Digitised Document: Cork Military Tattoo Programme, 1936

In an earlier post, I wrote about the Cork Military Tattoo in 1936, reproducing the dramatic and eye-catching front cover of the souvenir programme, which features a distinctly German silhouette of an Irish soldier. But the front cover is just the introduction to a fascinating cultural artefact. Unfortunately, this particular publication does not seem to be preserved in a Cork or Dublin public library. I only secured a copy because it turned up in a house clean-up. So I have scanned every page, even the blank ones and the duplicates, and created a PDF file for your delectation.

Of the 68 pages in this programme (inclusive of covers), just 29 are about the tattoo itself, while 38 are advertisements. Here, Cork business – past and present – advertise alongside the familiar alcohol and tobacco brands. There is even a perplexing adertisement for a military airplane, the Avro ‘Anson’, though the Cork audience was unlikely to be in the market for military hardware (p. 38). The adverts for the three national newspapers are particularly amusing: the paper of record, the Irish Times ‘is welcome into the home because … It offers a real opportunity for the whole family to get together and discuss important happenings locally, and all over the world’ (p. 42). Forget about the Angelus, the right newspaper was the bulwark of the happy home. The Irish Press (now extinct) advertisement featured a Celtic warrior towering over the tilled fields and smoking factories of Ireland, carrying a banner proclaiming ‘From Strength to Strength’ (p. 28). Thus the progress of the nation and the newspaper went hand in hand. The Irish Independent was the most prosaic advert of all, choosing to emphasize the size of its readership: 130,000 (p. 52). With so many local and national businesses advertised, this is as much a commercial directory as a programme for a government event.

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