local studies

Carnegie's Gift

Rathmines LibraryWhile researching the development of public libraries in Ireland for another project, I discovered a connection between this evolution and my home through the Carnegie Grants. I am from Pennsylvania, the same state in America where Andrew Carnegie operated his iron and steel works. Carnegie had worked his way up from a factory job to amass a fortune at the head of the American steel industry. Because of his humble roots, he was determined to give back some of that fortune. In Ireland, his charitable work had a tremendous impact on the Library Movement. Eighty proposed libraries received grants, of which sixty six were actually built. In Co. Dublin, grant money funded the creation of twenty one public libraries including the Pearse Street (then Great Brunswick Street), Charleville Mall, and Pembroke libraries that are now a part of the Dublin City Library network.

Dublin Burning: the Easter Rising and its consequences

Sackville Street in ruinsAs part of Dublin Remembers 1916, Dr Brian Hanley presented a lecture series which examined in detail the lead up to the Rising, what really happened over those momentous days and its impact on future generations.
Image: Corner of Sackville Street (O'Connell Street) and Eden Quay. Postcard from the Birth of the Republic Collection at Dublin City Library & Archive.

Dr Brian Hanley is a historian and author. His publications include The IRA : a documentary history 1916-2005 (2015), The lost revolution : the story of the official IRA and the workers' party (2009) and A Guide to Irish Military Heritage (2004).

Monica Roberts' 1916 Diary

Monica RobertsOver Easter weekend we tweeted quotes from Monica Roberts' 1916 Diary, which provides a unique eyewitness account of the Rising including details of how it impacted on daily life (view tweets below).  Monica Roberts was a young woman living in Stillorgan, Co. Dublin. She set up a voluntary organization, ‘The Band of Helpers to the Soldiers’ to provide gifts for Irish troops at the front, particularly those serving with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and the Royal Flying Corps. The Monica Roberts Collection is fully digitised and searchable online at databases.dublincity.ie/monicaroberts

Elsie McDermid's Easter 1916 Letter

Elsie McDermidOver Easter Weekend 2016 we tweeted quotes from Elsie McDermid's 1916 letter to coincide with the 1916 centenary (view the tweets below). Elsie McDermid's letter to her mother provides a unique eye-witness account to the 1916 Rising. Elsie McDermid was a popular English opera singer who visited 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 Rising on Monday 24th April 1916.

Read more about Elsie McDermid's letter and read the letter in its entirety.

Jacob’s Biscuit Factory, St John Ambulance and 1916

W&R Jacob & Co.Jacob's Biscuit Factory on Bishop Street was one of the sites occupied by the Irish Volunteers during Easter Week, 1916, and has acquired iconic status within Irish history.   The Jacob's Biscuit Factory Archive has recently being catalogued and opened to public access in the Dublin City Library and Archive.  In conjunction with the Business Information Centre the exhibition "W&R Jacob and Easter Rising" will be open to the public from 13 April, with a talk by Dr Séamas Ó Maithiú on 21 April.

Right: Sketch of Bishop Street Factory, c.1900s, Jacobs Biscuit Factory Archive (DCLA) (View larger image)

Alfie Byrne MP

Citizens in ConflictCitizens in Conflict #8. In 1916 the Dublin Harbour constituency was represented at Westminster by Alfred (Alfie) Byrne MP.  Dublin Harbour contained Mountjoy Ward, North Dock Ward, Rotunda Ward, (except a portion in the College Green constituency) and the portion of South Dock ward north of a line drawn along the centre of Great Brunswick Street. It also included the portion of Trinity Ward lying north of a line drawn along the centre of Great Brunswick street and the towns of Ringsend and Irishtown as well as sections of Beggar’s Bush. About 8,000 men had the vote in the constituency.

The British Army in Easter Week

Citizens in ConflictCitizens in Conflict #7. On paper there were nearly 3,000 British troops in Dublin on Easter Monday. But in reality the authorities were not prepared for immediate action. On Easter Sunday, only 400 British troops in Dublin were in ‘immediate readiness’ for action; 100 at each main barracks and a guard of six at Dublin Castle. Many officers were at the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, while the commander of forces in Ireland, Major-General Friend, in London. His deputy Colonel H.V. Cowan, had a total of 2,385 men available, including those at races or on a day’s leave.

Apart from 6th Cavalry Reserve regiment at Marlborough Barracks, every unit in the city was part of an Irish regiment. The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment was at Richmond Barracks, the 10th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers at the Royal Barracks, 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles at Portobello Barracks. It was the 5th Royal Irish Lancers from Marlborough Barracks shot at in O’Connell Street.

#onthisday 1829 Architect Francis Johnston Died

Chapel RoyalOn March 14th, 1829, the death occurred of Francis Johnston, architect. He was born in 1760 at Armagh. In 1782 he was articled to Samuel Sprout, architect to the Wide Streets Commission. Among the buildings from his designs in Dublin were Nelson's Pillar (1808), Richmond Bridewell (1811), Royal Hibernian Academy (1824), St. George's Church, Hardwicke Place, the Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle (1814) and the General Post Office. By 1811 he was chief architect to the Board of Works. He lived at 64 Eccles Street, Dublin.

Right: The Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle, built in 1814. Architect: Francis Johnston

How to Scan and Digitize Glass Plate Photographs

ScanningTechnology is an ever-changing form for the collection and communication of information. What happens, however, when the form of equipment is no longer the current practice of collecting information? What happens when the method is out dated and showing its age? At Dublin City Library and Archive, the staff work hard to preserve the documented history of Ireland even in its less prevalent forms. Numerous images were generously donated from Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority. These images came in many forms from positive printed images to film negatives and negative glass plate images (see image below). (Click images to view larger versions)

#onthisday 1966. Nelson's Pillar Destroyed

Neslon's headOn Tuesday, 8th March 1966, 161 years after the Battle of Trafalgar, at precisely 1:32am, a bomb exploded in O'Connell Street in the heart of Dublin and the statue of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson was destroyed. The badly damaged monument had to be entirely removed as a result of the extensive damage. The head of Nelson was recovered, badly damaged but intact, and found a permanent home in the Reading Room of the Dublin City Library and Archive on Pearse Street, where he keeps an eye on the readers researching the history of his native city.