Thursday, May 6, 2021

Remembering Tom Hickey - From the Archives

 

Defender of the Faith by Stuart Carolan,
Abbey Theatre Archive,
 2004. 

The passing of actor Tom Hickey has been met by an outpouring of tributes from those who worked with and who knew him across a range of Irish theatres and companies and in television, over the past five decades. Accounts of Hickey’s career in the theatre, from being a central and founding member of the Focus Theatre in Dublin in the 1960s, to starring performances at Ireland’s major theatres, live long in the memory of all those fortunate to have seen him perform throughout his career.

Within the theatre archive collections of the Hardiman Library, numerous performances by Hickey are documented and digitally preserved today and for future generations. Archives of the Abbey Theatre, the Gate Theatre, and of the Druid Theatre Company, all carry wonderful memories of one of Ireland’s most talented and best-loved performers.

London Assurance by Dion Boucicault. Gate Theatre Archive, 1993.

The archives hold thousands of production photographs from Hickey’s many performances, as well as play programmes, prompt-scripts, press material and many other records that document Hickey’s many roles at the Abbey, The Gate and with Druid. As well as these items, there are hundreds of hours of digitised video recordings of some of Hickey’s most famous roles. Some examples include the recording of The Great Hunger at the Abbey Theatre in 1983; Tom Murphy’s The Gigli Concert at the Abbey in 1983 and later revivals in 1991 and in 2004; Marina Carr’s Portia Coughlan (1996) and  By the Bog of Cats (1998); Brian Friel’s Give Me Your Answer, Do! (1997) and Thomas Kilroy’s Christ Deliver Us!  from 2010. At the Gate Theatre there are recordings of Hickey’s performances in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1988); Aristocrats by Brian Friel (1991), Bernard Farrell’s Stella by Starlight (1998) and Hugo Hamilton’s The Speckled People (2011).

In the Druid Theatre Archive, there is a full recording of Hickey’s celebrated role as Red Raftery in Marina Carr’s On Raftery’s Hill. Other Druid archive records include production photographs, programmes and press material from Hickey’s roles in John B. Keane’s Sharon’s Grave (2003) and from the double-bill of The Playboy of the Western World and The Shadow of the Glen (2008).

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Tom Hickey, Sharon's Grave, 2003
 Druid Theatre Archive.

Overall, there are fifty fully digitised recordings of Hickey’s performances across the archive collections of the Hardiman Library. These images are a small sample of the indelible mark that Tom Hickey left to all those who were part of his audience for over fifty years and how the archive collections of the Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, will ensure Hickey’s many starring roles will be preserved for the future.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, 1988,
Gate Theatre Archive

The Double Dealer by William Congrieve, 1997. Gate Theatre Archive

The Gigli Concert by Tom Murphy, 1991. Abbey Theatre Archive.

Give Me Your Answer, Do! by Brian Friel, 1997. Abbey Theatre Archive

She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith, 1995. Gate Theatre Archive
.
Stella by Starlight by Bernard Farrell. 1998. Gate Theatre Archive

The Great Hunger by Tom MacIntyre. 1983. Abbey Theatre Archive

Rehearsals of On Raftery's Hill by Marina Carr. Druid Theatre Archive. 2000.


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Victorian Britain and Ireland - Sources from Special Collections

 22 January 2021 marked the 120th anniversary of the death of Queen Victoria. The Library has many resources which our readers can use to find out more about life in the Victorian era in Ireland, Britain and around the world. The broad-ranging Cambridge Companion to Victorian culture could be a good starting point. It is available online through the library catalogue.



Some details of the lives of all classes of society can be gleaned from the census returns, taken every 10 years between 1841 and 1901, spanning almost the whole of Queen Victoria’s reign. The Find My Past database, to which the library subscribes, provides access to images and transcriptions of all of these census returns for England, Scotland and Wales. Unfortunately, only the 1901 Census returns for Ireland survive.

Here we see an image of the return for Queen Victoria’s own family from the 1851 census in which Prince Albert is recorded as the head of the household. The census records the ages, occupations, and birthplaces of those resident in each household on census night and can bring alive the nature of family and domestic living at the time.


The extremes of poverty and wealth which characterised the Victorian era are illustrated very vividly in the many government reports published throughout the period. As Ireland was ruled from Westminster at the time many of these include contemporary descriptions of Ireland. Our picture shows the title page of the report into Poor Relief in Ireland in 1886. This and many other commissions travelled around the country taking statements from witnesses. Our second picture shows the names of witnesses who gave evidence to the Commission when it sat at Swineford, County Mayo, on Friday 3 December 1886. Interestingly, the list includes some women. Female voices, especially those who were poor, are infrequently heard in the official record of the day. Their testimony provides stark evidence of how little people had in the West of Ireland at the time.



This and many other parliamentary reports can be accessed through the House of Commons parliamentary papers database on the library catalogue.

By contrast, our Dominican Collection contains a photographic album which sheds light on the lives of landowning families in Scotland at the end of the 19th century. Sr. Louis (Ina) Baird joined the convent in Taylor’s Hill in 1912. These albums belonged to her and illustrate the privileged background in which she had been raised, depicting the country house in Knoydart, where she had been born, as well as images from the family’s extensive travels.



The Victorian era was also a period of new building, not least on our own campus, where the Quadrangle building was begun in 1845 and completed by 1850. A small but highly evocative tangible link to the period for us is the post box just outside the main entrance on University Road. It is characterised by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as of regional importance, having been installed around 1860, and, of course, remains in use.



The Library provides access to several other databases which amplify and contextualise Queen Victoria’s reign with all of its contradictions and offer opportunities for primary source research on a whole range of topics. Among these databases would be Dublin Castle Records, Empire Online, the 19th Century Index, British Periodicals and the British Library Newspapers collection. All of these can be accessed through the library catalogue.