local studies

James Thomas Dowling: Dublin’s County Librarian and the Rising

James Thomas DowlingA native of Dublin’s north inner city, ‘Tom’ Dowling was recruited in 1915, aged sixteen, to the Dublin Corporation Libraries as a junior library assistant, having achieved second place in the Libraries examination.  His first assignment was to Capel Street library under Tommy Gay, who by that time was Capel Street Head Librarian. Dowling later transferred to the Dublin county libraries and by 1931 had progressed to the top post of Chief Librarian for Dublin County, a role in which he served with distinction until his death in office in 1966.

Image: James Thomas Dowling (1899 to 1966)

Dublin City’s Second Chief Librarian and the Rising

Paddy StephensonA native of Dublin’s north inner city, ‘Paddy’ Stephenson (known to his family as ‘Paddy Joe’) was educated by the Christian Brothers at the O'Connell School, North Richmond Street.   By late 1911, he sat and achieved second place in the Dublin libraries examination, in line with the system then in place of recruiting the ‘best and brightest’ sixteen year old boys as library assistants.  By January 1912 he began his long and distinguished career in the city’s public libraries, assigned initially to the Thomas Street branch; by 1950 he achieved the top post as the city’s second Chief Librarian, succeeding Róisín Walsh.

Image: Patrick Joseph Stephenson (1895 - 1960). Image courtesy of Jimmy Stephenson, grandson of Paddy Stephenson.

Dublin City’s first Chief Librarian and the Rising

Róisín WalshA native of the Clogher Valley in Co. Tyrone, Róisín Walsh was born into a staunchly nationalist, Catholic family on 24th March 1889.  Walsh was a brilliant linguist and gifted scholar and received the best education then available to females.  She went on to become a teacher (she later switched career to librarian).  By 1914, due to the outbreak of the Great War, she had returned to Ireland from a teaching post in Germany.  From that time she was based in Belfast as a lecturer in Irish and English at St. Mary’s Training College (then a primary school teacher training college for Catholic women).

Image: Róisín Walsh (1889 - 1949)

9th June 2016 marks International Archives Day #IAD2016

Charter of Henry IIThe celebration is a global opportunity for archivists to connect with colleagues, donors, users, volunteers, partners and decision makers as well as the public at large. Archive services around the world will be tweeting using #iad2016 on International Archives Day, and we thought we would join in the fun at our twitter handle @dclareadingroom.

Image: Charter of Henry II 1171/72, the earliest Norman document in Ireland

Dublin City Archives has been providing an archive service to the city of Dublin since 1980 and has a acquired a huge number of archival treasures dating from 1171. The records relate to civic administration, theatre, archaeology, business, sport, landed estates, oral history and much more.  Researchers are welcome to delve into our collections at Dublin City Library and Archive Reading Room under the watchful eye of Nelson’s Head. For those who won’t have an opportunity to visit us in person, we have created a slide show of some of our more unusual items:

The Capel Street Librarian and the 1916 Rising

Tommy GayA native of Dublin’s inner city, 'Tommy' Gay was educated at Synge Street CBS. His early life coincided with the political and cultural revival of the late nineteenth century and he became very active in a range of sporting and cultural organisations, including the GAA and the Gaelic League.  A keen sportsman, he was a member of the Croke Gaelic Club where he became an accomplished hurler and was also a founder member of the Dublin Camogie Club.

Right: Thomas E. Gay (1884-1953)

As Gay himself later explained it, these organisations ‘gave impetus and new life to the revolutionary movement’.  He started in the Corporation libraries as a library assistant at the then newly-opened Charleville Mall Library in line with the practice of recruiting 16 year old boys.  By April 1916 he was already a mature 32-year-old man, established in his career as Capel Street Head Librarian and engaged to be married.

Yeats and Dublin - its people and places

YeatsDid you know that W.B. Yeats was born in Dublin?
That his family were resident in Howth and Terenure during his teenage years?
That he lived for substantial periods of his life in Merrion and Fitzwilliam Squares?
That his family and many of his closest friends were staunch Dubliners?
That his final home was in Rathfarnham?

View Yeats and Dublin: its People and Places image gallery

My Area in 1916, Mo Cheantar agus 1916

My Area in 1916This new publication looks at 1916 in central Dublin, an area which formed the backbone of the 1916 Rising. We know that many of the men and women who fought in the 1916 Rising were from the north inner-city area with 287 of those who fought in the GPO alone hailing from this part of the city. The book is a collaboration between six secondary schools in the Dublin Central area and was coordinated by project historian Donal Fallon and Dublin City Public Libraries. It draws on original research by students on the 1916 Rising in their area.

Image: Book cover showing Margaret Skinnider by Shauna Delahunty, Mount Carmel

Certificate in Local Studies

Cert in Local StudiesPlease Note: The Lord Mayor's certificate course in Local Studies is now full. Places are still available on the Lord Mayor's certificate course in Oral History (27 August 2016)

The Lord Mayor’s Certificate in Local Studies will be offered at Dublin City Library and Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, D2 on Tuesday evenings from September 2016 until April 2017. The course consists of 85 hours part time and will equip participants with skills in researching local history and in the preparation of a dissertation. The closing date for course applications is 5.00 pm on Friday 2 September 2016. (fully booked).  Dublin City Council offers two Bursaries for candidates taking the Lord Mayor’s Certificate in Local Studies, and closing date for bursary applications is 5.00 pm on Friday 26 August 2016.  For printed course brochure please email cityarchives@dublincity.ie.


Certificate in Oral History

Certificate in Oral HistoryThe Lord Mayor’s Certificate in Oral History will be offered at Dublin City Library and Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2 on Monday evenings from September 2016 until April 2017. The course consists of 70 hours part time and the course will equip participants with skills in the preparation and conduct of oral history projects, including best practice in the collection and archiving of oral history interviews. 

The closing date for course applications is 5.00 p.m. on Friday 16 September 2016.

Happy Birthday Ha'penny Bridge!

The Ha'penny BridgeOn Thursday 19 May 2016 the Ha'penny Bridge, Dublin's most iconic bridge will be 200 years old.  The building of a bridge at this site was first proposed by John Claudius Beresford, Lord Mayor of Dublin (1814-15) and William Walsh, ferry owner and alderman of the city. Walsh was granted a 100 year lease on the bridge. When the bridge opened Walsh retired his ferries and began charging a ha'penny toll to cross, the same cost as he'd previously charged for ferry passage across the Liffey.  The beautiful elliptical shaped ha'penny bridge was designed and built by John Windsor at the Coalbrookdale Foundry, Shropshire.  The bridge which is crossed by an estimated 30,000 people every day, was completely restored in 2001. The excellent Bridges of Dublin website has lots more to read about the history, the design and engineering of the bridge.