News » Archived News 2007

Open ‘Art Of Letters’ Exhibition

At The New Cork City And County Archives Building, Blackpool

Texts, e-mail and blogging are just the latest evolution of the old fashioned letter. Our new exhibition however celebrates pen and paper, and the different styles of writing for business and personal communications. Letters, be they chatty missives between friends and family or routine business correspondence form a major part of all archival collections and along with other records help us create an accurate picture of what life was like in times past.

The ‘Art of Letters’ exhibition is a joint venture between Cork City and County Archives, and the Archives of UCC. On display are copy and original letters illustrating both the type of information found in archival collections, and also the changing format and style of letters, papers and inks.

Originally no envelope was required and individual pages were folded, franked and secured with sealing wax before being posted. Recipients paid on delivery so often weren’t too pleased to see the post arrive! In 1840 Rowland Hill reformed the postal service in Britain and Ireland by introducing postage stamps so that the sender paid for the postage. As the cost of the stamp became based on the weight of the letter enterprising writer often ‘criss crossed’ that is wrote vertically over the existing horizontal lines to pack in as much news as possible.

art of letters

 Declan Hassett with UCC staff at opening of Art of Letters exhibition.

Letters on display include some written by Irish emigrants to the USA, a set of early 17th century letters to the mayor of Youghal, and a letter from Michael Collins from 1920.

The exhibition ‘The Art of Letters’ was opened on the 6th September by the Lord Mayor Cllr. Michael Ahern and the well known journalist and playwright Declan Hassett and is open to the public at the new Cork City and County Archives premises on great William O’Brien Street, Cork for the month of September. Declan Hassett was a staff journalist with the Examiner for 42 years and is the author of three memoirs for Mercier Press. Declan’s play ‘Sisters’, starring Anna Manahan, opens in New York on this week. His new play, ‘Survivors’, set in Civil War Ireland, opens at the new Cork Arts Theatre at Carroll’s Quay in November.

The exhibition is being run as part of the Society of Archivists annual ‘Archives Awareness Campaign’ in which archival repositories across Ireland mount events to promote public interest in their collections.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m., 2.30 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.

For further information please contact: Brian McGee, Archivist, Cork City and County Archives Tel. (021) 4505886 Email:

For further in formation regarding the annual Archives Awareness Campaign please contact:
Eve O'Callaghan Publicity Officer,
Society of Archivists,
Tel: 01 278 0610

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