THE COLLINS PRESS have published my book on the postcards of Cork (October 2013). Based on the private collections of Kinsale’s John James and Skibbereen’s Adrian Healy, Love from Cork offers a portrait of the city and county of Cork through a century of Irish and European picture postcards (1900–2000).
In addition to the postcards there are transcriptions of all the written details on the cards and, interspersed, are extracts from the rich literary heritage of this part of southwest Ireland: William Trevor, Frank O’Connor, Elizabeth Bowen, Sean O’Faolain, Peter Somerville-Large, Mary Leland, and many others.
Also included are writers such as James Joyce – who set a significant episode of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in Cork city – Benedict Kiely, and Robert Lloyd Praeger.
Although a number of publications have featured picture postcards of Cork, especially the city, there has never been a comprehensive production on the postcards of Cork, covering the city and county, from Allihies to Youghal and from Clonakilty to Charleville, deploying contemporary editorial treatment of the constituent elements.
What follows is a few excerpts from Love from Cork, some cards, a section from the book’s introduction, and a flavour of the literary extracts. For more on postcards and the Cork postcards project, go to the ‘Postcards of Cork‘ section of the listing of blog-post subject categories on the sidebar.
“Twice a year perhaps, on Saturday afternoons, there was going to Cork to the pictures”, writes William Trevor in Excursions in the Real World, “Clarke Gable and Myrna Loy in Too Hot to Handle. Mr Deeds Goes to Town. No experience in my whole childhood, and no memory, has remained as deeply etched as these escapes to the paradise that was Cork. Nothing was more lovely or more wondrous than Cork itself, with its magnificent array of cinemas: the Pavilion, the Savoy, the Palace, the Ritz, the Lee, and Hadji Bey’s Turkish Delight factory. Tea in Thompson’s or the Savoy, the waitresses with silver-plated tea-pots and buttered bread and cakes, and other people eating fried eggs with rashers and chipped potatoes at half-past four in the afternoon. The sheer sophistication of Thompson’s or the Savoy could never be adequately conveyed to a friend in Skibbereen who had not had the good fortune to experience it. The Gentleman’s lavatory in the Victoria Hotel had to be seen to be believed, the Munster Arcade left you gasping. For ever and for ever you could sit in the middle stalls of the Pavilion watching Claudette Colbert, or Spencer Tracy as a priest, and the earthquake in San Francisco. And for ever afterwards you could sit while a green-clad waitress carried the silver-plated tea-pot to you, with cakes and buttered bread. All around you was the clatter of life and of the city, and men of the world conversing, and girls’ laughter tinkling. Happiness was everywhere.”
William Trevor’s Excursions in the Real World (Hutchinson, 1993)
The following is an extract from the introduction to Love from Cork: