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