Dublin City Library & Archive

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)

If ever you go - Francis Ledwidge

 If Ever You Go...A map of Dublin in poetry and songIf ever you should go in search of a song or a poem it is incredible for such a small nation how rich and diverse and consistently good Irish output has been and thus, it is fitting that 2014’s Dublin: One City, One Book title is devoted to celebrating that rich heritage. Available in all Public Libraries and good book shops it is called If Ever You Go – A Map of Dublin in Poetry & Song after the poem by Patrick Kavanagh.

From Dean Swift to W.B. Yeats to J.M. Synge and James Joyce and Patrick Kavanagh to Brendan Kennelly, Dermot Bolger to Eavan Boland, the variety and sensitivity of the Irish poets’ voices have inspired many even beyond our shores. Anyone who has ever heard the late Seamus Heaney reading his poetry can only ever hear his voice reciting thereafter.

If Ever You Go...My Map of Dublin in Song

Bookcover: Noel Purcell: a biography by Philip BryanWhen I think of Dublin in song, the popular ballads that were the soundtrack to my childhood, spring to my mind, the songs I would have heard adults around me singing as they went about their work.

My favourite is The Dublin Saunter. I think of my parents, in their courting days on Grafton Street, when they had less cares in the world. This song was written by a Dublin man for a Dublin man. Leo Maguire (1903 –1985), a Radio Éireann broadcaster who ran weekly radio show, the Walton's Programme for thirty years.  He wrote over one hundred songs, including this one for Noel Purcell (1900–1985).  Noel is fondly remembered for his variations of the role of old sailor with a long white beard, in over fifty Hollywood films in 1950s and 1960s. He was given the Freedom of the city of Dublin where there is a road named in his honour.

If ever you go - My Daddy likes the Dubs

Dublin: One City, One book logoDublin’s Lord Mayor is called Carmencita,
Whose favourite food is tomato pizza.

So wrote Sarah Fallon from Malahide in 1988, in a poem included in an anthology called My Daddy likes the Dubs.  It is one of a number of collections of poetry written by Dublin children which are held in the Special Collections of Dublin City Library and Archive. As this year’s One City, One Book selection highlights poetry based on the theme of Dublin and Dubliners, we took a look at some of these child’s eye views of the city.

My Daddy likes the DubsMy Daddy Likes the Dubs is a collection of children’s verse compiled during the Dublin Millennium by Dublin Public Libraries. During 1988, the city celebrated its 1,000th birthday with a year-long programme of cultural events. At that time the Public Library Service encompassed all the Dublin regions, so the selection – chosen from over 3,500 submissions – includes the work of children from all over Dublin City and County. What is striking about the poems is the delight the children take in their city and their keen observations of their localities. It would be interesting to see if a collection like this, written today, would demonstrate this same knowledge of the geography of Dublin and the same pride in their local area.

The Shamrock – An Seamróg: Ireland’s national symbol

NS-07 Caleb Threlkeld's ShamrockThis weekend many people around the world will be wearing the Shamrock, a tiny plant symbolising the Irish nation. Taoiseach Enda Kenny will present a bowl of Shamrock to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, today. One of the earliest published accounts, Caleb Threlkeld’s treatise on native Irish plants, Synopsis Stirpium Hibernicarum, published in 1726, refers to our national symbol the Shamrock under its botanical name Trifolium Pratense, (White flowered meadow trefoil). There has been much debate about the exact origin of the Shamrock, many people considering it a form of clover. See Charles Nelson's book on the subject. Threlkeld notes its identification by Gerard in his Herbal of 1597. He gives its Irish name Seamar-oge, and refers to people wearing it in their hats on 17th March, St Patrick’s Day. As a clergyman, Rev. Dr. Threlkeld shows his disapproval of the way the people celebrated the day by "wetting the Shamrock".

The illustrations of John Tenniel

Alice in Lewis Carroll's Alice in WonderlandSir John Tenniel died just one hundred years ago, on 25 February 1914, aged 94 (see The Irish Times, Friday 27 February 1914, p.7). Tenniel was chief political cartoonist with Punch, the satirical weekly magazine, but he is best known to generations of children as the creator of the pale blonde Alice in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. He was born on 28 February 1820 in Bayswater in London. He was invited to join Punch by its founding editor, Mark Lemon, at Christmas 1850 and worked there until his retirement in 1901. He was knighted by Queen Victoria for artistic achievements in 1893.

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