Wednesday, September 26, 2018

‘How important was Muintir na Tíre to Ireland?’

A guest blog from Dr. Tomas Finn, History, NUI Galway


Key to an assessment of the importance of Muintir na Tíre to Ireland was its relationship with the Catholic Church and the Irish state. The changing nature of that relationship is indicative of the transformation that took place in Ireland during the twentieth century. Government, the Church and society were inward-looking and distrustful of novelty in for example the immediate post WWII period but gradually they each opened up to new ideas about politics, the economy and religion. In that context, Muintir na Tíre, a civil society organisation active at the parochial level and with the protection and preservation of rural Ireland at its centre, increasingly sought to engage with national and local authorities. The tensions between tradition and modernisation inherent in initiatives such as the Parish Plan of the 1950s and contributions towards, for example, rural electrification thus lay at the heart of the movement.


Particularly crucial to Muintir’s success or otherwise was the Catholic Church’s attitude which ranged from leadership and praise to indifference and opposition, even hostility. Consequently, Muintir’s attempts to build a nationwide structure and profile were only partially successful, and often resisted. The organisations expansion from its Munster heartland into other parts of Ireland was simultaneously supported and opposed by different priests and members of the hierarchy. Amongst its foremost advocates were, of course, Canon John Hayes, Archbishop Thomas Morris of Cashel and Emly and Jeremiah Newman, the future Bishop of Limerick. More surprising is the active support of Bishops Cornelius Lucey of Cork and Ross and Michael Browne of Galway especially when contrasted with the attitude of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin. For the latter, Muintir was not Catholic and therefore could not be trusted to represent farmers or rural people. Preventing the organisations growth in the capital, McQuaid could not have been further from other bishops but most dramatically Pope Pius XII who in 1954 had commended Hayes and the choice of the parish as Muintir’s central unit. Such praise for Muintir along with his reference to Christian rather than Catholic is notable. As an organisation, Muintir sought to embrace all classes and creeds and at least under Hayes advocate a vocationalist Ireland, with a strong emphasis on the papal encyclicals.


What was key then to the success or otherwise of Muintir was the attitude of the local bishop and priest. At the same time, Munitir itself, following the death of Canon Hayes in 1958, underwent a significant transition. Initially inspired by Catholic social teaching, community development became its raison d’être from the late 1950s with the greater part of its work falling into the educational field. What followed was a greater engagement with local, national and supranational authorities. This was highlighted by the practical and financial support the organisation received from James Dillon and especially Seán Lemass. The contrast in Lemass’ and Eamon de Valera’s positions is notable. Committed to a self-sufficient Ireland, de Valera remained unwilling to fund Muintir or intervene in the economy and society while Lemass was somewhat impatient with the lack of support his Ministers gave to Munitir’s proposals which were designed to develop rural Ireland. 


The change in Munitir’s modus vivendi reflected concerns as to the effectiveness of the organisation. These centered on the range of issues it examined along with its need to address local and national audiences. Replacing vocationalism as its core ideology, Community development thus resolved some of the tensions between traditionalism and modernism. Muintir’s importance thus lay in its role in questioning the type of Ireland that was emerging. As a conduit for understanding rural Ireland and explaining the nature of state policy and what this meant to a local and national as well as an international audience, Muintir remained during much of the twentieth century a significant example of civil activism. More than that, a brief consideration of the organisation highlights the diversity of views found within the Catholic Church and serves as a warning not to treat it as a monolith. As to the continued relevance of Muintir na Tíre and civil society organisations in contemporary Ireland, de Valera’s warnings as to the dangers of state interference remain prescient as the appropriate balance between government and voluntary organisations continues to present a significant challenge in the twenty-first century. 



Dr Tomás Finn is a lecturer in History at NUI, Galway. His research interests include modern Irish and British history and politics, the role of intellectuals, public policy, Church-State relations and Northern Ireland.

To see what is help in the Muintir na Tire Collection at NUI Galway visit http://archivesearch.library.nuigalway.ie/nuig/calmview/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=P134 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Cartlann Chonradh na Gaeilge - An Chéad Chéim


Sa bhliain 2017, d’fhógair Conradh na Gaeilge go mbeidís ag tabhairt a gcartlainne ar láimh do OÉ Gaillimh áit a mbeadh sí stóráilte go sábháilte agus a mbeadh sí ar fáil do thaighdeoirí agus do pháirtithe leasmhara i gCartlanna Leabharlann Shéamais Uí Argadáin. Fógraíodh le linn an tsamhraidh go raibh an t-ábhar tugtha ar láimh, agus go raibh cartlannaí fostaithe chun an bailiúchán a phróiseáil. Is mise an té a ceapadh, agus sna 18 mí amach romhainn, chomh maith le mo bhealach a dhéanamh tríd an mbailiúchán, beidh mé ag scríobh sraith blaganna ag roinnt mo thaithí agus ag míniú an phróisis atá i gceist. Tá súil agam go mbainfidh sibh sult as an méid seo. (Fainic bheag, tá an chéad bhlag seo fada, b’fhéidir gur cheart cupán tae a dhéanamh ar dtús!)


Cuirfidh mé mé féin in aithne daoibh mar sin! Niamh Ní Charra is ainm dom, is as Ciarraí ó dhúchas mé, is as Luimneach mo mháthair agus is as Gaillimh m’athair, agus casadh ar a chéile anseo iad nuair a bhí siad ag déanamh staidéir ar an Eolaíocht. (Gan OÉG ní bheinn anseo ar chor ar bith!) Bhain mé céim san Innealtóireacht Leictreonach amach agus d’oibrigh mé i Meiriceá ar feadh scaitheamh beag sular thug mé saol an cheoltóra ghairmiúil orm féin, mar a dhéanfadh duine! Tar éis blianta a chaitheamh ar an mbóthar, d’fhill mé abhaile le tabhairt faoi mháistreacht i mBainistíocht Cartlann agus Taifead. Tagraím den chúlra éagsúil seo mar gheall ar chomh húsáideach agus chomh hábhartha is atá sé don obair amach romham lena n-áirítear taithí ar an Oireachtas, ar an bhFéile Phan-Cheilteach agus ar imeachtaí eile a bhfuil trácht orthu sa bhailiúchán seo. Ar ndóigh tá grá don Ghaeilge riachtanach chomh maith!
  

An chéad charnán boscaí atá ar fud an tseomra próiseála
B’iontach an spéis a cuireadh sa scéal go mbeadh cartlann Chonradh na Gaeilge ag teacht chuig OÉ Gaillimh ach chomh maith leis sin ní fios cé méid rphost a tháinig chugam le ceisteanna ina leith!  De bhrí nach bhfuil tuiscint cheart ar phost an chartlannaí go minic, is éasca glacadh leis nach raibh le déanamh nuair a tháinig an chartlann anseo ach ábhar a thabhairt amach dóibh siúd a d’iarr é. Dá bhrí sin, tabharfaidh mé mioneolas faoin obair ollmhór a bhaineann le cartlann sula mbeidh an chartlann réidh le cur ar fáil do thaighdeoirí, agus tá súil agam go gcuirfidh sé seo moill ar na hiarratais sin go mbeidh mé níos faide ar aghaidh sa phróiseas!




Radharc eile - thart ar 280 bosca ar 8 bpailéad



Tá roinnt céimeanna i gceist chun bailiúchán a phróiseáil sular féidir é a chur ar fáil, seo a leanas na céimeanna sin: fios a bheith agat céard atá agat, é a dhéanamh sábháilte, é a mheas, cinneadh a dhéanamh faoi conas a shocrófar é, catalógú a dhéanamh air, céard ba cheart a chur ar fáil (e.g. an bhfuil sé rólag, an bhfuil ceisteanna cosanta sonraí ag baint leis srl.), é a dhigitiú nuair is féidir agus nuair atá sé oiriúnach agus ansin é a chur ar fáil. Tá sé scanrúil cuimhneamh ar cén áit ba cheart tosú agus na céadta bosca ábhar amach romhat ach tá sé thar a bheith tábhachtach na pointí thuas a choinneáil i gcuimhne agus plean a bheith agat. Tá sé tábhachtach chomh maith eolas a chur ar chúlra an bhailiúcháin, sa chás seo tuiscint a fháil ar an eagraíocht Conradh na Gaeilge agus an stair atá taobh thiar de.






An dara carn boscaí, agus an carn deiridh le feiceáil ar chúl

 BÍODH A FHIOS AGAT CÉARD ATÁ AGAT

Is é croílár na hoibre a bhaineann le bailiúchán a phróiseáil smacht a fháil air, go hintleachtúil agus go fisiciúil. Cé gur 500 bosca a luadh ar dtús, ceapaim féin gur thart ar 650 bosca ar fad atá ann. Caithfear gach aon bhosca a oscailt agus scrúdú a dhéanamh ar an ábhar sula mbeidh a fhios agam céard atá sa bhailiúchán. Is é seo an chéad chéim agus mar gheall ar mhéid an bhailiúcháin tá sé i gceist agam cúpla céim a chur le chéile ag an bpointe seo.
Sampla den mhéid atá i mbosca nuair a bhaintear an clúdach de!
 
DÉAN SÁBHÁILTE É

Agus mé ag breathnú ar ábhar chuile bhosca, tá mé ag seiceáil ag an am céanna cén riocht ina bhfuil an t-ábhar; mar shampla, an bhfuil caonach air a d’fhéadfadh scaipeadh. Tógtar an t-ábhar amach as na boscaí ina bhfuil sé ansin agus cuirtear é i mboscaí agus i bhfillteán speisialta cartlainne a chabhróidh le caomhnú an ábhair. Cuirtear na boscaí sin i stóráil shlán ansin i seomraí stórais faoi rialú aeráide. Tá an t-ábhar slán anois ó mheath breise, agus ó ghoid. Tá sé cosanta freisin ó ghuaiseacha comhshaoil cosúil le tine agus tuile. Le linn an phróisis seo, déanaim liosta d’ábhar chuile bhosca, déanaim nóta den fhormáid ina bhfuil an t-ábhar (páipéar, grianghraf, CD srl.), agus déanaim nóta d’ábhar speisialta a d’fhéadfaí a dhigitiú. Ní hamháin go dtugann an liosta seo achoimre ar a bhfuil sa bhailiúchán, ach cabhróidh sé chomh maith le heagar a chur ar an mbailiúchán nuair a bheidh an chéad chéim tugtha chun críche.
  
Seilfeanna folmha sa seomra stórais faoi rialú aeráide áit a gcuirfear na boscaí cartlainne nuair a bheidh siad próiseáilte

DÉAN É A MHEAS

Ní gá go gcoinneofar gach rud atá i mbailiúchán – d’fhéadfadh sé nach mbeadh gach rud ábhartha nó uathúil don bhailiúchán sin.  D’fhéadfadh freisin go mbeadh dúbailt ábhair ann agus uaireanta b’fhéidir nach bhféadfaí mír a stóráil go cuí mar gheall ar a formáid, méid nó cúrsaí praiticiúla eile. Ar an gcúis sin ní mór an bailiúchán a mheas. Is feidhm thábhachtach de chuid cartlannaithe é measúnú a dhéanamh ar ábhar agus is é sin an rud a scarann amach iad ó chomhghleacaithe eile i ngairmeacha gaolmhara. Labhróidh mé tuilleadh faoi sin i mblaganna amach anseo, ach faoi láthair, is leor a thuiscint fad is atá mé i mbun na chéad chéime seo, go bhfuilim freisin ag meastóireacht ar atá sa bailiúcháin.
 
CÉ CHOMH FADA IS ATÁ PÍOSA SREANGÁIN?
Ar cheann de na tascanna is deacra a bhaineann le bailiúchán á phróiseáil tá measúnú cruinn a thabhairt ar an méid ama agus ar na hacmhainní a theastóidh. Glacann na céimeanna thuasluaite go leor ama ach tá sé ríthábhachtach tabhairt fúthu sula bhféadfar an bailiúchán a chur ar fáil do thaighdeoirí agus go dtí go bhfuil siad tugtha chun críche ní féidir a rá go cinnte céard atá sa bhailiúchán, agus dá bhrí sin cé chomh fada agus a thógfaidh na céimeanna ina dhiaidh sin. Tá sé dodhéanta freisin a fháil amach cé chomh fada a thógfaidh an chéim thosaigh, ach táimid den bharúil go dtógfaidh sé 6 - 8 mí.
Agus sin é! Mar a fheiceann tú, tá mo sháith le déanamh agam! Is onóir agus pribhléid dom a bheith ag obair ar an mbailiúchán seo agus táim ag baint taitneamh as teacht ar roinnt seod agus mé ag dul tríd. Cuimseoidh na blaganna eile amach anseo na céimeanna ar fad ar bhealach níos sonraí agus na seoda a dtiocfaidh mé trasna orthu ar an mbealach chomh maith le heolas a thabhairt daoibh ar fad faoin gConradh, an eagraíocht lena mbaineann an bailiúchán seo.
Go dtí an chéad uair eile,
Beir bua,

Niamh


Conradh na Gaeilge Archive - The First Step


 
In 2017, Conradh na Gaeilge announced they would be donating their archive to NUI Galway where it is to be safely stored and made accessible to researchers and interested parties in the James Hardiman Library Archives. This summer it was subsequently announced that the material had been transferred, and the identity of the archivist engaged to process the collection was revealed. That lucky archivist is me, and over the next 18 months, alongside working through the collection, I will be writing a series of blogs sharing my experiences and explaining the process involved, which I hope you will find of interest. (As a word of caution, this introductory blog is a bumper edition so probably a good idea to make a cup of tea first!)

So let me introduce myself! My name is Niamh Ní Charra, and I’m from Kerry, born to a Limerick mother and Galway father, who incidentally met here while studying Science. (Without NUIG I wouldn’t exist!) I graduated with an Electronic Engineering degree and worked in America briefly before leaving that world to become a professional musician, as you do! Following years “on the road”, I returned home to take a masters in Archives and Records Management. I mention this varied background because of its particular use and relevance to the work ahead which includes first-hand experience of the Oireachtas, Pan Celtic Festivals and other events mentioned in this collection. Having a grá for Irish is also a must!


The first pile of boxes which has completely taken over the processing room
The interest which greeted the announcement of the Conradh na Gaeilge archive coming to NUI Galway was fantastic but also led to my inbox unsurprisingly being inundated with queries! Because the job of the archivist is often misunderstood, it is easy to assume that all that was required of me once the material had been transferred was to hand it out as requested. I have therefore chosen to detail the process ahead to shine a light on the painstaking work that goes on behind the scenes before the archive can be made available to researchers, and hopefully to delay those queries
for a little longer until I am further down the road!



From another angle - approximately 280 boxes sit on 8 palettes
There are several stages to processing a collection before it can be made available and essentially they can be listed as follows: know what you have, make it safe, appraise it, decide on an arrangement, catalogue it, consider what should be made accessible (e.g. is it too frail, are there data protection issues etc.), digitise where possible and suitable and then release it. It can be daunting to know where to start when faced with hundreds of boxes of material but keeping these points in mind and having a plan is key. It is also important to familiarise yourself with the background of the collection, in this case getting a feel for the Conradh na Gaeilge organisation and the history behind it.





The 2nd pile of boxes, with the final pile visible in the background
 

KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE

At the core of processing a collection is the act of getting control over it, both intellectually and physically. While initially announced as 500 boxes, I estimate the final number of banker boxes to be closer to 650. Each one has to be opened and its contents examined before I know what is in the collection. This is the first pass and due to the size of the collection I have decided to combine a few stages while conducting it.


An example of what awaits when lifting the lid on a box!
 
MAKE IT SAFE

While examining the contents of each box, I am also checking their condition for problems such as mould that might spread. Contents are then removed from the current boxes and placed in specially designed archive boxes and folders that help preserve them. These boxes are then placed in secure storage in climate controlled storerooms. The material is now both secure from further deterioration, and from theft. It is also protected from environmental hazards such as fire and flood. During this process, I list the contents of each box (known as a box-list), note what format the items are in (paper, photograph, CD etc.), and make note of special items of interest which may be candidates for digitisation. This box-list not only summarises what is in the collection, it will also aid in deciding on an arrangement for the collection once the first pass is complete.

Empty shelves in the climate-controlled storeroom where the archive boxes will be stacked once processed
 
APPRAISE IT

Not everything in a collection should necessarily be kept – it may not be relevant or unique to that collection. There can also often be duplication of material and in some cases it may not be possible to suitably store an item due to its format, size or other practical considerations. For that reason the collection needs to be appraised. Appraisal is an important function of archivists and what separates them from colleagues in other related professions. It is something I will go into in more detail in future blogs, but for now, it is sufficient to note that as I make this first pass, I am also appraising.

HOW LONG IS A PIECE OF STRING?

One of the hardest tasks when undertaking the processing of a collection is accurately estimating both the time and the resources required. The above-mentioned stages are time-consuming but essential before the collection can be made available to researchers and until complete it is impossible to know definitively what is in the collection, and therefore how long the subsequent stages will take. It is also impossible to ascertain how long the initial pass will take, but we estimate it will require 6 - 8 months to complete.

And there you have it! As you can see, I have my work cut out for me! It is a pleasure and privilege to work on this collection and I am enjoying coming across some real gems as I make the first pass. Future blogs will cover these initial and subsequent stages in more detail and the discoveries I make along the way as well as introducing you all to Conradh, the organisation behind this wonderful rich collection.

Go dtí an chéad uair eile,
Beir bua,

Niamh
 

 

 

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Galway International Arts Festival - An Archive of Stories and Spectacle


Late July in Galway has become synonymous with one thing. For forty years the Galway International Arts Festival has grown to become not just the highlight of Galway's cultural and artistic calendar but also to be one of the largest cultural celebrations in Europe. 

The archive of the Galway International Arts Festival resides within the Hardiman Library of NUI Galway. The GIAF archive is a detailed record of the history and achievements of the festival, as well as an account of its establishment and its growth over many years. It offers a record of how GIAF engaged not just the best of Irish artists and performers of all kinds, but also leading international artists. The archive consists of over thirty-five boxes of manuscripts and documents, comprising some of the first minute books of the Festival committee, correspondence with leading artists, programmes and posters for various events, an expansive photographic collection, press cuttings, and of course the famous Galway Arts Festival posters.



The archive includes a detailed record of administration, productions, and events held during the Galway International Arts Festival since its inception in 1978. Within the administrative records, there are editions of minutes from Galway Arts Festival committee and management meetings 1980-1982. The production files include a large volume of photographs from productions and events across all disciplines in the Galway Arts Festival. The photographs document events across theatre, comedy, dance, music, literature, visual art, street performance, and children's events. The images are also a record of the audiences and experiences of GIAF - those who each year return, witness, enjoy and take part in a celebration of the arts in Galway and which ripples outward into the world. 





The archive also includes a large volume of artist and event posters and other promotional ephemeral material. The series of press files contain records of local (Galway and west of Ireland) press cuttings of interviews and features with artists, members of Galway Arts Festival directors and management, reviews of productions and events at the festival and news on arts, theatre and culture in general nationwide around Ireland. The press files also offer a detailed and comprehensive list of events in various codes including theatre, music, visual art, children's events, literature provide an account of all acts which performed each year at the festival. Hearing the stories of visiting artists as well as local and Irish artists gives an indication of what it meant for a practitioner to have their work as part of the GIAF as well as collecting the many voices and stories of those who make the festival programme a special experience each year.



The records reveal just how the people of Galway, the west of Ireland and from much further afield have been an active part of the spectacle of the festival. Images of crowded streets and venues across the city show how audiences have been enthralled by all the Festival has to offer for all tastes and interests. The archive also compliments other related local artistic and cultural archives, such as those of Druid Theatre Company, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, Macnas and many others, building a comprehensive memory of the Arts in Galway for over the past four decades.







A full listing of the Galway Arts Festival archive is available on the Library online catalogue

For any visitors to the Galway International Arts Festival and are curious about this amazing archive collection, please do contact the Archives service for information on access.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Guest Post - Erin Grogan (Fulbright Scholar) - Mary Rynne, Lost Plays and Theatre Archives

Erin Grogan
From August to this past February, I was lucky enough to immerse myself fully in the archives with little other responsibility – a chance most researchers can only dream of. I received a Fulbright research grant that enabled me to leave West Texas for 6 months and focus solely on delving into my dissertation studies at the James Hardiman Library. My research focuses on women playwrights during the Free State years - how they were affected by and contributed to the ideas of Irish womanhood.

Part of applying for a Fulbright grant is being able to articulate why you need to go to this other country, what makes it imperative to your studies? I knew that NUIG housed the digital archives of both the Abbey theatre and the Gate theatre which would be immensely helpful to my work, and I made a decently good argument for why that mattered (I did get the grant, after all). But if I were to answer that same question now, having been with the archival materials in person and working alongside the archivists at NUIG, my answer would look something like this:



Archives are a treasure trove. Much like writing characters in plays, archives take on a life of their own and lead you down paths you never expected. Archivists themselves are muses who point you towards material you didn’t realize you needed but now can’t write without. Without these primary sources and first-hand reflections, my dissertation would be merely speculation.

This may have been too flowery for the application, but I stand by it. When I arrived at NUIG I met with Barry Houlihan, Archivist, and we immediately set out sourcing material of relevance for my research - names of women writers I hadn’t heard of before, plays to read, materials to sort through. Most excitingly, was discovering the personal archive of Mary Rynne that had just recently been donated. Rynne had only one production at the Abbey, Pilgrims in 1938, and it received mixed reviews. While not well known, and not particularly well produced, Rynne has become an important part of my dissertation.

Despite reviews and reflections on Rynne that made it seem as though she was content to have only written one play – her archives painted a clearly different picture. She wrote short stories and radio plays, many of which were published in magazines, and her notebooks were teeming with ideas and starts of many more. In sorting through her archives related to Pilgrims, I came across a full-length script of a stage play that had never been published or produced. With no title page, I began to refer to this script as Rynne’s “Lost Play” to those I’d talk about it with.
Mary Rynne

This “Lost Play” highlighted the limited roles women in the Free State faced and the ways women subverted these expectations or ultimately gave into them. The protagonist struggles between familial duties and her own needs and wants. This script was exciting to me because it was written around the same time as Teresa Deevy’s Katie Roche and explores many of the same themes and issues. Deevy’s play is periodically revived and often lauded as a singular example of a women writing about Irish womanhood on the stage, but this play of Rynne’s proves that other women artists were also exploring the limitations of their own citizenship. The strong themes present in both plays, the relationships between women characters, and ultimately the lack of female support systems within these works highlighted a substantial issue within the wider Irish society of the time.

This archival find is just one example of the many exciting discoveries I had during my studies in Galway. Back in Texas now, I am still processing all that I was able to read and uncover. My time in the archives was invaluable and has allowed me to conduct more thorough, deep, and important research into this time period, these women, and their works. I am grateful to all the archivists at NUIG, as well as Fulbright, for allowing me the tools to write on this important subject. I know that as I continue on my academic and scholarly path, not only will I retain my relationship to this school and their special collections, but that my relationship to archives (both their existence and use) has also been changed for the better.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Seminar: Archives and Public History:Witnessing the Past - 11 April, NUI Galway



Date – 11 April
Venue - Room G011, Hardiman Research Building
Time: 1.30pm – 5 pm
Contact Information: barry.houlihan@nuigalway.ie


Overview:Archives and Public History: Witnessing the Past

Public history and the awareness of shared pasts is becoming ever more prevalent. Recent and ongoing commemorations have brought history and its reassessment into public daily discourse. Current politics and society are being shaped by integration of increasingly open and diverse pasts – from archives of manuscripts and print sources to statues, monuments and oral histories. This seminar looks at how we encounter the past of everyday life through current contemporary experience, and reflect on how we interpret the marginalised histories we meet anew through our archives, libraries, museums and public spaces.
All are welcome to this public seminar.

Programme:
1.30pm: Arrival - Tea/Coffee

2pm: Welcome and Introductions

2.15pm Niamh NicGhabhann – “Curating as a research practice – engaging with the histories of St Davent’s Hospital, Monaghan through exhibition-making.”

2.35pm Deidre McParland: “Shedding Light on ESB’s Archives”

2.55pm Emily Mark-FitzGerald: “Methodologies of Irish Memory: Making Sense of Public Monuments”

3.15pm: Q & A Roundtable Discussion moderated by Conor McNamara

3.45pm Break – 15 minutes

4pm Keynote Address: John McDonough, Director, National Archives of Ireland

‘The public record as a public good. The role of archives in creating a future.’


5pm Finish

You  can register to attend this free seminar at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/seminar-archives-and-public-historywitnessing-the-past-tickets-44262956695?aff=es2


Biographical information and Abstracts

Niamh NicGhabhann – “Curating as a research practice – engaging with the histories of St Davent’s Hospital, Monaghan through exhibition-making.”

Abstract: The range of research practices that enable our engagement with, and understanding of, the past include archival research, oral history gathering, the critical analysis of published texts and the observation and forensic examination of buildings, monuments and archaeological sites. They also include the development of new work through creative practice that represent and engage with the past within a research context. This paper considers the extent to which curating can become a research practice which actually generates new research findings, as well as presenting ideas and objects surfaced from a prior body of work. This will be examined in the context of the development of the ‘World Within Walls’ exhibition, developed at Monaghan County Museum in 2015, which explored the histories and memories of St. Davnet’s Hospital in Monaghan town, originally built as the Cavan and Monaghan District Lunatic Asylum in 1868.

Biographical Note: 
Niamh NicGhabhann is Assistant Dean, Research for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Course Director of the MA Festive Arts Programme at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick. Her current research project explores the Territories of the Devotional Revolution between 1850-1930, and she is also interested in the cultural construction and expression of respectability in Irish culture. She is also engaged in research projects on the subject of interdisciplinarity and on the creative and cultural industries. Her monograph, Medieval Ecclesiastical Buildings in Ireland, 1789-1915: Building on the Past was published by Four Courts Press in 2015.


Deidre McParland: “Shedding Light on ESB’s Archives”
Abstract: The history of ESB is entwined with our national narrative. It’s foundation in 1927 was based on a vision to continuously improve the lives of Irish people. From the might y Shannon Scheme of the late 1920s to the transformative rural electrification scheme of the 1940s – 1960s, Ireland was revolutionised through the first semi-state body in Ireland. Through the exploration of the content of ESB’s archives this paper will demonstrate the evidential and inspirational value of preserving and making accessible the story of the electrification of Ireland.

Biographical Note: Deirdre McParland was appointed Senior Archivist ESB’s Archives in 2015. Previously Deirdre was archivist and archive manager in the Guinness Archive, Consultant Archivist and Records Manager with Eneclann and archives administrator with GAA Museum. Deirdre has published papers in the Archives and Records Association, Irish Archives Journal, Engineers Journal, Sunday Business Post, Irish Roots and Irish Central and is a regular guest speaker, panellist at national and international conferences  and seminars. Deirdre has collaborated and curated on several exhibitions including Guinness Storehouse, Little Museum of Dublin, St. Patrick’s Festival and most recently with University of Hertfordshire.


Emily Mark-FitzGerald: “Methodologies of Irish Memory: Making Sense of Public Monuments”
Abstract:
The current Decade of Centenaries has been accompanied both by the construction of new public monuments and memorials, and an upsurge of research into previous forms of historical commemoration. Internationally, interest in the meaning and significance of public monuments has been re-ignited by controversies over Confederate statues in Charlottesville VA and elsewhere. This presentation will explore current debates in memory studies and methodological developments in researching public commemoration, drawing upon my own experience in the field of Irish Famine studies over the past fifteen years. Making reference to the ‘seven sins’ of memory studies recently critiqued by Guy Beiner in the Dublin Review of Books (Nov 2017) — laxity, dualism, crudity, moralism, insularity, myopia, and overlooking forgetting — this paper will explore critical intellectual and practical challenges in the study of public monuments.

Biographical Note
Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald is Associate Professor in the School of Art History and Cultural Policy at University College Dublin. Her monograph Commemorating the Irish Famine: Memory and the Monument (Liverpool UP, 2013) has been widely hailed as a landmark study in the field of Irish Studies, and accompanies other scholarship exploring the intersection of memory, public art, visual art and culture with poverty, famine, and emigration, including the forthcoming co-edited The Great Irish Famine: Visual and Material Cultures (Liverpool UP, 2018). She is a Director of the Irish Museums Association since 2009, and represents Art History on the Historical Studies Committee of the Royal Irish Academy. Her current research project is a visual cultural history of Irish poverty in the late 19th century, focused on the impact of visual technological developments including photography, stereoscopy, the magic lantern, and illustrated journalism, creating new forms of spectatorship and visual economies.

John McDonough
Biographical Note:

John McDonough was appointed Director of the National Archives in December 2014.  

Prior to his appointment, he worked as Head of Collections in the Library & Research Service of the Houses of the Oireachtas supporting and delivering online research outputs and information services to TDs and Senators.  He holds post graduate qualifications in Archival Studies and an MSc in ICT Systems.  John has previously worked as project manager of UCD’s Irish Virtual Research Library & Archive (now the UCD Digital Library) which developed a pilot repository infrastructure for digital humanities content, and in RTE. John has responsibility for the strategic direction and operational management of the National Archives, in addition to statutory duties under the terms of the National Archives Act, 1986 with regard to the preservation of, and access to, archives and the transfer and destruction of records. John is a member of the board of the Irish Manuscripts Commission and the Council of National Cultural Institutions, and represents Ireland at European and International events.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Books That Changed History



A 2017 publication which will attract the attention of bibliophiles, art historians, literary scholars and many others, Books That Changed History published by Dorling Kindersley features essays on seventy-two works, ranging from Ancient Egyptian books of the dead to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

See a review of this title at Reviews & Discussion of "Books that changed history"

Some original and some facsimile editions of many of these works feature in the James Hardiman Library's Special Collections. Over the next months we will put our copies of some of these titles on display in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room for you to enjoy, together with the relevant commentary contained in Books that changed History. The initial display features the first volume of Carl Linneus' System Naturae, published in France in 1789. This copy is from the University's Old Library collection, features in the early library printed catalogues and bears the stamp of Queen's College, Galway.


The second chosen title in this display is a modern complete and annotated edition of the Chronicle of the world 1793, commonly known as the Nuremberg Chronicle. This fine edition was published by Taschen in 2001. It is stored in our Special Collections and can be read on request in the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room on the ground floor of the Hardiman Research Building (Room HRB005).