cork Industrial Development Association, was deemed a large success with almost 50 different lines of Irish manufactured goods on exhibit. Exhibitors came from Dublin, Wexford, Roscommon, West Cork and the city.

The Cork Examiner deemed that the most interesting exhibit of all was the instructive display made by the Department of Agriculture on the art of packing. The Cork Municipal School of Art had an exhibit showing proficiency in lace, leatherwork, and needlework.

There were great music programmes provided by the Greenmount Industrial School, the Butter Exchange, and the Lee Pipers’ bands. There were also Irish competitions, which attracted a great deal of attention. They included story-telling, recitations, dialogues, singing and dancing.

A Cork Examiner editorial on 6 July 1923 expressed the hope that by summer 1924, the agricultural affairs of the county would be so largely improved as to admit and present a better display of cattle and poultry, and that flower, fruit and vegetable show may also be added.

There was further commentary that there was a need to improve the processes of cultivation of vegetables – especially those of intensive cultivation – were not as well understood as they ought to be in Cork. A great deal of profitable work for market gardeners remains to be pursued.

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Kieran McCarthy’s July historical walking tours (all tours free):

Wednesday evenings, 12 & 19 July: Cork and the River Lee, An Introduction to the Historical Development of Cork city. Meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm.

Thursday 13 July: From Canals to a Mayoralty Chain, The Making of 18th Century Cork. Meet at the National Monument, Grand Parade, 6.30pm.

Friday evening, 21 July: Shandon & its History. Meet at North Main Street/Adelaide Street Square, opposite Cork Volunteer Centre, 6.30pm.

Saturday 29 July: Views from a Park – The Black Ash and Tramore Valley Park & Surrounds. Meet at Halfmoon Lane gate to Tramore Valley Park, 2pm.