local studies

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)

Maps of the Terenure and Crumlin Estates 1879

Shaw estate mapA collection of eight Ordnance Survey maps, donated to Dublin City Library and Archive, constitute a wonderful addition to local and family history for the Terenure Crumlin area in the late 19th century. The maps are folded and bound into one volume, bound in half leather with gilt lettering on the top cover: Maps of the Terenure & Crumlin Estates, Co. Dublin, the property of Sir Robert Shaw, Bart. 1879.

View Maps of Terenure & Crumlin Estates, 1879

The volume belonged to the estate of Sir Robert Shaw, Baronet, and the maps cover his property in the area: Crumlin, Roundtown (Terenure), Tonguefield, Rathfarnham, Rathgar, Roebuck, Kimmage, Wilkinstown (Walkinstown), Greenhills, Whitehall and Limekiln Farm.

The Kevin Street Librarian and the Rising

James O'ByrneFormally named as Byrne (the family later changed their surname to O'Byrne, a practice not uncommon at that time), James O'Byrne was from Lower Mayor Street in Dublin's North Wall area.

Young James was recruited to the city libraries as a 'boy' library assistant in 1913 and from that time was assigned to the Charleville Mall, North Strand library.  He was 20 years old by Easter Week 1916.

Image: James O’Byrne, AKA James Byrne (1896 to 1947)

As he didn’t provide a witness statement to the Bureau of Military History owing to his untimely death in 1947, details of O'Byrne's Easter week activities are sparse. He was attached to the second Battalion, 'F' Company of the Irish Volunteers Dublin Brigade, a small company which was under the command of Captain Frank Henderson and 1st Lieutenant Oscar Traynor.  O’Byrne attended Fr Matthew Park in Fairview on Thursday evenings for drilling and on Sundays for rifle practice.  In Easter week, he was engaged in combat across a number of sites - at Fairview, the Metropole Hotel, Eason's, the GPO, Moore Street and Henry Place. After the surrender, he was arrested and interned first in Knutsford and later Frongoch Prison from where he was released in July 1916.

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

Can I have your autograph please?

MS 161-37Autograph books were a popular way to collect the signatures and other messages from well-renowned poets and artists in Ireland during the 20th Century. Jill Noone, Teresa Kelly, and Mary Ryan were among those who kept autograph books. All three books contain notes, poems, playbills, drawings, and autographs from a number of local performers and high-profile individuals and are now housed at Dublin City Library and Archive. Taken together, these autograph books highlight the growing importance and popularity of the arts and local, Irish figures.

Image: Painting of flowers from Teresa Kelly's autograph book (Ms-161-37)

Jill Noone’s autograph book (Ms 129), dated 1922-1925 contains the signatures of a number of different individuals, many of whom left poems and stories along with their signatures.  Miss Noone herself was a contralto in the Sligo Philharmonic Society Chorus, and her autograph book features a signed programme.

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