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Caught in a bind

Until now our weekly blog posts have concentrated on a specific collection or a particular item among the holdings of our Library. This week’s theme, however, is about items no longer available to consult as a direct consequence of events during Easter week 1916.

Shelfmark: OLS L-1-574 no.6
Shelfmark: OLS L-1-574 no.6

Before our in-house bindery was established, the Library outsourced the work to various companies including Alex Thom & Company. Formed in the 1820s, Thom’s publishing business in Middle Abbey Street was clearly well-established by 1916. The roots of its strong profile lay in two significant events – the patronage of Sir Robert Peel in granting the firm all post office printing in Ireland, and later in 1844, the success of the firm’s own publication, Thom’s Irish Almanac and Official Directory (aka, Thom’s Directory). The directory proved to be an expensive but worthwhile undertaking. By the early 1840s the firm was strong enough to survive a bitter strike and boycott by members of the Dublin Typographical Provident Society.

When hostilities broke out in 1916 Thom’s premises in Middle Abbey Street was totally destroyed. The College muniments hold records of accounts with Alex Thom covering the period 1894-1947. Volumes listed as nos. 172-265 from quarter I (March 1916) and nos. 1-44 from quarter II (June 1916) are recorded as lost due to the conflict. Among the works now absent are chapters of John Hely-Hutchinson’s 18th century manuscript History of Trinity College Dublin; Faulkner’s Dublin Journal (1803) and John Richardson’s A short history of the attempts that have been made to convert the popish natives of Ireland (1712). Giovanni Bona’s Rerum liturgicarum libri (Paris, 1672) also perished.

The Library reopened after the insurrection on May 8th. Shortly afterwards an evaluation of the losses of its holdings was carried out and an appeal to the Chief Secretary of Ireland led to a £213-3-7 compensation pay-out for the College. Copies of works replaced included our Reports of the Royal Society (1905-1907).


Shane Mawe


Assistant Librarian, Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections