Unique Handmade Books from Dublin Children Join Long Room Shelves in Trinity’s Old Library

Posted on: 26 March 2015

An exhibition of 86 handmade books designed and illustrated by Dublin primary school children and inspired by works from Trinity’s Special Collections opened this week in the Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin.

The exhibition marks the culmination of Bookmarks, a three month story writing, illustration and bookbinding programme that featured workshops with authors, artists and children’s book specialists. The project, organised by the Trinity Access Programmes (TAP), aims to give children confidence in their abilities and to inspire them to become the next generation of authors, illustrators and publishers.

Jade sat on the floor beside the basement door, rocking herself, crying.” (Sylvia A., Our Lady of Lourdes, Inchicore)

This year’s Bookmarks programme involved 5th and 6th class children from Our Lady of Lourdes National School, Inchicore; Our Lady of Good Counsel Boys’ National School, Drimnagh and St Mary’s Boys’ National School, Haddington Road. The schools are all linked to the College through TAP, which offers support to students from under-represented backgrounds to progress to further education.

Over the course of the programme, the children attended a series of workshops delivered in their schools by children’s author Maura Byrne and illustrator Hannah Maguire. Each child wrote, illustrated and bound his or her own unique book, focusing on this year’s theme “Hello, Stranger”. Other workshops delivered by staff and students from Trinity’s School of English and Department of Early Printed Books helped children to develop their story-lines and to appreciate vintage books in Trinity’s Special Collections.


As part of this initiative, children were introduced to the Pollard collection of over 10,000 historic children’s books, bequeathed to Trinity by librarian Mary ‘Paul’ Pollard. They also had access to a blog written by poet and children’s author Catherine Ann Cullen (tarryathome.com), which gave them background history about selected books and authors in the Pollard collection, information about its eccentric collector, and photographs of the children’s own work in progress. For the theme, ‘Hello, Stranger’, books selected from Pollard included Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe and fairy tales such as ‘Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

There was a long pause. Not the type of awkward kind, it was a thinking pause.” (Calistus O., Our Lady of Good Counsel, Drimnagh)

Each child was presented with a certificate of achievement at an awards ceremony to mark the opening of the exhibition, which will be on public display in Trinity’s Long Room until April 10th.

Kathleen O’Toole-Brennan of Trinity Access Programmes said: “TAP is very proud of the Bookmarks initiative and the unique opportunity it provides for children to acquire new skills and to be exposed to the world of children’s literature in a very hands-on way.  This year the quality of books produced by the children on the theme of ‘Hello, Stranger’ is excellent, and the children were so enthusiastic that many of them requested extra pages so they could write and illustrate even more. We are delighted to unveil these beautiful works of art and literature. Our outreach programmes attract over 4,000 students annually, and with continued involvement, these same students and their peers will successfully make the transition to both second and third level.”

Speaking about the rich inspiration made available to the children Trinity’s Librarian and College Archivist, Helen Shenton said: “We were delighted that the children had access to materials ranging from the vast Pollard collection of historic children’s books to the Book of Kells. It is clear from the wonderful works they have created that they took inspiration from the stories and illustrations of these great works while making the final books very much their own unique creations.”

Daniel was stabbed and exploded into a million pieces, but after a blink of an eye came back and plunged his sword into the killers.” (Conor L, St Mary’s, Haddington Road)

Media Coverage:

Media Contact:

Caoimhe Ni Lochlainn, Head of Library Communications | nilochlc@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 4710Yolanda Kennedy, Former Press Officer for the Faculty of Health Sciences | publicaffairs@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 4168