The Public History of Slavery in Dublin by Ciaran O’Neill
Published on 26th January 2022
On 26th January 2022 the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alison Gilliand launched the book of the 24th annual Sir John T. Gilbert commemorative lecture The Public History of Slavery in Dublin by Ciaran O’Neill. The lecture was delivered by Dr O’Neill on 26th January 2021 and you can watch the recording here.
Ciaran O'Neill is Ussher Associate Professor in History at Trinity College Dublin and Deputy Director of Trinity Long Room Hub. A nineteenth-century historian, his first monograph, Catholics of Consequence (2014) won the J.S. Donnelly Prize at the American Conference for Irish Studies. He is editor (with Finola O’Kane Crimmins) of the book, Ireland, Slavery and the Caribbean (forthcoming 2022) and is currently completing a second monograph entitled Life in a Palliative State. His current research projects focus on the Eastern Caribbean. He has held visiting research fellowships at the University of Sâo Paulo, Boston College, University of Notre Dame, and at St Mary’s University Halifax.
John Thomas Gilbert was born in Dublin on 23 January 1829, and died there on 23 May 1898. Author of the influential three volume A history of the city of Dublin, published in 1854-59, he was a firm advocate of documenting the history of his native city using primary sources. His work on manuscripts relating to the city alerted him to the need for the preservation of Irish public records, many of which were in a neglected and vulnerable condition. He commenced a campaign which eventually led to the setting up of the Public Record Office in the Four Courts.
He calendared the records of Dublin Corporation, which date from the twelfth century, and began the series of printed volumes Calendar of ancient records of Dublin. As an inspector for the Historical Manuscripts Commission, he examined the holdings in many of Ireland’s great houses and municipal councils. He prepared for the press and supervised the printing of Facsimiles of the national manuscripts of Ireland and Historic and municipal documents of Ireland A.D. 1172-1320, the latter was published as a volume in the Master of the Rolls series.
His very valuable library of books and manuscripts relating to Dublin and Ireland was purchased by the then Dublin Corporation after his death and forms the nucleus of the special collections of Dublin City Libraries. To mark the centenary of John T. Gilbert’s death in 1998, Dublin City Council established an annual commemorative lecture series. The aim of the series is to celebrate the life and work of Gilbert, and the history of Dublin, the city whose past he wished to uncover and promote.