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.
At the Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards last night Dublin City Council won the “Commemorations and Centenaries 2016” award for its Dublin Remembers 1916-2016: Is Cuimhin Linn programme. Dublin City Public Libraries staff were delighted to accept the reward on behalf of all sections and colleagues in Dublin City Council who made the centenary year of the 1916 Rising in the capital such a memorable one. Within Dublin City Council the Commemorations Committee, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, the Arts Office, Richmond Barracks, Events, Planning, the Heritage Office, City Hall, Community and Social Development, Environment and Transport, Parks, Dublin Fire Brigade all contributed to this extraordinary and award-winning project.It was a privilege to work on this project - we unveiled plaques, curated exhibitions, hosted drama and music sessions, held talks, walks and films, funded community groups to celebrate history, facilitated the national Ireland 2016 initiatives, dressed the city for the ceremonial parade at Easter, dressed in costume for Reflecting the Rising on Easter Monday, published books, refurbished buildings and so much more this year in libraries, community spaces and on the streets of the capital. And at the end of it all, we have gathered documentation and photos to ensure that the city’s archives have a record for posterity of this momentous year in our history. Tara Doyle, Senior Librarian, Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive
A Poem for Ireland: The Golden Years of the Emerald Isle
Thanks to Róisín Finnegan who has given us permission to publish her winning entry in the national competition ‘A poem for Ireland’, which was part of the commemoration events for Ireland 2016. Róisín's poem shows a vivid and mature voice significant in this commemorative year. We see Róisín Dubh, an ancient figure moving about in modern day Ireland. There are elements of nostalgic patriotism mixed with modern references in a gentle and natural order which are all the more lovely as they are inspired by a teenager in 2016.Read the poem in full:The Golden Years of the Emerald IsleRóisín Dubh has grown old.She re-reads her love letters and smiles fondlyBrushes a gentle hand along the scars of her historyRemembers when it was a crime for her to be loved.She rises as they did that day and looks upon the land.First she lingers in the barsShrouded in a hundred beer saturated breathsLeans closer to the oldest man,He’s telling the one about the boat and the brother again,His grandson picks at crisps beside himAnd won’t realise that he’s listening for years to come.She laughs as she reaches the céilíShe’s seen a hundred more, before,And yet the red faced breathless laughterAnd the spins and stumbles and turnsThe jumping music mingling with the GaeilgeBuzzes with a magic she thought she’d lost fadó fadó.She casts an eye across the worldAnd sees the green spattered here and there , everywhere,The salvation of a pub for the fledWhen she could not hold their spirits in her armsWhen the earth had died and could not feed their songsHer tears became a constant rain as she watched the starving go.Róisín Dubh has grown old.And yet the emerald of her complexion is unalteredThough now speckled with modern attributes impossible to avoidHer voice remains warm and sharp with nostalgiaHer song evermore a hopeful promiseHer echoing laugh a legend, told for the thousandth time.‘Is deas a bheith óg,’ deir sí,‘Age means nothing when you have such a memory’Róisín Dubh has found her Tír na nÓgIn the hearts of her people.Róisín Finnegan, Holy Faith Secondary SchoolThird year student (2016)Download a printable version of The Golden Years of the Emerald Isle(PDF, 37kb)'A poem for Ireland' National competition was co-ordinated by The Department of Education, Local Government Management Agency and local authorities library services as a commemorative project for 1916.