Transcontinental Threads

Adam MacKlin and Billy Shortall.

Lily (1866-1949) and Elizabeth Yeats (1868-1940), pictured above, originally moved to Dublin from London to join Evelyn Gleeson (1855-1944) in her newly established arts and crafts enterprise, Dun Emer Industries in 1902, where the printing of high-quality books and prints was overseen by Elizabeth and embroidery by Lily. The enterprise was named after the Irish mythological figure, Emer, who was renowned for her artistic and needlework skills, and Cúchulainn’s wife. However, after an acrimonious split with Gleeson, the sisters established Cuala Industries in 1908 taking their own areas of production with them. The ideology of both organisations was espoused in the original Dun Emer prospectus, which stated its desire to “make beautiful things” using honest and native materials in “the spirit and tradition of the country”. Both were female enterprises and almost exclusively employed and trained young women as assistants in arts and crafts

The Press, the dominant part of Cuala’s business, published handcrafted books by leading members of the Irish literary revival including Nobel prize-winning sibling William (1865- 1939), and prints designed by Irish artists, chief among them another sibling Jack Yeats (1871-1957). Lily’s embroidery department was also notable, but its output was smaller and its legacy harder to track as many of the domestic embroidered items, such as, clothing, tablecloths and bedspreads are no longer extant. Framed embroidered art works such as those in the National Gallery of Ireland and in private collections indicate the artistry and technical quality of the embroidered work of Lily and her assistants. Before moving to Dublin, Lily had established herself as a skilled artistic embroiderer working for six years in the late 1800s with May Morris, daughter of William Morris, in their world-renowned Arts and Crafts scheme.

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The Brendan Kennelly Literary Archive: A Virtual Trinity Library Project

Photograph of Brendan Kennelly in Trinity College Dublin

To mark what would have been Brendan Kennelly’s 86th birthday, Research Collections are delighted to announce the start of the Brendan Kennelly Literary Archive project. The Library of Trinity College acquired the Brendan Kennelly archive in 2008 and further tranches of material were subsequently accessioned. In 2019, we curated the online exhibition ‘Forever Begin’ celebrating the poet’s remarkable and significant contributions to Irish literary and cultural life over many decades.  The Brendan Kennelly Literary Archive is currently being catalogued as part of a Virtual Trinity Library project under the “Trinity’s Scholarly Contribution to the World” theme. The aim of the project is to make the records accessible to support the teaching, learning and research needs of staff, students and visiting scholars. 

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A brief history of women in Trinity College Dublin: Trinity Women Graduates Archive Project Blog

Photograph of women students of Trinity College Dublin, Hilary Term in front of The Old Library Building, 16 February 1922.

To mark International Women’s Day and Women’s History month we have another project blog from the Trinity Women Graduates collection (TCD MUN SOC WGA).   In Trinity College Dublin women were not always “equally admissible to men students.” This blog will chronicle the achievements and hard-fought victories of women in Trinity to be acknowledged as equal citizens, students, academics, and graduates.

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‘Babbling in the Vernacular’: The English Language in the Middle Ages

Among the riches being digitised as part of the Manuscripts for Medieval Studies project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York are three codices containing English, one eleventh-century, one thirteenth- or fourteenth-century and one fifteenth-century. Collectively, these three manuscripts give us an interesting snapshot of the status of English in the Middle Ages and the complex history of its emergence as a written language.

We now take reading and writing in English for granted. Netflix sends us emails telling us what we should next stream, we can buy a range of daily newspapers, or browse their websites, to find out what is going on in the world, and we can visit a library to borrow a novel to make the commute seem painless. Our primary and secondary educations habituate us to reading, writing and a life mediated through the medium of text.

All this rests, however, on a long process of technological, linguistic and ideological innovation that, for English at least, took perhaps 1,500 years. It requires a conviction that English ought to be written; an alphabet; a set of accepted mappings between the sounds of speech and these symbols of writing; upgrades to the vocabulary and syntax of spoken language so that abstract concepts can be conveyed clearly and without circumlocution; and a highly-developed set of conventions for the presentation of text on the page.

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“If a female had once passed the gate”: Trinity Women Graduates Archive Project

Research Collections is delighted to announce the start of the Trinity Women Graduates Archive Project. This project marks the centenary of the Trinity Women Graduates Association (TWG) in 2022. The records of the association are currently being catalogued as part of a Virtual Trinity Library project to make them accessible to researchers and students.  

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