local studies

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.

O'Connell Street...the story of the street and its buildings

O'Connell StreetIn this podcast, architects Klaus Unger and Stephen Kane present a history of Dublin City's main thoroughfare, O'Connell Street, formerly named Sackville Street. Hear about the unique design features of some of its famous landmark buildings and the stories behind them.  Klaus and Stephen outline the origins of O'Connell Street area as it evolved from the tangle of medieval Dublin, before discussing the influence of the Wide Street Commission, Lord Gardiner, and renowned architects Edward Lovett Pearce, Richard Cassels, Gandon and Francis Johnston (Nelson's Pillar).

Dublin Time

Time Ireland ActOn 1 October 1916, just five months after the Rising, Ireland relinquished its individual time zone and adopted Greenwich Mean Time. With the introduction of daylight saving and the end of summertime that year Dublin’s time was aligned to that of London.

Right: Time (Ireland) Act 1916 (click to view larger image)

For 36 years Ireland’s time was set on the longitude of Dunsink Observatory, and was 25 minutes 21 seconds later than Greenwich. This had implications for trade and commerce, as well as communications and travel. Up to the late 19th century time was not standardised and each area set its own clocks. The Time Act of 1880 established Greenwich Mean Time for Great Britain and Dublin Mean Time for Ireland.

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.

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)

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