An exhibition showcasing highlights from the Gwynn family papers will be on display in the Long Room of Trinity College Dublin from 11 January to 1 March. The Gwynns are an extraordinary family who have had a long and distinguished association with the university since the early 19th century. They counted among their number a Provost, Vice-Provost, the first Lady Registrar, several Scholars, professors and Fellows, as well as numerous alumni. They excelled academically in the areas of Old Irish, Syriac, classics, theology, mathematics and engineering. On the sports field they showed themselves to be gifted rugby and cricket players, playing at both university and national level. Such was their success in various areas of College life that the university was at one point dubbed ‘Gwynnity College’. Their achievements outside College, in Ireland and abroad, were no less impressive, in politics, in military engagements and in exploration.
Highlights of the exhibition include: a letter written by the Young Irelander William Smith O’Brien to his daughter Lucy (wife of John Gwynn) from Van Diemen’s Land in 1850; a watercolour sketch of the Donegal countryside from Lucy Gwynn’s album; a letter from Maude Gonne McBride to Edward Gwynn congratulating him on his appointment to the Provostship of Trinity College in 1927; a letter from Charles Gwynn to his nephew John David Gwynn describing the Battle of Gallipoli; and photographs of various members of the family on and off campus.
The papers were generously donated to the Library of Trinity College in 2016/17 by several of John Gwynn’s great-grandchildren. Many of the present generation of the family retain strong links with the College, as academics and alumni. The Library is very grateful to them for making the decision to transfer the collection to the Manuscripts & Archives Research Library. Its contents, including correspondence, diaries, photographs and legal documents, would be of enormous research interest to academics and students alike. The documents cover a vast range of subjects: Irish nationalism, Irish education in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the history of Trinity College, Protestantism in Ireland, the First World War, the 1916 Rising, the geo-politics of West Africa in the late nineteenth century, and much more besides. Once catalogued, the collection will be available for general consultation.
The exhibition is curated by M&ARL, in conjunction with colleagues in Digital Collections and the Preservation and Conservation Department.
Beidh taispeántas beag lámhscríbhinní Chré na Cille le Máirtín Ó Cadhain le feiceáil sa Seomra Fada, Leabharlann Choláiste na Tríonóide, ar feadh Seachtain na Gaeilge 2017 (1-17ú Márta). Tá cóip phearsanta Chré na Cille an gCadhnach le fheiceáil – an chéad eagrán atá i gceist – agus an leabhar lán le ceartúcháin i lámh an gCadhanach. Foilsíodh an dara chló i 1965. Seans go raibh sé i gceist go gcuirfí na h-athraithe sin isteach sa dara chló, ach níor cuireadh.
Chomh maith leis an leabhar, tá dréacht-leathanaigh ceartaithe ó Chré na Cille i lámh an gCadhanach. Is féidir na héagsúlachtaí téacsúil idir an t-eagrán a foilsíodh agus an dréacht a fheicéail, agus mar sin is féidir a stíl scríbhneoireachta a thabhairt faoi deara.
Thug mé cuairt ar Sheomra na Lámhscríbhinní i Leabharlann Choláiste na Tríonóide don chéad uair i dtús mhí Iúil 2008. Alt a bhí á scríobh agam ag an am ar Mháirtín Ó Cadhain agus bailiú an bhéaloidis a thug ann mé. Sarar chríochnaigh mé an t-alt seo, theastaigh uaim sracfhéachint a thabhairt ar pháipéir neamhfhoilsithe an Chadhnaigh. Ní raibh mé ag gabháil ró-fhada do chomhaid éagsúla sa chnuasach ollmhór seo nuair a thuig mé go mbeadh orm m’alt a athscríobh ó bhonn: is é sin le rá, thuig mé nach foláir féachaint ar scríbhinní neamhfhoilsithe Uí Chadhain (maraon lena scríbhinní foilsithe) chun pictiúir iomlán a fháil ar dhearcadh an Chadhnaigh i leith bhailiú an bhéaloidis agus an bhéaloidis trí chéile (agus i leith go leor, leor nithe eile chomh maith).
Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s magnificent novel, Cré na cille, was published in 1949 and is consistently ranked as the most important prose work in modern Irish; until recently no translation for English-language readers has been available. Alan Titley’s vigorous new translation, Dirty Dust (Yale University Press), full of the guts of Ó Cadhain’s original, at last brings the pleasures of this great satiric novel to wider audience it deserves.
The fact that all the novel’s characters lie dead in their graves does not impair their appetite for news from the recently deceased, about their neighbours above ground. Told entirely in dialogue, Ó Cadhain’s daring novel listens in on the gossip, rumours, backbiting, complaining, and obsessing of the local community. The ‘after’ life, it seems, is very like the ‘before’ life – mostly talk, much of it petty, often vindictive. In this merciless yet comical portrayal of a closely-bound community, Ó Cadhain remains keenly attuned to the absurdity of human behaviour and delivers a stridently unromantic view of rural Ireland.
Máirtín Ó Cadhain (1906-1970) worked as a primary school-teacher in his native Galway; he was dismissed from his post, and interned, for his republican activities. He was not the first writer to find his period of incarceration key to his creative work. While in the Curragh camp Ó Cadhain learned Russian and French and read widely in world literature. His republicanism was informed by his awareness of the need to improve the lot of the rural poor, and of the parlous condition of the Irish language. In 1969 he was appointed to the chair of Irish in TCD, and was elected to fellowship of TCD in 1970. As a lecturer he exercised a profound influence on many of his students. He married, in 1945, Máirín Ní Rodaigh who was a teacher in an all-Irish school, and they lived in Dublin. An extensive literary archive was presented by the Ó Cadhain family to Trinity College Library. (Dictionary of Irish Biography).
While no doubt nothing can replace the experience of reading Cré na cille in its original Irish, there is another way for the interested party to experience this excoriating work. Robert Quinn’s film version, which was made to mark the centenary of the author’s birth, was screened on TG4 on 26 December 2006. It is well worth seeking out.