special collections

A Victorian Christmas

Victorian ChristmasWhile the Victorians did not invent all the traditions we associate with Christmas, this era is the one when most of them became firmly established. Its iconography is an intrinsic part of the Christmas period, with scenes of Victorian carol-singers and sleigh bells, ruddy-cheeked children and trees bedecked with candles still decorating our Christmas cards. At a deeper level, the Victorian emphasis on the values of family and home remain entrenched in our perception of the festive season.
The pictures in this Gallery are taken from two periodicals held in the Special Collections of Dublin City Public Libraries.

View Images of a Victorian Christmas.

Ghost Town!

Fiona leaps the bonfire by Patricia LynchView the Ghost Town Image Gallery.

Hallowe'en is sometimes thought of an American feast, with its trick-or-treating, pumpkins, fancy dress parties and scary movies, but long before this – indeed, as far back as Celtic times - our ancestors celebrated Samhain, the beginning of the dark time of the year. The Ghost Town Image Gallery showcases the Irish, and specifically Dublin, traditions of past times, with more than a nod to the celebrated Gothic writers and the haunted places of the city. It introduces viewers to such supernatural characters as the evil Dolocher and the murderess Darkey Kelly and also to gentler spirits such as that of Archbishop Marsh.

The gallery also features a Worksheet for Primary School students.

A Great Night Out!

WastersDublin is famous for many things, not least its nightlife. While many people imagine that Dublin’s international profile as a night spot only began with the establishment of Temple Bar, this selection of images from the Special Collections of Dublin City Public Libraries demonstrates that the fun didn’t start then. Fairs and taverns provided venues for entertainment from the Middle Ages and in the eighteenth century Coffee Houses were dens of political dissent and gossip. During that same century the theatres often saw more action in the pit than on the stage, or if throwing oranges at the actors was not to your taste you could while away the evening with a trip to a Charity Sermon. During the nineteenth century thrilling melodrama and wild vaudeville graced the Dublin stage and organisations such as the YMCA hosted lectures on the new advances in science. Going to “the pictures” became an important part of a Dublin night out in the twentieth century, but the city also played host to international luminaries such as Laurel and Hardy and The Beatles. And in the Dublin of the early 1980s you could get to a U2 concert for just £1.20!

Chisellers – Childhood in Dublin through the Centuries

Chisellers 001View images from the Chisellers image gallery.

This image gallery incorporates a selection of material dealing with childhood in Dublin from the 18th century onwards.  Suggestions to improve the lot of the poor by sending ten year old boys out to work are shown side by side with informal photographs of children at play. Cosy family scenes stand in harsh contrast to the images of the regimentation in 19th century care institutions.  Health, well-being and education are the main themes of the gallery, which will be of especial interest to children themselves, underpinning the social history aspect of the Primary Level School Curriculum.

Mr Dixon's Business Collection

G Mitchell Lower Sackville StView Mr Dixon's Business Collection Gallery.

Almost 2,000 pictures compose the collection known as the Dixon Slides. The varied contents include photographs taken by Frederick Dixon in the 1960s and 1970s, book illustrations, postcards, advertisements and older photos of events around Dublin. The main focuses of the collection are Dublin city and its buildings. An important aspect covered is Dublin’s commercial life. He looked at not just contemporary stores but also earlier developments, going back to the second half of the nineteenth century. His primary sources for business in the 1800s were Industries of Dublin, The Dublin Pictorial Guide and Directory, Strattens’ Dublin, Cork and South of Ireland and advertisements from magazines and newspapers.

Women’s Health and Wellbeing: advertising from the Special Collections of the Dublin and Irish Collections

Almanac 1907 W.F. Wells & SonView Women’s Health and Wellbeing Image Gallery.
A preoccupation with health can be seen in advertising going back to the early 18th century. Potions "especially formulated" to make us feel better, younger, or more beautiful, were packaged and marketed, with advertisements carried in Irish newspapers and periodicals. Patent medicines such as Dr James’s Fever Powder, Norris’s Antiscorbutic Drops and Dr Daffy’s Elixir originated in England and were imported into Ireland.

Treasures from the Collections

W.B. Yeats poemThe Special Collections of Dublin City Public Libraries contains a wealth of rare and beautiful material spanning centuries of Dublin’s history. The collections encompass a wide range of material; from the first Dublin newspapers to hand-tinted maps, from 18th century manuscripts to early editions of the works of Jonathan Swift, from propaganda leaflets of the Civil War period to exquisite examples of the craft of Dublin bookbinders. Highlights include a unique Yeats collection and the complete library of the historian John T. Gilbert.