local studies

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.

Online Databases Launched

City SealLast Wednesday (26th August) saw the formal launch of a new website hosting a range of databases totalling over 5 million records. The databases are useful for genealogy, local history and social history. Many of the databases were previously available and searchable separately on dublinheritage.ie, but the new site - databases.dublincity.ie - allows for integrated and enhanced searching while also giving access to an even greater number of databases.

On this Day... Rathmines Township Created

Rathmines PostcardThe Rathmines Township was created on the 22nd July, 1847, by Act of Parliament. In 1862 the townlands of Rathgar and Sallymount (the latter comprising present-day Ranelagh) were added to the renamed Rathmines and Rathgar Township. The Township was further extended in 1866 to include townlands in Uppercross, while Milltown was added in 1880.

Originally the Township was governed by Commissioners, who felt they needed a place where they could meet and conduct their business. Their first house was at 71 Rathmines Road, so it really became the first town hall.

Jacob’s Biscuit Factory and the 1916 Rising

Bishop Street Factory[Update, 24 Nov 2015: Due to data protection reasons, information from Jacob's Biscuit Factory employee records which are less than 100 years old, will  be made available to direct family members only.  All requests regarding individual employees should be sent to cityarchives@dublincity.ie in the first instance. The cataloguing project will be completed by the end of December 2015 and we will start processing the email requests in January 2016.]

As part of its varied programme of activities for the Decade of Commemorations, Dublin City Library and Archive is currently in the process of cataloguing the records of Jacob’s Biscuit Factory which was acquired by Dublin City Archives in 2012.  Here is a sneak preview of some of the records which have thus far been identified which relate to the Easter Rising of 1916 and the occupation of the factory:

SEE IMAGE: Advertisement showing Bishop Street Factory,  Undated ©Valeo Foods, DCLA/JAC/09/241