In our first project blog back in December we mentioned that the Cuala Press project includes not only a fine array of fine-art prints but also includes the Cuala Press Business Archives (TCD MS 11535). The Cuala Press Business Archives were donated by Anne and Michael Yeats in 1986: subsequent additions were added to the existing catalogue in 2011 and 2015. These later additions include material donated by Gráinne Yeats after the death of Anne Yeats, material donated by Helen Conrad O’Briain in March 2014 in memory of Miss Mary Alice Bailey (1925-2013), and material donated by Jane Williams, daughter of Eileen Peet, in 2002. The Business Archives are extremely important as they are an example of a female-led industry in Ireland in the 20th century. Cuala Industries was established in 1908 when Elizabeth and Susan Yeats split from Evelyn Gleeson and the Dun Emer press. One of the reasons why the Cuala Press is so iconic is that it was the only private press in Ireland to be staffed and run by women.Continue reading “The Cuala Press Business Archives”
On This Day in 1891, Maire ‘Mollie’ Gill was born and to mark Women’s History Month 2021, we have another blog post in our Women of the Cuala series. Maire ‘Mollie’ Gill (1891-1977) was born in Murphystown Co. Dublin to James and Jane Gill on the 24th of March 1891. Maire’s older sister Jane worked at Dun Emer Industries and in 1908, when Jane left to get married, seventeen-year-old Maire took her place, working under Elizabeth C. Yeats (1868-1940) in the newly formed Cuala Press. Gill was now at the center of the Cultural Revival, meeting W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne (1866-1953). Gill became a member of Inghinidhe na hÉireann, the women’s organization founded by Maud Gonne. Through her involvement with Inghinidhe na hÉireann, Gill became increasingly politicized and was one of the first members of Cumann na mBan. She was also on the executive committee of the Irish Republican Prisoners’ Dependent Fund and was later awarded a medal for her part in the War of Independence.Continue reading “Women of the Cuala – Maire ‘Molly’ Gill”
We’re back with another blog from the Cuala Press Print Project – this one will showcase the women of the Cuala Press. The Cuala Press began its life as the Dun Emer Press and was part of Dun Emer Industries, established by Evelyn Gleeson (1855-1944) and Susan and Elizabeth Yeats in Dundrum, Co. Dublin, in 1902. Their aim was to employ and train local Irish girls and young women in ‘the making of beautiful things’. Elizabeth (1868-1940) trained two people at a time on an Albion printing press and they gained knowledge of composition, typography, type setting, and ink rolling; they were also involved in the hand painting of the prints and the other material they printed. Susan Yeats (1866-1949) ran the embroidery section and taught embroidery herself. The trainees were also instructed in Irish by the writer Susan L. Mitchell (1866-1926) and in the dramatic arts by the Fay brothers, who were among the founders of the Abbey Theatre.Continue reading “Women of the Cuala Press”
A collection of one hundred and eleven hand-coloured Cuala Press Prints (TCD MS 11574) was donated to the Manuscripts and Archives Research Collection in Trinity College Dublin where they are currently being catalogued as part of a project to make them accessible to researchers. It is a visually stunning collection and represents an important part of Irish visual culture. It also includes work by many female artists from the early 20th century. The collection was a gift from a private individual who built the collection in the mid 20th century and the philanthropically-funded project to make them available includes the appointment of an archivist, a conservator, a digital photographer and a post-doctoral researcher in the history of art. The project will not only focus on the new collection of prints but will also look at the business archives of the Cuala Press itself (TCD MS 11535). Thus, we will ensure and enhance the usability, visibility and accessibility of these significant materials to support the teaching, learning and research needs of staff, students and the wider research community.Continue reading “Cuala Press Prints Project”
The Cuala Press Archive was presented to Trinity College Library by Michael and Anne Yeats in 1986. The Cuala Press, initially operating as the Dun Emer Press, was run by Elizabeth Yeats from 1902 until her death in 1940. The press grew out of Dun Emer Industries, founded by Elizabeth and Lily Yeats and Evelyn Gleeson in Dundrum in 1902 with the aim of employing Irish women in the making of beautiful things, and contributing to the training and education of working class girls. Elizabeth Yeats was in charge of the press, while Lily Yeats organised the embroidery workshop. In 1908, following a split with Evelyn Gleeson, the Yeats sisters left Dun Emer Industries and continued their work as Cuala Industries. The name of the press was accordingly changed from the Dun Emer Press to the Cuala Press. Elizabeth Yeats ran the press until her death in 1940, whereupon William Butler Yeats’ wife George took over along with Mollie Gill and another assistant. The press stopped printing books in 1946, but continued to create cards and prints. Seventy seven books were published by the Cuala Press between 1908 and 1946, starting with ‘Poetry and Ireland’ by W.B. Yeats and Lionel Johnson, and ending with Elizabeth Rivers’ ‘Stranger in Aran’. From 1969 the Cuala Press began printing books again, under the direction of W.B. and George Yeats’ children, Michael and Anne, who later presented the archive to Trinity. The archive, though fragmentary, contains useful material such as minute books of directors’ meetings, cash books, letters, business papers, some original drawings for prints and sample books. We also have the printing press itself, metal type and printer’s blocks.
A general descriptive listing of the archive is available in the Early Printed Books Reading Room at OL P 016.0941 CUA.
In the US, Boston College University Libraries also holds an archive of materials relating to the Cuala Press. The Cuala Press Printed Materials Archive consists of materials built up by Mollie Gill, one of Elizabeth Yeats’ assistants at the Cuala Press. In 2008-2009 Boston College University Libraries’ Burns Library mounted an exhibition using materials from the archive, ‘Sixty Years of the Cuala Press: A Collaboration of the Yeats Family and Mollie Gill‘. A slideshow of images from the exhibition is available at http://bcm.bc.edu/elements/summer_2008/thisbeautifulcraft/.