Dublin City Library & Archive

1916: The Women Behind the Men

Margaret SkinniderView 1916: The Women behind the Men Image Gallery

For generations, the Easter Rising of 1916 was synonymous with the seven names: Thomas J. Clarke, Seán Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, P. H. Pearse, Eamonn Ceannt, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett. These were the seven signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic: all men and all executed in the days after the Rising, which immortalised them as martyrs of the revolution. The sacrifice of these men was to perpetuate a certain mythology that overtook the actual events of the Easter Rising. The bravery, self-sacrifice and single-minded dedication to Irish independence of these men was, for a long time, all one needed to know about the Rising. Yet, as the centenary of the 1916 Rising approaches, interest has broadened to take in other historical perspectives of the Rising: Who were the other nine men who were executed for their role in the Rising, for example? Who were the rebels and soldiers killed in action during Easter week? What was the experience of those civilians who were killed (more than rebel and British soldiers combined)? And, most importantly for this study, what part was played by women in the Easter Rising and what can the families of those men who died as a result of 1916 tell us about the kind of people they actually were?

Dublin Heritage: The life history of a city

GPOWhen the Vikings founded the city in the ninth century in the area of the “black pool” (Dubh Linn in Irish) where Dublin Castle is today, they started what would later become the capital of Ireland and the largest city in the country. Dublin is a key to understanding Ireland; the history of this city helps us to better understand the history of the whole of the country, its development, its cultural features, its social composition and the political peculiarities in Ireland.

View Dublin Heritage: the life of the City image gallery

While we are walking through the streets of the city and we see the historical buildings and places, we realise the cultural wealth that this city has to offer. Nothing remains visible from the period before the Viking settlement except what you can see in the collections, exhibitions or museums in the city (the most important being the National Museum in Kildare Street). But it was with the Vikings, as we said before, that the city began its development. They ruled the city until 1014, when they were defeated by the Irish King Brian Boru in the famous Battle of Clontarf, near Dublin. Although they had lost their political supremacy, they remained in the city some more years with commerce as their principal activity. Then Ireland was invaded by the Anglo-Normans and in 1171, Diarmait Mac Murchada, King of Leinster, and Strongbow conquered Dublin and expelled the Vikings from the city. The following year Dublin received a City Charter from King Henry II; it was the beginning of the English rule of Ireland. Then Dublin Castle, built in 1204 by direct order of King John of England, became the centre of English power.

The Yeats Sisters and the Cuala Press

YC001 Dawn SongView The Yeats Sisters and Cuala Press Image Gallery

At the same time as the Celtic Revival during the late 19th - early 20th centuries, the Arts & Crafts Movement was making its way across Europe. This movement saw an international increase in the making and purchasing of handmade things and included ‘cottage industries’ such as stained glass, woodworks, ceramics, tapestries, and more. The Yeats family, in particular, was greatly involved in several aspects of both the Celtic Revival and the Arts & Crafts Movement. While W.B. was making his mark in the literary world and Jack was working as an artist and illustrator, the Yeats sisters, Lily and Elizabeth, were running their own businesses.

What's Cooking?

A sophisticated afternoon tea as shown in "Monica's Kitchen."The popular culture of the 21st century is obsessed with food – one has only to take a look at the TV listings of any evening during the week to see the proof of this. Cooking has become something of a spectator sport, with teams and individuals battling for victory. We have seen grown men weep because their muffins have turned out badly and refined, elderly ladies swear violent revenge on their rivals in the kitchen.

It is also a truism that Ireland’s relationship with good food and cooking as an art form is a relatively recent one. The days when potatoes and two veg were the staples of restaurant fare, an omelette was the sole “vegetarian” option and cream cheese on crackers considered the height of fine dining are not all that far away. But a closer look at the cookery section of the material held in the Special Collections of Dublin City Library and Archive throws up some surprises. While there are indeed many books containing recipes for boiled sheep’s head and boxty, it is obvious that even in the dark years of the Sixties and Seventies there were some cookery writers who were trying to introduce Irish cooks to a more international and adventurous cuisine.

Life-Long Learning Courses at Dublin City Library and Archive

Front Cover of Oral History Brochure

The Lord Mayor’s Certificate in Oral History, and the Lord Mayor’s Certificate in Local Studies are two courses, run by Dublin City Archives, which are offered to the public as part of Dublin City Council’s commitment to life long learning. Applications are now being accepted for both courses for the 2014-2015 academic year, with bursaries also available.

The courses will appeal to anyone who has an active interest in history, and want to learn how to engage with a variety of different research methods and sources, and to write up their findings in the form of a dissertation/research project.

Ann-Louise Mullhall, one of the participants on the Lord Mayor’s Certificate in Oral History in 2013-2014 has kindly provided us with a review of the course:

Remembering Irish Men and Women who served in the First World War

Royal Dublin Fusilers BadgeThe Imperial War Museum has just launched a new project to create a permanent digital memorial to every man and woman who served in the First World War.   This ambitious undertaking asks members of the public to share the life story of any relative they have uncovered who served in World War 1.

If ever you go - Katherine Tynan 'Sheep and lambs'

Sheep and lambs by Katharine Tynan'Sheep and lambs', this charming poem always cheers me up because spring is my favourite time of year, and Easter is my favourite festival, and when I read this poem, or hear it being sung or recited, it brings to my mind a time of beauty, hope and renewal.

It also transports me back to a sunlit classroom, the day before I was to go home for my Easter holidays, when one of my teachers read this poem to the class. It was the first time I had ever heard it and so, for me, it will always be associated with thoughts of home, family and childhood Easters.

If ever you go - Dublinesque by Philip Larkin

Postcard of O'Connell Street DublinIn the early 1950s (1950-1955) the English poet Philip Larkin lived in Belfast, where he was working as Librarian in Queen’s University. While there he made a number of visits to Dublin.

During this time he wrote many of the poems which made up his first major collection The Less Deceived (1955). The proposed collection was rejected by several English publishers, leading Larkin to submit it to the Dublin based Dolmen Press in 1954. But they also declined to publish it. Despite this rejection and a generally negative view of Dublin, expressed on a number of occasions to friends (“I prefer Belfast to Dublin - not architecturally of course, but architecture isn’t everything.” Selected Letters of Philip Larkin, P182), he retained enough memories of the place to evoke it in a later poem ‘Dublinesque’.

If ever you go - Grafton Street 1772

Rocque's Map of 1765, showing Grafton StreetSamuel Whyte founded the English Grammar School at 75 Grafton Street in 1758 and he became one of the most influential teachers of 18th-century Dublin. His plan of education was inclusive: he aimed to give the best education to both boys and girls, Catholics and Protestants. Related by marriage to Thomas Sheridan, poet and theatre manager, Whyte benefited from Sheridan’s patronage and his network of friends when he first set up his academy. Whyte put special emphasis on poetry and public speaking, his students were required to perform in a play as part of their annual examinations. His success can be measured in the careers of his students, he was the teacher of Thomas Moore, the poet, John O’Keeffe, the actor and dramatist, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the dramatist, and Robert Emmet, the patriot, renowned for the eloquence of his speech from the dock.

If Ever You Go...to Louis MacNeice's Dublin

Book cover: Collected Poems by Louis MacNeiceI was delighted to discover that this year's One City, One Book, If Ever You Go, A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song, includes one of my favourite poems, entitled Dublin by Louis MacNeice. This poem may seem like an odd choice, as MacNeice paints a picture of a city in decline, however, Dublin at this time, with 'her seedy elegance', (p. 8) holds a great fascination for me.

Anyone with an interest in genealogy, who has used census returns or street directories such as Thoms, will immediately recognise MacNeice’s Dublin. His description of a Dublin tenement with its,

…bare bones of a fanlight,
over a hungry door
. (p. 7)

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