As a source of information, newspapers constitute a unique resource, recording not merely political events, but many aspects of economic life; social occasions; weather; entertainment; sales of goods, houses, land and livestock; marriages and deaths, and a wealth of other detail. Taken cumulatively, they can allow for significant general conclusions to be reached, and can also point the way to further avenues of research. UCC Library's Special Collections contains a significant body of Cork newspapers, and those from the 18th century are particularly valuable as being in some cases the only surviving copies.
Map of Cork City showing businesses advertised in The Corke Journal from 1769 (blue icons) and The Corke Chronicle from 1770-1772 (orange icons) together with lanes and places featured on the Beauford Map from 1801. All of the locations are approximate.
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Legg, Marie-Louise. Newspapers and nationalism : the Irish provincial press, 1850-1892. Dublin : Four Courts Press, 1999.
Madden, Richard Robert. The history of Irish periodical literature from the end of the 17th to the middle of the 19th century. London : Newby, 1867.
McCarthy, Alan. Newspapers and journalism in Cork, 1910-23 : press politics and revolution. Dublin : Four Courts Press, 2020.
Munter, Robert. The history of the Irish newspaper : 1685-1760. London : Cambridge U.P., 1967.
Munter, Robert. A dictionary of the print trade in Ireland 1550-1775. New York : Fordham University Press, 1988.
Ó Casaide, Séamus. A history of the periodical literature of Cork from the beginning up to A.D. 1900. MA thesis, University College, Cork, 1916.
Ó Cíosain, Niall. Print and popular culture in Ireland, 1750-1850. Dublin : Lilliput Press, 2010.
Cork newspapers in the 18th century usually consisted of four pages, and appeared twice weekly. The content consisted of reprinted news, culled from other newspapers in Ireland and Britain, arriving with commercial ships (‘packets’). A small amount of local news, including some marriage and death notices, and sometimes short court reports, followed. The remainder of the paper consisted of advertisements – the main source of income for the printer. Occasionally other material, such as letters or poems, can be found.
By the start of the 19th century, newspaper publishers had experimented with increased frequencies, usually producing 3 issues per week. Daily issues did not become common until the middle of the 19th century, by which time local news had become the dominant feature of the paper's content. This reflected an increasingly prosperous middle-class, with greater disposable income to purchase newspapers frequently. While advertising of course remained a vital source of income for the publishers, significantly rising circulations also meant that the newspaper business became potentially lucrative.
Until quite late in the twentieth century, Cork newspapers were consciously aligned with a particular religious or political stance. In the 18th century, this was generally one either supportive of or hostile to relief for Catholics from the various penal laws. In the following century, this religious division became more explicitly political as newspapers reported on support for or opposition to Catholic emancipation, repeal of the Act of Union, and the campaign for Home Rule.