Anglocentric toy-format manufacturer VistaScreen rarely sent their photographers out of England, and even less frequently out of the United Kingdom entirely. In general, they stuck close to home, producing pretty decent images of caves and caverns, amusing circus photography, and altogether terrible 3D shots of various zoos. Here, however, they tackle their most interesting subject to date – County Cork, in the south of Ireland – and butcher it about as badly as you’d expect them to. The images are actually pretty decent; they’re better than average for VistaScreen. The image selection, on the other hand, is downright subpar.
I get the feeling that the image editors for VistaScreen wanted to play it safe with a County known as “the rebel county”, and its primary city, which in some circles is referred to as the “real” capital of Ireland. Cork was seat to some of the fiercest opposition to The Treaty, and has a very much republican stance to this day – carrying on a legacy of fierce Irish identity that had existed for centuries. The City of Cork was largely burnt out by the Black and Tans during the War of Independence, and became a stronghold for the Irish Republican Army during the Civil War. It was the home of Michael Collins, as well as the site of his assassination after being thrown under the political bus by an ever-scheming Éamon de Valera. None of this comes through, however, in this series of stereographic images, which focus on the sites that a tour bus for pensioners might visit during a day in County Cork.
Instead of taking advantage of the rich history of County Cork, the English company played it safe, focusing on Cork City and some of the nearby tourist magnets, such as Cobh and Blarney Castle. I can’t say I’m surprised – these cards were primarily sold in Britain, and focusing on the enduring historic Irish solidarity of County Cork might not have won a lot of sales. But it’s unfortunate for those of us who might have opened the pack ~70 years later, hoping for a little more history and a little less bubblegum. There are very few stereoviews from County Cork from any manufacturer – so some that had a little bit more of a historical narrative would have been welcome.
At least the stereoviews that are here paint a nice picture of the County – but it’s hard not to think that they could have done so much more with this topic. In any case, enjoy the series!
Note: as usual, I present these in the order I received them in the packaging in, absent numeration on the cards. However, they’re clearly out of order.