History Document of the Month: Lepracaun Cartoon Collection
Britain faced similar issues ruling Ireland and India: both had to be held to maintain British international credibility and independence movements in both were driven in large part by religion. Irish nationalists drew parallels between their own struggle and that in India, particularly the brutality of colonialism. The above below, from the satirical newspaper, The Lepracaun, compares British rule in the two countries: executions and burning of homesteads in Ireland, while India saw the brutal practice of execution by cannon, particularly associated with the British suppression of the rebellion of 1857. The cartoon is pointing out the dark side of British rule: the ‘Upas Tree’ of the title refers to a highly poisonous tree common to Asia, while the figure of John Bull piously reading the common book of prayer while surrounded by bones, death and destruction is an unsubtle reference to the hypocrisy of evangelical imperialism. History Document of the MonthEvery month the Dublin City Council Historians in Residence will be highlighting a document from Dublin City Public Libraries and Archives Digital Repository. An image of the selected document will be on display in branch libraries during the month.Historians in Residence are available to meet groups and schools, give talks, walks etc, run history book clubs and advise on historical research.
This week I have had the great pleasure of visiting Massachusetts and presenting a paper at the annual national meeting of the American Conference for Irish Studies held in Boston. It was my second time attending such a gathering, having also presented a paper on Dublin poet Maeve Cavanagh MacDowell two years ago, when ACIS met in Kansas City, Missouri. This time around I spoke about the life of Dora Maguire, another woman who happened to be profiled in R. M. Fox’s 1935 book of essays Rebel Irishwomen.Whereas the likes of Maud Gonne and Countess Markievicz became legends in their own lifetimes, Dora Maguire (1889-1931) was perhaps the most obscure of Fox’s dozen ‘Rebel Irishwomen’. A friend of the author, she died aged forty-one in February 1931 after years of ill-health. During my paper I spoke about Maguire’s upbringing in England and the north of Ireland, time spent in Blackburn and London during the First World War (when she worked as a nurse and developed suppressed diphtheria and tuberculosis), decision to move to Ireland around the time of the War of Independence, and employment at St. Ultan’s Children’s Hospital in Ranelagh during the 1920s.I then focused at length on her arrest in 1925 over an incident at the Princess Cinema in Rathmines. Evolving into an ardent republican during her adulthood, Maguire was indignant at the time about the screening across Dublin of short films concerning the Prince of Wales’ recent dominion tour of South Africa. Entering the “Prinner” – as the Princess Cinema was known to locals – on 6th August 1925 with an inkpot hidden on her person, Maguire stood up and hurled her makeshift missile over the heads of the theatre orchestra as soon as the offending picture was shown, causing considerable damage to the screen and generating newspaper headlines.Surviving foyer plaque from the Princess Cinema, the scene of Dora Maguire's arrest in August 1925. Known locally as "The Prinner", the cinema closed its doors in 1960 and was demolished in 1982 (Photograph courtesy of Carol Dunne, Dublin City Libraries).This incident is the focus of The Spirit of Dora Maguire, an historical comic strip by Dublin artist Aidan J Collins. Some artwork from this creation, which came about in 2018 following a talk I gave in Dublin on Maguire’s life the previous year, can be seen below:Blueprint still from an animated video by Aidan J Collins. This is based on one of the panels from his 2018 historical comic strip The Spirit of Dora Maguire (Courtesy of Aidan J Collins).On Monday 20th May 2019 I will be teaming up with Maeve Casserly (Historian in Residence, South East Area) for a joint talk about Dora Maguire and St. Ultan’s Children’s Hospital at Rathmines Public Library. The event starts at 6:30pm and all are welcome to attend.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.
The Soloheadbeg Ambush in January 1919 did not lead to a wide scale conflict immediately. For much of 1919, the Irish Volunteers embarked on a mainly defensive campaign, primarily searching for arms. As a result, some skirmishes broke out leading to some deaths.Isolated deaths of RIC men occurred in Limerick, Clare, Mayo and Tipperary. The shortage of arms was the main problem posed. Gun shops and private homes were raided for arms. In March 1919, all such premises were raided in the North-East of Dublin city.The most successful arms raid throughout the whole war occurred at Collinstown Aerodrome, present day site of Dublin Airport, on 20th March 1919. As the Aerodrome was heavily guarded by the British Military, according to Patrick Houlihan, a Volunteer and employee at the Aerodrome, the local Volunteers had to submit plans to the Irish Volunteers General Headquarters (GHQ) for approval. Once it was granted, two guard dogs at the Aerodrome were poisoned the afternoon before the raid, 19th March, calculated to kill them some hours later, to prevent an alarm being raised. That night the raiding party, numbering about 25, were dressed in khaki and masks, supplied by GHQ. Some volunteers engaged in disarming and tying up the sentries, 20 in number, whilst others collected all the arms and ammunition they could. The haul was transported away in two cars. To prevent a chase, over 20 cars in the military garage were demolished with sledgehammers. Acting in almost total silence to capture the sentries and sticking clearly to their well thought out plans, was key to the raid’s success.75 rifles and 5,000 rounds of ammunition were secured. There were no casualties nor prisoners taken. It was the largest loss of weapons by the British army from a single operation throughout the whole conflict. Many of the arms captured that day ended up in the IRA arms dump at the Naul in North Dublin. The British decided to punish the locals, a trend they would continue throughout the war, a foolish move which brought more and more support for the Volunteers. All 800 workers were sacked on the Collinstown site and replaced by military personnel. It was an act of collective punishment, recognised and resented as such. Cormac Moore, Historian in Residence, Dublin City Library and Archive.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.
Last month I was in the King’s Inns building for the launch of a remarkable short film. Trish McAdams directed and wrote Confinement for the Grangegorman Development Agency, who asked her to create a public art project. The film’s 30-minute running time evokes three hundred years of the history of the King’s Inns, Henrietta Street and the Grangegorman Asylum. The story is told through the imagined voice of Tony Rudenko, an artist who lived in Henrietta Street until his death in 2014, who was also a friend of the director.(Poster for Dublin International Film Festival showing of Confinement)The film opens with animated maps of the Henrietta Street area in the early 18th century. It tells how the beautiful houses in the street were built originally for the wealthy, eventually accommodating the poor, and recently seeing many of them currently undergoing restoration to former glory. This is a history well told by the Tenement Museum at 14 Henrietta Street.The King’s Inns was built with its back to Henrietta Street and its magnificent frontage facing in the direction of Grangegorman, which was at various times since the late 18th century the site of a workhouse, a prison and an asylum for the mentally ill.(The King’s Inns building seen from Constitution Hill)By the early 19th century, the workhouse and prison had been merged into the hospital, which was added to over the years until its peak in the early 20th century, when it had over 2,000 patients. During the cholera epidemic of 1832, the hospital was used to isolate patients and was referred to as the Dublin Cholera Hospital for the duration of the epidemic.(Surviving gate to the asylum buildings at Grangegorman)For the film, McAdams animated her own wonderful drawings that are based on actual photographs of the inmates of the asylum, contained in the inmate records. The site is now part of the huge development in the Grangegorman area, which hosts the DIT campus of the new Technological University Dublin. Dr. Mary Muldowney, Historian in Residence, Dublin City Library and Archive.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.
Historians in Residence – exciting new public history project
Dublin City Council has put history and communities at the heart an innovative new project which builds on last year’s commemoration of the 1916 Rising. The centenary of the Rising saw unprecedented engagement with history in the city as hundreds of thousands of citizens, visitors and community groups remembered this pivotal moment in our history. Now Dublin City Council has recruited six Historians-in-Residence to build on this enormous public interest in history. The historians are working across the city and are talking history with the general public, community groups and schools from now until January 2018 and can be contacted at [email protected] pictured l-r: Back row: Brian Hanley, Cormac Moore and Donal Fallon; Front row: Maeve Casserly, Cathy Scuffil and Darragh GannonThe six historians bring a wealth of knowledge, research and public engagement to this project. They will give talks and tours, will lead walks and workshops, write blog posts and books and help communities to research their local area and showcase the findings. Decoding street names, photographing local monuments and memorials, meeting history groups, quizzes, debates and oral history projects are just some of the topics that have engaged them so far.To begin, the historians are delivering a three-part lecture series on the Irish Revolution, 1917-1923 in June in libraries across the city. With 38 lectures in total on offer in 14 libraries across the city, topics covered include “Dublin in 1917”, “What was the War of Independence?” and “What was the Civil War?”. All the lectures are free and have been attracting wide interest, you can attend the series or each lecture stands alone.The Historians have compiled a comprehensive book list to accompany the Irish Revolution series of lectures:The Irish Revolution, 1917-1923: Further Reading (PDF, 363KB)The Historians-in-Residence project will be managed by Dublin City Public Libraries. Dublin City Librarian, Margaret Hayes said: “I am delighted to welcome these historians to Dublin City Council to continue the work under the Decade of Commemorations and to champion history in Dublin and its neighbourhoods where they will work with communities, schools and families on local history and stories. The City’s Library & Archives Service is custodian of amazing collections of documents, manuscripts and artefacts, all of which add to the memory of Dublin for its citizens, and the historians will be promoting these collections in the course of their work.” One historian is based in each of the administrative areas of the city. Further details on the project and on the lecture series in June: http://www.dublincity.ie/decadeofcommemorations Historians are available for interview and can be followed on Twitter @DubHistorians
No longer faceless or nameless – write the story of your First World War soldier
A long, long alphabetical list of 174,000 Allied soldiers who died on Belgian soil in the First World War; this is the new and emotive exhibit on display in Dublin City Library and Archive on Pearse Street until the end of March. The Assembly exhibit has been created by artist Val Carmen, for the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres. Consisting of a giant memorial book of the war dead and five old chairs from Passchaendaele Church, the exhibit is travelling around Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales to gather stories and mementoes of these dead soldiers.It is a very moving, tactile and sad exhibit. Unlike many museum exhibits which are locked behind glass cases, you can peruse this book; turn the well-thumbed pages (carefully!) to look at the names of the soldiers and also read the stories written by their relatives. Like the story of the three Doyle brothers from Ringsend who joined up to fight in Scottish regiments; they had emigrated from Dublin to Glasgow to work in the shipyards. These are my great-grand uncles and I stumbled across their story, handwritten in the Assembly book by someone, another relative, when the book was on tour in Scotland and England. This is the powerful resonance of this book - collectively remembering our dead relatives.The book is like a giant, sad scrapbook and in this way it mirrors wartime mourning rituals of 100 years ago. We know that many families who lost soldiers in the First World War used scrapbooks to memorialise them - collecting photos, newspaper obituaries, poems, letters, condolence messages from friends and army colleagues – so that their loved one would not be forgotten. The very act of collecting and creating the scrapbook helped the bereaved in their grief.The five old chairs from the destroyed and rebuilt Passchaendaele Church in Flanders represent each year of the war with the number of deaths in Belgium in each year etched on the chair. By far the greatest death toll is for 1917, the year of the Third Battle of Ypres, with a staggering 88,126 deaths. Many Irishmen died in Belgium in 1917 including the poet Francis Ledwidge and the MP Willie Redmond, brother of John Redmond. Val Carmen included the chairs in the exhibit to represent the emptiness that was present in so many homes after the war; the empty chair, which once was occupied, a simple and stark memorial to the loss of the soldier.Come along and browse through the Assembly book, write a note, bring a copy of a photograph of your soldier or a copy of a letter relating to him and we will put it in the book for you. Assembly will continue to tour in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England and your soldier’s story will add to this archive of remembering. Returning to the In Flanders Fields museum in Ypres in 2018, the book will be stored there forever….. imagine a researcher reading it in 100 years time on the 200th anniversary of the war…….If you would like to read more about the First World War and bereavement read Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth. The collected essays in Our War are a good introduction to the First World War in Ireland.The exhibit will be in on view in Dublin over the next three months at three different locations:Dublin City Library and Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street from 4th to 30th MarchCity Hall, Dame Street from 1st to 29th AprilRichmond Barracks, Inchicore from 13th to 26th MayGuest blogger:Tara Doyle, Senior Librarian, Dublin City Public Libraries.Just one sad note:“Henry Vincent, Essex Regiment. Shot and wounded, to be sent home but killed in hospital awaiting transportation. Telegram sent home to say he was safe and on his way. Days later another sent to say he had been killed.”