local studies

Birth of the Republic

Irish RepublicAs a history student it is invaluable to gain experience working with and handling original materials and documents. I am in the fortunate position of being an intern in 2016 when there is a massive appetite among the general public for images, documents, accounts and evidence from a century ago. It is not just historians and academics that are looking into the past but people researching their family trees and examining what went on in their local areas.

Therefore to be involved, in a small way, in helping to put together what images and information will be disseminated online in a collection about the 'Birth of the Republic' has been a real thrill. The centenary of the Easter Rising this year means different things to different people but as we begin to commemorate 1916-1923, we enter a period of anniversaries that led to the Republic we have today.  

The 19th Annual Sir John T. Gilbert Lecture

Gathering firewood(Podcast) "The women were worse than the men: crime in Dublin in 1916", the 19th Annual Sir John T. Gilbert Lecture, was given by Pádraig Yeates at the Dublin City Library and Archive on Thursday, 21 January 2016, at 6:00pm.

Pádraig Yeates is a journalist, trade union activist and distinguished social and labour historian. He is an expert on the history of Dublin in the early decades of the 20th century. He is best known as the author of a series of books on Dublin in the revolutionary period as published between 2000 and 2015: A City in Wartime: Dublin 1914-1918, A City in Turmoil: Dublin, 1919-192 and A City in Civil War : Dublin, 1921-1924. He is the author Lockout, the standard work on the great 1913 labour dispute in Dublin. 

Listen to the lecture

Tylers Boots

Tylers BootsThere is a wonderful series of advertisements for Tyler's Boots in the humorous journal Lepracaun Cartoon Monthly 1905 - 1915.

Tylers' Boots was established about 1861 in Leicester, which was the major footwear manufacturing centre of the time. It expanded all over Britain and crossed the Irish Sea to Dublin in the 1880s. It first appears in the Thom's Official Directory in 1886. John Tyler and Son's flagship store was located at 29 North Earl Street. Their Sackville Street premises are first mentioned in the 1902 Thom's Official Directory. Thomas Fitzpatrick's Lepracaun Cartoon Monthly Office was located a few doors down from Tyler's Boots at 6 Upper Sackville Street.  Fitzpatrick regularly supported his neighbours' business by featuring full-page advertisements of their footwear.

Elsie McDermid's 1916 Letter

Elsie McDermidOn Wednesday, 27th May 2015, Dublin City Council's Public Library Service took possession of a copy of a rare eye-witness account of the outbreak of the 1916 Easter Rising. The account was in the form of a letter written by Elsie McDermid (seen on the right), a popular opera singer of the era, to her mother in England on the occasion of Elsie's visit to Dublin. She was in Dublin to perform in Gilbert and Sullivan shows at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. However, the performances were cancelled as a result of the dramatic outbreak of the Easter Rising on Monday 24th April 1916. Elsie wrote a 26-page letter and in it she related, among other things, the digging of trenches in St. Stephen’s Green and eye-witness accounts of the first casualties on the streets of Dublin.

Elsie letter

Visit the 'Elsie McDermid Letter' Image Gallery or view PDF version below.

The letter, which includes Elsie’s hand-drawn maps of Dublin during the Rising, now forms part of a personal 1916 archive owned by Elsie’s nephew Colin McDermid.

#onthisday 1931 Death of Harry Clarke

Harry ClarkeOn this day (6th January) in 1931 the death took place of Dublin-born stained glass artist and illustrator Harry Clarke, aged 41.  While considered one of Ireland’s greatest stained glass artists, he also illustrated a number of books for both children and adults in his characteristic, highly stylized manner. Indeed a fine collection of books illustrated by him is held in the Dublin City Libraries' Special Collections.

750th anniversary of Dante's birth

DanteDante Alighieri was born in Florence in the summer of 1265, 750 years ago. He is recognised as Italy's foremost poet for his masterpiece 'La Divina Commedia'. As well as being a poet, philosopher and linguistic theorist, he was active in Tuscan politics. After political upheaval in Florence in 1301 he was forced to leave the city, never to return. He died in Ravenna in 1321.

Much of Dante's work is addressed to Beatrice, his unattainable love. She is a compelling presence in his Vita nuova, a sequence of lyric poems, and the Divina Commedia. Like Shakespeare's 'dark lady' Beatrice's identity has been debated over the centuries. She is now thought to be Beatrice Portinari who died in Florence in 1290.

A Dublin Eye - The Stafford Image Collection

De ValeraThis image gallery shows a selection from the photographs and slides of the amateur photographer, William Stafford.  He took most of these pictures during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The collection contains a great variety of images, from the imposing form of Queen Victoria in the days after she was moved from her plinth outside Leinster House, to the derelict courts and alleys of the mid-20th century city. There are images here of Nelson’s Pillar just after the explosion of March 1966, the old Queen's Theatre, of flower sellers and fishmongers and street urchins. Many of the places he photographed,  such as Hospital Lane in Islandbridge, have now disappeared or  have changed beyond recognition. There are also images of the family business; the Stafford brothers started out importing  coal and salt to their works on Ormond Quay, eventually concentrating on salt importation and packaging.

#onthisday 21st October. Nelson and Trafalgar

Neslon's headOn Monday, 21st October, 1805, a coalition of countries commanded by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated the French and Spanish fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar. During the battle the  Vice-Admiral was shot and killed.

History Calls Time on Clerys

ClockOnly with the recent closing of Clerys do you notice its central role in the history of Dublin. From young lovers meeting 'under the clock' to Joyce's Bloomsday, to the Land League founded there with Parnell elected leader, to Sean Lemass'  'Clerys Speech', it has played a central role in the city, as befitting its location.

Dr Edward Worth (1676-1733)

Thesis title pageDr Edward Worth (1676-1733), a native of Dublin, was a son of John Worth (1648-1688), Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Dr Worth studied at Merton College Oxford before travelling to the University of Leiden to study medicine. Graduating at the University of Utrecht, his doctoral dissertation was on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, a popular text for dissertations at both Leiden and Utrecht. Hippocrates, the most celebrated physician of ancient Greece, is perhaps most famous for giving his name to the ethical doctrine of the medical profession known as the Hippocratic Oath. The early modern period had witnessed a rediscovery of Hippocrates and Worth’s choice of topic was not unusual. He completed his degree, and his medical thesis was published in Latin at Utrecht in 1701.

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