An tSeachtain Glas 2015: The Roots of Irish Sustainable Forestry

Vale of Ovoca, from the Octagon House. From 'Picturesque Sketches of some of the finest Landscape and Coast Scenery of Ireland' (Dublin, 1835). Shelfmark: V.g.29
Vale of Ovoca, from the Octagon House. From ‘Picturesque Sketches of some of the finest Landscape and Coast Scenery of Ireland’ (Dublin, 1835). Shelfmark: V.g.29

Trinity College Dublin hosts their 13th annual Green Week from the 16th to the 20th of February this year, and we are all encouraged to “Go Green in 2015!” Sustainability on campus and as a research direction is very important to the University and this has inspired our Green Week exhibition currently on display in the Berkeley foyer. A selection of titles shows the use of silviculture, or forest management, in Ireland from the 12th century up to early state forestry in the 20th century.

Early written references to tree planting in Ireland date back to the late 12th century when Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales) described yew trees planted about churches and cemeteries for ornament and shelter. From the 16th century, an increase in industry and agriculture resulted in the decline of woodland and forest areas. Forest management was necessary to sustain future demand and pamphlets and books were published on the subject.

The first major work on the topic of Silviculture in Ireland was written by Samuel Hayes, who forested his own estate at Avondale, Co. Wicklow in the 1770s. His ‘A practical treatise on planting; and the management of woods and coppices’ (Dublin, 1794) was written for the Dublin Society and encouraged the preservation of woods and the extension of plantations.

Extensive demesne planting occurred on Irish estates in the 18th century. Originally formal layouts were preferred, but with the introduction of ‘natural style’ landscape parks in the 1740s planting increased to achieve ‘natural’ woodland features. The “Vale of Ovoca, from the Octagon House” (top) shows dense plantations on the hills that provided not only an aesthetically pleasing view, but also an annual income of £600. More scenic landscapes can be seen in ‘Picturesque Sketches of some of the finest Landscape and Coast Scenery of Ireland’ (Dublin 1835).

State forestry began in Ireland in 1903 and the first forestry school was established at Avondale, the former estate of Samuel Hayes, in 1904. Today the objective of the Forest Service is that all timber produced in Ireland should be derived from sustainably managed forests.

For more on Green Week activities in the Library check out the alerts page. Selected items from the collections will be featured on this blog throughout the week.

What where? Beckett Display in the Berkeley Foyer

IMG_20141112_171959This year Trinity College Library has made great advances in acquiring and making available significant collections of Samuel Beckett material, most recently with the acquisition of the Hayden Collection of Beckett correspondence. In the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections two excellent Beckett collections have been catalogued and are available to consult in the EPB reading room. The Con Leventhal Collection, which contains primarily Beckett authored material from throughout his career including many inscribed first editions; and the Stanley E. Gontarski Beckett Library, which contains a comprehensive collection of Beckett criticism as well as many foreign language editions of Beckett’s writing. Several items from both collections are now on display in the Berkeley foyer.

From the Leventhal Collection you can see “Our exagmination round his factification for incamination of Work in progress” which features Beckett’s first published essay; a rare first edition of his prize winning poem “Whoroscope”; and a copy of “Molloy” inscribed to Ethna MacCarthy, an early crush of Beckett’s who went on the marry his friend Con Leventhal. The Gontarski Beckett Library is strong in theatrical and international content with the Evergreen Review literary magazine featuring “Ohio impromptu”; and “Wierność przegranej” a collection of Polish translations of Beckett essays also on display.


“Upon the Wild Waves” — a new exhibition opens in the Long Room

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

A new exhibition has opened in the Old Library, Trinity College Dublin: “Upon the wild waves: a journey through myth in children’s books” explores some of the varying ways in which writers and illustrators have used myth down through the centuries to engage and excite younger readers. From Thomas Godwin’s “Romanae historiae anthologia” (1648) to “Hagwitch” (2013) by the contemporary Irish writer and illustrator Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, the exhibition serves as a celebration of the wealth of children’s literature held in the Library.

Myths from around the world are represented in this display, although there is a particular emphasis on English-language books and on tales from Irish authors. The exhibition includes sections on Biblical, Classical, Norse, Arthurian and Irish myths. It is clear from all the works displayed that myths have always had an important role to play in providing guidance to children on how to deal with the great problems of life, as well as offering ways of understanding the past, present and future, and of explaining the inexplicable.

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The exhibition was prepared by Dr Pádraic Whyte, co-director of the Masters programme in Children’s Literature at the School of English, TCD. It will be on view in the Long Room until April 2015.

An online version of the exhibition is available here.

Intaglio Printmaking Illustrated

Catherine McDonagh from the cataloguing department has prepared this month’s display in the Berkeley foyer, which features illustrations originally produced using intaglio printing techniques.

In intaglio printing, incisions are etched or impressed into a steel or copper plate. Ink is then applied to the plate and sinks down into the incised areas. The surface of the plate is wiped so that the ink only remains in the incisions and a print is taken. There are a number of methods that can be used to make these incisions. This exhibition looks at etching, engraving, aquatint, mezzotint, and photogravure techniques.

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On display are 4 examples of illustrations, the originals of which were printed using different intaglio techniques. In the print “A horse frightened by a lion”  George Stubbs used a mixed method of engraving which lies somewhere between aquatint and mezzotint, giving a tonal quality to the work. Francisco Goya used a variety of intaglio printmaking techniques in his series of prints “The Disasters of the War“. Etching and engraving can be seen in the line work while aquatint is used for the tonal areas. Photogravure illustrations are utilised in the successful author/illustrator collaboration between Irish novelist Lord Dunsany and English artist Sidney Sime “Time and the Gods” which inspired later authors and artists in the fantasy genre. The skill of graphic artist M.C. Escher is evident in the very dark and very light tones side by side in “Eye“. He mastered the technically difficult tonal engraving process of mezzotint to achieve this exact tone.

Many thanks to Catherine for her work in preparing this exhibition!


Ireland’s dead enigma: Francis Ledwidge

To coincide with the visit of the World War I Road Show to Trinity College on Saturday 12 July, there are new exhibits in the Berkeley Library foyer and the Ussher Orientation Space.

The Berkeley display case contains two holdings related to the war poet Francis Ledwidge. Born into a poor, rural family in Slane, Co. Meath, Ledwidge had to leave school at the end of the primary cycle to help earn money for his family – his father having died when he was five years old. From the age of thirteen he worked as a farm labourer and began to write poetry. His writing came to the attention of Lord Dunsany, who gave him great encouragement and wrote an introduction to each of his three volumes of poetry including Last songs which is now on display. Described as ‘our dead enigma’ by Seamus Heaney, Ledwidge held strong nationalist views with the events of the Easter Rising having affected him greatly. He fought with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was killed at Flanders on 31st July 1917. In Two songs and Una Bawn, Ledwidge describes the way he felt when called to fight in the War.

The second exhibit shows the entry for Francis Ledwidge in Ireland’s memorial records 1914-1918. In July 1919, the Irish National War Memorial Trust was set up to establish a permanent memorial to the Irishmen killed in the First World War. A national fund-raising campaign generated donations of £42,000, of which about £5,000 was spent on collecting the records of those who had died and publishing their names in a monumental eight-volume work. The volumes were printed by Maunsell & Roberts in Dublin in a limited edition of one hundred copies, and the stained-glass artist Harry Clarke was commissioned to design decorative borders for each page, which are repeated throughout the volumes.

Ireland's memorial records
Ireland’s memorial records 1914-1918, Dublin: 1923

The World War I theme continues with a display of Irish fiction by Collection Management in the Orientation Space. Works on show by Sebastian Barry, Frank McGuinness and others, encompass the political climate of the time and the emotions of guilt and duty felt by the protagonist and their families. Equally illustrated by the authors are stories of friendships, love, lost ones and disjointed families against the backdrop of the continental and home divide.