Friday, August 19, 2016

ESSE Conference at NUI Galway - Archive Tours and Exhibition

This week (22 - 26 August) NUI Galway welcomes to campus the 13th conference of E.S.S.E The European Society for the Study of English. The Society is a European federation of national higher educational associations which relate to all fields of study within English and the European study and understanding of English languages, literatures in English and cultures of English-speaking peoples.

The Archives service are delighted to support the conference with two exhibitions of literary works which highlight not only NUI Galway's rich collection of literary archives and special collections, writing in Irish and English from Ireland and the west of Ireland but also a visiting exhibition on-loan from the McClay Library of Queen's University Belfast. We hope conference delegates may take some time among a packed week to see the exhibitions and also take part in the daily lunchtime tour of the Archives.

The exhibition within our Archives and Special Collections Reading Room (Ground floor, Hardiman Building) offers a selection of highlights from our literary collections, such as first drafts and published first edition of John McGahern's acclaimed novel The Dark, known as "The Pit" in its initial writing; first editions of Thomas Kilroy's Booker-prize nominated novel, The Big Chapel; poetry in Irish from Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, letters from the late Seamus Heaney; programmes and images of Druid Theatre Company's many international successes such as its 1986 tour of Synge's The Playboy of the Western World and Tom Murphy's Conversations on a Homecoming. John Huston's film adaptation of James Joyce's short-story The Dead, with its deep Galway connections, is represented through material from the archive of Oscar-winning director, John Huston.

Exhibition in our Archives Reading Room
Also on display is a rare first edition of Cúchulain of Muirthemne by Lady Augusta Gregory, which was published in 1902 and represents a version of old Irish legends worked from oral and written folklore and stories collected by Gregory herself. The portrait of Lady Gregory, painted in 1912 by renowned artist Gerard Festus Kelly, also hangs in our Archives Reading Room.
Portrait of Lady Gregory at NUI Galway

Next to these published works are a wall-mounted display of water-colour sketches, painted by artist and playwright, Jack Butler Yeats. Brother of poet and senator, William, this 'Galway notebook' as it is known, contains many beautiful images of the landscape of the West of Ireland and captures the people, topography and culture of the West, through its fields and stone walls, Norman towers and castles and events such as the Galway Races.

In the foyer of the James Hardiman Library (through the electronic turnstiles) one can find the "Shakespeare Lives" exhibition. Assembled from the papers of celebrated Shakespearean actor and director, Sir Kenneth Branagh, located at the McClay Library of Queens University, Belfast, the exhibition offers a timely examination of the staging and reception of Shakespeare's work in Britain and northern Ireland both on-stage and on-screen.

Throughout the ESSE conference there will be daily lunchtime tours of Archives at 1pm, with a chance to see further material and explore in greater detail the documented heritage of the literary and theatrical collections of the Hardiman library. The meeting point is adjacent to the large 'Video Wall' in the foyer of the Hardiman Building. Please see your conference programme booklet for more information.

Looking forward to welcoming all ESSE delegates to Galway and to the Archives!

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