Library exhibition celebrates poet Derek Mahon’s life and work

The life and work of poet Derek Mahon was celebrated last November in Trinity College Dublin with a conference organised by Trinity’s School of English in association with Poetry Ireland and hosted in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. The event took place ahead of what would have been the poet’s 80th birthday.

To mark the occasion an online exhibition entitled Derek Mahon: Piecing Together the Poet was also organised jointly by the Library of Trinity College Dublin and the Stewart Rose Library of Emory University (home to the principal Mahon archive). The exhibition features readings by Mahon himself and Stephen Rea along with specially commissioned interviews with friends and fellow poets. It also features atmospheric photographs by John Minihan.

The exhibition charts the formative influences of Mahon’s life and work including: his ambivalent relationship with Belfast where he grew up; Trinity, where he found his voice as a poet; contemporary poets, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Michael Longley and Brendan Kennelly, all friends and close associates of Mahon; his great reflective poems, such as the famous ‘A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford’, as well as his beautifully lyrical shorter pieces, including the consolatory ‘Everything Is Going To Be All Right’ both read by Stephen Rea.

Mahon with other Irish writers in Paris, 1989. Image © John Minihan.
Writers: Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Jennifer Johnston, Derek Mahon, Sebastian Barry, John Montague and Tom Kilroy

Professor Nicholas Grene, a member of the conference organising committee and Emeritus Professor of English at Trinity, commented:

“Derek Mahon was a star in a generation of wonderful Trinity poets. He was our very first Writer Fellow in Trinity in 1986 and was awarded an honorary degree by Trinity in 1995. His international distinction as a poet was recognised in a number of prizes including the David Cohen lifetime achievement award in 2007.”

For more, see Library online exhibition ‘Derek Mahon: Piecing Together the Poet’ https://www.tcd.ie/library/exhibitions/mahon/

Trinity unveils sensory spaces to make campus more inclusive

Trinity College Dublin unveiled a series of new spaces on campus that have been designed as supportive sensory environments to meet the needs of students and staff. 

The plans were devised by TCD Sense – The Trinity Sensory Processing Project – which aims to make Trinity more inclusive by reviewing and improving new and existing spaces, building sensory awareness and delivering specialist supports to students who experience barriers to managing and adapting to the sensory environments of college. 

The project currently spans more than 80 study spaces in the Library, sensory areas within four student social spaces, as well as individual sensory rooms. Hundreds of students are using these spaces every day, but much more is to come. 

Since the project was begun in 2019 by staff in the Disability Service and Discipline of Occupational Therapy, TCD Sense has developed strong partnerships with the TCD Students Union, the Trinity Ability Coop, as well as staff in the Library and the science laboratories and with numerous other areas across Trinity.  

Jessica K Doyle, TCD Sense Project Officer, said:  

“We are all sensory beings, and although we may not always be fully aware of it, sensation is everywhere. Sometimes we may crave activity and movement, louder music and natural light and brighter colours. At other times, we might feel extra sensitive and prefer quieter spaces with dim lighting and less going on. Everyone has a unique sensory system and ways of perceiving and processing sensation that can change depending on time, context, mood, energy levels, neurotype & mechanism of perception”. 

Kieran Lewis, Senior Occupational Therapist at Trinity, said: 

“We are focusing on areas which students use most. Over the past number of months, as well as the spaces in the Library, we have designed sensory areas within four student social spaces, as well as individual sensory rooms.  These have been designed to enable students to engage fully in the college environments and to allow for individuals’ different sensory preferences”. 

User experience research by the Library with students highlighted the impact of the sensory environment on wellbeing and productivity; lighting, noise and sanctuary affect student comfort in library spaces, especially students who experience sensory overload and have high awareness of the sensory environment. These findings are reinforced by further research by the Disability Service and Discipline of Occupational Therapy, which included a sensory audit of Library buildings.  

Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist at Trinity, said: 

“As part of this collaborative University initiative TCD Sense, the Library has created six sensory spaces across the Berkeley, Lecky, Ussher, Hamilton and Stearne libraries which will support our students and staff with diverse sensory needs. Another five will be completed in the coming weeks.  Based on inclusive research with our students, we have designed a range of environments that will help our readers feel at ease and comfortable while in the Library. We hope they will improve the quality of their experience both in the Library and across the University.” 

In May 2019, 150 students registered with the Disability Service in TCD completed a survey on sensory experiences: 

  • 68% reported that there is no quiet space on campus that they can access easily if feeling overwhelmed 
  • Over 50% commented that they go home/leave campus if feeling overwhelmed 
  • 93% would use a quiet space if it was available in the library 
  • 49% reported difficulty with acoustics (e.g. noises, echoes, humming) in the library 
  • 41% reported difficulty with acoustics in lectures. 

This development is being part funded from a €5.4 million fund for students with disabilities announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris earlier this year. Trinity has used €233,934 of its allocation of €482,364 on these developments. Additional resources of €126,500 have come from the Trinity Library, TCDSU and the Director of Student Services.  

Trinity Provost Linda Doyle welcomed the new spaces:  

“This has been a return to campus like no other, at a time when students and staff have been under unprecedented stress. It’s more important now than ever that everyone in the College community has access to places around the campus where they can find respite to focus, or to relax in peace. The TCD Sense Project is a wonderful addition to our campus and will contribute to the health and wellbeing of all.” 

Trinity Student Union President Leah Keogh said: 

“It has been a joy to work alongside the Disability Service on this project which has uniquely provided quiet spaces in busy places. The attention to detail is what has made this project so effective; the colours, textures and pieces were all hand selected to create the best possible environment for students to take some time out. This project has set the benchmark for what our student spaces should be going forward.” 

Dr Clodagh Nolan, Asst. Professor, Discipline of Occupational Therapy added: 

“Learning and social environments are fraught with sensory information that needs to be processed and managed by individuals. For some it can be overwhelming whereas for others it can be underwhelming. Managing the sensory environment including its design is an important element in enabling a person to learn constructively and to get the most from their day-to-day activities whether those activities include study, research, or social engagement. Real world research into the sensory environment which included all stakeholders in collaboration with the Discipline of Occupational Therapy has enabled us to translate the findings of this research into managing and changing environments to meet the needs of those who are challenged by these environments.”  

Declan Treanor, Director of the Trinity Disability Services, said:  

“We have identified making Trinity a more inclusive place from a sensory perspective as a key aim in The Disability Service’s Strategic Plan for 2020-2025. Plans are underway to look at developing a sensory map of Trinity, including sensory design principles in new developments, as well as adding sensory designed spaces in student accommodation and other spaces that are deemed to be useful to develop. We are looking at indoor and outdoor opportunities. We are also developing a sensory environment evaluation tool in collaboration with Technological University Dublin”.  

More information on the supports and resources available in managing the sensory environment and on the project can be found here.

The Library Pays Tribute to our Friend and one of Ireland’s great poets Brendan Kennelly

Brendan Kennelly Private Collection

It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the death of our friend and one of lreland’s major poets, Brendan Kennelly.

Brendan Kennelly was a poet, a professor, a public figure, cultural commentator, and a mentor to many.  Throughout his life on the Trinity campus he was also a great friend to the Library of Trinity College Dublin.

Trinity College Dublin honoured his immense contribution to Irish life with a celebratory online event on his 85th birthday in April of this year. The Brendan Kennelly Literary Archive was also launched on the occasion of the event. With the appointment of an archivist in the Library in the Spring to oversee the cataloguing of the poet’s papers, this unique collection will be made available to students and scholars.

The celebratory event which was organised at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, during our last lockdown, featured a read message from the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins along with selected poems recited by celebrated singer, Bono, poet, Paula Meehan and Trinity student Lily O’Byrne. We were especially honoured that Brendan himself attended online from Kerry where he spent his final years. The event also prompted members of the public to contribute further items to this constantly expanding archive.

The Brendan Kennelly Literary Archive reflects all of the facets of Brendan Kennelly’s life. His work, with roots in early twentieth-century rural traditions, developed to give a voice to the marginalised urban dweller, as well as difficult historical characters such as Judas and Oliver Cromwell. The poet’s own private life has often involved struggle and triumph, both of which he has shared freely and publicly, giving encouragement to many in their own personal struggles. Professor Kennelly’s teaching influenced generations of scholars, teachers, parents, and citizens and he has always been unfailingly encouraging to younger poets, from Paula Meehan to Leanne O’Sullivan. The collection contains literary drafts, lectures, research materials, reviews, workshop material, works by others, theatrical ephemera, personal material, photographs, memorabilia, and a great quantity of correspondence

The Library’s online exhibition ‘Forever Begin’ draws from the archive and provides wonderful insight into the poet’s life and immense contribution to Irish literary and cultural life over many decades.  

Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís.

The Library launches a video series on the Dutch Fagel collection

The Library of Trinity College Dublin and the KB National Library of the Netherlands have launched a video series about the Dutch 18th-century Fagel collection. The Fagel collection which is considered one of the jewels of the Trinity Library’s collections was built up over five generations of the Fagel family.

The Library of Trinity College and the KB National Library of the Netherlands are joint collaborators in the ‘Unlocking the Fagel Collection‘, project which aims to provide digital access to the collection. In the next two years, all books and pamphlets will be catalogued and made available through the online catalogue of the library of Trinity College, and the Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands (STCN). It forms part of the Virtual Trinity Library, a digitisation initiative of the Library of Trinity College Dublin’s most valued collections.  These videos aim to present an integrated story of the family (many of whom held high public office in the Netherlands), the collections and the overall collaborative library project.

Continue reading “The Library launches a video series on the Dutch Fagel collection”

Wishing departing Library colleagues a long and happy retirement

Pomodoro Sphere

For the second time in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have reached September and are unable to mark the imminent retirement of respected colleagues with the traditional celebrations and ceremonies we normally expect and that they deserve. This year, we are saying goodbye to Assumpta Guilfoyle, Sean Breen, and Peter Guilding. Between them, they have given the Library 136 years of service.

Sean (48 years) has worked in Reading Room Services and for many he is the embodiment of the BLU counter. Assumpta (47 years) and Peter (41 years) have worked in Cataloguing (Bibliographic Data Management Department), where they played significant and well-known roles: Keywords, Banned Books and Shared Cataloguing Programme.

They are joined by two colleagues, Paul Doyle and Loretto Curley who also retired in 2020.

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Welcome to all new undergraduate students from the Library of Trinity College Dublin

Dear students,

A very warm welcome to all new undergraduate students starting classes today − we wish you every success in your studies at Trinity. The libraries are open and, in keeping with the Provost’s ‘Return to Campus’ guidelines and public health advice, face coverings and two metre social distancing are currently mandatory. Pre-booking is required to enter the Library with each individual booking being for 1 hour 45 minutes.

From today, we are also introducing extended opening hours to include evening and Saturday openings in the Berkeley, Lecky, Ussher and Hamilton Libraries as well as Saturday opening in the John Stearne Medical Library.

Continue reading “Welcome to all new undergraduate students from the Library of Trinity College Dublin”

Digital Collections and persistent identifiers

person in black leather jacket using a laptop

We are delighted to announce that Digital Collections now have persistent identifiers in the form of DOIs attached to the objects in the repository. DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier. These are unique persistent identifiers that can be used to consistently identify digital objects online. They will ensure the sustainability of users’ citations and bookmarks beyond the generational lifecycle of the platform.

Continue reading “Digital Collections and persistent identifiers”

Trinity marks major benefaction by Prince Albert II of Monaco to the preservation of the Old Library

His Serene Highness (HSH) Prince Albert II of Monaco visited Trinity College Dublin today as part of his three-day visit to Ireland.  An unveiling ceremony took place during his visit, marking a major benefaction Prince Albert II has made to the conservation of the iconic Old Library at Trinity College.

Welcoming Prince Albert II to Trinity, Provost & President, Professor Linda Doyle said:

“We are delighted to welcome Prince Albert II to Trinity College Dublin. His visit builds on Trinity’s existing links with Monaco through the Princess Grace Irish Library and our Centre for War Studies. Prince Albert joins a tradition of philanthropy that dates from the establishment of the University in 1592. On behalf of the Trinity community, I would like to thank Prince Albert for his support of this landmark restoration project which will ensure the preservation of the Old Library, as a global cultural icon for Trinity, the city of Dublin and Ireland.”

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Student shelver applications open for 2021/22

Student shelving a book

Applications are now being accepted for the coming academic year (2021/22) for student shelvers positions in the Library.

Each year the Library employs a team of student shelvers to work 10-12 hours per week in the libraries on campus and in the Trinity Centre at St. James’s Hospital. The primary role of student shelvers is to sort and shelve books so that collections can be maintained in good order.

A full job description and short-listing criteria are available on the application website.

Please ensure you read the criteria in detail before completing the application form.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 12 noon on Friday 30 July 2021.

Please Note: Interviews for these positions are likely to take place on Friday 10 September 2021. Successful candidates will be notified by e-mail of their interview time.

If you have any questions, please contact Maria Kelly, Reading Room Maintenance Executive, by e-mail: KELLYM10@tcd.ie

Manuscripts for Medieval Studies Project: First manuscript online

The first digitised manuscript from the Manuscripts for Medieval Studies project has been published online and is accessible via the Library’s Digital Collections site.

Part of the Virtual Trinity Library Programme, the project is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and focuses on sixteen important manuscripts used in the teaching of medieval studies.  

The fifteenth-century manuscript (TCD MS 360) was once in the possession of Queen Elizabeth I’s famous astrologer, the mathematician John Dee (1527-1608/9), but its true significance lies in its status as the earliest surviving catalogue of the oldest recorded book collection in England. This was the library founded at Canterbury in the late sixth century by the Christian missionary St Augustine (d.604).

TCD MS 360 f.27r – opening page of the main catalogue list

The manuscript, which references over 1,700 texts, is a hugely important resource for anyone with a scholarly interest in the development of library collections during the medieval era. 300 of the texts identified within it are now housed across collections including the British Library, The Parker Library, the Bodleian Libraries and more. This is the first time it has been made so widely accessible, and the current project has utilised recent research in producing a detailed catalogue entry and bibliography of secondary sources. This is available on the Manuscripts Online Catalogue, MARLOC.

You can read more about the Manuscripts for Medieval Studies project on our Research Collections blog. For more details on the contents and context of this manuscript, see this blog post.

There are many more manuscripts which will be featured as part of this project, and further updates and posts will appear on the Virtual Trinity Library website, the Research Collections blog, @TCDResearchColl twitter, and @TCDLibrary Instagram.

Estelle Gittins

Virtual Trinity Library is a digitisation initiative of the Library of Trinity College Dublin’s most valued collections. It will conserve, catalogue, curate, digitise and research these unique collections of national importance, making them accessible to a global audience, from schoolchildren to scholars.