Emmet & Devlin Lecture 2010 transcript

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The following is a transcript of Rediscovering Emmet's Dublin through the Collections of Dublin City Libraries, the 8th Annual Emmet and Devlin Spring Lecture by Dr Máire Kennedy, at Dublin City Library and Archive on Monday 15th March 2010. Audio

Welcome to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. In this episode, 'Rediscovering Emmet's Dublin through the Collections of Dublin City Libraries', Máire Kennedy outlines key resources for researchers interested in Robert Emmet and the broader socio-political landscape of late 18th and early 19th century Dublin. The 8th Annual Emmet and Devlin Lecture, was recorded in front of a live audience at Dublin City Library and Archive, Pearse Street on 15 March 2010.

Aidan O’Hara: Bhuel a chairde ana fáilte roimh, athas orm go tháinig sibh. If you didn't come we would be in deep trouble and very embarrassed at the same time. But we won't talk about that. These things do happen. Now to start off with, a very regular attender at all Emmet functions over the years was Tomas MacGiolla, who sadly passed away recently. Tomas turned up no matter what practically, and May his wife, of course. The very last function we were at was …together was in the Unitarian Church on Stephen’s Green, and afterwards at St. Catherine’s Church of the Laying of the Wreath. And he looked rather frail then and well he didn't make it this time. So a great man, an extraordinary figure really…an amazing individual. Great courage and great…great…great stamina, in every sense of that word. And of course there with us also at that time is again our great supporter and friend, Philip Emmet, and his son Thomas, who we are very happy to have here this evening. [applause] They have always been very, very kind to us in our efforts to remember Emmet, and what the Emmets and that whole era, what it meant to us in history, understood and sometimes misunderstood, and interpreted and misinterpreted in some…so many ways. And we have learned a great deal over the commemoration for the 200th anniversary and since then. So many books and things have come out …and articles. So you are very welcome to this the 8th Annual Emmet Spring Lecture, which is hosted by the Emmet & Devlin Committee and the Dublin City Public Libraries. Our speaker this evening is Dr Máire Kennedy, Divisional Librarian with Dublin City Libraries, in charge of special collections. That's early printed books and manuscripts here at Dublin City Library and Archive. Máire’s own research is in the area of the 18th century Irish book trade. And her publications include ‘French Books in 18th Century Ireland’, published by Oxford University Press 2001, and two chapters in ‘The History of the Irish Book’, Volume 3, in 'The Irish Book in English 1550 - 1800', again Oxford University Press 2005. Máire is first and foremost a gracious host to the treasure trove that is the special collections. She and her colleagues are always ready to help with any query and assist the researcher in every way. We know this ourselves from working in the past here and there through the years. And nothing ever seems too trivial for them to deal with. She has been most helpful to us in the Emmet & Devlin Committee, and tolerant of our sometimes halting effort in getting the talk series right and commemorating the Emmet ideas. So I should like to take this opportunity, Máire, right at the start, to thank you and your colleagues for all your kindness to us. The era of the Emmets, it seems to me, was one when everyone was writing and pamphlets of all sorts were being turned out by the hundreds. And perhaps, Máire, you may refer to that aspect of things in your talk this evening. You have called it “Rediscovering Emmet’s Dublin through the Collections of Dublin City [Library and] Archive”. And we are going to enjoy, I am sure. Ladies and gentlemen would you please join me in welcoming our speaker this evening, Dr. Máire Kennedy. [applause]

Dr. Máire Kennedy: Thank you very much everybody. Now what I am hoping to do this evening, and I hope you won’t be disappointed, is I am hoping to look at our collections in the library, but look at them in a different way. And I am hoping to look at them in order that they will throw some light on anybody who will be hoping to do research on, not just Robert Emmet or any of the other Emmet family, but on any aspect of that whole period of the late 18th century and early 19th century. So I hope that will be of interest to you this evening. Now I am going to look at three different aspects of the collections this evening. One will be the social life in late 18th century Dublin. And then I will look at the Emmet family and then finally at the political turmoil of the late 1790s and the early 1800s. Now needless to say the collections that we have here in Dublin City Library and Archive are not the whole sum of the collections for this period obviously. The National Library has a wonderful collection. The National Archives has a wonderful collection. The Royal Irish Academy and indeed the British Library and many other libraries, in some cases we would be duplicating what they have. And in other cases we might all have unique items. So anybody who is researching this period will find that they have to go to all of our libraries to see what sort of information we have.

Now there are three main collections here that will be of interest to anybody looking at the social life or the political life of the late 18th century, early 19th century. The first is the library of Sir John Gilbert. This, obviously, known as the Gilbert Library, at one stage that referred to the whole collections. But in fact the Gilbert Library is only one part of the collections. So we are now called Dublin City Library and Archive. But the Gilbert Library is still very dear to all of our hearts. John Gilbert was born here in Dublin in 1829 and he died in 1898. He was a wonderful collector of Irish material, Dublin in particular. He had contacts right across Europe. His father was a Protestant, and this is significant a little bit later on. He came to Dublin from Devon or Cornwall and they imported cider and they imported wine from the continent. Gilbert’s mother was a Catholic. She was from County Meath. And she had lots of relatives around Catholic Europe, in Rome, Paris, Salamanca, around Europe. So between both sets of relations and both sets of contacts Gilbert was able to collect books right across Europe, books that he was interested in. And he had a particular interest in the Irish Diaspora, and a particular interest in the 17th century. So some of his father’s wine contacts in Bordeaux and Nantes and Lisbon were able to collect books for him. And then his mother’s clerical relations in Rome and Salamanca, they were able to collect books and manuscripts for him as well. So it meant that he was able to collect the sort of library that you could never ever collect now. You couldn’t afford to collect it, and you wouldn’t have the range of material available to you. So the Gilbert Library is very rich in material to do with Dublin and to do with Ireland. The catalogue of the library was done by Douglas Hyde. And his colleague, D.J. O’Donoghue, who later became the first librarian in UCD, they produced the catalogue. It was published in 1918. It’s somewhat flawed, but it’s still a wonderful piece of work. And this catalogue is available throughout the world in research libraries. So often people would come here to this library, knowing that they want some particular item, because they will have known it from the catalogue. So that’s really our main collection that will hold material.

And then our Dix collection is also quite important. E.R. McClintock Dix was a bibliographer. By profession he was a lawyer. But to be quite honest I don’t know how he ever got time to work at the law, because he spent so much time collecting books and writing articles on bibliography. He obviously was a very energetic person. He collected a magnificent range of books. Now a lot of them are in the National Library. We have about 700 of them here. There are some in Marsh’s Library. And there are some in Trinity. So E.R. McClintock Dix actually donated his books to libraries right across Dublin. And there’s a wonderful story. He used to come into some of the old libraries here in Dublin, that would be here in Pearse Street, maybe Charleville Mall, Thomas Street, Capel Street. And he would have a rare book in his top pocket. And he would just hand it over to whatever person was at the desk. And in that way our 700 volumes of the Dix Collection were built up. It was never a formal donation. It was always a handing over of whatever he had. So there’s a very good collection of 18th century material in the Dix Collection.

And then, of course, the Modern Collection, the Dublin and Irish Collections. These are books and pamphlets and manuscripts that have been purchased since the foundation of the Dublin City Libraries in 1884. And that collecting goes on to the present day, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the funding.

So just a very quick look at the sort of different materials we have, that would help us to gain a feel for the social life in late 18th century Dublin. This one here you see is one of the Malton Prints. Now Malton Prints are awfully well known. In fact people are even a little bit sick of them maybe at this stage, they are in so many pubs. But if you look at them very closely there’s actually a wealth of detail in them. And because they were drawn at the time they are obviously quite accurate. Although in some of the newly built buildings of the period I think Malton had to project, in other words something like the Four Courts, which wasn’t completed when he drew it, he actually projected what the finished building would look like. And I believe it wasn’t finished in quite the way that he had drawn it. So they are not totally accurate from that point of view. But there’s all kinds of wonderful little detail. I mean you are getting…you are getting costumes, you see what people are doing. And what fascinates me, because as Aidan said, I have an interest in print culture, here we see on the pillars of the Parliament House, as it was at the time, we have got our posters. Now these would be posters for the theatre or for musicals or whatever. And this is the sort of ephemeral material that you can’t get now for love nor money, because it was pasted up on the buildings and it didn't survive. But it’s…it’s quite interesting to see these posters here, and another one over here, advertising various things. So there is actually a wealth of detail in the Malton prints. And they are well worth looking at in greater detail than we normally do.

Our set maps, of course, are always of real value. This map is a little bit early for Emmet. It’s 1756. It’s John Rocque’s exact survey of Dublin. But it’s terribly interesting, because it’s so very detailed. And historians and geographers alike will tell us that it’s also very accurate. As you can see it will show you all the buildings on the streets and show you whatever outbuildings they might have at the back or gardens or whatever. So from that point of view it’s very valuable to us. It gives you a great feel of what the city was like. And, of course, the city wasn’t terribly large in 1756. Of course, it was a lot larger than it had been a century before. But …and still a lot of the areas were not built yet. So it’s quite interesting to be able to see it. Back here to just another one of the Malton prints, College Green looking quite different from the way it looks now. Because, of course, it had the main statue, the equestrian statue of King William, long since gone. And you can also see the façade of Trinity College here, with all the smoke coming out of the chimneys. So it must have been quite smoggy at the time I expect.

Dublin was a great city for the theatre and for musicals always. And a lot of publications were brought out to go with particular plays that were being shown or that were being performed in the city at the time. So I just picked out three sort of slightly different ones. As you can see most of them will hark back to the performance in London. So your play would have been performed at Drury Lane or whatever, but there is always a Dublin publication. And if you actually look at the publications they fit in quite nicely with the periods when these plays would have been shown in the theatres. Now some of them were perennial plays, the Shakespeares for example would have been performed over and over again. But some of the others were quite short-lived. So it’s interesting to actually marry up the text with the play that was going on at the time. They would have been published in very large numbers. So quite a lot of these plays have survived. And they would have been reasonably cheap to buy at the time as well. But, of course, any form of print was going to be expensive. So only a certain number of people in the population could afford to buy them. But other than that they were quite…they weren’t bound. They were usually just stitched. So they were quite reasonable. Maybe around sixpence, sometimes a shilling if …if it was quite big. So the Emmets and people like them would have been able to have quite a lot of entertainment right throughout the year. And not just did you have plays and musicals and operas and farces, but you also had things like readings going on as well. So it was a very lively city in which to be living. And there was a lot going on, both literary wise and…and culture wise. This is just to do with the theatre. This is back to Malton again. One of the posters here on the wall in Grafton Street, you can actually read it, is the theatre in Smock Alley. And it’s advertising the benefit for Mr. Ryder. So this is actually quite interesting to have a contemporary poster here on the wall advertising the theatre.

Now Dublin was also a very interesting city as regards publication. Now I am not going to go on and on about this, because I could. Dublin booksellers of the 18th century were referred to by their London colleagues as pirates. This was quite untrue. The Copyright Act of 1707 actually was never extended to Ireland. It was never debated in the Irish Parliament. It was never extended to here. So Dublin booksellers were perfectly within their rights to republish any item that was first published in London. And in this way they were able to bring out the bestsellers as soon as they were available in London and sometimes even a little bit ahead of the London publication. So it’s no wonder that the London publishers were really very cross indeed. Also, of course, another major thing, and it’s still the case, Ireland was a huge market for books. So the London booksellers were actually losing their market as well as losing their…their cost for copyright. After North America Dublin was the largest external market for books in the 18th century. But I just put this one up to let you see, this is The History and Adventures of Don Quixote, published by John Chambers. John Chambers, interesting in his own right, a member of the United Irishmen and quite a radical person. A lot of other radicals met in his bookshop to talk and to discuss matters. But he was a marvellous printer and bookseller. The items that he produced were of the very finest quality. And even here where you are only seeing it as a slide, you can really make out the paper is beautifully made, very…very clean and very…very thick…beautiful…beautiful paper. Two hundred years on it’s absolutely like new. And the…the print on it, it’s very clear and it’s very correct. The proofreading was quite good as well. So a lot of these booksellers in the late 18th century prided themselves on the quality of the work that they were able to do. And they produced most beautiful publications. They also produced cheap and shoddy publications, you know, for sale around the country. But…but they were…they had the skill to produce lovely material. And, of course, Dublin was very well known for the quality of its bookbindings. Here is just a sample from the collections of some of the best of Dublin bookbinding, that went on during the 18th century. You can see a lot of gold inlay. A lot of the booksellers had their own particular house style. And people who study binding are able to tell you, even if the binding isn’t signed, they are often able to tell you which bookseller it was by the ornamentation on the books. And you can see here in this one, this one is the honourable Henry Sankey. Yes, he was Lord Mayor of Dublin. So this was a special binding that was done for him. It may have been done by him. But the chances are it was actually done for him, maybe as a gift. So that was one of the other really quality industries that went on in Dublin at the time.

Now a look at the Emmet family and at the sort of materials that we have for anybody who wants to study the Emmets. I suppose the most important one of all really is the memoir, which was done by Thomas Addis Emmet, later and published in New York. The two-volume set that we have was published in 1915. And a lot of people probably know that a facsimile came out a couple of years ago. So that two-volume set is also available in a newer edition than this. It’s filled with wonderful illustrations. A lot of them were portraits that were available in the family. Sometimes there were letters and other manuscripts. And he has actually reproduced an awful lot of them in the memoir. So it’s a wonderful source. And this other one here, Footprints of Emmet, that actually uses a lot of the same illustrations that were used in the memoir. So you can get other copies of the portraits of different members of the family, the different houses that they lived in, and a whole lot of different things like that. So both sources are very valuable indeed. Now this one I particularly like. It’s from the Hibernian Magazine, September 1803. It’s a full-length portrait of Emmet, which I think is very nice. Actually it looks almost a little bit like Thomas in a way. [laughter] I hadn’t thought about that when I was putting it together. And here we see Stephen’s Green on the map. Because it was in Stephen’s Green that the Emmets lived. In many ways they were a quintessential Dublin family in that they started out in other parts of the country, mainly in Tipperary and Cork, and then came to Dublin and settled in Dublin. And when Robert’s father, who was Dr. Robert Emmet, he came to Dublin as the State Physician. And he had a house in 109 Stephen’s Green, which was a very posh address, and a very nice house to have. This is just another view Stephen’s Green here.

I just want to talk to you for a little minute about Wilson’s Plans of Dublin. Wilson is the person who produced an annual directory of Dublin in which he listed the merchants and traders. He also listed the different professions, lawyers and doctors and…and various people. But every year, and people may not be aware of this, there was a map folded into the back of the directory. So if you bought your directory every year you got a plan of Dublin every year. Now it is noticeable though that a new plan was not drawn up every year. Because that would have been an expensive thing to do. So you see the same map continuing on maybe for four or five years and then suddenly you have got a new map. So every few years he produced a new plan. But it was dated with the year’s date. So these directories are of particular value for historical research, even though they do not list everybody. When the directory started out in the 1750s it was Peter Wilson who started the…the directory, based on the London plan. And he listed mainly merchants and traders. And people had to pay for the privilege. They had to pay a shilling in order to have their name in the directory. So it was almost an advertising feature. But it also meant though that a lot of people were excluded, because they often didn't want to pay the shilling in the beginning. So you might know that somebody was in business for a good ten years before they appeared in the directory, but I suppose once they figured they could pay the shilling, they…they were in the directory. So from about the early 1750s onwards there is an almost continuous set of the directory upstairs in the reading room. Now there was a natural gap, a few years in the late 1750s, when Peter Wilson didn't actually produce a directory. But after that from about 1760 or thereabouts onwards there is a full set of them up to the 19th century, a very valuable publication. Often it was bound in with Watson’s Almanac. A lot of people would know the Almanac as well. So there were often three volumes in together, Watson’s Almanack, Wilson’s Directory and Exshaw’s English Registry, three items in together, people would have bought the three.

Now Richard Robert Madden, of course, is the great historian of the United Irishmen. And everybody is probably aware of his large volume on the United Irishmen. But he…he did an individual volume on Robert Emmet as well, called ‘The Life and Times of Robert Emmet’. This particular edition here is from 1846 and you see the portrait they use is after a drawing by Petree. Madden was an extraordinary person in many ways. He was actually born in 1798. He had a real affinity with the whole 1798 rebellion and the Robert Emmet rebellion. And he actually knew a lot of the participants, people who…who lived on afterwards. And he interviewed a lot of them. And I think a lot of them were quite helpful to him. So he got letters and documents and pictures and things that he mightn’t have got otherwise. So he was a great collector. A lot of his papers are now in Trinity College. But we have some here. And I will talk about that in a few moments. This is another edition of the same Life and Times. This one was published in Glasgow in 1902. And these are some of the other early histories. Now this is an intriguing one here. This one is translated from the French. And it was published in Belfast in 1858. So this one is here in the collections, along with another book which was published in London in 1870, mainly honing in on the rebellion, the actual political side of things. But the fourth chapter does actually deal with his character as well. So it’s interesting. And then coming up into more modern times we have Caitriona MacLeod’s ‘Robert Emmet’, and the Dublin edition of ‘The Pursuit of Robert Emmet’, 1949. And Leon O’Broin, ‘The Unfortunate Mr. Robert Emmet’ …and then I am just going to …to run through all the modern ones. Because anybody who is interested in Emmet is going to know these books anyway. They are part and parcel of the collections. Ruán O’Donnell’s two books…and this great one, ‘Remember Emmet’. If you don’t have this book or if you haven’t seen it, it’s just filled with illustrations and it’s…it’s a great book to read. Sean O Bradaigh’s ‘Bold Robert Emmet’ and Marianne Elliott’s, ‘The Making of a Legend’, which in many ways is dealing very much with the aftermath and the…the whole…the influence of Emmet and the legend, which, of course, is extremely interesting as well, even though I am not going to deal with that this evening ….because we won’t have time. We also have two DVDs that came out for the bicentenary. And this one here is very boring looking really, but it’s the ‘True Lives: Emmet’ which was done by Mint Productions for RTE. So that’s a video if anybody is interested, we can show it up in the reading room. Now this is a portrait of Robert Emmet Sr. And he was the State Physician. So as such his name appears…it crops up in lots of different places, because he was quite an important person, and he was quite well to do. I mean the family would have been quite comfortable. As I said, they had a lovely posh house in Stephen’s Green. So they would have been quite well off. But they were also an extremely cultured family. They were interested in all kinds of things that were going on in the city. Clearly they were interested in theatre. I know that they were interested in books, because their names appear in subscribers’ lists from time to time. And after his death Dr Robert Emmet’s books, his medical books, were actually sold by auction. So we know …you know, some of the books that he had. Now we don’t have that auction catalogue here in the collections. It’s…it’s in the National Library I think. But they were obviously a very literary and very cultured family. And I think that comes through in later times, when you look at the other brothers. Here is Wilson’s Dublin Directory, that I spoke about a few moments ago. This particular one is the 1782. And here it lists Robert Emmet, State Physician, with his address at 109 Stephen’s Green. So you can follow people through from year to year in the directories.

Now this is a lovely thing. And I am sure you will enjoy it. It’s a stock book from the Bank of Ireland, when the Bank of Ireland was set up in 1783. So lots of important people in the city took out stocks in the bank and their names are all listed. It’s a very big ledger. You can hardly lift it. It’s really heavy. And there is a good index in the beginning. So if you know anybody who might have been a subscriber, it’s very easy to check the index and see whether they are in it or not. All the usual suspects are there. There’s members of the La Touche family, who were also bankers. But Dr Robert Emmet is also there. He appears in it. And he has three different sets of shares, two for £500 and one for £1,000. So he had a …a full set of shares of £2,000 at the time. So that is here in the collection. So that’s a unique item. So we are very pleased to have that. Now I mentioned subscribers’ lists. I don’t know whether people are that aware of them or not. They are the lists of names that often appear on a published volume of books. Now very often you find it with poems. Because even nowadays it can be hard to actually sell out a run of poems. So the subscribers’ lists, there were lots of reasons behind it. But first of all people…sometimes people paid their money in advance, sometimes they didn't. But because their name was down they were pledged to buy one or more copies of the book. So the bookseller knew that he was going to have enough sales to actually make it worthwhile to publish the book. Now sometimes you see advertisements in the newspapers asking for subscribers to a certain book. And then the book never comes out. So we can presume from that that they either didn't get enough subscribers or they didn't have enough money to publish it. But this one here is interesting. This is a collection of poems, mostly original, by several hands. And it was edited by Joshua Edkins. Now he is listed here as well, Mrs. J. Edkins…John Edkins, here. These are all his family obviously. He was the Secretary and Librarian of the Dublin Library Society. But he was also obviously…he was a poet himself. And he collected other like-minded poets around him. And they published these three volumes at different times. This one is 1790. The third volume was published in 1801. And each one has a set of pages given over to listing the names of the subscribers. And here we have Thomas Addis Emmet, here, Thomas Addis Emmet Esq. as one of the subscribers. And when you go in and have a look at the book you find that…well one of the reasons he was probably interested in the book anyway …but one of the reasons was that his elder brother, Christopher Temple, actually had a poem in this collection of poems. So you often find with subscribers’ lists, there’s a reason why people are subscribing. They know the author. They know the poem. Or they have something in it themselves, or sometimes if something is written by a doctor, you will find that a whole lot of other doctors will have subscribed to it. So it was very much a word of mouth thing, that people encouraged others to actually subscribe to books. So I think this is a nice one here. Poem…it’s a little bit sort of pastoral and of its time. But it’s quite interesting to have it. And Thomas Addis Emmet, of course, he wrote many things himself, even before the memoir. This is a different memoir, quite interesting, in the collections as well, published in London in 1802. And it is a detailed statement of the Origin and Progress of the Irish Union delivered to the Irish Government. But there’s an interesting section in it where you have got the substance of Thomas Addis Emmet’s examination before the secret committee of the House of Lords in 1798. So that’s part of it there and you can actually read his statement as part of the volume.

Now Robert Emmet went to school in a number of different schools. But this particular school I think is quite important. It was a school in 75 Grafton Street. It was run by Samuel White, who was the headmaster there. It was called The English Grammar School. Now Samuel White was related to the Sheridans. Thomas Sheridan, who was very much interested in elocution and English language and oratory and his son, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the playwright. And the Sheridans very much supported Samuel White in his endeavour to start the school in Grafton Street. It was started in the 1750s. It was quite a long-lived school. Most of Dublin’s middle class and aristocracy, a lot of members of the families actually went to this school. It was renowned for its education. It was very forward looking. Samuel White wrote a number of different things on education. But his particular thing was…he was very interested in English literature, English grammar. He got his students to recite. And I think that this gave all of his students a great grounding. A lot of them became actors. They became statesmen, lawyers. And oratory was a very important part of what they learned in school. In fact part of the final exam involved students having to give a speech as part of the exam. So I think this is actually quite significant that Robert went to school here. And I think when you listen to his speech afterwards, I think that it bears the hallmark of this education, the fact that he had the confidence, he had the vocabulary, and he was just able to give this incredible speech that has lived on right up to the present day. So I bring it all back to Samuel White and his schooling. I might be wrong, of course. But anyway this is one of the books in the collections that was written by Samuel White. It’s an introductory essay on The Art of Reading. Now we also have other books by him in the collection. He has got one called ‘The Shamrock or Hibernian Presses’, which is a collection of poems by various students in his school. So he very much encouraged the students to write, to speak and to perform. I think this was quite important.

Now another book in the collections, which again you will find in other libraries, but it very much gives you a flavour of the time. It’s by Pool & Cash, and it’s called ‘Views of the Most Remarkable Public Buildings’. Now this was published in Dublin in 1780 and it gives you a very good feeling of the different types of buildings that were in Dublin at the time. It gives you often three or four different views. In the case of the new City Hall which was the Exchange at the time, it actually gives you a cross-section of the building as well, which is nice. So you can see all the rooms. But this is Trinity College here, where Robert went to college after he was finished in school. He didn't stay there very long, for different reasons, that all of you will be aware of.

I love this. This came from the memoir. It is Robert Emmet’s own copy of John Locke’s Treatise concerning Government. Now I think he read this book. I think he read this book several times. Because if you look at all the annotations and the notes, they are in different pens, and they are …even the writing is slightly different. And I think this book was just read so intensively. Now I don’t know whether he read it in school or whether he read in college, or whether he just read it at home. But in the memoir Thomas Addis Emmet actually produces a couple of different pages from this book. And I think it’s extraordinary to see the way in which Robert Emmet read his books. And it also made me think that it was actually very …very sad indeed for our whole country that he didn't live to be more than 25 years old. Because I think he had a very good grasp of where he was going. I…I think he could have been a marvellous leader afterwards, if he had lived on. But that’s…that’s another day’s work.

Now just a quick look at some of the…the different things in the collections that, if somebody wants to research the various political aspects of the time, that they can have a look at. I…I tried to pick things that were a little bit different. We would have all the standard histories and whatever. So I didn't…I didn't bother looking at those. This is a lovely set of broadsheets. Now these are quite rare. They are available in some other libraries as well. We have a collection of 13 broadsheets and they are all relating to the 1798 rebellion. They were meant to be either handed out either as posters or to be given as fliers. They are quite large sized. They are folio sized. And they are printed on one side only. They are very interesting. They are very much of the moment. And I think they give you a very strong sense of the feeling in the country at the time during the rebellion. This is a real treasure trove I think. This is a manuscript. It belonged to R.R. Madden and he collected the materials in it. There are over 100 documents. And they are all relating to secret service money…money dealings he calls it. And it is very much tied in with Major Sir…he calls it the Major Sir papers. So Gilbert actually collected these. In fact Gilbert has quite a number of things in his library that came from Richard Robert Madden’s library. So this is obviously one of the manuscripts. And this is a lovely set of documents. Obviously the National Archives has the rebellion papers. And I mean they are an extraordinary collection. Nobody can match those. But I think it’s quite nice to have another collection that reflects the time period as well. And especially something as kind of subversive and sort of underhand as the secret service monies. I …I think this is quite interesting.

Now all of our libraries would have a large collection of pamphlets relating to the Union. Now Aidan mentioned it in his introduction. Several hundred pamphlets are available from this library alone. And Bill McCormack many years ago actually did a checklist of all the various Union pamphlets that were around, giving their locations and whatever. It’s very interesting, obviously some are for the Union, some are against the Union. And there’s…there’s a whole series of them. And, of course, lots of the newspapers as well took sides when it came to the Union. This one is quite interesting. This newspaper is called the Constitution or Anti-Union Evening Post. So it…it wears its colours on its arm. And this is quite interesting. These are the gentlemen from County Armagh that are opposing the Union here. So you are getting all the names. This is only about half the page. The rest of the page gives you a whole list of names as well. So that’s quite nice for genealogists as well for…for County Armagh. Now the other thing I just want to talk about briefly are the newspapers, of course. Gilbert collected a very nice collection of newspapers, going from about 1700 up to about the 1830s. And these are all in …in hard copy. They are all bound volumes. Needless to say the 18th century newspapers are quite scarce. So whatever collection we have would complement whatever collection you will find the National Library and elsewhere. But a microfilm project was done many years ago which brought together the collections of newspapers that were published before 1750. So our collection would be in there as well, and available on microfilm. They tried to bring together whatever surviving issues there were of the 18th century newspapers on microfilm. But with the online version of things now I think things will probably improve…maybe very quickly. This is just an example here of the Freeman’s Journal. This is now available online at irishnewsarchives.com. Now we subscribe to that upstairs. It is a pay per view site. But we subscribe to it upstairs. So if anybody wants to do research on it, they can do so for free up in the reading room. And it’s quite interesting. You can put in Emmet or whatever you are interested in. Now there are a number of things though to be aware of with the newspapers online. For a start it’s not an intelligent index. The programme is actually finding instances of a word that you have put in. So if you put in a word that’s not used then you are going to find nothing, even if the article is there. With Emmet you have to be careful, sometimes it was spelt with two t’s and sometimes it was spelt with one. So you have to watch that. But also sometimes we use modern language when we are checking the older newspapers. And this is not a wise thing to do. Because if I use words like massacre maybe…well massacre may have been used. But you know some modern words like that, you won’t find anything in the newspapers because the word wasn’t used. You have to sort of think a little bit. In some ways, I suppose you have to be used to the…the writing of the period to see what kind of language tended to be used. And …and that you need to do that when you are searching the newspapers. Because you could lose out. And the other problem is, of course, if the newspapers were in poor condition when they were digitised you often mightn’t be able to make out a word. Now this is particularly bad, because it’s from the microfilm. So you can see the streaks in it. But some of the digitisation was done from the microfilm. So it means that you are going to be losing words. So while it’s very useful to have the newspapers online, it is not comprehensive. And if you want to do it comprehensively you really will need to go back either to the hard copy or ….well I suppose the microfilm if you can’t get the hard copy. Also I…I think because if people search on the internet and they are brought directly into the article or the advertisement or whatever they are looking for, you lose the context. Whereas when you have to trawl through the newspaper you have a very good idea of what’s going on all around it. So by the time you find the thing you are looking for, you sort of know all kinds of other things that are going on at the time. And I think that’s quite important. And I think it’s one of the things that digitisation is losing on us. Because you can find a thing in one minute you have no idea of the context. And I think that’s a shame. That’s my rant for the evening.

Now another collection that we have here is the collection of pamphlets relating to Catholic emancipation, which was collected by Denis Scully. Now Denis Scully was one of the first Catholic lawyers to graduate. Now he went to the university in Cambridge. But it was because of the relaxation of the penal laws in the 1790s that he was actually able to go to college, and he was able to become a lawyer. But he was very interested in the whole Catholic question. And he collected a whole lot of pamphlets to do with Catholic emancipation and to do with sort of the French invasion and Napoleon and all kinds of things as well. And these pamphlets were…after they had been owned by Denis Scully, they were later owned by R.R. Madden. So again he had collected them…again before they came to us. These are some of the pamphlets in the collection. This is Mr Grattan, Henry Grattan, giving his speech in the House of Commons on the Catholic question, and ‘The Humble Petition of Roman Catholics’. And here we see the…the bookplate of Madden. Because he actually owned…we have got 15 volumes, which include maybe 10 or 12 or 15 pamphlets in each one. So there are 128 of them altogether. Now our friend Henry Charles Sir as well…Major Sir. This particular pictures comes from the memoir as well. It was collected by Thomas Addis Emmet. But we actually have an interesting book in the collections called ‘The Beauties of the Press’. Now The Press was a newspaper that was run by the United Irishmen. So obviously if Henry Charles Sir owned a copy I suppose it was to get to know his enemy. Because this particular copy was actually belonging to Major Sir, and he has got his name here on it, on the title page. So it’s quite interesting to see that he was reading the best of what was produced in the newspaper, The Press.

Now this is a little pamphlet that was produced just a couple of years after the insurrection. So it’s a first hand account of the …the Emmet insurrection of 1803, published in Dublin, and, of course, the Emmet Trial. And I suppose in many ways Emmet is such a major figure really, because of the trial, and particularly because of his speech from the dock. So this is one of the more romantic looking pamphlets, I suppose, with the speech from the dock. This is something that was produced at the time. It’s the report of the proceedings of the trial. And you will see here that it’s actually put together by William Ridgeway, a very interesting character. He was a Barrister. He was the Court Reporter. So you actually find his name on an awful lot of trials of the period. But he was actually married to somebody who was related to the Tandys, to Napper Tandy. And he himself was a United Irishman for a while. But once it became more radical he actually stepped away from it. So by…by 1798, by the time of the rebellion, and by the time of Emmet’s rebellion, he was no longer a member. But he was…he was renowned as a very accurate reporter. And this is his report of the trial, which is in the collections. This is Pool & Cash again, this is the view of St. Catherine’s Church, as it was to be seen in 1780. And here just finally in 2003 to commemorate the bicentenary Nicholas Carolan from the Irish Traditional Music Archive gave the annual Gilbert Lecture that year, and we published it afterwards. And it’s a lovely book. It’s about the songs associated with Emmet and with his rebellion. And there is a CD going with it as well which has the songs in it. And what I would like to just finish off with is the speech from the dock as it was read by Michael MacLiammoir. Now MacLiammoir has an extraordinary voice. But somehow it doesn’t seem to me to be right for the 25 year old Robert Emmet who was sort of full of passion and had gone to Samuel White’s School for Oratory. But just have…have a listen and see what you think.

“I am going to my cold and silent grave: my lamp of life is nearly extinguished: my race is run: the grave opens to receive me, and I sink into its bosom! I have but one request to ask at my departure from this world--it is the charity of its silence! Let no man write my epitaph: for as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them. Let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and me who rest in obscurity and peace. Let my tomb remain uninscribed, and my memory in oblivion, until other times, and other men, can do justice to my character; when my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written. I have done.

Thank you.

Aidan O’Hara (AH): Well quite a note to end on, Máire, you might say, brings us back to the 200th anniversary of that speech, when we were in the Green Street Court House. Were any of you there? [unclear] Of course….couldn’t get in …I know it’s very embarrassing. So many…some senior councillors were very miffed that they couldn’t get in, I should tell you by the way. [laughter] And not all of them did get in. But a lot did get in. And, of course, one of the very moving aspects of that evening….were you there Máire?

Máire Kennedy (MK): I wasn’t, no.

AH: Oh…

MK: Sorry.

AH: We made another mistake there, Frank, I’m afraid. But to see where young Emmet, 25 year old, stood there, on the dock, surrounded by about 60 Emmets from all over Ireland and the world, it was very moving, wasn’t it…that occasion? Extraordinary. And so we won’t forget that. Just one or two things. When you are…when you are watching this kind of wonderful presentation of the kind that Máire just gave, you see things on the screen, and all kinds of bells start ringing….naturally enough. And I couldn’t help noticing one or two things. Sir John Gilbert from Devon, was he any relation of a gentleman called Sir Humphrey Gilbert, half brother of Sir Water Raleigh?

MK: I think he might have been.

AH: Yes. Do you know….?

MK: Nollaig….my predecessor did some research on that.

AH: Yes.

MK: So I think…I think the family was probably related at…at a certain point.

AH: Yes. Because some of you may know about my Newfoundland connections. And Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed Newfoundland for the crown in 1583. And then managed to get drowned reciting poetry on the poop deck as he went…headed across the Atlantic. He had committed some awful deprivations in …in Munster in…in the 1560s. So people down there are not to enamoured of the same gentleman. But also then, shortly afterwards, another Newfoundland connection for me was when we saw the…the…you had that Bank of Ireland stock book thing …and…and Dr. Emmet’s investments. And the name Sweetman and Sutton, two gentlemen, Sweetman and Sutton…Sweetman’s name came up a couple of times, again a Newfoundland connection. Because the Sweetmans prosecuted the fishery from Waterford and Wexford into Newfoundland. And they …and one of those lived in Sutton’s parish, and one of those Sweetmans….it was one of those who was the leader of the United movement in Wexford at that time. So all these connections come through. Sorry, these are the diversions that we shouldn’t allow ourselves. And did you also notice, Christopher Temple Emmet’s poem where rained was rhymed with convened? So the Dane and all of those words. Anyway that was wonderful. I…I enjoyed that thoroughly. And I know you did too. I can tell.

MK: Thank you very much.



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