Daphnis & Chloe

One of my favourite aspects of work in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections is the opportunity to hold and examine so many wonderful and diverse books. When I was returning a book to the Quin Case a few days ago, I picked one out to look at because of its beautifully decorated spine – many of the books bequeathed to the College library by the wealthy graduate Henry Quin (1760-1805) have fine bindings. The boards, endpapers, fore-edge and text turned out to be equally attractive. The book in question was Quin 43, a 1786 printing of the story of Daphnis and Chloe, bound by Christian Samuel Kalthoeber of London. A German by birth, Kalthoeber emigrated to England where he became apprentice to his compatriot Johann Ernst Baumgarten, taking over his business in 1782. Continue reading

Bedlam in Belgium

‘Documents et particularités historiques …’ Shelfmark: Gall.6.i.39

Bibliophile Renier Hubert Ghislain Chalon was born in Mons, Belgium in 1802. A keen numismatist, his interests clearly extended beyond books and coins as he was also the instigator of the Fortsas Bibliohoax, one of the greatest pranks in the world of book-dealing. His hoax was a thing of beauty. Continue reading

The Kelmscott Chaucer

It is difficult to choose a favourite item in Trinity College Library’s collections but one of mine is the Kelmscott Chaucer, shelfmark Press B KEL 1896 2. It is not particularly colourful – red and black are the only inks used, and the former only sparingly – but despite the unpromising binding of Trinity’s copy it is a beautiful book. How can you not admire the sheer amount of work involved in designing and creating it?

first opening

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W.B. Yeats and the Cuala Press

Celebrations are taking place around the country this week to mark 150 years since the birth of the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, on 13th June 1865 in Sandymount in Dublin. We in Trinity College Library Dublin have a particular reason to celebrate as our holdings in the Department of Early Printed Books & Special Collections include important collections of material relating to the Cuala Press, the Irish private press where many of Yeats’s works were first printed.

Prospectus: “The Dun Emer Press” ([Dundrum, 1903]) Shelfmark: Press A Cuala ARCH Box 49A no.1

Prospectus: “The Dun Emer Press” ([Dundrum, 1903]) Shelfmark: Press A Cuala ARCH Box 49A no.1

The Cuala Press, originally the Dun Emer Press, was founded in Dundrum, Co. Dublin, in 1902 by Evelyn Gleeson and Yeats’s sisters Susan and Elizabeth (known as Lily and Lolly), as part of the Dun Emer Industries. The printing part of the Industries was renamed the Cuala Press after the Yeats sisters separated from Evelyn Gleeson in 1908, setting up their business at a cottage in Churchtown, just a mile away from the original premises in Dundrum. There, Elizabeth was in charge of the printing workshop while Susan continued with the embroidery work she had been doing at Dun Emer.

W.B. Yeats was closely involved with the activity of the Press from the time of its foundation. He acted as its literary editor, thereby ensuring that works of many of the leading Irish writers of the time were published by it. Several of his own books were among these. Indeed, the first book printed at the Dun Emer Press was his collection of poetry, “In the Seven Woods”, which included the first version of his play “On Baile’s strand”. This was followed by further books of poetry, essays and autobiographical works, such as “Reveries upon childhood and youth”, printed in 1915 and in which he described aspects of his life up to the deaths of his maternal grandparents in 1892.

W.B. Yeats: “The fiddler of Dooney” (Dublin, [c. 1942]) Shelfmark: Press A Cuala ARCH Box 12 no.23

W.B. Yeats: “The fiddler of Dooney” (Dublin, [c. 1942]) Shelfmark: Press A Cuala ARCH Box 12 no.23

Some of Yeats’s poems were also reprinted in the Cuala Press’s series of prints which usually combined a poem with an illustration. Shown here is a mock-up of the Cuala Press print of Yeats’s poem ‘The fiddler of Dooney’, from his 1899 collection “The wind among the reeds”, with an illustration by George Atkinson, R.H.A.


A selection of items relating to W.B. Yeats and the Cuala Press, from the collections of Trinity College Library, is currently on display in the Long Room of the Old Library.

Michael Davitt and the Gaelic Athletic Association

September is the busiest month in the GAA calendar with the minor and senior All Ireland finals in both football and hurling being played in Croke Park. This year Mayo will contest both football finals making it an ideal time to display Brendon Deacy’s work on Mayo native Michael Davitt (1846-1906) ‘Life in relief’ in the BLU exhibition case.

A life in relief

Brendon Deacy. ‘A life in relief’

With its foundation on 1 November 1884 at a meeting in Hayes Hotel, Thurles, The Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of National Pastimes grew to become known today as the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Michael Cusack and Maurice Davin, conveners of the meeting, passed a motion to appoint Archbishop Thomas Croke, Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt as patrons of the new association. By that time, Davitt was a figure of national importance principally due to his involvement with the foundation of the Irish Land League in 1879, when he moved from being a Fenian activist to campaigning for land nationalism by peaceful and political means. Davitt’s involvement with the GAA included a contribution to the 1888 rulebook and a financial bailout of £450 to the doomed promotional tour of America in the same year. His generosity may have been spurred on by his initial guarantee at the 1884 meeting that the Irish in America would contribute half of the £1,000 required to stage a Gaelic Association competition to include Gaelic games and track & field sports.

Printed by The Letterpress Print Workshop at the National College of Art and Design in 2006 to mark the centenary of Davitt’s death, Brendon Deacy’s work is described as a novel without words. It uses the medium of linoleum printing to depict the main events in Davitt’s life. Linocut printing developed in the early 20th century and involves the artist cutting out a design on a sheet of linoleum. The relief area is then inked and the image transferred to paper.  Artists such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso were famous exponents of this method of printing.

The work is now on display in the foyer just inside the door of the Berkeley Library. Our opening hours change this month due to the start of the new academic year, so please check the library webpage for access.

Improvements in the west

Improvements in the west

Patrons of the GAA

Patrons of the GAA

On Bolus Head: Etchings of Kerry in image and verse

A selection of original etchings from a limited-edition portfolio, “On Bolus Head”, is now on display in the Long Room. A copy of the portfolio, published by Cill Rialaig and En Garde Books, was recently donated to the Library by the Irish-American artists, Michael Carter and Brian Gormley. The etchings are based on poems written by Michael Carter and associated images created by Brian Gormley during residencies at the Cill Rialaig Project in Co. Kerry. The “On Bolus Head” series, etched on 38 metal plates in an edition of 20 copies at the Cill Rialaig Print Center, is an artist’s book inspired by personal experiences and observations upon the history, mythology and landscape of Kerry, particularly the environs of Cill Rialaig and Bolus Head, a point at the extreme southwest of Ireland.
The portfolio, and its printed facsimile edition, which was also donated to the Library and is included in the display, are prefaced by Dr David Scott, Professor of French (Textual & Visual Studies) at Trinity College Dublin, and a specialist in the field of text/image interaction.

Skellig Michael imageSkellig Michael poem

Michael Carter is a poet, critic and essayist, and publisher of the quintessential East Village arts and literary zine “Redtape”. Author of “Broken Noses and Metempsychoses”, his work has been published in numerous anthologies.
Brian Gormley is an internationally acclaimed painter and printmaker who has exhibited his prints at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Graphic Studio, Dublin.
This display is presented for Trinity Week under the auspices of the School of English and the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies, and with the support of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. It will be on view until the end of April.

Morning stones imageMorning stones poem