On this day, March 14th, 1912, shortly before our national holiday, Dorothy Smith Barry took part in the St Patrick’s Day Sale and Exhibition of the Royal Irish Industries Association in London. The event took place in Londonderry House, the home of the Marchioness of Londonderry. There were twenty-five stalls “tastefully and artistically arranged” in the Picture Gallery of the house, where “Mrs Perkins’ Orchestra of lady amateurs provided a very high-class concert”.
Dorothy, just 18 years old, and her friends the Ladies Bernard, were responsible for running the stall of the County Cork Industrial Association whose President was the Countess of Bandon. Dorothy’s mother, Lady Barrymore, was an active member of the Cork Committee, along with other wealthy benefactors such as Lady Colthurst, Lady Castletown and the Countess of Listowel. Many members of the Gentry undertook “good works” during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Craft and Industrial exhibitions were a key way of introducing Irish products to buyers from English Department Stores as well as the general public.
The County Cork Industrial Association promoted home industries, allowing labourers’ and cottagers’ families to earn between 8 and 12 shillings a week from their handiwork. The work, mainly undertaken by women, included lace, crochet and needlework. The Cork Association held annual exhibitions at Cork City Hall or The Assembly Rooms on the South Mall, where the goods were also sold and prizes awarded. Their Patroness, the Countess of Aberdeen, was wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. She was an author, philanthropist and an advocate for women, pushing for reform of healthcare and housing.
These images show an advertisement from the Pall Mall Gazette for the St Patrick’s Day sale in London and a listing for the County Cork Industrial Association in Guy’s Cork Almanac and Directory.