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!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Gate Theatre Digital Archive now available to research at NUI Galway

The digital archive of the Gate Theatre, Dublin, is now accessible in the Archives Reading Room of the Hardiman Building. Comprising a wealth of material in a range of formats and media, the archive and documents of one of Ireland's leading theatres, from the late 1980s to present, is newly open to study and research.
Rosaleen lenihan as 'Mary Tyrone' in Eugene O'Neill's
'Long Day's Journey into Night', (1998)

The scale of the archive and its digitisation ensures it is a vast resource for the study and understanding of plays performed at the Gate but also of Irish theatrical, social and wider cultural history. Already available within the digital archive are over 10,000 photographs, 11,000 press files, 6,500 pages of programmes, over 2,000 pages of play scripts, 1,700 pages of annotated prompt-scripts, 600 lighting designs and wealth of other material such as posters and handbills. Audio-visual material, including video recordings of productions and audio files of sound scores and design, will also be made available over the course of the digitisation project over coming months.

Programme cover of Gate Theatre's Beckett Festival
The archive of the Gate Theatre comprises material mainly from the period 1980-present, during which the theatre has been managed by Michael Colgan. The Gate under Michael Colgan has distinguished itself internationally for its work with two Nobel Prize winners, Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. There is extensive correspondence with both writers, as well as huge detail about productions of their work. This will be of interest not only to Irish theatre scholars, but to people from further afield. There is also extensive archival material relating to other major writers, including David Mamet, Conor McPherson and Brian Friel. Indeed, Friel premiered seven plays at the Gate during the last 20 years of his life.

The Gate also has a long tradition of working with some of the world’s great actors; the archive features material relating to Orson Welles, Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Penelope Wilton, Stephen Rea, Ian Holm, Liam Neeson, Charles Dance, and many others.

By connecting the Gate material to existing archival material at Hardiman Library on the Abbey and Druid theatres, playwright Thomas Kilroy, actress Siobhan McKenna and numerous other collections, NUI Galway’s status as the leading international centre for the study of Irish theatre is further enhanced.

This video provides an overview of the archive and its content.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

'Shakespeare Lives' - Exhibition now on at Hardiman Library

Shakespeare Lives through Kenneth Branagh on Stage and Screen

James Hardiman Library Foyer

16-26 August, 2016

Shakespeare Lives is an unprecedented global programme of events and activities celebrating William Shakespeare’s work on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.

This exhibition celebrates the work of Kenneth Branagh in bringing Shakespeare to life on stage and screen and making the work of the Bard accessible to a global audience.
'Shakespeare Lives' exhibition at the Hardiman Library, NUI Galway

It features rarely seen artefacts from the Sir Kenneth Branagh Archive in Special Collections, the McClay Library at Queen’s University Belfast, which illustrate the actor-director’s remarkable Shakespearean career, from his debut as Henry V with the Royal Shakespeare Company aged just 23 to his Oscar-nominated screen adaptation of Hamlet, and beyond.

The exhibition is part of the programme, Shakespeare Lives across the Island: Conversations and Celebrations - 

It will run throughout 2016, exploring Shakespeare as a living writer who still speaks for all people and nations.

Kindly hosted by James Hardiman Library, National University of Ireland, Galway

Monday, August 8, 2016

Building an Exhibition - Jordan Markey, Research Intern, "A University in War and Revolution"

Experience as Research Intern in ‘A University in War and Revolution, 1913 - 1919‘ Project and Exhibition.

Jordan Markey
My name is Jordan Markey. I have just completed a B.A. in History and Geography in NUI Galway and I am currently starting my studies for the M.A. in History here. In the Spring of 2015 I was made aware of a number of exclusive places for undergraduate history students to get involved in an upcoming exhibition in the university based on the Irish revolutionary period of 1914 – 23. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the three students brought on to assist with the project – the only of which that wasn’t in the final year of their undergraduate students.

My role as a research intern consisted of perusing the variety of collections within NUI Galway’s Special Collections and archives for a range of materials relating to the involvement of University College Galway in nationalism, republicanism and the events of the Easter Rising in Galway. My research brought me to investigate a broad range of materials, such as personal collections, local and national newspapers, manuscripts, witness statements and memoirs. Gathering this material also involved external trips to institutions such as the National Library, National Archives and County Museums. The final phase of my work was to compile a report of what I had discovered, and make a critical assessment of what would be the optimal material and stories to feature in a visual exhibition.
Working on this project has been immensely enjoyable, intellectually rewarding and allowed me to challenge myself academically and personally.

 I have engaged with institutions such as archives, museums and libraries to an unprecedented extent in my academic career so far, leaving them being seen no longer as imposing, closed off spaces, but as very accessible, valuable and versatile places for many different avenues of research and learning. I have also met and forged professional relationships with various historians and archivists, as well as those in librarian and support services both in Galway and throughout Ireland. I have also challenged my critical thinking and research methodologies by being engaged with a project on an unparalleled scale to what I have been involved with before. It was also challenging, yet very exciting, to broaden my research interests by studying an area outside of my personal expertise.

Looking back, I am extremely glad that I decided to get involved in this project. While it was not without the odd hurdle, it was a very fulfilling few weeks and a great learning process for someone like myself who is interested in a career in history. The official launch of the exhibition was a moment of great personal pride and fulfilment for a lot of challenging work. If another such opportunity arose again I would absolutely not hesitate to put myself forward and get stuck right in. I would also encourage anyone in a similar position to myself, or just with an interest in historical studies and practice, to make the most of an opportunity like this.

I would like to extend my thanks to the project co-ordinators, staff in the James Hardiman Library/Special Collections and the History Department of NUI Galway for their guidance, assistance and giving me the opportunity to work on this very worthwhile project.