This year marks the centenary of the birth of Séamus Ennis, the renowned musician, singer, folklorist and broadcaster who left behind, to quote from one obituary, “a priceless heritage of Irish tradition to the nation”. Inspired by on-going centenary events taking place across Dublin and at the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre, this blog briefly examines Ennis’s final years and death. (The bronze statue of Séamus Ennis which was unveiled in Naul on 24th October 2001. Courtesy of the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre)In 1975 Ennis settled in The Naul to live out his remaining years on land which had once belonged to his grandparents. A countryman at heart, he felt a strong attachment for the area and christened the plot where he lived in a caravan ‘Easter Snow’ (after the slow air of that name which he was fond of playing). He played an important role in helping to revive interest in uilleann piping during the twentieth century. While he continued to perform across Ireland and sometimes further afield, Ennis’s health gradually deteriorated during the period and he underwent an operation for cancer of the throat. An able cook who could deal expertly with game, as his health continued failing it was noticed that he began to lose interest in food.On the afternoon of Tuesday, 5th October 1982, Ennis passed away at home during his sleep. He was 63 years old. No inquest was held into the death, with the post-mortem examination taking place the following day. On Thursday evening Ennis’s remains were then brought from St. Vincent’s Hospital, Elm Park, to the Church of the Nativity in Naul, with friends and neighbours standing in the rain for almost an hour to greet the cortege, which had been delayed in heavy traffic.The following morning Ennis was buried in the adjoining Naul Cemetery. Leading traditional musicians had crowded inside the tiny Naul church alongside neighbours for the funeral Mass performed by local curate Father Malachy J. Mahon, who also officiated at the graveside ceremony. After the recital of a decade of the Rosary in Irish, broadcaster Séan Mac Réamoinn delivered a bilingual funeral oration in which he spoke of Ennis’s sincerity, prowess as a piper, and fidelity to north County Dublin and Ireland. This was followed by a lament – “Cois Abhainn na Séad” – played by Liam O’Flynn (Liam Óg Ó Floinn) on a set of uilleann pipes given to him by his deceased friend and mentor. (An uilleann piper at a Dublin Street Carnival in College Green, 1984. Available at;http://digital.libraries.dublincity.ie/vital/access/manager/Repository/vital:42327)Since his death efforts have been made to keep Ennis’s memory alive. These include the renaming of a section of Jamestown Road (Finglas) in his honour in 1994, and unveiling of a bronze statue of Ennis with uilleann pipes in hand beside the newly opened Séamus Ennis Cultural Centre (now the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre) in Naul seven years later. On Friday 3rd May, a new Dublin City Council ‘Séamus Ennis Commemorative Plaque’ will be unveiled in Finglas at the site of Burgess Galvin & Co. Ltd., Jamestown Road.Dr. James Curry, Historian in Residence, North West Area.Dublin City Council Historians in Residence are available to meet groups and schools, give talks, walks etc, run history book clubs and advise on historical research.
Dublin supported James II at the Battle of the Boyne, but following his defeat by William III, a protestant ascendancy resumed control of the city and began to forge links with the new and successful monarchy. This process intensified after the death of Mary II in 1695 left William III as sole monarch. Dublin Corporation added William’s arms to the City Sword in 1697 and in the following year, the king presented a chain of office to the Lord Mayor of Dublin, carrying the monarch’s bust on a medallion, which is in use to this day.But these expressions of loyalty were not sufficiently public for the City Assembly, which early in 1700 decided to erect a statue of the king, to be placed on a pedestal in the old Corn Market. From the inception of this project, the Assembly was aware that the statue could become a focus for protest by Jacobite supporters, and decreed that it should “be defended with iron banisters”.  Two Dublin merchants, Henry Glegg and John Moore, who were on business in London, were asked to commission the sculptor Grinling Gibbons to execute an equestrian statue of the king in copper or mixed metal and a contract was signed on 9 April 1700. In fact, the statue was executed in lead. Gibbons was to be paid £800 sterling in four instalments: £200 on signing the contract, the same again two months later, a further £200 when the statue was shipped off, and the final £200 when the statue had arrived and was in position. The Assembly then decided that the statue should be placed, not in the Corn Market, but in a more prominent location, in College green. It was also agreed that the stones of St. Paul’s gate in the city walls, which had been demolished by alderman George Blackall, should be used to make a pedestal for the statue. The statue was unveiled on 1 July 1701, which was the 11th anniversary of the Boyne (following the Julian calendar in use at the time). The lord justices, who were guests of honour, were “entertained by publicly running out some wine” – presumably so they could have the fun of watching the populace scramble for a drink. The event became a yearly one, with a parade around the statue, and volleys of muskets fired in the air. Some security was afforded to the statue when the city Plumber, Alexander Erwin, was paid £13-0s-9d for “fastening the iron work around the king’s statue” and this afforded adequate protection to the monument for the best part of ten years. This honeymoon period ended in 1710. The City Assembly was informed that on Sunday 25 June “some persons disaffected to the late happy revolution, did offer great indignities to his late majesty, king William of glorious memory, by breaking and defacing some part of his statue erected on College Green”.  In fact, his sword and truncheon were broken off. The lord mayor, Sir John Eccles, believing that the attack was fuelled by drink, ordered that a “strict inquiry be made in the several public houses what guests were [there] at unseasonable hours” on the evening of 25 June. The authorities at Dublin castle offered £100 for information and the city offered a further reward of £50, which was claimed by a local man, Richard Markham. The guilty parties were Trinity students who were expelled from the college. But attacks on the statue continued. In October 1714 a truncheon, which was in the king’s hand, was broken off and removed and in 1715, the year of the first Jacobite revolt in Scotland, the Corporation decided to build a watch house beside the statue and post a couple of sentinels there.Protestant sentiment continued in Dublin throughout the 18th century. The position of William III’s statue outside the Parliament House, made it a focus of the Volunteer rallies which took place in College Green in the 1770s. The Lord Mayor’s Coach, which was commissioned by the Corporation and built in Dublin by William Whitton, was carved with unionist symbols, including orange lilies to honour William III. The Coach was first unveiled on 4 November 1791, when it led a procession to mark the Birthday of William III – a procession which took place each year thereafter. Equally, there was a Catholic reaction, and in 1798 the sword was removed and an attempt was made to saw off the kingly head. In 1805, supporters of Catholic Emancipation covered the horse with a mixture of tar and grease, while in 1837 the figure was blown completely off the horse.  It is said that Surgeon-General Sir Richard Crampton, who was a tremendous snob, was at a dinner party in St. Stephen’s Green when a distraught man came to the door looking for him and saying: ‘You must come quickly Sir – a most distinguished gentleman has fallen off his horse in College Green!’ Whereupon Sir Richard rushed off – to find king William’s statue prone on the ground! On this occasion the statue was repaired by John Smyth, whose father was the more famous sculptor Edward Smyth.(Plinth of King William's Statue)The statue of William III continued to excite controversy well into the 19th century. In 1842, city architect Hugh Byrne recommended that the cut stone base and iron railing around the statue were so defective that they should be removed and replaced and the finance committee was instructed to do so.  In spite of these precautions, the statue continued to suffer physical attacks necessitating repairs, which were conscientiously carried out: in 1843 alone, such repairs cost the City Council more than £73. But after the Home Rule Party seized control of Dublin City Council in 1880, this careful attention was not applied to the city’s statues and in 1888 they were reported as being dirty, with William III’s statue also being dangerous.  A report about the statue in the following year, found that it was indeed dangerous, with the horse in particular having sustained several cracks with a likelihood of it falling into the street and causing injury. The City Engineer recommended that the statue should be repaired – at a modest cost of £35 – and that a new site should be found for it at Foster Place, away from traffic. It was also suggested that a plaque should be added recording that the monument had been restored by the Corporation of Dublin during the Mayoralty of the Right Hon. Thomas Sexton. However, although the repairs were carried out, the statue remained in College Green. Even though the City Council members were largely nationalist, there was no suggestion that the statue should be removed altogether and a proposal from John Erskine of Belfast, offering to purchase it, met with the abrupt rejoinder ‘The Statue is not for sale’.  Anc. Rec. Dublin, VI, p. 232. Ibid. Surviving works by Gibbons in Ireland include a monument in St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin to Narcissus Marsh, archbishop of Armagh, and two in Kinsale, Co. Cork to the Southwell family. See Edward McParland, ‘A monument by Grinling Gibbons’ in Irish Arts Review (Yearbook, 1994), pp 108-9. Anc. Rec. Dublin, VI, p. 235. Ibid., VI, pp 237, 239. Anc. Rec. Dublin., VI, 248-9. The lord justices were Henry Moore, 3rd earl of Drogheda; Narcissus Marsh, archbishop of Dublin; and Hugh Montgomery, 2nd earl of Mountalexander. T.W. Moody, F.X. Martin, F.J. Byrne, A New History of Ireland, IX, (Oxford, 1984), p. 491. Anc. Rec. Dublin, VI, 256.  Ibid. VI, pp 416-7. Ibid., VI, pp 416-7. DCA, MR/36: Dublin City Treasurer’s Account Book, 1651-1717, fol. 622b. Markham was paid £50 ‘for discovering the Persons that did Deface the Statue of King William’ but their names are not given. Anc. Rec. Dublin VI, pp 540-1. This pattern of attacks on the statue of William III lasted throughout its history. It was finally blown up by the old I.R.A. on 11 November 1928, the 10th anniversary of Armistice Day. Dublin City Council disposed of the shattered pedestal in 1929, as it was judged to be a hazard to traffic. Cliona Cussen, ‘Public Sculpture: a cautionary tale, or Ni Neart go baint da cheile’ in Sculptors Society of Ireland, vol. 10, no. 4, 1989. Frederick O’Dwyer, Lost Dublin, (Dublin, 1981), p. 27. City Council manuscript minutes, vol. 11, pp 185-6. Ibid., vol. 12, p. 146. Dublin City Council minutes, 1888, item 180 Dublin Corporation Reports, 1889, vol. 3, pp 61-2. Dublin City Council minutes, 1889, items 257, 281
JSTOR is a comprehensive online resource that spans a variety of topics. Access to The Ireland Collection – JSTOR can be accessed at Dublin City Public Libraries free of charge. The Ireland Collection is an interdisciplinary collection of journals and other materials. The Collection contains titles and resources across the arts, humanities, and sciences in disciplines such as music, art, history, literature, archaeology, mathematics, and biology. Materials span from the 1780s to the present.Find out more about this and other research materials available at Dublin City Public Libraries. Whether you want to satisfy your curiosities, increase your content knowledge or for personal research the information is at your fingertips. For example you can find a copy of every Dublin Historical Record article ever written since 1834. Students can access further information to assist their studies. Researchers who may not have access to journal databases will find a wealth of information available."JSTOR (short for Journal Storage) is an online system for archiving academic journals, founded in 1995. It provides its member institutions full-text searches of digitised back issues of several hundred well-known journals, dating back to 1665. Membership in JSTOR is held by 7,000 institutions in 159 countries. JSTOR was originally funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, but is now an independent, self-sustaining not-for-profit organization with offices in New York City and Ann Arbor, Michigan. In January 2009, it was announced that JSTOR would merge with Ithaka, a non-profit organization founded in 2003 and "dedicated to helping the academic community take full advantage of rapidly advancing information and networking technologies." (Wikipedia)JSTOR is an example of information storage and access that is required to protect the masses of information available. It was a solution for libraries to deal with the growing level of print journals that were in circulation. In the 2003 copy of JSTOR News (Issue 2 No. 7) Michael P. Spinella of JSTOR writes “Though there is not yet a complete tally at the time of this writing, it is believed that many thousands of artefacts, works of art, ancient manuscripts, and historic letters housed by the Iraqi National Museum and National Library have been destroyed or stolen. These works encompass some 2000 years of history and culture. We should take a moment to contemplate the enormity of these losses. Beyond this, we must act to guard against such tragedies in the future. The situation underscores the urgency of preserving history in as many places and forms as possible. Digitization cannot replicate the experience of an original work; nevertheless, digital copies are preferable to the calamity of total loss. In my first few months at JSTOR, I have encountered many people who share an awareness of the need to protect intellectual and cultural histories. JSTOR staff members demonstrate this commitment through their work to ensure the continued accessibility of the literature entrusted to us.”