Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Menu Search

Yuletide display in the Berkeley Library foyer display case

We have chosen to display A holiday book for Christmas and the New Year, London, [1853] for the month of December. The opening on show includes an image of Martin Luther, popularly believed to have been the originator of the modern decorated tree, and his family. The book is a collection of legends, poetry, music, games, etc.

A holiday book for Christmas and the New Year, London. [1853]. Shelfmark: V.b.22 .
A holiday book for Christmas and the New Year. London, [1853]. Shelfmark: V.b.22.

The Christmas tree as we know it has its origins in early modern Germany but there are precedents going back much earlier. The ancient Chinese, Egyptians and Hebrews used evergreen wreaths, garlands and trees as symbols of everlasting life. In the nineteenth century, the custom of decorating Christmas trees became widespread amongst the royal courts and nobility throughout Europe but it was through the influence of Queen Victoria’s husband, the German Prince Albert, that families throughout Britain and Ireland first adopted the idea.

The Christmas supplement to The Illustrated London News 1848 carried a full-page picture of the Queen’s Christmas tree at Windsor Castle with a note that ‘the exhibition of the Christmas Tree is somewhat more of a German than an English custom’ followed by a short story by the poet R. H. Horne ‘which will throw some light upon the festive purposes for which they are employed in Germany’. In 1850 Charles Dickens wrote a description of ‘a merry company of children assembled round that pretty German toy, a Christmas tree’ in the December 21 issue of his weekly journal, Household Words.

A holiday book for Christmas and the New Year, London. [1853]. Shelfmark: V.b.22.
A holiday book for Christmas and the New Year, London. [1853]. Shelfmark: V.b.22.

Drawn to the Page: Irish Artists and Illustration Public Symposium

Russell, Violet. ‘Heroes of the dawn’, Dublin …,1913. Shelfmark: CUNN 347

In conjunction with the Long Room exhibition ‘Drawn to the Page: Irish artists and illustration c.1830-1930’, the History of Art Department and TRIARC will host a public symposium which will be held in the Emmet Theatre, Trinity College Arts Building, on 17 November 2012 from 10.00am to 1.30pm. It is intended that the papers will be published in an illustrated volume.


-Dr Nicola Gordon Bowe (NCAD) on the Arts and Crafts Movement and the book
-Adrian le Harivel (NGI) on Daniel Maclise and Moore’s ‘Melodies’
-Mary Plunkett (Distillers Press) on the making of an artist’s book
-Dr Philip McEvansoneya (TCD) on George Petrie and illustration                                                                       -Dr Angela Griffith (TCD) on artists, illustration and contemporary theory.

Admission is free. To register please e-mail or

‘Fighting words’ now on display in the Berkeley Library foyer display case

Fighting Words is a writing centre founded in Dublin’s north inner city by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love in early 2009 to provide free classes for children and young people. To raise money for the workshop the centre has published ‘Fighting words‘. Produced in a limited edition of only 150 copies, the book contains an etching by the Irish-born American Sean Scully, twice nominated for the Turner Prize, and stories by ten authors.

The artist, the ten authors and Roddy Doyle, the instigator of the project and author of the foreword, have each signed every copy. The stories were printed at Stoney Road Press on a very old Swiss proofing press borrowed from the National Print Museum.

The Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections is extremely grateful to The Friends of the Library for purchasing this book. The Friends of the Library is one of the oldest associations of its kind, established in June 1945 to “assist the College in promoting the welfare of the Library”. The provision of a fund for the timely purchase of rare books and manuscripts was one of the Friends’ main objectives; it remains so.

‘Drawn to the page: Irish artists and illustration 1830-1930’ – A new exhibition in the Long Room

Continuing our Tercentenary celebrations, we are pleased to draw attention to a new exhibition in the Long Room, ‘Drawn to the page: Irish artists and illustration 1830-1930‘. It has been curated by Dr. Angela Griffith and Dr. Philip McEvansoneya with assistance from staff in the Department of Early Printed Books, especially Dr. Lydia Ferguson. The exhibition emphasises the important contribution made by Irish artists in the period known as the heyday of European book and periodical illustration.

‘Origin of John Jameson whiskey …’ Dublin, 1924. Shelfmark: OLS L-1-296 no.12

It is the first exhibition of its kind to be undertaken in Ireland, drawing together a broad range of published designs by Irish artists. The works in the exhibition have been selected entirely from the rich and varied holdings of the College Library.

Among the artists included are: Daniel Maclise, George Petrie, William Mulready, Charles M. Grey, F.S. Walker, Margaret Stokes, Robert Goff, Myra K. Hughes, Jack B Yeats, Elizabeth C. Yeats, Harry Clarke, Joseph Campbell, Robert Gibbings, Mabel Annesley, and E M O’Rourke Dickey.

Ireland. ‘Saorstát Éireann: Irish Free State official handbook’, Dublin 1932. Shelfmark: 62.e.148

The exhibition shows the use of colour in illustration, from the meticulous application by hand by the staff of the Cuala Press to technological developments that gave Goff the artistic freedom to create richly coloured, painterly designs. The exhibition runs until 21 April 2013. For more information on this and past exhibitions please see our Exhibitions & Events page.

First music degree from Dublin University, October 1612

This month marks the 400th anniversary of the first Bachelor of Music degree awarded by the University of Dublin, in October 1612. The recipient of this degree is not recorded, but circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that it was Thomas Bateson (d. 1630), organist and vicar choral at Christ Church Cathedral since 1609.

Thomas Morley ‘A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke’ London, 1608. Shelfmark:

Music was not taught in the College at this time, so Dublin University is likely to have followed the practice already established at Cambridge and Oxford of awarding the degree to a distinguished musician of proven ability, perhaps on submission and performance of a suitable composition.

Thomas Morley ‘A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke’ London, 1608. Shelfmark:

To celebrate this anniversary, two music publications from the period are currently on display in the Berkeley Library foyer. The first is ‘A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke’  by Thomas Morley (London, 1608). This was the first book on music theory to be published in the English language, and was amongst the earliest books purchased for the Library in the first decade of the 17th century. The book takes the form of a dialogue between the Master (Morley) and two pupils (the brothers Philomathes and Polymathes). It is laid out in three sections, dealing in turn with the rudiments of music, counterpoint and canon, and composition.

Also on display is John Dowland’s ‘First booke of songes or ayres’ (London, 1603), which has particular significance because of its innovative typographical design. Each song can be performed by a solo voice with lute accompaniment (printed on the left-hand page), but is also set for four voices, with the three lower voice parts printed on the right-hand page in a layout designed to allow the singers to read from a single copy while seated around a table (hence the term ‘table-book’ to describe this format).

John Dowland ‘First booke of songes or ayres’ London, 1603
Shelfmark: Press B.7.21

Five editions of this collection appeared between 1597 and 1613, making it the most successful musical publication of its time.

-Roy Stanley, Music Librarian, Trinity College Library.