The Great War Revisited – Major New Online Exhibition, Partnered with Google Cultural Institute

A slide from the new exhibition

Rare and previously unpublished material held in the Library of Trinity College Dublin relating to WW1 will be brought to a global audience thanks to an online collaboration between Trinity and Google.


Segment from Six One News, June 30th 2015. Copyright Raidió Teilifís Éireann 2015.
Click to go to video.

The Great War Revisited exhibition was launched online on Tuesday, June 30th 2015 at the Google Cultural Institute. This exhibition features 60 exhibits of unique heritage material from Trinity’s rare books and manuscripts collections relating to the Great War, including recruiting posters, letters, diaries, photographs, videos, pamphlets and artworks.

These highlights from the Library’s rich and diverse collections of material relating to the First World War can now be easily accessed by anyone wherever they are in world, right from their computer, tablet or phone. The Great War Revisited is Trinity’s first collaboration with Google Cultural Institute, which partners with more than 800 institutions – museums, libraries, art galleries and archives – around the world. The platform hosts over 170,000 artworks and a total of 6 million photos, videos, manuscripts and other documents of art, culture and history, to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Trinity’s celebrated collection of Irish WWI recruiting posters (one of the largest collection in existence)
  • Previously unpublished photographs of the Allied campaign in Iraq and Turkey
  • Letters and diaries from Irish soldiers serving in France, Iraq and Palestine (previously unpublished)
  • A multitude of political pamphlets, songs and ballads and artworks

Commenting on the launch of the online exhibition Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist, said: “The Library of Trinity College Dublin is delighted to be partnering with Google Cultural Institute on the Great War Revisited online exhibition. Showcasing the richness of First World War material held in the Library, the online exhibition forms part of the Library’s commitment to opening up its historic collections for global online access.”

The exhibition is part of the Library’s contribution to the Trinity College Dublin Decade of Commemoration initiative which includes lectures and conferences and a rededication of the Hall of Honour later this year.

History Books in the Anglo-Norman World – Online Exhibition

History Books in the Anglo-Norman World ExhibitionThe Library presents a mini online exhibition to highlight our collection of Anglo-Norman histories. This follows the History Books in the Anglo-Norman World Conference in May 2015 and a mini exhibition in the Long Room, organised as part of Dr Laura Cleaver’s History Books in the Anglo-Norman World Project (2011-2015).

The past was a popular subject in the Anglo-Norman world. Following the conquest of England in 1066, historians in the territories controlled by the kings of England sought to legitimise the new regime and make sense of the political circumstances in which they found themselves by exploring both the recent and distant past. Writers used a range of precedents in shaping their accounts, drawing on sources including the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, histories of the dukes of Normandy, and genealogical histories derived from the Bible. Although some works composed in the early twelfth century were primarily designed for use within a particular monastery, others, such as the histories produced by monks John at Worcester and William at Malmesbury, were widely copied and taken up by later generations of writers including Ralph of Diss and Matthew Paris. The surviving ‘history books’ vary significantly in size, format, quality of materials used and decoration. The study of these manuscripts thus sheds light on both the creation and reception of history in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Trinity College Dublin holds an important collection of Anglo-Norman histories, most of which came from the collection of Archbishop James Ussher (d. 1656). Ussher was a keen collector of manuscripts, and his interest in history was linked to his attempt to establish the date of Creation, which he famously concluded must have taken place in 4004 BC. Ussher’s collection was given to Trinity College Library in 1661.

‘Changed Utterly – Ireland and the Easter Rising’, Project Launch, 24 April 2015

1916 Easter Rising Project Launch

Pictured at the Project Launch L to R:
Shane Mawe, Assistant Librarian; Helen Shenton, Librarian & College Archivist; Estelle Gittins, Assistant Librarian

‘Changed Utterly – Ireland and the Easter Rising’ is a weekly series of 52 blog posts which focuses on the Easter Rising and its impact on Ireland.

The project will draw on the rich and diverse collections of 1916 material held in the Research Collections departments of Trinity College Library including diary extracts, letters, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, photographs, and even pieces of clothing. The Research Collections departments comprise of the Manuscripts and Archives Research Library (M&ARL), the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections, the Glucksman Map Library and the Music Library.

Launched on Friday 24 April 2015, the aim is to showcase the breadth of our collections related to 1916 and this period of unrest in Ireland’s history. It is hoped that the project will act as a catalyst for research and engage the public ahead of the centenary anniversary in April 2016.

Blog posts are written by the staff in the aforementioned Library departments, and occasionally by Trinity College academics and other experts in the period.

Click here to view the blog.
Follow the project on Twitter: @TCDLib1916

ANZAC Day – Long Room Exhibition

Captain Anthony Purdon Hagarty Corley of the 1st Australian Division

Captain Anthony Purdon Hagarty Corley of the 1st Australian Division

The Library has a number of events planned to acknowledge the centenary of the First World War. One of these events, which marks a specific battle and the participation of Trinity alumni in it, is a small exhibition which has been curated to coincide with ANZAC Day, 25 April 2015. ANZAC Day was originally dedicated to the memory of those of the Australian and New Zealander Army Corps who fell in Gallipoli in August 1915. To honour the anniversary this year the Library has identified, from among the archives of the Medical School, the portraits of the medical personnel who died in the Dardanelles Campaign, as it was also known, including one Trinity man who served in the Australian army. These nineteen portraits have been treated in the Preservation and Conservation Department and placed on exhibition in the world-famous Long Room of the Old Library where they will be seen by the hundreds of thousands of visitors who visit the Library in the summer months.

The portraits are identified by name, the date of entry to the College, the date and location of death, and the cemetery wherein the individual was interred. It is, as ever, noticeable how very young most of these men were, the youngest having only entered College less than 18 months before his untimely death. The oldest man was in his fifties.

Both the Medical School and the School of Engineering collected and displayed the portraits of their alumni who died in the War; the memory of their service in Gallipoli and other campaigns formed a part of the Schools’ distinct identity within the College. The medical portraits now form part of the College Archives, housed in the Library, while the portraits of the engineers still hang in the Museum Building.

RDS ‘Great Libraries of the World’ Lecture – Peter Fox on Trinity College Library Dublin 15/04/15

Trinity College Library Dublin: a History

Peter Fox’s ‘Trinity College Library Dublin: a History’, launched in 2014

This free (but booking essential!) lecture will examine some familiar aspects of the history of Trinity College Library Dublin from a less familiar perspective. Much of what we now take for granted: the foundation of the Library in the 16th century, the building of what we now call the Old Library in the 18th, the New Library (now the Berkeley) in the 20th, and Trinity’s continuing right to claim new books published in both Britain and Ireland – all of these involved complex negotiations, the outcome of which was far from certain. The story of the Library was directly affected by the intervention of major historical figures – monarchs: Elizabeth I, Queen Anne and Charles II; archbishops: James Ussher, William King and John Charles McQuaid; politicians: Oliver Cromwell, Eamon de Valera and Seán Lemass. These all feature in the lecture, which will cover the political background to the development of Ireland’s greatest library and its relations with church and state over four centuries.

Full details and how to book can be found on the RDS website.

Peter Fox worked at Trinity College for 15 years, first as Deputy Librarian and then as Librarian and College Archivist. He edited Treasures of the Library: Trinity College Dublin, published by the Royal Irish Academy in 1986, and the commentary volume to the Book of Kells facsimile. His history of Trinity College Library Dublin was published in 2014 by Cambridge University Press. From 1994 to 2009 he was the Librarian of the University of Cambridge, and he is a Fellow of Selwyn College Cambridge.

“Hello Stranger” – Handmade Books by Primary School Students Make Acquaintance with the Long Room

Example page by Adam Caulfield from Our Lady of Good Counsel Boys' NS

Example page by Adam Caulfield from Our Lady of Good Counsel Boys’ NS

On Wednesday, March 25th, the Old Library will be given the pleasure of hosting the Bookmark Awards Ceremony and exhibition launch, brought to us by the Trinity Access Programme (TAP). Hosted by Helen Shenton, the Trinity College Librarian, this evening will feature an exhibition of hand-written and -illustrated books created by pupils from:

  • St Mary’s Boys’ National School, Haddington Road
  • Our Lady of Lourdes National School, Inchicore
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel Boys’ National School, Drimnagh

In preparation for the evening, the students were brought on an extended tour of the Old Library and the Book of Kells. Dr Lydia Ferguson introduced the pupils to some of the Pollard collection, which includes over 11,000 children’s books collected by Mary Pollard over a period of 50 years. The students were also introduced to the theme “Hello Stranger” and given examples to assist them with their projects. Further information on this day and the theme itself can be found in detail on the associated blog by Catherine Ann Cullen.

This has become an annual event and is a fantastic experience for all involved. We are looking forward to welcoming the students, and their families, on Wednesday evening. The handmade books will be displayed in the Long Room until April 10th. It is free of charge for friends and families of those in the three schools involved, as well as any students, staff and alumni of the College who wish to view these creative additions to our Old Library.

The Long Room, Trinity College Library Dublin – New Exhibition Launched 23rd October 2014

A major new exhibition of children’s books celebrating the wondrous ways in which writers and illustrators have used myth to engage and excite young readers was launched in the Long Room, Trinity College Library Dublin, on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014. The exhibition is open to the public and runs until April 2015.

Illustration from "The Children of Lir" illustration © PJ Lynch 2014 - taken from "The Names Upon The Harp" by Marie Heaney, published by Faber

Illustration from “The Children of Lir” illustration © PJ Lynch 2014 – taken from “The Names Upon The Harp” by Marie Heaney, published by Faber

The exhibition, entitled ‘Upon the Wild Waves: A Journey through Myth In Children’s Books’ presents material from the 17th century to the present day and was prepared by Dr Pádraic Whyte, Assistant Professor in English and co-director of the Masters programme in Children’s Literature at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin.

From Walter Crane’s superb images of Greek heroes battling monsters in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys, through to Beatrice Elvery’s enchanting depiction of Niamh riding out from Tír na nÓg in Violet Russell’s Heroes of the dawn, the exhibition brings visitors on a magical journey through a diverse range of fascinating children’s books. The display, which is primarily aimed at adult visitors, features myths from around the world, with a particular emphasis on English-language books and on tales by Irish authors and illustrators. All the texts are drawn from the Library which holds over 150,000 children’s books – approximately 10,500 of which are from the Pollard Collection of Children’s Books. This collection was bequeathed to the Library in 2005 by a former Keeper of Early Printed Books, Mary ‘Paul’ Pollard.

Commenting on the significance of the exhibition, Dr Whyte said:

“Children’s literature is a central and vital part of our cultural heritage and this exhibition reveals the sophisticated ways in which myth in children’s books can be used to explore everything from gender and same-sex-relationships through to historical revisionism and 1916. I’m delighted that we have the opportunity to display for visitors many of the treasures held at the Trinity College Library, and to highlight some of the research in children’s literature taking place at the School of English.”

The exhibition is also available to view online, click here

Trinity College Library Dublin Announces Purchase of Samuel Beckett Letters – 8th October 2014

Trinity College Library Dublin has announced the purchase of the most extensive collection of Samuel Beckett letters ever to have been offered for public sale.
The collection comprises 347 items and was sold by a private seller.
The Library now holds the largest collection of Beckett letters of any research library in the world and is a fitting home for the correspondence of one of Trinity College Dublin’s most famous alumni.

The letters and cards were sent from the Nobel Prize-winning author to artists Henri and Josette Hayden.
Beckett and his wife, Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, met the Haydens when both couples were in southern France evading discovery by the Nazis during WWII.
The letters, dating from a period beginning in 1947, cover a troubled time in Beckett’s life, which saw the death of both his mother and his brother Frank.

“These Beckett letters are very significant for Beckett scholarship at Trinity College, as well as nationally and internationally,” said Helen Shanton, Librarian and College Archivist.
“We have been developing collections of significant Irish creative writers, and these letters build on the existing Beckett collections the library already holds. We welcome the opportunity to be able to share these collections with students of Beckett and researchers across the globe.”

A small sample of the collection is on display for the public in the Old Library.
RTE News – Trinity Buys Beckett Letters
BBC News – Trinity College buys largest collection of writers’ letters put on sale

A Book of Kells Costume!

Fancy something a little different for Halloween?

We occasionally come across iconic images and buildings associated with the Library using in novel and interesting ways, such as the recreation of the Old Library on a wall in Poland, or a library eerily reminiscent of the Long Room appearing in Star Wars.

Add to that this costume inspired by the Book of Kells. The creator used our online repository of the Book to create a skirt and temporary tattoos. She clearly has a great love for the manuscript and took pains to treat it with respect – even though medieval copyists themselves might not be so scrupulous. It’s certainly not something you’ll see every day – great work Amanda!