Launch of first major Irish exhibition on Oscar Wilde ‘From Decadence to Despair’

The opening of the first major Irish exhibition on Oscar Wilde was marked by a public interview with actor and writer Rupert Everett on Thursday October 12, 2017 in Trinity College Dublin. The highly personal exhibition in Trinity’s Long Room, featuring letters, photographs, theatre programmes, books and memorabilia, maps out the Anglo-Irish playwright’s meteoric rise to fame and also his dramatic fall from grace.

Pictured at the launch actor Rupert Everett, curator Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin and Senator David Norris

Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversation, Oscar Wilde is one of the best known Irish personalities of the 19th century and was one of the great writers of the Victorian era. Besides literary accomplishments, Wilde became a figure of some notoriety for his lifestyle and involvement in the ‘art for art’s sake’ aesthetic movement as well as the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death.

Now Trinity College Dublin is celebrating one of its most famous alumni with an exhibition entitled ‘From Decadence to Despair’ in Trinity’s Long Room and an accompanying online exhibition. The exhibition opening takes place four days before Oscar Wilde’s birthday on October 16th. To mark the occasion a public interview with actor, writer and long-time Oscar Wilde fan Rupert Everett was conducted by Carlo Gébler, Adjunct Professor in Creative Writing at Trinity’s Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish Writing this evening in the Robert Emmet Theatre, Arts Building, Trinity at 6.30pm.

The 30 items in the ‘From Decadence to Despair’ exhibition are drawn from the Library’s  Oscar Wilde Collection, which is the only Wilde archive held in a public institution in Ireland. It is unique in its focus on the playwright’s downfall and exile years. The collection was acquired by Trinity in 2011 from Julia Rosenthal, a rare book dealer and life-long collector of Wildeana based in London.

Commenting on the significance of the exhibition Librarian and College Archivist, Helen Shenton said: “The Oscar Wilde Collection held here at the Library of Trinity College Dublin comprises items of great symbolic significance for Wilde’s biography. All the great Wilde biographers have made extensive use of the archive.  Now, with these new exhibitions, we are delighted to be able to bring this important collection to national and international audiences.”

Curator of the exhibition and Assistant Librarian at Trinity, Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin added: “Oscar Wilde’s life and work continues to captivate academics and the general public. Through this exhibition we hope to celebrate the extraordinary legacy of Oscar Wilde and to shed further light on his remarkable journey from his student days in Trinity right through to his downfall and the sad circumstances in which he found himself during those final years in exile.”

Changed Utterly: recording and reflecting on the Rising 1916 –2016

The Proclamation TCD Papyrus Case 16 no.1

The Proclamation TCD Papyrus Case 16 no.1

The Library of Trinity College Dublin has launched a Long Room exhibition to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising. Changed Utterly: recording and reflecting on the Rising 1916 –2016 will run from 1 March to the end of April.

The exhibition features exhibits of unique material from Trinity’s Manuscripts & Archives Research Library and Early Printed Books collections relating to the 1916 Easter Rising, including photographs, diaries, memorabilia as well as digital content. The display will trace methods of recording and reflecting on the Rising from the initial scramble to record the events as they happened in 1916; the commemorative activity of 1966 and through to the Library’s current project to capture and preserve the 1916 related websites produced in 2016.

Silver cup presented to Cadet R N Tweedy of the Dublin University Officer Training corps for service during 1916. TCD MUN/OBJ/25

Silver cup presented to Cadet R N Tweedy of the Dublin University Officer Training Corps for service during 1916. TCD MUN/OBJ/25

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • The Library’s copy of the Proclamation, said to have been torn from the walls of the GPO, along with the World War I recruitment posters found pasted to the back
  • Photograph of British Troops in the Front Square of Trinity College Dublin
  • The scrapbook of Elsie Mahaffy, daughter of Trinity Provost John Pentland Mahaffy, and occupant of the Provost’s house during the Rising
  • Silver cup presented to a member of the Dublin University Officer Training corps for service during 1916
  • The casing of a bullet which pierced the roof of the Library during Easter week 1916.

    The casing of a bullet which pierced the roof of the Library of Trinity College Dublin during Easter week 1916

    The casing of a bullet which pierced the roof of the Library of Trinity College Dublin during Easter week 1916

The items displayed all appear on the Library’s popular 1916 blog project Changed Utterly – Ireland and the Easter Rising.

The exhibition also showcases the work of the Library’s 1916 Web Archiving project which sees the Library working in collaboration with the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford and the British Library to archive websites from both the Irish and UK web domains as they reflect on the 1916 Easter Rising.

Photograph of Troops in Front Square TCD/MUN/MC/207

Photograph of Troops in the Front Square of Trinity College Dublin TCD/MUN/MC/207

The exhibition and web-archiving project are part of the Library’s contribution to the Trinity College Dublin Decade of Commemoration.

 

CERL Dublin Manuscripts Conference 25-27 May 2016

The 7th conference of CERL’s (Consortium of European Research Libraries https://www.cerl.org/) European Manuscript Librarians Expert Group, hosted by the cerl logoLibrary of Trinity College Dublin will take place 25-27 May 2016.

The primary aims of the Group are to act as a forum for curatorial concerns, and to enhance understanding and practical cooperation among curators across Europe. The conference will focus on these themes:

Commemorations and Anniversaries; Materiality; Post-digital issues and concerns.

Draft programme:

Wednesday 25 May, 1315 – 2000

  • Estelle Gittins, ‘Commemorating 1916 in the Library of Trinity College Dublin’
  • Bernard Meehan, ‘The Faddan More Psalter’
  • Susie Bioletti, ‘Early Results from the “Early Irish Manuscripts” Project’
  • Jennifer Edmond, ‘CENDARI: what next?’
  • Jane Ohlmeyer, ‘The 1641 Depositions: what now?’

Reception in Old Library with Book of Kells and exhibition of treasures

Thursday 26 May, 0930-1900

  • Ad Leerintveld, ‘Authenticating the coat of arms in a Gruuthuse manuscript’
  • Birgit Vinther Hansen, ‘Exhibition and fading of manuscripts: microfadometry and a lighting policy to increase exposure and reduce risk’
  • Nicholas Pickwoad, ‘Ligatus:  the importance of bindings and their description’
  • Claire Breay, ‘Commemorating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015’
  • Allen Packwood, ‘The Churchill Papers: a modern historical epic’
  • Gerhard Müller, “Understanding Archival Metadata and Shaping Perspectives on the Benefits of Standards beyond the Simple Search.”

Reception at Royal Irish Academy and viewing of early medieval Irish manuscripts. Conference dinner, 1930

Friday 27 May, 0915-1200, private visits to Marsh’s Library and the Chester Beatty Library

FURTHER PAPERS WILL BE ADDED. FULL INFORMATION AND BOOKING FORM WILL FOLLOW SHORTLY.

Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin

Changed Utterly Update

TCD MS 5870 2v Henry Street from Nelson's Pillar May 1916 by TJ Westropp

TCD MS 5870 2v Henry Street from Nelson’s Pillar May 1916 by TJ Westropp

It is only three months since the Library launched its 1916 blog Changed Utterly – Ireland and the Easter Rising. In that time we have been delighted and surprised by the extent of the support for the project and the increase in the use of the Library’s 1916 collections.

In addition to the 600+ Twitter followers of @TCDLIB1916, the blog has also recently attracted the attention of the media with articles in TheJournal.ie, the Irish Independent and the Irish Post.

One of the unexpected outcomes of the project is that it has raised the profile of the Library as a repository that actively collects such archival material. This has resulted in the donation of new material to M&ARL including the original account of 1916 by Lillian Stokes, (donated by her grand-nephew); and the deposit of an autograph album from the Frongoch internment camp. Posts on these new accessions will appear on the blog shortly. Research Collections staff have also met with many different people and agencies working on their own 1916 projects, which include prospective theatre performances, visitor centres and other digital projects.

Most of our weekly posts are written by Library staff, with some contributions from Trinity academics and other experts, including a forthcoming post written by the relative of a 1916 internee.

TCD MS 5870 5r Chimneys of the Hotel Metropole May 1916 by TJ Westropp

TCD MS 5870 5r Chimneys of the Hotel Metropole May 1916 by TJ Westropp

This week’s post focusses on an album of 44 photographs of Dublin taken in the days immediately following the rising. Subscribers to the blog have already learned of the experience of Thomas Bodkin as a St John Ambulance stretcher bearer working out of Dublin Castle and the story of Eileen Corrigan, one of four female students to brave sniper bullets on her way into Trinity to sit exams.

Estelle Gittins

The Book from the Tomb

St. Cuthbert Gospel.jpg HI

Last night saw the launch of The St Cuthbert Gospel: Studies on the Insular Manuscript of the Gospel of John edited by Dr Claire Breay, Lead Curator, Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts, the British Library, and Dr Bernard Meehan, Head of Research Collections and Keeper of Manuscripts, the Library of Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Claire Breay and Dr Bernard Meehan

Dr Claire Breay and Dr Bernard Meehan

The book was launched by Helen Shenton, Trinity College Librarian and College Archivist. Helen was one of the last students of Roger Powell who famously rebound the Book of Kells. Her training included constructing a perfect model of the St Cuthbert Gospel, which she brought along for the occasion.

The evening also included presentations from both of the editors including a film of a CT scan of the gospel unveiling the structure beneath the decoration on the original binding.

Helen Shenton, Trinity College Librarian and College Archivist

Helen Shenton, Trinity College Librarian and College Archivist

The St Cuthbert Gospel (formerly known as the Stonyhurst Gospel) is the earliest intact European book and is a landmark in the cultural history of western Europe. Now dated to the early 8th century, it contains a manuscript copy of John’s Gospel in Latin. It retains its original binding, strikingly decorated with a vine and chalice motif. It is intimately associated with Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, being found in the saint’s coffin when it was opened at Durham Cathedral in 1104. Having been on loan to the British Library since 1979, it was bought for the national collection following a major fundraising campaign in 2011–12. It is now BL Additional MS 89000.

Dr Claire Breay showing the CT scan of the St Cuthbert Gospel

Dr Claire Breay showing the CT scan of the St Cuthbert Gospel

This new collection of essays is the most substantial study of the manuscript since the 1960s. It includes commentary on Cuthbert in his historical context; the codicology, script, text and medieval history of the manuscript; the structure and decoration of the binding; the Irish pocket Gospels, with which it shares several characteristics; the other relics found in Cuthbert’s coffin; and the post-medieval movements of the manuscript.