Exhibition captures a taste of daily life a century ago

Jack Bennett, whose death in France in October 1915 is recorded indiaries and letters, featured in the 'Moments in Time' exhibition.

A century after he went to fight in the First World War, diaries and letters about the death of an east Cork man just two months later, can be seen by the public all this week.

Jack Bennett from Ballinacurra, near Midleton, departed as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Munster Fusiliers in August 1915, but was killed in action in France on October 13 the same year.

Born in 1890, he had been to school in England, and had started training to succeed his father John H Bennet in the family malting business before going to war.

His death, the subject of items on display at Cork City and County Archives, also broke the heart of his mother.

She died at home in April 1916, two weeks before the Easter Rising, preparations for which were already under way as Jack Bennett was leaving for France.

The Memories in Time exhibition at the Blackpool archive building features many items of interest to the growing nationalist movement of the same period.

Among them are diary entries of local Irish Volunteer member Liam de Róiste about the visit of Volunteer organiser Pádraig Pearse a century ago this week, only weeks after his historic graveside oration at the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.

Pearse had earlier been to Millstreet and Carriganima in north west Cork, where Volunteers from city and county would march on Easter Sunday 1916. They were due to collect guns from the Aud, but the German vessel had been arrested by the British navy in Tralee harbour days earlier.

A rare 1915 photograph of local brigade commander Tomás MacCurtain in his Irish Volunteers uniform also features, as do pages of Cork Corporation’s minute book recording a vote against military conscription, this month, 100 years ago.

“It contains a selection of documents and photographs from our local Cork archival collection, documenting and celebrating each moment in time when a local person or organisation put pen to paper, to create their unique records of their activities and observations,” said chief archivist Brian McGee.

Advertisements, bank books and other items also offer a taste of daily life in Cork at the time.

The exhibition is open 10am to 5pm until Friday, at Cork City and County Archives, Great William O’Brien St, Blackpool.


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