200 years in the making: Cork print firm still leaving its mark

200 years in the making: Cork print firm still leaving its mark

Bill Field at his printing press. Pictures: Kieran McCarthy & Complete Control Films

It's not online, purchases are by cash only, and a bell above the door signals a customer's arrival, but that hasn't stopped a family-run printing business in east Cork from reaching the rare milestone of 200 years trading.

Over the years, Field’s has provided virtually all of Youghal’s print requirements, including postcards, raffle tickets, posters and the entire town's wedding invitations.

Established by printer John Lindsey, the business late became known as Field’s.

Lindsey’s niece Elizabeth inherited the firm in the mid-1800s, around the time it relocated to a new premises at 106 North Main Street, where it has operated since

Elizabeth married farmer William Field in 1883 and the business subsequently became W J Field.

Their son Thomas and his wife Mary next assumed ownership and in 1974 their sole heir William (Bill) Field, became owner and eventually lone employee.

Now in his 70s, by his own admission Bill “didn’t move with the times”

Bill Field. Now in his 70s, by his own admission Bill “didn’t move with the times”
Bill Field. Now in his 70s, by his own admission Bill “didn’t move with the times”

Throughout its history a ground floor shop traded in stationery and board games, above which an imposing printing press crafted fonts and styles that were often adapted for timber and metal surfaces.

The initial printing press, crested ‘Clymer Dixon & Co. London’ and still stored, served until 1958.

Its replacement by Millers in Dublin, is still used to meet “occasional orders for receipt books, and reprints of vintage postcards and local history books”, says Bill.

Now in his 70s, by his own admission Bill “didn’t move with the times”.

You won’t find him online and purchases are by cash.

General stationery is still purchasable from the shop, where a bell above the door announces a customer's arrival.

Ludo, snakes & ladders and chess sets sit stubbornly insistent in the window but most intriguing are the original posters and copies that echo a disappeared past.

Ballymacoda poster dating from 1949
Ballymacoda poster dating from 1949

These precursors to tweets, e-mails and ubiquitous press releases once carried wind of life’s affairs from across the gamut of circus, cinema, church and council.

They tell that in February 1940 Youghal UDC instructed “all traders” to adhere to "old time until further notice", as summer adjustment was being too early applied!

News of the 1957 “midnight matinee” of Moby Dick’s premiere is posted, while Youghal greyhound track announces a draw for “a £5 note” to mark its “100th race night”.

On Sunday January 9th 1949, Ballymacoda’s Fianna Fáil Cumann held a dance and buffet in the local hall.

For 4/- admission patrons witnessed the attendance of “Jack Lynch B.L., All-Ireland senior hurler and footballer”. From one field to another indeed.

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