The American Civil War, the sinking of HMS Wasp & the Ulster Museum’s extraordinary collections

April 25, 2021

This week dark tourism, the American Civil War, Ireland's first trade fair, held in Cork in 1852 and the Dungiven Costume at the Ulster Museum.

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. The image below courtesy of the Ulster Museum.

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