local studies

Jonathan Swift’s garden

Bust of Jonathan SwiftJonathan Swift purchased his garden in 1722 and named it ‘Naboth’s Vineyard’; the name taken from the Bible (1 Kings 21). This garden was situated south of the Deanery of St Patrick’s and originally consisted of a large open field on the south side of Long Lane. In the summer of 1724 Swift spent £600 enclosing the field with a wall to protect his horses; a considerable sum which he afterwards claimed ‘will ruin both my health and fortune, as well as humor.’

Image: Bust of Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift’s library

Jonathan SwiftJonathan Swift was one of the most renowned authors of his day, well known in literary circles in Great Britain and Ireland, and an encourager of fledgling writers. Throughout his life he loved and collected books, he subscribed to books by other authors and purchased the books of his contemporaries. Students of Swift have shown how his reading profoundly influenced his own writing.

Swift’s library was sold after his death, on 3 February 1746, by his friend and publisher, George Faulkner in Essex Street, and the catalogue gives us an insight into the books he owned. His extensive correspondence, published in multi volume editions, shows the extent of his acquaintance and his literary discussions. At the time of his death his library contained 657 lots, a large library for an individual at the time. However, it is known that Swift also read books borrowed from friends, and read in the libraries of Trinity College and Archbishop Marsh.

Swift and Voltaire

Jonathan SwiftAt the end of the 1720s Jonathan Swift was at the height of his literary powers, he had published the best-selling Travels into several remote nations of the world by Lemuel Gulliver (Gulliver’s travels) in 1726, which had run to many editions by the end of the decade, he had written extensively on Irish affairs and was a household name in Dublin and London. Swift was well connected in the literary and social world, he was a friend and correspondent of poet Alexander Pope, and dramatists John Gay and William Congreve.

Image right: Engraved portrait of Swift

Jonathan Swift: freeman of Dublin

Jonathan SwiftIn the winter of 1729 – 1730 Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, was awarded the freedom of Dublin city by special grace. This was the highest honour the city could bestow on him. Members of Common Council put forward the resolution which was agreed unanimously at the Christmas quarterly assembly in 1729. In the citation, quoted in Faulkner’s Dublin Journal on 17-20 January 1729/30, Swift was named as ‘that truly worthy Patriot’.

Image right: Engraved portrait of Swift (click to enlarge)


Dublin: the city and the river

Boat Building and Ship Repair early 20th centuryThe area around the mouth of the River Liffey was inhabited from at least Neolithic times by farmers and fishermen. By the 8th century small churches provided the first signs of Christianity, one on the site now occupied by St Audeon’s on the hill above the Liffey. The great arc of Dublin Bay offered an inviting harbour for sea-going vessels, although its sand banks, shallows, slob lands and treacherous currents proved an obstacle to larger shipping in reaching safe anchorage upriver.

View Dublin: the city and the river image gallery.

The Orchestra of St Cecilia Collection: 1995 – 2014

Orchestra of St Cecila logoThe Dublin City Public Library and Archive has recently acquired the Orchestra of St Cecilia Collection, deposited by manager/artistic director Lindsay Armstrong after his retirement and the dissolution of the company at the end of 2014. The collection comprises Armstrong’s comprehensive administrative records.  It documents the detailed practicalities of managing an orchestra and putting on independent concerts. The collection includes concert programmes, posters, flyers, correspondence, programme notes, recordings, soloists and conductor’ biographies and  administrative documents. Access to the collection provides unparalleled insight into the processes involved in professional orchestra and event management from the turn of the twenty-first century through recession times in Dublin. Find out more and view some items from the Orchestra of St Cecilia Collection...

Dublin City Library & Archive formally accepted the donation with a reception on Tuesday 22 November 2016.

Conserving Wide Street Commission Maps 1757-1849

WSC MapListen to Liz D’Arcy talk about conserving the Wide Street Commission Maps. Hear how she painstakingly removed sellotape, cleaned, repaired and strengthened these important maps.   Liz D'Arcy, Paperworks, Studio for Paper Conservation is qualified with an MA in Conservation of Fine Art on Paper. Liz is an accredited member of the 'Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic works in Ireland' (I.C.H.A.W.I) and a member of the 'Irish Professional Conservators and Restorers Association' (I.P.C.R.A).

Between 1757- 1851, the Wide Street Commission had a major impact on the development of the city, transforming it from a medieval city to the Dublin we know today.  Its function was to provide “Wide and Convenient Streets” for Dublin and it had extensive powers to acquire property by compulsory purchase, develop new streets, demolish buildings and impose design standards on building lots which were sold to developers. Dublin City Archives hold the Wide Street Commission Archives, which comprises maps, minute books and drawings. www.dublincityarchives.ie

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.

Memories from the past: Kildare in the 1950s

Kildare sceneKildare is a county that is steeped in rich culture from the horse racing fields of the Curragh to the beautiful canals that flow through villages and towns like Sallins and Athy.  The Grand Canal is an ideal place for activities like angling, boating, canoeing, sailing and rowing, the banks of the canal are very popular for walking and cycling. There are many former churches and castles dotted around Kildare that add to the scenery of this fine Irish county.

St Patrick’s College Maynooth (below, click image to view larger version) was founded in 1795 as a seminary for the education of priests and by 1850 had become the largest seminary in the world.  The Bishops began to look for a site and it was desirable that the college be near Dublin.  This seminary was urgently needed because in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it had not been possible to educate Catholic priests in Ireland.  The chapel, built by public subscription, was initiated by Charles W. Russell, President from 1857 to 1880.  St Patrick’s College also has a university as part of the campus.  Thousands of students from the four corners of Ireland and abroad attend the university each year.

50th anniversary of Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan’s first Dublin concert

Dylan at the AdelphiOn the 5th day of May 1966 Bob Dylan played his first concert in Ireland at the Adelphi Cinema on Abbey Street, Dublin. The Adelphi was then the primary venue for concerts in Dublin and had already held concerts by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

The previous summer Dylan had outraged some of the folk music movement, who had provided his earliest audience, when he appeared at the Newport Folk Festival in July 1965 with an electric backing band. He subsequently toured the United States backed by The Hawks (later re-named The Band) and released Highway 61 Revisited, his first all electric album.