ALMOST THREE MILLION people descended on what is now Herbert Park in Dublin 4 between 4 May and 9 November 1907 to attend the Irish International Exhibition.
Visitors to the trade and entertainment fair enjoyed displays of motor cars, electrical goods, machinery, food and funfair amusements, including a Helter Skelter, Crystal Maze and a water chute which was said to be the biggest in the world at the time.
A trip to Herbert Park today will throw up few clues to the major event. The bandstand and pond are both leftovers from the exhibition but none of the other temporary structures have survived.
In 2011, the Church of Ireland’s RCB Library discovered a collection of photographs (in slide form) at the deanery in Killaloe, county Clare. Included in the important find were unpublished images from the event, which did not form part of the official published record.
The team at the library have been working with the slides for the past two years, digitally remastering them before putting them online earlier this week.
Lead researcher Dr Susan Hood told TheJournal.ie that the collection also includes impressive photos from tours in India and Jerusalem, as well as depictions of Irish locations, including Belfast Harbour and Borrishoole Friary in Mayo.
A long-running public appeal for information about the anonymous photograph has uncovered one “enticing theory”, she says.
“We think the link to Willie Wilson (a Presbyterian minister, born in Belfast in 1869) is very convincing. He went to the Holy Land and gave many lectures. His texts describing what he saw are so similar to the images, and he had links to the exhibition. It is an evolving story, but hopefully one we will be able to close off.”
Anyone who may have information about the possible photographer, please contact the library.