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News from Nelson: Ships Ahoy!

Nelson's headDear Friends and Fellow-Sailors!

My regular correspondent has asked if I can write about any ships in Dublin City Library & Archive.  As I am the greatest naval general who ever lived (Modest Man Me!) I am only too happy to oblige.

Tucked in among the thousands of books and millions of documents, there are not just one, but two splendid ships.  The first was made in 1230 as part of the Dublin City Seal and is only 95mm in diameter.  It is an image of a medieval ship, known as a cog, at sea and under full sail.  (A cog was built of oak and had one square sail – it was a very popular type of sailing vessel in the 12th and 13th centuries).

Private Patrick Dolan Collection

Private Patrick DolanThe collection of Private Patrick Dolan comes to the Dublin City Library and Archive as a continuation of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association collection. Patrick Dolan joined the 1st Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in July 1908. He served in British colonies in India before being sent on the dreaded Gallipoli campaign. He was wounded while in Gallipoli and was discharged in early 1916. The Private Patrick Dolan Collection highlights the opportunity to travel that existed within the British Army and the horrors and futility of the Gallipoli campaign.

Photo: Detail of photo RDFA/103/11 showing Private Dolan

Restoring a Georgian Dublin Residence

No. 19 North Great George's StreetListen to Harold Clarke's charming account of restoring the beautiful Georgian building, no. 19 North Great George's Street.  When Harold first viewed the house it was suffering from 180 years of dereliction but he recognised its beauty and bought it just three days later.

In this illustrated talk, Harold outlines the challenges he faced during his faithful restoration of the house, its long history,  and the delightful features he uncovered, most particularly its beautiful decorative plasterwork. The before and after photographs offer a fascinating insight into this most successful restoration process. I'm sure you will agree the results are splendid, from the beauty of the friezes and plasterwork in the drawing room and dining room, to the library room with its ceiling painted in the Dublin colours, the 100 stepped staircase, the entrance hall and the garden room.

Dublin Remembers: Stories from the Somme

Somme Exhib launch“Dublin Remembers: Stories from the Somme” exhibition was formerly launched by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr on Friday 21 October 2016.

The Battle of the Somme was a key Allied offensive during World War I.  It began on 1 July 1916 and when it ended 141 days later over one million men had been killed or injured. This included the loss of over 3,500 Irish born soldiers serving in the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) Divisions.

Image: Declan Kettle, grand nephew of Tom Kettle; Dublin City Librarian Margaret Hayes and Senior Archivist Ellen Murphy pictured at the exhibition launch.

The 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme has been marked by a wide range of official and unofficial events throughout Ireland, demonstrating the increased awareness of the significance of the Somme to the people of the whole island of Ireland.  Dublin City Council is committed to making a meaningful and appropriate contribution to the commemorations, complementing but not competing with the national commemorations.

News from Nelson: Rear-Admiral!

Bang BangDear Friends and Fellow-Sailors!

One of my regular correspondents has been in touch with me lately.  Concerned that I am doing too much, he suggested that I appoint a Rear-Admiral to assist me in my work.  After much deliberation, I have appointed Bang-Bang’s Key to this prestigious position.

Mr. Key is highly-experienced as – like me – he was an icon of 1950s Dublin.  He began life as a simple church key, made of brass, locking and unlocking the door.  And then the Key was acquired by Thomas Dudley and his life was changed forever from pious recollection to one of high adventure.  Together they wandered the streets of Dublin, with the Key pointing at passers-by and his owner calling out ‘Bang-Bang’!   Everyone pretended to be shot, injured and killed.  It actually was a game of ‘Cowboys and Indians’ - as in the pictures - with Bang-Bang as the hero and his Key as his gun, his Colt 45 which was known as the Peacemaker. 

Dublin Guild Merchant Roll (1190-1265)

Guild Merchant RollThe Dublin Guild Merchant Roll is a unique survivor in western Europe, both for its early date and for the insight it gives into the society of a medieval city.  The Roll consists of forty-three parchment membranes inscribed with the names of those admitted annually to the merchant guild of Dublin with, for the early years, a record of fines paid on entry. 

The guild members numbered some 8,400 men (and three women) and came primarily from settlements in Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland but also from towns throughout western Europe.  It is perhaps surprising to find the names of merchants from the far reaches of Scandinavia; from Cologne in modern Germany; from Antwerp in present-day Belgium; from Amiens, Bordeaux and Paris in France; from Cordova in Spain; and from Lucca, Florence and Rome in Italy.  These merchants came to Dublin to ply their trade in a city which had, within the previous twenty-five years, been captured and was now a Norman colony.  Many of them were craftsmen with a range of occupations including essential providers such as bakers, butchers, cooks and coopers while also featuring military men such as archers, armourers and knights.  None of them could practise their trade unless they had registered with the Guild Merchant and paid the capitation fee which was usually nine shillings.

The Queen's Theatre

The Queen's TheatreDuring Heritage Week we were fortunate to host award winning writer Cecil Allen's entertaining talk about the colourful history of The Queen's Theatre. In this recording, you can relive the drama of this famous theatre, meet some of the key figures who wrote and performed plays there and hear about the lively audiences who flocked there in their thousands. 

The Queen’s Theatre, located in Pearse Street was originally built in 1829 as the Adelphi Theatre. From its earliest days the theatre celebrated Ireland’s heroes and her historical characters. Figures such as St Patrick, Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet were some of the subjects portrayed in her plays.  The Queen's was known as the home of Irish melodrama, and was associated with key figures of Irish melodrama, including Dion Boucicault, Ira Allen, P.J. Bourke, the first man to sing the Irish National Anthem. In this talk, we are privileged to gain a unique insight into playwright, actor and producer Ira Allen, Cecil Allen's grandfather. An influential  player on the Irish theatre scene, Ira played St Patrick in the popular and innovative, 'Aimsir Padraig / In the days of St Patrick' (1919), notable for being the first bilingual Irish/English silent film.

News from Nelson: Grotesques!

SoldierThe Head from Nelson’s Pillar is on display in the Reading Room of Dublin City Library & Archive.  As Admiral Nelson is a valued member of staff, we have invited him to write his own monthly blog.  This September, Nelson takes a look at our manuscript of the month, The Dublin Treasurer's Accounts 1540-1613.

Dear Friends and Fellow-Sailors!

I have rare times here in Dublin City Library & Archive.  When the rest of the staff go home at 8.00 p.m. I’m still here on my own, and to amuse myself I wander through the strongrooms, looking at documents which are unusual and quirky – and each month I’ll tell you what I found.  Last week I was browsing away and I came across the Dublin City Treasurer’s Accounts 1540-1613.  I know – I can hear you say ‘Bor-ring!’ and at first I thought so too. 

Dublin City Treasurer's Account Book (1540-1613)

GrotesqueOn 16 November 1538, the Monastery and lands of All Hallows were surrendered by Prior Walter Handcocke to Henry VIII as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  The house and lands of All Hallows were granted by the king to the Mayor, Bailiffs, Commons and Citizens of Dublin on 4 February 1539. The lands included properties in counties Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Louth, Tipperary, Kilkenny and elsewhere.  The grant of All Hallows more than doubled the city’s land-bank and led to a reorganization of the Dublin City Treasurer’s office to cope with the increased revenue from leases of All Hallows land.  This, the earliest known City Treasurer’s Account Book begins in 1540 largely as a way of ensuring that all moneys from letting this land bank were accounted for.

Image: Grotesque, City Treasurer's Account Book. Dublin City Library & Archive MR/35 (1540-1613)

Exploring Georgian Dublin

Charlemont HouseThe Georgian period was an important era in the development of Dublin city. Beginning in 1714 with the coronation of King George I and ending with the the death of King George IV in 1830, it has left a lasting impression on the landscape of the city. We immediately think of the Georgian architecture of Mountjoy Square, Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Square and Henrietta Street and of great architects such as James Gandon, Edward Lovett Pearce and William Chambers.

During Heritage Week 2016 we are celebrating this influential era with a free full day seminar, 'Living in Georgian Dublin', which will explore a wide range of topics including the architecture, shops, street paving and the politics of the period. Speakers include Harold Clarke, Liz D'Arcy, Dr Patricia McCarthy, Dr Finnian O'Cionnaith, Dr Sarah Foster, Dr. Diarmuid O Grada and William Cumming.

Image: Charlemont House, Rutland Square. Engraving from the Dublin Penny Journal. View larger image

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