"Doing their bit": Irish women and the First World War

Kate Middleton Curtis"Doing their bit": Irish women and the First World War’ is a new exhibition in Dublin City Library and Archive in Pearse Street. The exhibition centres on the impact that the First World War had on the lives of Irish women and the new opportunities that opened up for them.

Speaking about the exhibition senior archivist Ellen Murphy said  "The role of Irish women in World War 1 is a story that is yet to be fully told. Against the backdrop of the campaign for female suffrage and the struggle for Irish Independence, this exhibition explores how the First World War impacted the lives of Irish women and greatly accelerated the changes which had been slowly taking place in society before the outbreak of war.  By 1918 Constance Markievicz was the first woman elected to the British House of Commons and many Irish women had experienced new economic or social freedoms through the employment and volunteer opportunities offered by the war."

New Opportunity for Theatre Archivist

ITA/131/04/38aDublin City Council invites applications from suitably qualified persons for the position of Theatre Archivist (1-year contract) to work cataloguing collections which are part of the Irish Theatre Archive (ITA).

Photo: Micheál Mac Liammóir with Jimmy O’Dea, Milo O’Shea watching. Irish Theatre Archive: Jimmy O’Dea Collection: ITA/131/04/38a

News from Nelson: Ropery

RopeMarch is always a difficult month for me, as the eighth is the anniversary of when I was blown off my Pillar.  Believe it or not, I’ve had a major headache ever since! So I prefer to dwell on happier times and now I’m thinking instead of when I was first placed on the Pillar.  It was my first view of Dublin, my new home, and when I swivelled my good eye around, I noted with satisfaction that I was looking over the River Liffey and the gorgeous new Custom House, designed by James Gandon (an incomer like myself) and completed in 1791. 

Although the economic boom of Georgian Dublin had vanished with the 1801 Act of Union, as you can see from the attached illustration, the port was still busy with  ships of all descriptions.  A fine place for an old salt like myself to settle down.<--break->

The Redmond-O'Brien Press Gang

RedmondJohn Redmond (1 September 1856 - 6 March 1918) was elected as MP in 1881 and became leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) in 1900. Redmond’s public support for the First World War meant the IPP became associated with the high Irish death toll, as depicted above. By 1918 both the party and Redmond himself were in terminal decline. He died of a heart attack on 6 March 1918 and the IPP was decimated in the election the following December.

Henry Campbell (Town Clerk of Dublin, 1893-1920)

Henry CampbellHenry Campbell was Private Secretary to Charles Stewart Parnell, leader of the Home Rule Party and supported him during ‘The Split’ arising from the controversy over the divorce of Mrs Kitty O’Shea. A native of Kilcoo, Co. Down, where he was born in 1856, Campbell was Home Rule MP for South Fermanagh in 1885 and 1886-92.  But when Parnell died suddenly in 1891, Campbell unexpectedly found himself without a job. He therefore applied for the post of Town Clerk of Dublin, which was the most senior post in Dublin Corporation.  Defeating seven other candidates, he was appointed on 24 May 1893 and, conscious that he did not have a background in local government, he said that he would leave no stone unturned to become a ‘capable and efficient servant in as short a time as possible.’

Meet the Historians in Residence

HistoriansDublin City Council has a team of part-time Historians in Residence working with communities across the city. This public history project began in Spring 2017 under the auspices of the Decade of Commemorations designation within the Council, and the historians work in the five administrative areas of Dublin City  to make history and historical sources accessible and enjoyable for all.

Pictured l-r: Donal Fallon, Maeve Casserly, Cathy Scuffil, Bernard Kelly, Cormac Mooore (view larger photo)

Dublin City Council Historians in Residence are working on all sorts of history events throughout the city including talks, walks, tours, discussions, history book clubs,  blogs, exhibitions and more. They are:

90 Years of The Gate Theatre

Micháel Mac Liammóir and Hilton EdwardsThis year the Gate Theatre is celebrating 90 years since its opening in 1928, a historical and momentous occasion that shaped and changed the theatrical world for Dublin. To commemorate this occasion Dublin City Archives are hosting a seminar Commemorating 90 Years of the Gate Theatre on Tuesday 13 February from 6pm to 8pm at The Conference Room, Dublin City Library and Archive. The seminar will consist of five short illustrated presentations – each about 10 minutes in length, which will focus on different aspects of the Gate’s early history and archival records, followed by panel discussion. Dublin City Archives are also putting together an exhibition for the public to enjoy filled with the history of the theatre and photographs which display the costumes, stage designs and productions from the founders of the theatre Micheál Mac Liammóir and Hilton Edwards.

Image: Micheál Mac Liammóir & Hilton Edwards outside Gate Theatre, 1974 (see larger version) Image courtesy Irish Theatre Archive at Dublin City Library and Archive.

News from Nelson: Flags

VictoryThe first time I was here, flags were an essential part of communication and identity.  I used flags myself on HMS Victory which was the most important ship at Trafalgar and was known as ‘the flagship’.  Most famously, I sent a signal to the rest of the fleet, spelled out in flags and saying: ‘England expects every man to do his duty’.  When I died at Trafalgar – leading from the front as usual – my men were distraught, including 1,800 Irishmen who served with me, of whom 403 were Dublinmen.   My body was packed into a cask of brandy and sent to London for a state funeral at Westminster Abbey, when my coffin was draped with national flags from Victory. The funeral over, my most senior men cut up the flag and divided it among themselves.  Well believe it or not – a large portion of the flag was auctioned last week in London.  The estimates were £80,000 to £100,000 but in the end it fetched £297,000. You see, I continue to be respected and popular.  But oh! if only I had some of that flag myself – I would now be comfortably off, as my overheads are nil!

Manuscript of the Month: The Insect Play

The Insect PlayMicheál Mac Liammóir and Hilton Edwards founded the Dublin Gate Theatre in 1928 and this year its 90th anniversary will be marked with seminars, exhibitions and publications.  It is worth remembering however that the duo had to share the Gate Theatre building with Longford Productions, on a rotating six-month basis.  While Edwards-Mac Liammóir toured in Europe as much as possible while they were temporarily homeless, more often than not they availed of a residency in the Gaiety Theatre. 

Image: Poster advertising The Insect Play (view larger version)

The Insect Play was performed at the Gaiety starting on 22 March 1943.  It answered Hilton and Micheál’s avowed intention to bring the finest and most challenging of European theatre to Dublin.  The original play was written in 1921 in Czech by Karel and Josef Kapek and here it has been translated by Myles na gCopaleen.

Podcast: William Spence Engineering Works Cork Street

William SpenceIn this podcast ‘William Spence: A Victorian engineer in the right place at the right time’, Cathy Scuffil, Dublin City Council Historian in Residence, looks at the history of William Spence Engineering Works Cork Street. 

The Cork Street Foundry and Engineering Works of William Spence and Son was established in Dublin in 1856.  It continued trading over two generations of the Spence family, with no small measure of success until 1930.  The company was situated on a large, circa 3 acre industrial site located at 105 -109 Cork Street, Dublin, on a site that, until the early 1850s, had housed the tanning and currier business of a James O’Neill, who also had a residence at 26 Cork Street.