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News from Nelson: my dear old Friend

Bang BangAs regular readers of my Blog will know, I have made many friends down the centuries – but probably my best friend of all was Bang Bang.  Born as Thomas Dudley, I used to follow his escapades from the top of my Pillar by placing a spyglass to my one good eye.  Such adventures as he had!  ‘Shooting’ people with an old church key – and these to be grown-up adults – well they went down like tenpins shouting and roaring with ‘pain’.  Bang Bang’s inspiration was the Westerns which he saw when he went to the flicks – he was usually admitted free of charge and if he went in the afternoon his young friends were also let in with him.  He fancied himself as a cowboy riding a horse but as he couldn’t afford a horse he went for the next best thing – the buses!   In those days (I speak of the 1950s and early 1960s) the buses in Dublin had an open platform at the back and while the bus was already moving Bang Bang launched himself triumphantly onto the platform and from this his trusty steed he resumed ‘shooting’ calling out ‘Bang Bang’!

A Crackin' New Exhibition Explores the History of Jacob’s Biscuit Factory

Jacob's Biscuits exhibArdmhéara Bhaile Átha Cliath / Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha will officially launch a new exhibition Jacob’s Biscuit Factory & Dublin: An Assorted History, today, Friday, 8 September at 1pm in Dublin City Library and Archive.

Drawing on the vast 330 boxes of Jacob Biscuit Factory Archives held at Dublin City Library, and using beautifully illustrated panels, oral histories, flags and original artefacts, the exhibition tells both a chronological and thematic history of Jacob’s Biscuit Factory. The events of 1913-1922 which impacted on Ireland nationally feature prominently and using the lens of the factory allows the exhibition to provide a unique contribution to the Decade of Commemorations. 

Manuscript of the Month: Reformation 02

Francis TaylorAlderman Francis Taylor was a successful and well-respected member of the municipal government, the Dublin City Assembly.  He was born in Swords, Co. Dublin around 1550, at a time of religious controversy.  The Taylors remained loyal to Rome and did not subscribe to the 1536 Act of Supremacy which declared that Henry VIII and not the Pope was the supreme head of the Church.

Francis Taylor became a merchant and settled in Dublin City, where he had a house in Ram Lane.  He married Gennet Shelton, the daughter of a Dublin merchant, and the couple had five sons and a daughter.  Taylor entered municipal politics, was elected Sheriff of Dublin for the civic year 1586-7 and three years later he was elected Alderman on the City Assembly, a post which he held until his death in 1621.  Taylor was highly regarded for his honesty and financial ability and served as Dublin City Treasurer on seven occasions between 1593 and 1616.  The pinnacle of Taylor’s civic career came in 1595 when he was elected Mayor of Dublin.    As a senior member of the City Assembly, Taylor was asked to travel to London in April 1597, to present a petition on behalf of Dublin Corporation at the court of Elizabeth I.

Manuscript of the Month: Reformation 01

Reformation 01The Monastery of All Saints (usually called All Hallows) was founded by Dermot Mac Murchadha, King of Leinster, in 1166 – it is said, as an act of penance for eloping with Dervorgilla, wife of Tiernan O’Rourke.  It was an Augustinian foundation, and the monastery buildings were situated to the east of Dublin City, outside the city walls.  This was a precarious location, and the monastery and its immediate lands were sacked by the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles of Wicklow on a regular basis.  Nevertheless, All Hallows quickly became the wealthiest monastery in the Dublin area, as it received donations from pious benefactors of land in counties Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Louth, Tipperary and Kilkenny. In 1478, the Prior of All Hallows was appointed as Admiral of the Port of Baldoyle, a most prestigious position. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the surrender of the Priory and lands of All Hallows to King Henry VIII was undertaken by Prior Walter Handcock (16 Nov 1538) with (18 Nov 1538) memorandum attesting to the voluntary nature of the surrender witnessed by Symon Geoffrey, rector of Howth, Thomas Alen, gentleman, and others.  (DCLA/Recorder’s Book, entry No. 12-12a).  It was noted that at the time of surrender there were only four monks in All Hallows.

News from Nelson: Absent Friends

filming nelsonWhen you reach my age – 209 and counting - you start to think about your old friends and long to meet up with them for a chat.  So I was delighted when Ken Dolan called in to see me the other morning. It was an important occasion – we were both being interviewed by the BBC for ‘The One Show’ which is hugely popular.   Nowadays Ken is a distinguished academic at the National College of Art and Design but in 1966 he was an impecunious student there and like many young men he was eager for the craic.  At that stage I had been blown off my Pillar and was nursing my wounds amid the remnants of my dignity, in a Dublin Corporation storage depot. St. Patrick’s Day arrived and it was cold and wet as usual – when over the wall came seven fit young men.  Acting together, they managed to lift me  – I’m really very heavy – and then they scarpered off, bringing me with them.

Manuscript of the Month July 2017: The Mystery of the Summer Islands

Usher IslandIn its natural state, the River Liffey is shallow – the Irish name for Dublin is ‘Baile Atha Cliath’ or the town of the ford of hurdles, which were put down on the river bed to allow people to have a firm footing while wading across.  Further east, the Nightingale Sands, which appeared in summer at the mouth of the Liffey at low tide, were used during the Riding of the Franchises to cross from Clontarf to Ringsend on horseback. 

And again in summer, a varying number of islands appeared in the River Liffey.  These were owned by the then Dublin Corporation which leased them out to citizens who hoped to build the summer islands up and reclaim them. Many of the summer islands appeared in the vicinity of Rory O’More Bridge and are shown on Bernard de Gomme’s 1673 map of Dublin; these were probably sand and gravel banks.  In 1670, the merchant Henry Orson secured a lease of these small islands and in 1685 Phillips’ map of Dublin shows them as a single island with a house – an indicator of Orson’s success in effectively consolidating them.  Orson’s islands were incorporated into the north bank of the Liffey by 1728 and the land is now known as The Esplanade and Wolfe Tone Quay.

News from Nelson: Kismet

Death of NelsonSince I came to live and work in Dublin City Library & Archive, I have been very conscious of being a rough diamond – we naval types were trained to sail and fight around the world, with no opportunity of furthering our education.  So any chance I have to expand my cultural horizons I seize on with enthusiasm. And when a kind invitation arrived from the Gorry Gallery to attend their summer exhibition, I was delighted and rolled around there one evening.

Image: Detail from 'The Death of Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar’ Engraving by Charles William Sharp after Daniel Maclise.

Sinead de Valera

The Emerald Ring by Sinead de ValeraJane Flanagan was from Munster Street in Phibsborough. Born in 1878, she remembered as a young girl following the cortege of Charles Stewart Parnell to Glasnevin. Flanagan’s family had moved to Phibsborough from Balbriggan when her father Laurence, a carpenter, had worked on the refurbishment of St. Peter’s Church. While she was working as teacher at St. Francis Xavier’s school near Dorset Street during 1899 Jane joined the Gaelic League. Thereafter she used the first name ‘Sinead.’

The Emerald Ring by Sinead de Valera.

Flanagan joined Inghínidhe na hÉireann, one of the first nationalist women’s organizations. She also acted in Irish language plays and taught the language to beginners, among them Seán T. O’Kelly, Ernest Blythe and Eamon de Valera. She met de Valera in 1909 and they spent that summer at an Irish college in Co. Mayo. They married in January 1910. By 1916 they had three children and were living in Morehampton Road. <--break->

Tipping off de Valera

de ValeraEamon de Valera was one of the republican prisoners who arrived back in Dublin to a tumultuous welcome on 21 June 1917. Already popularly known as one of the most senior veterans of the Rising, he became a nationwide personality when elected as MP for East Clare on 10 July 1917. At this point de Valera was living in Phibsborough, at the family home of his wife Sinead.

Image: "Irish Rebellion, May 1916. Ed. de Valera (Commandant of the Ringsend Area) Sentenced to Death; sentence commuted to Penal Servitude for life." (see larger version)

Historians in Residence – exciting new public history project

HistoriansDublin City Council has put history and communities at the heart an innovative new project which builds on last year’s commemoration of the 1916 Rising. The centenary of the Rising saw unprecedented engagement with history in the city as hundreds of thousands of citizens, visitors and community groups remembered this pivotal moment in our history.  Now Dublin City Council has recruited six Historians-in-Residence to build on this enormous public interest in history. The historians are working across the city and are talking history with the general public, community groups and schools from now until January 2018 and can be contacted at commemorations@dublicity.ie<--break->.

Historians-in-Residence pictured l-r:  Back row: Brian Hanley, Cormac Moore and Donal Fallon; Front row: Maeve Casserly, Cathy Scuffil and Darragh Gannon

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