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Late Nineteenth Century

The second half of the nineteenth century saw widespread unemployment, poverty and appalling housing conditions in the tenements of the inner city. The wealthier merchants and members of the prosperous middle classes left the inner city and built substantial properties in Blackrock to the south and on the wooded northern ridges of Montenotte and Tivoli (17) overlooking the river. Their vacated houses became tenement homes for the working classes and the unemployed.

 Figure 1: View from Marina of Montenotte Ridge

View from Marina of Montenotte Ridge

 By the 1850s a park had been established on the lands reclaimed behind the Navigation Wall containing a horse racecourse - Victoria Park and Cork Park Racecourse (18), (See Figure 1 above). The Cork Agricultural Society (now the Munster Agricultural Society) was founded in 1857 with the aim of encouraging farming activity, hosting agricultural shows and providing education to young farmers. Early shows were held within the grounds of the Cork Park Racecourse but in 1891 the society decided to erect permanent showgrounds and obtained a lease from Cork Corporation of twenty seven acres of the Cork Park Racecourse, which is now known as the Cork Showgrounds (19).[1] A further eight acres was acquired subsequently. The new route of the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway passed to the south of the grounds and a special platform was erected for the use of show attendants.

 Figure 2: Munster Agricultural Showgrounds Viewing Stand

Munster Agricultural Showgrounds Viewing Stand

[1] In recent times the Showgrounds have been used for various exhibitions not only agricultural shows as well as playing host to numerous circuses and fairgrounds and the music festival ‘Live at the Marquee’ on an annual basis. In 2007 Cork City Council reacquired control of the grounds through Compulsorary Purchase Order with the intention of developing a public recreational area as an addition to the existing Marina lands, in order to support the redevelopment of the Docklands area.