Film of Trinity War Memorial

On 26 September this year a ceremony was held during which a memorial stone was unveiled outside the Hall of Honour, in Front Square. A short film about the project was commissioned by the Hall of Honour Memorial Stone Committee and has just been posted on the College YouTube channel. The support of the TCD Association and Trust for the making of this film is gratefully acknowledged.

The Hall of Honour stood alone in Front Square for nine years before the remainder of the Library reading room was completed

The Hall of Honour stood alone in Front Square for nine years before the remainder of the Library reading room was completed

The Hall of Honour is well-known to those who use the 1937 Postgraduate Reading Room; it is the portico through which they enter the building. It has quite a complicated architectural history. The Library had been trying to add to its reading spaces since the late nineteenth century but was having difficulty financing any building work. After the First World War it  was decided that a much-needed new reading room would be built as a war memorial; finance still being a problem, the building work had to proceed in two phases. The entrance hall was to be built first, funded entirely by subscription, to house the Roll of Honour, as there was felt to be an urgency about raising a memorial to the thousands of Trinity people who had served, and the hundreds who had died in the War.

Installation of the Memorial Stone

Installation of the Memorial Stone

The Hall was inaugurated in 1928 and it stood alone in Front Square until the octagonal reading room was added and opened in 1937. It is the use of this name, the 1937 Reading Room, as a description for what was conceived of as a war memorial library, which Professor John Horne draws attention to in this film. He suggests that the changes which Ireland underwent in the first half of the twentieth century profoundly changed the nation’s – and Trinity’s – recollection of its service during the War, causing it to be effaced in relation to other narratives. He describes the inauguration of this Memorial Stone as an ‘act of reparation’ to remind the College community of the original purpose of the building.

Unveiling ceremony 26 September 2015

Unveiling ceremony 26 September 2015

The unveiling event, which was  organised as part of the Decade of Commemorations programme, took place on a sunny Saturday morning at 11 o’clock. Ambassadors representing the nations who fought in the War came as guests of the Provost and the audience was comprised of families of the fallen, institutional colleagues, families who had presented War-related historical materials to the Library and the general public. Two students read out six biographical sketches symbolising the range of individuals, from professors to porters, whose names are inscribed in the Roll of Honour. The Provost invited the Pro-Chancellor Professor Dermot MacAleese to unveil the beautiful carved stone, and Reid Professor of Law Ivana Bacik then gave the address. Following her comments, which dealt with issues of commemoration generally and inclusivity specifically, a wreath was laid at the stone and a moment’s silence was observed, broken by a piper playing a centuries-old lament. The Provost then invited the audience to enter the Hall and view the list of names, and to enjoy refreshments in the Dining Hall.

A fuller description of the memorial stone project may be found on the Decade of Commemoration website.

Jane Maxwell

Look closely – it’s more than it seems

Those of us whose interest lies in the history of women in eighteenth-century Ireland begin most of our sentences with a lament at the paucity of the surviving sources. There are many reasons why this should be the case; delayed (very delayed) access to literacy has been effective in keeping women out of the historical record; family archiving practices tended to privilege financial and property-related records at the expense of women’s writings which were more likely to be destroyed. Records which reflect significant political events were also more likely to be selected for long-term preservation, either by family members or by archives institutions;  women tended to be less involved in such activities due to their legal disadvantages.

Miss Pearson's property (MS 10409)

Miss Pearson’s property (MS 10409)

One of the effects the poor survival rate of early-modern women’s records has had on historians has been to make them highly inventive in the manner in which they interrogate those documents which do survive to see if they reveal something previously overlooked. Diaries and letters which were once read for content only are re-read for rhetoric; personal account books are scoured for evidence of relationships between employers and servants; children’s scribbles are interpreted as evidence of the role their mothers played in their education.
An excellent example of how something which might appear mundane may be unique is to be found in a sadly tattered school exercise book with a name plate on the front proclaiming it to be ‘the Property of Miss Pearson 1773’. Immediately upon seeing this one asks oneself (does one not?) why the book’s owner needed to be identified in this manner if, as was usual at the time, Miss Pearson was to be educated at home. Continuing this line of thought, those of us who were brought up on Austen novels will call to mind that eighteenth-century social etiquette applied the courtesy title ‘Miss’ to the eldest unmarried daughter. The family biographical notes which have been added to this book in later years suggests that the Miss Pearson who owned it was Grace Pearson; Grace was not the eldest daughter of her father, that honour lay with her sister Sarah, but Sarah was still unmarried in 1773. The reasonable deduction from these two circumstances therefore is that Grace Pearson spent some time in an educational institution in 1773 and this is a book she used while there.

Arithmetic and penmanship (MS 10409 folio 4 r)

Arithmetic and penmanship (MS 10409 folio 4 r)

Admittedly this does not tell us anything previously unknown about women’s education – it is well known that the eighteenth century saw the beginning of the huge change in women’s history that came about as they increasingly were provided with formal, structured school-based education. Nevertheless this artefact may well be unique as a symbol of the start of this momentuous change, which was a real revolution worth commemorating.

This book’s role as a symbol doesn’t stop there. Although women in the eighteenth century were increasingly protesting against the restrictions under which they lived, most women, however well educated, lived contented lives as a wives and housekeepers and as mothers.

Ship at full sail possibly by Grace's grandson John Cornwall Brady (MS 10409 folio 67r)

Ship at full sail possibly by Grace’s grandson John Cornwall Brady (MS 10409 folio 67r)

This life experience is to be seen playing out in the pages of Grace Pearson’s book; it was reused in later years as a farm account book, a domestic account book, a grandchild’s ‘headline copybook’ and sketchpad. All of Grace Pearson’s life is here. Not bad for a battered old maths book.

Jane Maxwell

Catalóg Lámhscríbhínní na hÉireann ar líne / Medieval Irish Manuscripts Online Cataloguing Project

Since 2013 work has been underway in M&ARL to make available online the full catalogue of Trinity College Library’s significant medieval to early modern Irish language manuscripts. The catalogue, previously only available in the 1921 published format (Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College Dublin TK Abbott & EJ Gwynn, Dublin: 1921), is expected to be complete in 2016 and will greatly enhance how scholars and students can search for, and access, catalogue information to these manuscripts.

TCD MS 1282, fol 55r, the Annals of Ulster. Describing the events of 1014, dominated by the Battle of Clontarf.

TCD MS 1282, fol 55r, the Annals of Ulster. Describing the events of 1014, dominated by the Battle of Clontarf.

Trinity College Library is a major repository of over 240 manuscripts in Irish, ranging from medieval to early modern volumes which include the Book of Leinster, (TCD MS 1339, 12th century), the Annals of Ulster (TCD MS 1282, late 15th/early 16th century),the Yellow Book of Lecan (TCD MS 1318, late 14th/early 15th century) and the Book of the de Burgos (TCD MS 1440, 16th century). The purpose of the project is to make available through MARLOC full catalogue descriptions for the entire medieval Irish collection. Currently, summary descriptions for all of the Irish manuscripts are already available, with full descriptions for many, and further descriptions being added weekly. There are also links in the descriptions to digitised images from the manuscripts on ISOS and on Digital Collections TCD When complete, the online resource will be fully searchable (users can search by manuscript number, name, placename, title, first lines, etc.) and will contain much addenda from the published catalogue.

Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin

TCD MS 1440, fol 21r, the Book of the de Burgos. Portrait of Tomás Mac Emoind

TCD MS 1440, fol 21r, the Book of the de Burgos. Portrait of Tomás Mac Emoind.


‘Changed Utterly’ shortlisted for blog awards

A Series of Views of the Ruins of Dublin May 1916

Our sister blog Changed Utterly- Ireland and the Easter Rising has been shortlisted for the Blog Awards Ireland! We are shortlisted in two categories ‘Best Art and Culture’ and ‘Best Educational & Science’ Blog.

We are absolutely delighted but now need your help as the finalists are decided by public vote. If you like what we do with Changed Utterly, please consider voting for us.

To vote for us in the ‘Art and Culture’ category please click here, and tick Changed Utterly.

To vote for us in the ‘Educational and Science’ category please click here and tick Changed Utterly.Blog awards shortlist button

Voting opened on 7 September and remains open for the next two weeks. We are up against stiff competition from some fabulous blogs and would really appreciate your support.

With many thanks

Estelle, Shane and the Changed Utterly team

Eight decades of testimony- the Hall of Honour in TCD

In 1928 the Hall of Honour, which acts as the entrance to the 1937 Reading Room, was officially inaugurated. It was built to house the Roll of Honour, the names of Trinity staff, students and alumni who lost their lives in the First World War. On 26 September this year a specially-commissioned memorial stone will be unveiled on the plinth in front of the building to commemorate those whose names are inscribed within.

The order of service for the opening of the Hall of Honour in Front Square in 1928. (Gall.S.13.40)

The order of service for the opening of the Hall of Honour in Front Square in 1928. (Gall.S.13.40)

The Library began planning a new reading room before the War. In 1918 it was decided to build the portico first to serve as an immediate memorial to those who had died. The whole building was designed by architect Sir Thomas Manly Deane (1851-1932); it was one of the few architectural works he undertook after the death, at Gallipoli in 1915, of his son Thomas. The building work was overseen by John Good and the carving of the names was the work of a Mr. Harrison. The Reading Room itself was finished in 1937.

It had always intended to have some additional sculptural element on the central plinth in front of the Hall but this was never completed. The College Archives, which are kept in the Library, contain the drawings for the Hall, and the correspondence with the architect in which he discusses the addition of a sculptural element.

One of architect Thomas M Deane's drawings for the Hall of Honour and the Library reading room. (TCD MUN MC 42 p 11)

One of architect Thomas M Deane’s drawings for the Hall of Honour and the Library reading room. (TCD MUN MC 42 p 11)

The Hall of Honour was officially opened by the Vice-Chancellor Lord Glenavy in the presence of Provost E. J. Gwynn and invited guests. A two-minute silent black and white film of the event, by British Pathé, may be see on YouTube

In 2014 Provost Patrick Prendergast decided that one of the key Decade of Commemorations events would be the commissioning, installation and unveiling of a memorial stone, to be placed at the front of the Hall of Honour, drawing attention to nature of the building behind it. Sculptor Stephen Burke  accepted the commission and, in consultation with the Hall of Honour Memorial Stone committee, undertook to produce a Portland stone with the following text:

Tionscaíodh an Halla Onóra sa bhliain 1928 in onóir mball foirne, na mac léinn agus na gcéimithe de chuid Choláiste a fuair bás sa Chéad Chogadh Domhanda. Cuireadh críoch leis in 1937 le tógáil seomra léitheoireachta nua don leabharlann.

The Hall of Honour was inaugurated in 1928 in honour of the staff, students and alumni of the College who died in the First World War. It was completed in 1937 by the addition of a new reading room for the Library.

The formal handing over to the Provost of the key to the Hall of Honour was the first act in the inauguration of the Hall of Honour (TCD MS Object 27)

The formal handing over to the Provost of the key to the Hall of Honour was the first act in the inauguration of the Hall of Honour (TCD MS Object 27)

The unveiling of the Hall of Honour Memorial Stone will begin at 11.00 in Front Square and will be followed by a reception in the Dining Hall. All are welcome; please register your intention to attend here.

Jane Maxwell

A portrait of his love

It isn’t everyday that one finds oneself – as an archivist in an academic library – handling a piece of artwork by an internationally renowned painter. But that is what your humble author was doing recently.

Among our collections are the papers of Canon James Owen Hannay (1865-1950), Church of Ireland clergyman and, under the pseudonym George A. Birmingham, also a novelist. Hannay tried in his work to reflect with honesty the complex social circumstances he experienced in Ireland. However as a Protestant clergyman criticising any aspect of Catholic life, his early works attracted criticism. He was the target of a boycott, and he felt he had to withdraw from the Gaelic League in the wake of protests about the tour of his successful play General John Regan. Later Hannay found his métier when he deployed his comic voice; he was a gifted farceur whose philosophy was that ‘if we didn’t extract food for laughter out of failure we should go under’. Recently his reputation as a shrewd observer of the Irish society of his day has revived (Dict.Ir.Biog).

Photograph by Bassano, 23 March 1927. (The National Portrait Gallery).

Photograph by Bassano, 23 March 1927. (The National Portrait Gallery).

In 1889 he married his third cousin Adelaide Susan ‘Ada’ Wynne (d. 1933), with whom he claimed literally to have fallen ‘in love at first sight’. They had a happy marriage and four children. Adelaide shared her husband’s scholarly pursuits; his devotion to patristic study led to his appointment as Donnellan lecturer for 1901 at Trinity. These lectures, instituted in 1794 by the bequest of musician and woman-about-town Anne Donnellan, were initially held under the auspices of the School of Hebrew, Biblical and Theological Studies. Hannay’s lectures  were subsequently published as The spirit and origin of Christian monasticism (1903).

As part of the Library’s continuing engagement with the College’s Decade of Commemoration activities, the Hannay papers were prioritised for conservation treatment; Hannay served as an army chaplain from 1915 to 1918 and his experiences are described in A padre in France (1918). While the papers were being prepared for transfer to the Department of Preservation and Conservation an illustrated letter was noticed, in a strangely familiar hand; familiar in the sense of being almost illegible and yet recognisably the hand of Jack B.Yeats. The item had been correctly described by the cataloguer in the ’60s, but hadn’t been indexed under the artist’s name. So a would-be researcher would only find it if, like the Isla de Muerta in the Pirates of the Caribbean*, she already knew where it was.

Letter from J.B.Yeats to Ada Hannay.  (MS 3457/28)

Letter from J.B.Yeats to Ada Hannay.
(MS 3457/28)

This is a letter to Ada Hannay in which Yeats thanks her for her criticism – not of his art surely? – and hopes that her husband will soon visit to give Yeats ‘a good opportunity’ presumably to sketch him. The postscript reads: ‘I send you here with suggestions for hanging those sketches’. When the letter is turned upside down we can see Yeats’ sketch of the Hannay family struggling to examine poorly hung paintings. While most of the figures are hurriedly drawn, the picture includes an attractive portrait sketch of Mrs Hannay, observing her young daughters.

'A certain kind of portrait should be hung either very high up or very low down'.

‘A certain kind of portrait should be hung either very high up or very low down’.

Irish writers, possibly particularly Anglo-Irish writers, have long been the subject of enthusiastic research by Japanese scholars. James Hannay is no different. One such scholar is Masahito Yahaka , Director of the Department of Community Studies, Beppu University Junior College, who has visited Trinity on several occasions and whom we hope to welcome again next year as a Long Room HUB Fellow. He says he was attracted to Hannay ‘because he wrote about the conflict between Nationalists and Unionists with humour. He teaches how important humour is to solve human conflicts and to lead a meaningful life’. Masahito Yahaka maintains a website dedicated to Birmingham.

* Popular cultural reference (!).

Jane Maxwell




The life and the music of James Wilson

2015 marks the tenth anniversary of the death of composer James Wilson. It is also the fiftieth anniversary of the first performance of his children’s opera The Hunting of the Snark, which was be the major turning point in Wilson’s career.

James Wilson (1922-2005). Private collection

James Wilson (1922-2005). Private collection

Wilson was born in London in 1922 and, after a period working in the Admiralty, served during the Second World War on a destroyer in the Arctic. After the War he studied composition for a time at Trinity College London with Alec Rowley before relocating to Dublin to live with his partner John Campbell who had been commander of Aegean Raiding Forces during the War. After a two-year period spent sailing around the Mediterranean with Campbell, Wilson turned seriously to the task of establishing himself as a composer, but it was not until the mid 1960s that he finally managed to make a breakthrough with his Lewis Carroll opera. Over the next forty years Wilson was to become a central figure in Irish musical life, not only through his compositions but also through his involvement in such organisations as the Music Association of Ireland, the Association of Irish Composers and the Performing Rights Society. He was one of the eight composers nominated to Aosdána upon its foundation in 1981. His influence lives on via the many composers he taught in the Royal Irish Academy of Music and the Ennis Composition Summer School.

Wilson bequeathed his papers to Trinity College Library; the collection contains the manuscripts of all his surviving compositions as well as correspondence with a range of artists from around the world, papers relating to his involvement in various musical organisations and programmes for the premieres of his compositions. The collection also contains the detailed war memoirs of John Campbell and papers relating to the Campbell family of Co. Sligo.

John Campbell (from TCD MS 11240)

John Campbell (from TCD MS 11240)

The Life and Music of James Wilson (Cork University Press) is the title of a new biography of Wilson which is being launched on 13 May 2015 in the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, Chatham Row, Dublin 2. This is the first full-length study of this important cultural figure, who produced such wonderful work at a time when musicians faced considerable difficulty in having works performed or published.  It also addresses the wider issue of recognising the contribution of composers to Ireland’s cultural heritage generally.  All are welcome to this celebration of Wilson’s life and work and all are encouraged to avail of a reduced launch-night price for the book of €30.

Dr Mark Fitzgerald


DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama