Last Sunday’s Lyric Feature, Dorothea the doozy, presented by Trinity alumna and radio documentary maker Angie Mezzetti, brings to light the work of Dorothea Herbert, a long-overlooked 18th Century writer, diarist, poet and artist from Carrick-on-Suir. Herbert’s memoir, which she called ‘Retrospections of an Outcast’, was written between 1780 to 1806 and was published for the first time in 1929. In this documentary, Manuscripts Curator Dr Jane Maxwell, a specialist in the history of women in the 18th century, introduces this memoir, beautifully illustrated with watercolours by the author – which has been in the care of the Library since the 1980s.
This document is of immense significance to the social history of Ireland in the 18th century, and especially for the history of women in a century which saw them emerge more clearly into society. What gives this document added significance is that the author was clearly suffering severely from a mental illness at a time when there was little understanding for such afflictions.
On St Brigid’s Day Trinity College Dublin installed four new sculptures in its Old Library to honour the scholarship of four trailblazing women.
The women represented are the scientist Rosalind Franklin, the folklorist, dramatist and theatre-founder Augusta Gregory, the mathematician Ada Lovelace and the pioneering women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft.
The new sculptures, the first to be commissioned in more than a century, will be displayed among the 40 marble sculpture-busts that line Trinity’s historic Long Room, which were hitherto all of men. The current artworks represent men throughout history, from Homer and Shakespeare to Dean Jonathan Swift, Sir Rowan Hamilton and Wolfe Tone.
The new sculptures were launched by Trinity’s Chancellor Dr Mary McAleese at a ceremony in the Long Room.
Their addition represents a first step toward a better representation of our diversity in all of Trinity’s public spaces.
Rowan Gillespie’s sculpture of Mary Wollstonecraft was modelled in wax, 3-d-scanned, milled in Carrara marble and then carved and fine finished. Rowan is known for his work in bronze and this is the first time he carved in marble since his student years.
Maudie Brady’s sculpture of Ada Lovelace was modelled originally in clay, then 3-d scanned and carved from a block of statuary Carrara marble by computer-programming, and, finished by hand. Maudie thought it would be apt for Lovelace, as a mathematician and, effectively, the first ‘computer programmer’ to be represented using techniques enabled by computer programmes and algorithms, book-ended by modelling initially in clay, and, finishing the marble sculpture by hand.
Guy Reid’s sculpture of Augusta Gregory was hand-carved in lime wood. Guy’s practice is focused singularly on portraiture, and is inspired by medieval, coloured wooden sculptures, resulting in painted depictions of family and friends, alongside special commissions.
Vera Klute’s sculpture has been created in three sections with classical and contemporary techniques. The portrait is made with cast Parian (a type of porcelain) Jesmonite, marble, and Swarovski crystals, the latter making direct references to Franklin’s use of x-ray crystallography to research the structure of DNA. The helix of the socle is a visual nod to Franklin’s contribution to the discovery of the helical form of DNA.
Librarian and College Archivist, Helen Shenton and also Chair of the Artist Selection Panel welcomed the College community, sculptors and invited guests to the packed launch event:
“On this auspicious day, St Brigid’s Day, we celebrate women’s scholarship with these sculptures in the Long Room of the Old Library. Their individual contributions to knowledge and to society will now be permanently honoured in this cathedral of learning at the heart of Trinity.”
Provost Dr Linda Doyle stressed the historic significance of the occasion:
“While it is important to respect tradition, it is also important to break tradition. The addition of these sculptures of women has been a long time coming. I want to thank everyone involved in the creation and installation of these beautiful pieces. Sculptures are an iconic feature of Trinity’s Long Room, and I hope that the inclusion of these four outstanding women is the furthering of a collective recognition of the incredible contribution of women across many fields.”
In an uplifting inauguration, Chancellor poignantly quoted the 18th century Irish poet Antaine Ó Raifteirí in her speech:
“Anois teacht an Earraigh beidh an lá dul chun síneadh, Is tar eis na féile Bríde ardóigh mé mo sheol”.
“Spring is coming. The days are lengthening and after Brigid’s feast day, I will raise my sail. We are the lucky generation to be here to see the springtide. To see Brigid’s sail raised to catch the wind, to see great women given the respect and recognition they deserve. Congratulations to all those who have helped open the floodgates which will one day see full justice done to the work and talent of women everywhere.”
The four women being honoured were chosen in 2020 from more than 500 nominations by students, staff, and alumni covering a wide field of ground-breaking individuals who contributed significantly to scholarship and culture across history.
In 2021, after an extensive national and international shortlisting process, nine artists were invited and supported financially to submit maquettes (preliminary models) of at least two of the nominated women, from which the four artists were chosen.
An ‘In Conversation’ event with the artists and Trinity champions of the scholars also took place in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Institute the following day on 2nd February 2023 (more information here).
More about the portrait candidates:
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
Mary Wollstonecraft was a pioneering women’s rights advocate, and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), often considered a foundational text for women’s rights movements. Radical for her time, she argued that all humans have the faculties of rational thought and reason. She also argued that women must be allowed to be educated and to contribute equally to society, stating in A Vindication, “my main argument is built on this simple principle, that if she be not prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of knowledge and virtue.”
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was the author of an 1843 monograph on Charles Babbage’s design for the first analytical engine (general-purpose computer). To her translation of Menabrea’s report of a presentation made by Babbage in Turin she added her famous Notes, highlighting the potential and flexibility of an analytical engine compared to a calculator. These Notes included an algorithm for computing Bernouilli numbers and presaged computer-generated music, a century before Alan Turing proved that such achievements required properties now intrinsic to computers, which Babbage’s design possessed. Ada Lovelace’s unique contribution was to publish the first recognition of the capacity of a computer to make logical deductions about both numerical and non-numerical objects.
Augusta Gregory (1852 -1932)
Lady Gregory became one of the most significant intellectual and creative powerhouses of the Irish Literary Revival. Her work as a writer, dramatist, theatre-founder, champion of the Irish language, translator, folklorist, and social commentator helped define and give voice to the tenets of cultural nationalism in the years leading up to, and after, the establishment of the Irish Free State. Today, scholars look to Augusta Gregory’s ground-breaking work for its artistry, for insights into the country’s complex revolutionary period and to explore the role of language and literature in defining Irish identity as distinct, self-determining, and heroic, both nationally and internationally.
Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) Rosalind Franklin’s scientific discoveries have benefited humanity in several ways. As a fundamental experimentalist, excelling in X-ray crystallography, and despite a career cut short by premature death at the age of 37, she made two seminal contributions: her impeccable analysis generated key measurements for one of the most transformative advances of the 20th century, uncovering the structure of DNA. Her later work had an equally pivotal impact on revealing the structure of RNA viruses, including early work on the Polio virus. Discoveries in both areas contributed to the awarding of Nobel prizes after her death, though not to her (they cannot be awarded posthumously). While her name is often connected with missing out on a Nobel prize, her legacy is of much greater significance.
The monumental task of decanting the Library collections commenced last Spring as part of the Old Library Redevelopment Project.
All of the Library’s Research Collections housed in the Old Library are being transferred to special storage. This means removing 350,000 Early Printed books and a total of 700,000 collection items as part of the Library collections.
A series of timelapses are capturing the painstaking work of the Library team involved in the project. So far almost 3.5 km of books stacked side by side have been removed or 32% of the overall project. There is a target of over 10.5 km in the overall project. That means just 7 km to go.
Readers will continue to have access to all material in an Interim Research Collections Study Centre during the lifetime of the building conservation project.
One of the largest decants of a heritage building in Ireland − 350,000 early printed books and 700,000 collection items
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan visited the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin yesterday [October 19th] to see at close quarters the monumental task of decanting the Library collections as part of the Old Library Redevelopment Project.
In order for the landmark conservation project to start, all of the Library’s Research Collections housed in the Old Library must be transferred to special storage. This means removing 350,000 Early Printed books and a total of 700,000 items as part of the Library collections. Readers will continue to have access to all material in an Interim Research Collections Study Centre during the lifetime of the building conservation project. It is one of the largest decant processes to take place of a heritage building in Ireland.
Minister for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan was joined by Trinity Provost, Dr Linda Doyle, Bursar, Professor Eleanor Denny, Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton during the visit and met with the Library team involved in the historic project.
As part of the decant process, each book is carefully cleaned with a specialised vacuum, measured, electronically tagged and linked to an online catalogue record, before being safely relocated to a climate-controlled storage facility.
Minister Noonan said on the occasion of the visit:“I am delighted to be here today, witnessing this historic once in a lifetime decant as it unfolds.We have a shared responsibility towards our cultural heritage and Trinity College Dublin through this conservation project is ensuring this 18th century Old Library building and its collections are conserved for the next century. Significant care and consideration goes into moving a collection of this scale and the dedication of the Library team is impressive.”
Provost, Dr Linda Doyle said:“The Old Library Redevelopment Project is a transformative undertaking which will preserve this priceless cultural institution for the next generation and beyond. The decant, led by the Library team, is a massive operation, with more than 50 Library staff assisted by over 25 project assistants. It marks a key stage in this transformative redevelopment project.”
Minister Noonan met with Library staff who designed the project and are now carrying it out, helped by project assistants. The project assistants busily working away in the Long Room are early career archivists, conservators and museum professionals from across the country and internationally.
The first book to be decanted was a 19th century publication, ‘Reeves’ History of the English law: from the time of the Romans to the end of the reign of Elizabeth’ and many more have followed.
“This is a particularly complex and sensitive decant. There are so many precious books, manuscripts and objects held in the vast collections, which extend over many centuries. Imagine a house move at scale – thousands of times bigger and more complicated in order to move 700,000 items,” explained the Librarian and College Archivist, Helen Shenton.
Trinity Bursar, Professor Eleanor Denny is Chair of the Old Library Redevelopment Project and is leading the project for the University along with all other construction projects on campus:
“The decant process is critical for the next stage of the restoration project. Once complete, the Old Library will close at the end of Autumn 2023 and the urgent structural and environmental upgrades can then take place over a three-year period. It is a once in a lifetime project, and it will future-proof both the 18th century building and its collections for the 22nd century and beyond.” said Professor Denny.
The Library of Trinity College Dublin and Trinity Centre for the Book Research Seminar will host the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) Annual Seminar on Tuesday October 4, 2022 (9:30am – 5pm), at the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. Ten years since digitisation was last the subject of a CERL Seminar, we wish to bring people together to discuss the varied challenges research libraries face in the planning and realising of internal and collaborative programmes of digitisation for cultural heritage materials.
Speakers from various international and Irish libraries will comment on the state of the art of digitisation and the role of research libraries therein, presenting a variety of recent and ongoing projects. These include the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Folger Shakespeare Library, John Rylands Library, and the libraries of the National University of Ireland Galway and Royal Irish Academy. Through the seminar we hope to instigate a community-focused discussion to problematise the maturing field of cultural heritage digitisation.
The full programme is available here for the event Registration is open to all. Please register before September 26 by emailing email@example.com.
The Library of Trinity College Dublin makes a 13th century masterpiece globally accessible
One of the most finely illustrated medieval manuscripts, Matthew Paris’s Book of St Albans has been digitised by the Library of Trinity College Dublin for the first time. The 13th century masterpiece features 54 individual works of medieval art and has fascinated readers across the centuries, from royalty to renaissance scholars.
The precious manuscript survived the chaos and trauma of the dissolution of the monasteries and came to Trinity College Dublin in 1661.
Created by the renowned scribe, the Benedictine monk, Matthew Paris of St Albans Abbey in England, the manuscript chronicles the life of St Alban, the first Christian martyr in England. It also outlines the construction of St Albans cathedral.
The monastery at St Albans was one of the most important in the country. It was a major site of pilgrimage receiving many pilgrims from Ireland.
The book was held in St Albans Abbey for 300 years until the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539.
All other precious manuscripts by Matthew Paris are held in the British Library, and the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Chetham’s Library Manchester.
The Book of St Albans was a high-status book, viewed by King Henry VI. Written in Latin it also contains Anglo-Norman French which made it accessible to a wider secular audience including educated noble women.
It was borrowed by noble ladies of the period, including the King’s sister-in-law Countess of Cornwall, Sanchia of Provence, and others.
The content at times gruesome, include illustrations featuring the decapitation of St Alban and his executioner whose eyes literally pop out of his head at the point of execution.
The artwork consisting of mostly framed narrative scenes, is a tinted drawing technique where outlined drawings are highlighted with coloured washes from a limited palette. This technique was distinctly English, dating back to Anglo Saxon art of the 10th century.
From St Albans Abbey, it came into the ownership of the Elizabethan Royal adviser and astronomer, John Dee, following which it was sold to James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, and subsequently came to Trinity with his library in 1661. It has remained in the Library of Trinity College Dublin for over 350 years.
For the first time, this manuscript is now fully digitised and available online, a process which has been undertaken through the Virtual Trinity Library initiative as part of its Manuscripts for Medieval Studies project funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York.
The Book of St Albans has been fully digitised ahead of the feast day of St Alban, tomorrow Wednesday, 22nd June.
Commenting on its significance, Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton said:
“The Library of Trinity College Dublin is delighted to make this medieval masterpiece accessible to a global audience. For the first time in history, this exquisite manuscript by one of the world’s most famous medieval artists and chroniclers, Matthew Paris may be viewed digitally revealing its beautiful artistry in full colour. As part of the Virtual Trinity Library’s Manuscripts for Medieval Studies project it contributes to teaching and research at Trinity College Dublin and has fostered collaboration with other universities and libraries.”
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.
Manuscripts Curator, Estelle Gittins said: “This astonishing manuscript contains some of the most incredible medieval art, it is a window into an elaborate world of saints, kings and knights, but also sailors, builders and bell ringers. Before now the only way to study all of the images in this important manuscript was to consult the rare, black and white, 1924 facsimile edition,it is so exciting that this can now be viewed and enjoyed by everyone at the click of a button.”
Virtual Trinity Library’sManuscripts for Medieval Studies project which was philanthropically supported by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York, has focussed on 16 medieval manuscripts of international research significance. The manuscripts are used for teaching on the Trinity M. Phil in Medieval Studies course. The selection demonstrates the breadth and variety of the Library’s collections of source material for the study of the art, history, culture, language and literature of the medieval period, and the history of the book in particular.
Other works digitised as part of this project include the highly decorated 12th century manuscript, the Winchcombe Psalter and surviving manuscripts of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury and Salisbury Cathedral, medieval music from Britain and Ireland, and a rare 15th-century life of St Thomas Becket.
Government announced funding of €25 million for the restoration of one of Ireland’s foremost national heritage sites, the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin yesterday. The Old Library is home to the magnificent Long Room and precious manuscripts, including the 9th century Book of Kells.
An TaoiseachMicheál Martin said: “I am delighted to announce €25 million in Government funding for the Old Library, one of Ireland’s foremost heritage sites and a jewel in the nation’s crown. This landmark restoration project will use leading technology and preventive conservation, providing optimum environmental conditions for the 18th century building and its precious collections. With the aid of this Government funding we are safeguarding our heritage for generations to come.”
Virtual Trinity Library, an ambitious digitisation initiative of the Library of Trinity College Dublin’s most valued collections was launched this week. 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.
Using the most advanced technology the Library’s new Digital Collections platform will showcase the breadth of these collections, ranging from precious manuscripts to scientific papers.
The Library of Trinity College Dublin is joining other world libraries that are collectively enabling access to patrimony and cultural heritage.
Highlights of the collections of the Library of Trinity College Dublin and their fascinating history are showcased in a new online exhibition Director’s Choice Uncut. The Library invites you to connect and be inspired by a range of diverse objects and their stories in this magnificent new online exhibition selected by the Librarian & College Archivist, Helen Shenton. Building on the success of the Director’s Choice: The Library of Trinity College Dublin published this year by Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers, this new expanded digital platform features even more of the Library’s treasures.
The scientist Rosalind Franklin, the folklorist, dramatist and theatre-founder Augusta Gregory, the mathematician Ada Lovelace and the writer and pioneering women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft have been chosen from a list of more than 500 suggestions.
There are currently 40 marble busts in the beautiful, historic space – all men. As the College recognises that its public spaces must better represent our diversity, it has decided as a first step to introduce a series of sculptures of women.
This is the first time in over a century that the University has commissioned new sculptures for this prestigious location. The first for this space were commissioned in the 1740s, soon after the Library was finished, and the collection was gradually extended in the following years. No new sculptures have been commissioned since the 1880s and no additional sculptures have been installed since the 1920s.