Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 29 June 2023

1208a. 1922 pamphlet from a Cork IDA supported project that of Irish International Trading Corporation (Cork).
1208a. 1922 pamphlet from a Cork IDA supported project that of Irish International Trading Corporation (Cork).

Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,

Cork Independent, 29 June 2023

Recasting Cork: The Cork IDA and its 20th AGM

By late June 1923, the Cork Examiner records the 20th year of the Cork Industrial Development Association (Cork IDA), a body, which emerged out of the Cork International Exhibition in 1903, and which promoted Irish products in the Cork region. They had not been able to host an AGM for two years due to the War of Independence and Civil War.

The secretary, Michael Ryan, in his report on 27 June 1923 gives interesting insights into the work of the Cork IDA. He outlines that during the struggle for independence the Cork IDA played no small part in formulating and carrying out successful schemes for the economic rehabilitation of the country. Without the co-operation of the Association, the Irish consuls resident at New York, Paris and Brussels would have been very much restricted in their consular activities on behalf of the trade and commerce of Ireland. Important national work was conducted through the agencies of these consuls, for which the Association got but little credit.

Mr Ryan outlines that the national and public activities of the Association were many and varied. Co-operating with the governments of the first and second Dáil, they highlighted that during embargoes during the War of Independence many articles had but a very limited sale in Cork or Munster, viz.- agricultural machinery, biscuits, boot polishes, soap, margarine, pictorial calendars, preserves, medicated wines, and proprietary ointments.

The effects of the embargoes imposed on such imports were such that Irish manufacturers found it necessary to install much additional plant and machinery and to employ many thousands additional workers to enable them to meet the requirements of the home market.

For example, the import of soap into Cork – one of the excluded articles totalled 1,075 tons for 1920. In 1921 and 1922, the imports dropped to 540 tons and 333 tons respectively. On the other hand, exports of Irish soap through the Port of Cork, for the three years under review (1920, 1921 and 1922) were 13 tons, 82 tons, and 209 tons, respectively. Whilst British soap was being excluded, American and French soap was being allowed in freely, and direct trade between this country and the Continent was, as a result, promoted.

The imports of foreign agricultural implements through the Port of Cork dropped from 280 tons in 1920 to 52 tons in 1921 to 11 tons in 1922. During the three years Irish manufacturers of agricultural implements, margarine and jams were profitably employed in meeting the requirements of the home market.

The Association articulated that Irish industries were being slowly but surely stymied by the dumping of competitive goods on the open Irish market. The core point was that Ireland’s valuable resources remain undeveloped;

“Ireland being the butt of the economic forces of the world brought into play by the legislation of outside governments. Irish business men find themselves powerless to promote an industrial revival with any degree of even moderate success. To remedy our present economic instability, the great aim of an Irish Government should be the inception and application of a fiscal system, designed so to increase the productive capacity of the nation…Under present conditions, industrial effort is being strangled, and economic progress blocked”.

Over 1920, 1921 and 1922, seventy-two meetings of the Executive and general councils of the Association were held and matters of public interest were duly noted by the reporting staff of the Cork Examiner and the Cork Constitution. Twelve special conferences were held to enquire into the cases for the huge volume of unnecessary imports into and through the port of Cork. It was recognised that to deal effectively with the problem of curtailment of such imports, legislation would be necessary.

There was also the pursual of much practical work. In additions to answering lots of queries about Irish manufacture, the Association successfully organised three Irish weeks and published and published and distributed, at a nominal cost, 10,000 hand books of household and personal articles in Ireland. Messrs Dowdall & Company Shipping Agents of the Direct Lines to US and French Ports and the Irish International Trading Corporation (Cork) Ltd grew out of the work of the Association. Dowdall & Company had pursued much for the promotion of direct trade, and the second named company built up much business by purchasing from and selling direct to continental and American firms. The Corporation made it a business rule to introduce no goods into the Irish market, which would compete unfairly with the products of Irish industries.

The Washington Clothing Factory – two productive factories – also directly grew out of the work of the Association. They also assisted Kanturk Hosiery Factory and St Marie’s of the Isle Hosiery Factory. Several firms thanked the Association for the assistance afforded to them in securing important contracts. The Irish Products’ League was inaugurated in Cork at the suggestion of Ald. Liam de Roiste when acting as Secretary of the Association. The work of the League was at that time being re-organised and the Association was issuing silver badges stamped on the outside “CIDA”.

For many years the Association advocated for the establishment of public utilities such as the dead meat trade, a tannery and cement works in Cork. It spoke with members of Cork Corporation on the question of opening public marts for the auctioning of fish, fruit and vegetables. It was noted that re-organisation of the fishing industry of the South and South West depended for its success on the provision of a public fish market in the city of Cork.

When serious difference arose between the lessors of the Cork Park, the Cork Corporation, and Messrs Henry Ford, the lessees, the Association successfully intervened with the result that an arrangement was come to which permitted the Ford Works to extend its operations without further interference on behalf of the lessors.

By arrangement with the Munster Agricultural Society the Association decided to co-operate in organising an Irish Industrial Section for the exhibition of home products during the summer shows. Owing to the Civil War in the country in 1922, it was found impossible to hold the show. Mr J Rohan of Tullaghreine Concrete Utilities Works at Carrigtwohill in 1922 built on the grounds of the showgrounds an office made of Irish materials.


1208a. 1922 pamphlet from a Cork IDA supported project that of Irish International Trading Corporation (Cork).