local studies

#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.

Through the Looking Glass: Tourism in Dublin, 1950 - 1990

Failte Ireland imageThese photographs tell a part of the story of tourism in Dublin, offering an insight into how the city has been seen from both the inside and out. The timeline created by these images allows for an interesting comparison between then and now.

View Through the Looking Glass: Tourism in Dublin, 1950-1990 Image Gallery

The bustling streets of Temple Bar, so familiar today, are not a feature of these images, and it is interesting to compare today’s O’Connell Street, Trinity College and other tourist hotspots with the comparatively quiet scenes of years gone by. Food/hospitality, sports and events tourism, all which characterise much of today’s tourist marketing, are absent from these early images.

W & R Jacobs Archives at Dublin City Library and Archive

JacobsOn Monday 22nd February 2016, a special tea party is being hosted by an tArdmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh at the Mansion House to mark the transfer by Valeo Foods of the archives of W & R Jacobs and the transfer of the Appleyard Collection by Douglas Appleyard to Dublin City Council.

The archives of W & R Jacob and Company, consisting of over 330 boxes, were acquired by Dublin City Library and Archive in 2012. Following a major cataloguing project they will now be opened for public access in the Reading Room of Dublin City Library and Archive at 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2.

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.