Monday, December 19, 2011

Digitised items from the Duddy archive

In the intense and tragic state of modern conflicts, few were as severe as the conflict in Northern Ireland that grew into The Troubles. Lines were drawn which staunchly divided families, communities and cities and which resulted in violence, deaths and a history between Ireland and Britain that would forever be remembered solely as a dark time in our shared consciousness.
Throughout twenty years of violent conflict in Northern Ireland a secret channel of communication linked the IRA to the highest levels of the British government. At the heart of this channel was a single intermediary, Brendan Duddy. His house was the venue for secret negotiations between the British Government and the IRA throughout 1975. He managed the intense negotiations over the Republican hunger strikes in which ten men died (1980-1981) and he was at the heart of the contacts (1991-1993) that culminated in a secret offer of a ceasefire that was a precursor to the public IRA ceasefire of 1994.
Deposited at NUI Galway in 2009, the papers of Brendan Duddy provide a unique insight into this channel from the perspective of an individual who operated at the intersection of the two sides. They include coded diaries of contact kept by Duddy throughout 1975 and early 1976 and a diary kept for several months in 1993 when communication between the British Government and the IRA was at its most intense, as well as documents exchanged between the British Government and the IRA. Taken together with the Ruairí Ó Bradaigh papers, also at NUI Galway, these archives  provide a window on the secret back-channel negotiation that was one of the most intriguing aspects of the Irish peace process.
To mark the launch of this incredible collection of papers, the James Hardiman Library has digitised a selection of items from the Duddy Archive. Three documents are taken from three key times in Duddy’s intervention between the IRA and the British government. The first item dates to 1975 as an initial cease fire was negotiated. Second, from 1980/81 marks a period when Duddy listed code words used during telephone conversations between the British Government, the IRA hungerstrikers in the Maze prison and the IRA council. The third represents a period of the early 1990’s when Duddy was again called upon as discussions focused on the Provisional IRA and Sir Peter Brooke, the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
To view these documents in full from the Duddy Archive held at the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, please click here:
This video is an interview with Brendan Duddy discussing the role of an intermediary: 

For more on the Archives of James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway click here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Looking back on "'Tis Pity She's a Whore"

Now on in Dublin’s Project Arts Centre is The Making of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore”, a reworking of the John Ford-written 17th century darkly thrilling drama. The original play, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore deals with the hidden and lustful desires of one man for his sister in the 17th century Italian city of Parma. This modern staging of the play places the action on a film set and works the themes of the original around this engaging twist which is being staged by Siren Productions and directed by the Irish Times Award-Winning director, Selina Cartmell.
The play itself certainly has a chequered and daring history, finding itself almost forgotten from the collected works of John Ford as early as the mid-17th century. Interestingly, the play received a full production from Druid Theatre from June to July 1985. Staged at Druid Lane Theatre in Galway and directed by Gary Hynes, the play featured a strong cast and featured the talents of Pat Leavy, Malcolm Douglas, Marie Mullen, Mairéad Noone, Ciaran Hinds, Maelíosa Stafford, Séan McGinley, Jane Brennan, Ray McBride and Darragh Kelly. 

The Druid Theatre Archive here in the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, holds a rich record of this production that includes programmes - which detail cast lists, headshots, productions credits and an article detailing thoughts on the play written by author John Banville - entitled "In the teeth of the whirlwind"; posters, photographs flyers, invitations, tickets and play posters. There are also many press reviews and articles from regional, local and national press. This unique collection of play records and ephemera is a fantastic research resource and provides an insight into how one of Ireland’s premier theatre companies staged a work over twenty-five years ago which has now found its place back on a major Irish stage.
The files T2/121 – 125 and T2/380 relate directly to this Druid production and their descriptions and details can be viewed on the Druid Archive online catalogue:

For more on the current production of The Making of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore by Siren Productions see

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spotlight on Douglas Hyde, First President of Ireland

As Irish people go to the polls to elect the ninth President of Ireland, the Archives and Special Collections of N.U.I. Galway are delighted to present records and memories of our first President, Douglas Hyde/Dubhghlas de hÌde.  Hyde (1860–1949) was born near Castlerea, co. Roscommon, on 17 January 1860, the third son and fourth child of the Revd Arthur Hyde (c.1820–1905), rector of Kilnactranny, co. Sligo, and his wife, Elizabeth (1834–1886), daughter of the Ven. John Orson Oldfield, archdeacon of Elphin.
Douglas Hyde was Hyde was inaugurated as the first President of Ireland on 26 June 1938, in the first inaugural ceremony in the nation's history. An account from The Irish Times dated 27 June 1938 reads:

“In the morning [Dr Hyde] attended a service in St. Patrick's Cathedral presided over by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Gregg. Mr. de Valera and his Ministerial colleagues attended a solemn Votive Mass in the Pro-Cathedral, and there were services in the principal Presbyterian and Methodist churches, as well as in the synagogue. Dr. Hyde was installed formally in Dublin Castle, where the seals of office were handed over by the Chief Justice. Some 200 persons were present, including the heads of the Judiciary and the chief dignitaries of the Churches. After the ceremony President Hyde drove in procession through the beflagged streets. The procession halted for two minutes outside the General Post Office to pay homage to the memory of the men who fell in the Easter Week rebellion of 1916. Large crowds lined the streets from the Castle to the Vice-Regal Lodge and the President was welcomed with bursts of cheering.”

The Archives and Special Collections of the James Hardiman Library, N.U.I. Galway offers a rich account of the personal as well as professional life of our first president. Some of the most precious items are those which were bequeathed by Douglas Hyde to NUI Galway on his death in 1949. The Lamhscribhinní Dubhghlas de hÌde are 116 items of manuscripts relating to Irish language, folklore and culture that Hyde collected over the course of his life. They range in date from 18th to 20th centuries. During a year-long project involving the James Hardiman Library and the Irish Script on Screen project, eleven of manuscripts were digitised and are fully available online here. Pictured is an example of the manuscript text and is taken from LS de hÌde 7. These digitised manuscripts are a vital resource for any researcher in the field of Irish language and culture and is a testament to Hyde’s own dedication to Irish language.

 Also in the archives is a letter written by Hyde (Ref - G29) Hyde on behalf of Connradh na Gaeilge in [1912]. The letter is signed “An Craoibhín' (Douglas Hyde), Connradh na Gaeilge, Baile Átha Cliath”, to Miss Anna Nicol, Parkhead, Glasgow, and is an appeal for donations for a fund for 'teaching and propagandist work in the Gaeltacht'. (2 items)
A hand-written poem (Ref G30) of 26 lines entitled 'Don Dochtuir Seóirse Sigerson' by Douglas Hyde, is a warm tribute to an old friend of his, Dr. George Sigerson and is written in a traditional declamatory style and dates from [1922].
A bound volume of photographs features the Hyde family during the 1890s. All of the photographs are taken at Frenchpark, County Roscommon and the subjects are mainly Douglas Hyde and his family, other family members including his father, family pets and Douglas Hyde with locals. There are sixty-six images in total and the photos show Hyde in relaxed shots and rural locations and offer an insight into the personal life of the then future president.
Material relating to Hyde also features in the Morrisroe Connolly Collection (G37) Tom Morrisroe was a close friend of Hyde and was also from Roscommon. Morrisroe joined An Garda Sìochana and served in Mayo and Galway until his death in 1954. The collection features hundreds of letters between Hyde and Morrisroe, photographs of Hyde and press cuttings of Hyde’s tour of America in 1906.
The Bairèad collection (G3) also held by the James Hardiman Library relates to three members of the Bairèad family of Roscommon who were involved in Irish language and cultural movements. This collection features series of letters between members of the Bairèad family and Douglas Hyde and others such as Padraic Pearse and Eoin McNeil.
The James Hardiman Library also holds numerous original published works of drama, poetry and essays by Douglas Hyde. Examples include Hyde’s 1902 play An Posadh, Maistín an Bheurla (An Maighistir Sgoile), An Cleamhnas  and Casadh an tSúgáin.
For a full search of our library holdings of Hyde material and other papers relating to the first President of Ireland click here. For archives and manuscript material, visit the Archives homepage.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Frank Bailey Papers

Cataloguing has begun on the Frank Bailey papers here at NUI Galway Archives. Bailey was born in Galway in 1938 and educated at Castleknock College and University College Galway. During his time as a student, he was a producer with the Dramatic Society for three years. After graduating he worked with Radio Éireann as an actor and producer before establishing his own dramatic company and staging works such as The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams and The Caretaker by Harold Pinter. With the Abbey Theatre he produced The Colleen Bawn by Dion Boucicault. He also worked with the Eblana Theatre and adapted plays for radio. 

He is probably best remembered for his work with the Celtic Art Theatre in Galway in 1971. It was the first majot attempt to bring professional English language theatre back to Galway. Through his work at that time he sowed the seeds amongst a young generation of actors in UCG (and elsewhere) which later resulted in the rejuvenation of DramSoc at UCG, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe and ultimately, the Druid Theatre Company.

Frank Bailey died at a tragically young age in a car accident. Through making available his personal papers, we strive to both honour his memory and contributions to theatre in Galway and beyond, as well as adding to our resources for researchers.

Sarah Poutch

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rare 1691 edition of London Gazette now in NUI Galway Archives, James Hardiman Library

Pictured at the presentation of an original 1691 edition of the London Gazette which features an account of the Battle of Aughrim by Cllr Norman Morgan to NUI Galway (l-r): Councillor Norman Morgan; President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne; and John Cox, University Librarian at the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway.

NUI Galway has been presented with a rare edition of an historically significant newspaper to the James Hardiman Library, through the donation from a private collection of the original 1691 edition of the London Gazette which features an account of the Battle of Aughrim.
The donation, from the personal collection of Councillor Norman Morgan, an East Galway collector, contains a copy of the London Gazette, 16-20 July 1691, issue 2680, which includes an account "From the Camp" of the Battle of Aughrim.

Speaking at a special presentation ceremony, Councillor Morgan explained: “The London Gazette of the 16th July, 1691 is the most important item in my personal library. It contains a report of the Battle of Aughrim while the battle was in progress. It states of the Irish troops: “some of their Horse are retired in a body to Loghreah, and that most believe St. Ruth was killed.” Loughrea is where I was born and lived all my life, and, St. Ruth is buried in the Old Carmelite Abbey in Loughrea. This newspaper, printed 320 years ago, 25 years after the first newspaper ever printed in Britain or Ireland, adds to its importance. My paper, while the contents are identical to those in the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and Trinity College Library papers, has a different layout, which proves that there were two printings.  My paper has “The Battle of Aughrim” on the top of page 2, whereas “Hague, July 24”, is on the top of page 2 of the NLI and TCD copies and on the internet. The other difference between these two copies is the use of the capital letter, punctuation marks and spelling, which, in my opinion are more correct in the NLI, TCD and internet papers. This proves that my paper is the original, i.e. first printing.”

Councillor Morgan added: “I have served the people in Loughrea as their Town Commissioner/Councillor Loughrea for 39 years.  My vote of 2.9 quotas is the highest ever; the Commissioners were established in 1862.  I know that I could never thank the people enough in one lifetime, so, through my research, my publications and gifts from my library to other libraries: NLI, NUI Galway, British Library and many other libraries, I give benefit even to generations yet unborn.  A gift to a public library is a gift to everybody.
According to Dr Pádraig Lenihan of the Department of History at NUI Galway, and a highly-regarded scholar of the period who has published extensively on the Battle of Aughrim and Irish military history: “This issue of the London Gazette, written while the smoke still hung over the field, vividly describes what was probably the bloodiest and most decisive battle in Irish history. ‘Aughrim’s Dread Disaster’ was an event of national and international importance but it has a special resonance for County Galway and it is entirely appropriate that the University should build a first-class collection of sources relating to this event and to the Jacobite War in general.”

Last year, Councillor Morgan was recognised by the University with an Honorary MA as a renowned historian and book collector, community activist and Loughrea Town Councillor. Councillor Morgan previously donated 13 rare issues of the Galway Independent from the 1820s to the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway and 157 rare editions of the Dublin Evening Mail which dated from 5 February, 1838 to 31 December, 1855 to the Dublin City Library.

John Cox, University Librarian at the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, said: “It will be a privilege for the Library to hold this edition and I have no doubt that scholars will make good use of it as a very valuable primary document from an important period in Irish history. It is especially gratifying to see this significant document remain in Co. Galway and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Councillor Morgan.”

The donation will be held in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway, home to a range of theatre, literary, historical and political archives. Collections include the archives of the Druid and Lyric Players Theatres and of Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe; the literary papers of John McGahern and Thomas Kilroy; the Huston Archive and original documents relating to the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Northern Ireland 'Troubles'.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Celebrating Flann O'Brien

Flann O’Brien- an exhibition 
To mark the centenary of Flann O'Brien's birth this week there is an exhibition of material relating to his life and work in the James Hardiman Library foyer.  Using material from our extended library and archivs collections you will find 
on display early editions of An Béal Bocht, a rare copy of a Margaret Gillan a play translated into Irish from Brinsley MacNamara's orginal Margaret Gillan.  Also included in the exhibition are contributions by Flann O'Brien to an early edition of The Bell, extracts from his famous Irish Times column "Cruiskeen Lawn". From our archival collections there is an original copy of the script of a play The Dead Spit of Kelly which was submitted by O'Brien to the Lyric Players Theatre in Belfast under his real name Brian O’Nolan, and from our official publications collection a copy of an infamous report O'Nolan wrote in his capacity as a civil servant into a fire in St. Joseph's Orphanage, Cavan. For more on the script of the Dead Spit of Kelly read this blog post by the Lyric Theatre archvist Sarah Poutch: Flann O'Brien and the Dead Spit of Kelly

Friday, September 16, 2011

Culture Night 2011 at NUIG Archives and Special Collections

For Culture Night 2011, the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway will be opening up and exploring their unique literary, theatre and landed estates archives. 

To mark the first involvement of NUI Galway Archives and Special Collections in Culture Night we are delighted to put on a programme of events that will share these wonderful archival collections. 
At 7pm Special Collections Librarians Marie Boran and Brigid Clesham will talk about their new project, the Irish Landed Estates Database, an incredible resource for those interested in tracing their family history or looking at the history of the landed estates of Ireland. 

At 8pm, Fergus Fahey, Institutional Repository and Digitisation Librarian, will discuss the personal archive of writer John McGahern. Having catalogued the McGahern Archive, Fahey will deliver a detailed and insightful overview of this wonderful collection of hand-written novels, drafts, stories and correspondence, created over a lifetime’s work by one of Ireland’s most celebrated and intriguing writers.

The evening will be topped off at 9pm by screenings from the award-winning DruidSynge series. Described by The Irish Times, as “one of the greatest achievements in the history of Irish Theatre”, Galway’s Druid Theatre undertook the mammoth task of staging all works of playwright J.M. Synge. Here, you can enjoy two of these works, Riders to the Sea and The Shadow of the Glen

All events are taking place in the Patrick Fottrell Theatre, Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway, next to the James Hardiman Library. A free shuttle bus service will be available on the night to bring guests to and from Culture Night venues. For more information and updates on the NUI Galway Archives and Special Collections programme for Culture Night, contact, follow on Twitter: @nuigarchives , Theatre Archives blog or go to our homepage

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Siobhan McKenna's first press review?

[James Hardiman Library Archives,
Siobhan McKenna Papers, T20/368]

From 16th to 23rd November 1941 Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, the Irish language theatre based in Galway, staged a production of Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Translated by S.L O Suilleabhain and directed by Walter Macken, it had been planned that the Taoiseach, Eamonn de Valera, would have attended the opening night. Founded in 1928, An Taibhdhearc had founda new lease of life from 1939 with the appointment of Walter Macken as director, who also took the lead in this play.

[James Hardiman Library Archives,
Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe Collection, T1/D/76.]

Siobhan McKenna had just started her Arts degree in U.C.G. and had acted in An Sciursa Bhan by Karl Capek the previous June and An tImpire Mac Seoin by Eugene O'Neill in September, but this was her first major role with the theatre. Later, when she went for auditions in the Abbey in 1945, and Ernest Blythe asked her for an impromptu speech in Irish, it was one from this role she performed.