100% Funded


Target: €5436


€5,437 Raised


127 Funders

Layers: Design & History of Cork Signs

By Tom Spalding



What links a dedicated group of Irish patriots and language enthusiasts, a German Nobel Laureate, a British general and three Queens, Benito Mussolini, the AA and a group of Irish fascists? The answer is they all had roles to play in the design and appearance of Ireland’s street signage. This book concentrates on the development of street signage in Cork from 1750 to 2000, with some diversions to Dublin, Belfast and Bristol along the way. This accessible study is presented in a number of thematic chapters which touch on the major forces which shaped Ireland’s history in the last quarter of a millennium, and how they left their impression, literally, on the streets of Ireland’s third city.

This book is a book about names and their physical manifestation, signs. It is the first fruit of almost three years of dedicated study into the history of Cork and is the first published study into public signage ever produced in the Republic of Ireland.

It will be of interest to graphic designers, local historians, genealogists, social geographers and those interested in the social and industrial history of Ireland.

The Book

The book will be a high-quality professional production and will be designed by one of Ireland’s leading graphic design companies. It will also be typeset, printed and distributed in Ireland, helping to keep jobs on the island.

A limited edition of 25 hard-back copies with a very special typographic binding and appropriately designed end-papers is available. Other rewards include guided tours and even a chance to design a personalised street sign for home décor!

The Author

My name is Tom Spalding, and I have worked as an engineer, as a designer and as a lecturer in the Dublin Institute of Technology. This is my third book on Cork’s built environment and follows on from my previous project on recording my city’s historic street furniture ‘Cork City: A Field Guide to its Street Furniture’.


More than half the funding has already been raised from private sponsors as well as a contribution from Cork City Council. I have put over 2,000 man hours into the project, and also providing some funding. As far as I’m concerned, this project is a not-for-profit initiative. The balance of the funding is to pay for reproduction rights to a small number of images, and for typesetting, printing and distributing the manuscript in an edition of 1,100 copies.

I'll be keeping sponsors updated via the activity tab on Fund it and through Facebook. I shall also be using my contacts in the local online and traditional media in Cork to raise awareness of the project. A .pdf of my booklet on Cork’s architecture can be downloaded and a iWalk (MP3) self-guided tour associated with the publication and reviews of another of my books can be seen in the links attached.



Books At Last!

Books At Last! Dear Funders, The books arrived from the printers and binders last Friday and they look great. I will be in touch with you all in the coming days to explain how I'm going to redeem your pledges. Once again, I'm very grateful to you all for your support and patience. The dates for the Cork and Dublin launches are Thurs 21st March and Wed 1st May respectively. The launches will be in the early evenings at the Vision Centre @ St Peters, North Main Street, Cork and the University of Notre Dame, Merrion Sq, Dublin. Many good wishes, Tom

At Blooming Last!

At the Printers Hello Sponsors, The book is at the printers and I'm going to see proofs of the colour pages tomorrow! The launch date in Cork will be Thursday the 21st of March; the Dublin date will be in late April/early May. You will be emailed details nearer the time. Looking forward to seeing you there. Many, many thanks for your on-going support and forbearance. It's finally becoming a reality. All the best, Tom

'Layers' going to press soon!

Hello Sponsors, It’s been a while since I updated you all on the progress of the project. Completing the design work has taken longer than we anticipated, partly due to some unforeseen editing and complications with the illustrations section. But it is now complete (at last!). We now have a very clear idea of the details of the book (65,000 words, 160 pages, 87 illustrations, 4 charts and 1 diagram!) so we will be going to press as soon as possible. I was still hoping to have copies by Christmas, but the publisher has just told me that a date in mid- to late- January is more realistic for you to get your pre-release copies. Please accept my apologies for this delay. As mentioned in my last update we will launch it officially in March, and I will update you in the New Year with dates and venues. I’d be grateful if those sponsors who requested replica signs email me to let me know what wording you would like on them, if you have not already done so. Once again, thanks for bearing with me, I’m sure you will find that the wait is worth it as Vermillion Design have done a smashing job. Kind Regards, Tom

'Layers' Book Delivery

'Layers' Book Delivery Hello Everyone, I thought I would drop you all a line to let you know how the book you sponsored is progressing. The book has been typeset, and I have completed all the corrections and clarifications to it and returned it to the book designers. This took a little longer than I had anticipated as I wanted to chase down some facts and re-photograph some images. It’s my intention that the book will be printed before Christmas, and advanced copies will be sent out to each of you. I had hoped to also get it into the shops by then as well, but I feel it may get lost in the seasonal book bun fight. With this in mind, the publisher and I have decided to hold back the launches until Easter (late March) when the market is quieter and we should, hopefully, get a bit more publicity. I will also do the walking tour in Cork then for people who signed up for that, but I should be able to get the replica signs out to you by Christmas. I hope that this isn’t a disappointment and thank you once again for your support. Tom

First sight of sample chapter

First Sight of Sample Chapter Another step along the way - first sample chapter set as it will appear in the book was delivered on schedule last week. I'm happy with it, so the designers at Vermillion are in the process of laying out the rest of the book. The copyright permissions for the various images I need have been obtained, so it's all systems go. The next big stage (for me, at least) will be reading the full proofs. Until then, cheers! Tom

A Red Letter Day

A Red Letter Day On Tuesday last I sent the text and images to the book designers. It's great to have it off my desk for a bit, but of course as soon as it was gone, I started thinking 'Oh, what about...' The designers are Vermilion Design, a Dublin house with a high end client list, so I'm sure they'll do it justice. All being well (and with the minimum of dabbling from yours truly!) the book should be ready by November and hopefully launched in time for Christmas. Take care, Tom

Thanks & Update

Thanks & Update Dear Sponsors, very many thanks for all your support, and to those who passed the word onto their friends and relations. The funds will be transferred to the project bank account shortly, but I have already started the ball rolling with the book designers, Yesterday, I completed what I hope will be the last set of corrections (it never is!) and began to finalise the images. There's a body of work to be done before this hits the shelves, and I am hoping that it will be complete by October. I intend to keep you updated each month until then. I shall be in touch with you nearer the time to get postal addresses for invites and books and to send those of you who requested signs your rewards. Once again, thank you for your support. Tom

Cork – Cavan –Cork?

Cork – Cavan –Cork? I have recently returned from a 750km round trip from Cork to Bailieborough, Co. Cavan. ‘Why?’ you may well ask. Aside from the manifest delights of that Ulster county, what would draw me there? During research for the book, I was made aware that Ireland’s earliest national signage was designed in 1926, just four years after Independence. They were warning signs, and were unusual compared to British or French ones, as they were bilingual. All of these signs appear to have long been removed from the country’s roads, so I rang the National Museum of Ireland, to see if they had any in their collection. The woman I spoke to said ‘no’, and then, firmly ‘why would we have a thing like that here?’ She could clearly see no reason why early elements of the State’s modern infrastructure had any place in a national collection of art and design. Many months later, and by pure happenstance, I came across a gentleman in Cavan who owns a large collection of signage, as well as packaging and other ephemera. I contacted him and he was more than happy for me to visit and to take as many photos as I liked; so off to Cavan I went. (I’m wondering where I’m committed, or whether I should be committed!) The fund has broken the halfway stage, but there is only 16 days to go! Many thanks to you all, especially my most recent subscribers. There will be a news feature in the Irish Examiner on Monday, which will hopefully garner interest.

Layers Project Logo

Project Logo Some of you may be curious about the project logo visible on the main Fundit page. The square design was driven by the four letter word, (no, not that four letter word) ‘Cork’. I also wanted to try and get a feeling of the range of different letters which have been used for signage in Cork over the centuries. It looked a bit drab, so I mucked about with the colours. The ‘C’ is in a broadly Classical/Trajanic style and is from a sign in Tuckey St, dated 1761, which would tie in with the widening of the street. I’ve been told that the sign was re-discovered during excavations in the nearby park in the ‘80s, but can’t confirm this. The ‘O’ is c.1840, from a sign on South Terrace and, despite its damp locale, the letter is called ‘Egyptian’. The ‘R’ is more flamboyant, c.1905, in a version of the ‘Tuscan’ style. Originally the letters of this marble sign were picked out in lead (you can see a little bit left in the letter in in the picture, and the holes which retained the rest of it). Mable and lead signage is quite common in private developments near the University. The last is from a cast aluminium sign from the 1980s at Buckston (or Buxton) Hill, in a dull sans-serif. Although many people associate letters like this with the twentieth century, letters like this began to be used in Cork and elsewhere in the first half of the 19th century. We're 1/3rd the way to the total, now the tricky middle third, so thanks for your help & spread the word!

Why are there no women in Cork's streets?

My question is rhetorical, not literal (although the incessant rain today may explain the lack of ladies). During my research for 'Layers' it occurred to me that women were massively disregarded in Cork's streetnames. Apart from the Widow Pope, who (not His Holiness) gave her name to Pope's Quay, of common-or-garden females, there is not one. Ironically, the only exceptions are Queens; Victoria, Adelaide and Charlotte. Is it simply a reflection of the male-dominated world of ‘great men’ in the past, and the dominance of men as landowners, or a reluctance by those in power to name places after women? Why is there a street named after John Philpot Curran (the revolutionary, Robert Emmet’s lawyer), but not Sarah Curran, (John’s daughter and Emmet’s girlfriend) or Anne Devlin, his maid who died in Kilmainham? The ‘pot’ now stands at €1,300, so many thanks to you all. And the project is this week’s promotion! Happy days. Now, only if the rain would stop…

funders (127)

There are 114 public funders of this project

There are 13 anonymous funders of this project