At the beginning of the new term we reflect on a hectic summer which kicked off with the visit of Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama on 17 June; a special exhibition on Obama family history was on display for the occasion. Also in June, Bernard Meehan, Keeper of Manuscripts spoke about the Book of Kells as part of the Derry/Londonderry City of Culture events and also delivered a lecture at the Hay Literary Festival held in Kells on 28 June.
M&ARL staff have worked on a number of temporary exhibitions timed to coincide with events within Trinity College Dublin over the summer. The Book of Kings: Middle Eastern Manuscripts in the Library exhibition accompanied the Middle East Library Committee (UK) meeting on 25 June. The Transmitting the Anglo-Saxon Past exhibition was displayed to coincide with The International Society of Anglo-Saxonists Conference from the 29 July to 2 August. The exhibition What Price the Children? The work of Dorothy Price among the Dublin Poor, staged to mark the centenary of the Dublin Lockout, is currently on view in the Long Room. These are also available as online exhibitions.
The Library has an on-going arrangement in relation to the annual Samuel Beckett Summer School run by the Department of Drama Film and Music. As well as curating an exhibition specifically to tie in with the School, M&ARL hosted one of the School’s teaching sessions to permit attendees to have access to original Beckett literary material.
Another regular event was the return of the annual Irish Harp Summer School. The Library is home to two early examples of the traditional Irish harp: the so-called ‘Brian Boru Harp’, which is on permanent display in the Long Room, and the less well-known Castle Otway Harp.
Further classes held during the summer included a talk for Trinity College Library colleagues on the surprising variety of objects within the M&ARL collection.
We are always delighted to hear about publications using M&ARL collections. One such author, historian Gill Morris from Tasmania, visited the Library on 6 August to present us with a copy of her book on the Revd Dr William Henry Browne, A Trinity College graduate, who left Cork for Van Diemen’s Land, Tasmania in 1828.
It is also not unusual to see M&ARL manuscripts featured on TV and earlier this summer the BBC filmed the 1641 depositions for inclusion in The Stuarts which should air at the end of this year.
All of this outreach activity continued smoothly despite the fact that the summertime tends to be the busiest time for M&ARL. Add to that a major refurbishment of the Reading Room during July and August and it all made for a hectic summer.