A casual observer might see this photograph and assume it was taken during the period of the Raj in British Colonial India. Perhaps a marble temple? Closer inspection reveals an abundance of distinctly non-Indian heavy clothing and a familiar-looking tram at left sporting a destination of Ballsbridge.
Actually made of fibrous plaster, the structure was the entrance to the Irish International Exhibition of 1907 which took place in the area now familiar to us as Herbert Park Dublin. It stood near where the American Embassy now stands in Ballsbridge.
The exhibition was the latest in a series of international events that had previously taken place in Paris, Capetown and Milan, and was the brainchild of William Martin Murphy who owned the Dublin Tramway Company, the Irish Independent Newspaper and Clery’s department store. Six years later he would cross swords with the Transport Union resulting in that year’s strike and eventually the Dublin Lockout.
These were happier times for Murphy however, and the exhibition was a huge success. Running from the 4th of May to the 9th of November 1907, it received an astonishing 2.75 million visitors. The centrepiece was the Grand Central Palace, a large dome with halls radiating from it containing a gallery of fine arts with works lent by, among others, the Tsar of Russia. Other attractions were the Palaces of Industry and Mechanical Arts, the Great Celtic Court, Concert Hall, the Popular Restaurant and even an entire Somalian village.
Cantrell and Cochrane’s Ginger Ale featured at an exhibition stand and was available at the event’s bars
When the exhibition finished, the grounds were handed back to Pembroke Urban District Council for use as a public park, familiar to us today as Herbert Park.
All that remains today from the exhibition is the duck pond (originally part of the Canadian water slide attraction!) and a single bandstand, the other having been removed and placed on Bray seafront.
Why not relive the Glory Days of the 1907 Exhibition by browsing the official souvenir booklet on our Source Digital Archive?
Available here: [Click]
Search the whole archive here: [Click]