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

Waterloo – battle site as tourist attraction

As the Irish people have embraced the fact – and the associated implications – of their significant involvement in the First World War, it is being borne in upon us the extent of the role of the Irish in many of the so-called great battles instigated by our neighbours. The Battle of Waterloo is no exception; there may have been as many as 12,000 Irishmen there – a third of the British contingent – and the name of Arthur Wellesley from Trim, as the Duke of Wellington, is the best known of them all.

A small exhibition has been curated in the Long Room to acknowledge, firstly, the Irish presence at Waterloo and, secondly, to prompt thought about the manner in which scenes of murderous human self-destruction swiftly become tourist attractions.

Flowers taken as souvenirs from the site of the Battle of Waterloo (TCD MS 11054)

Flowers taken as souvenirs from the site of the Battle of Waterloo (TCD MS 11054)

General Sir John Ormsby Vandeleur (1763-1849),  son of Richard and Elinor Vandeleur, of Co. Laois, achieved prominence during the Hundred Days campaign of 1815 during which he commanded the fourth cavalry brigade. On 18 June 1815, Lord Uxbridge, the commanding officer at Waterloo, had his leg shattered by a cannon ball and, as the next senior officer, Vandeleur then commanded the whole of the British cavalry during the battle. He was mentioned in Wellington’s Waterloo despatch, and he was awarded the silver Waterloo medal.

On display in the Long Room are letters from the general to his wife, written before and after the battle. These letters are interesting for two principal reasons. They contradict a number of published biographies which claim that Vandeleur was married in 1829; these letters prove that by 1815 he was already married and the father of at least two children. Secondly they show the level of detail about his activities on the day which Vandeleur felt it was appropriate to give his wife. That is to say, very little.

Tourism began the day after the battle when, on 19 June 1815, ‘a carriage drove on the ground from Brussels, the inmates of which, alighting, proceeded to examine the field’ upon which many thousands had recently died. These first visitors were met with the sight of ‘the multitude of carcasses, the heaps of wounded men with mangled limbs unable to move, and perishing from not having their wounds dressed or from hunger’ as one early visitor put it.

It was not until the First World War that the remains of dead soldiers were treated with the kind of respect that has since become the norm. In the exhibition are two accounts of later visits to the battlefield. One was undertaken in 1816 by Irishman Sir Edward O’Brien who recorded:

‘The bones of forty thousand gallant soldiers lie interred in this famous field & afford in many instances something of worth to the occupiers of this soil – as in many places the crops appear to be enriched from the bodies both of men & horses – which have been buried – & as the entire field of battle is under cultivation each succeeding year the plough will turn up the bones of these illustrious men who fell on that well-fought day’.

Ivy taken by Emma Howard as a souvenir from the site of the battle (from TCD MS 11054)

Ivy taken by Emma Howard as a souvenir from the site of the battle (from TCD MS 11054)

Also on display is a journal of a trip by Englishwoman Emma Howard in 1883. Of her visit to the Château d’Hougoumont, the principal focus of the fighting in June 1815, Mrs. Howard records: ‘A young man … gave me a bunch of violets plucked from the ruins of the Château some of which I have pressed. I also gathered some chestnuts and pulled some ivy from a tree on the battlefield, designated “rubbish” by my good husband!’

The anniversary of Waterloo has been marked by ceremonies in Trim and elsewhere. In Dublin the Military History Society and others are marking it with a service in St. Patrick’s Cathedral commemorating ‘the fallen of all nations who died at Waterloo’. There will be a conference on the subject in University College Dublin in November.

Jane Maxwell

Throwing a bit of light on the subject

Light 2The celebrations in Trinity Week, which is a week of celebration of Trinity in Trinity, are normally sponsored and themed by one of the faculties. This year it’s the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science which is hosting the programme of events, beginning on 11 April, and the theme is ‘Light’.

The Library, which is so central to so much of the work afoot in College, will remind people of this important fact by staging a number of events on the theme of light during Trinity Week.

Harry Clarke, for example, used light as part of his palette, and his role in Irish cultural history will be acknowledged by the installation of a reproduction, from the Library’s Harry Clarke Studios archives, in one of the windows of The Trinity Long Room Hub. The image chosen is a glorious drawing of three roses set in a starburst.

The Library also presents itself as an ‘illuminary’ – that which illuminates – since that is what the Library does to the research mission of the College. To bring home this point, images from the Library’s historic collections in the Manuscripts & Archives Research Library and the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections will be projected onto the wall above the Nassau Street entrance to College and also above the entrance to the Berkeley Library.Light 1

Allying this theme with the centenary of the First World War has inspired another Library installation; ‘The lamps have gone out all over Europe. We will not see them lit again in our lifetime’ – a well-known and resonant phrase, dating from the eve of First World War, which was understood from the beginning as a threat to enlightened civilization. It is proposed to project, onto the East face of the 1937 Reading Room, the names and portraits of the Trinity engineers and medics who fell. The images from the Medical School are part of the Library’s archival collections, while those of the Engineers still grace the walls of the Museum Building.
All of the images being projected are accessible through Digital Collections

Early Printed Books and M&ARL have taken a bit of liberty with the word ‘light’ in the titles of an exhibition and of this present blog post: ‘…and there was light’ is the title of a small exhibition, curated by EPB in the Berkeley foyer, which explores the theme through texts on religion, science and literature.

The website for the Library’s projects within Trinity Week is accessible here

Jane Maxwell

Soldiering on

WWIThis Saturday, 12 July, Trinity College Dublin is playing host to the ‘WWI Roadshow’ in partnership with RTÉ Radio 1 and the National Library of Ireland. This consists of a series of events throughout the campus designed to explore Ireland’s role in the Great War. Of particular interest is a lecture to be given by Jane Maxwell, of the Manuscripts & Archives Research Library, entitled ‘Manage to exist and try and be cheerful’: sources in Trinity College Library’s Manuscript Collections for the History of the First World War. The talk will take place in the Long Room Hub at 10.15am and is part of a series of pop-up talks and lectures scheduled throughout the day.

In her talk Jane will cover subjects such as the logistics of warfare in Mesopotamia (which required the transportation of camels by boat and baking bread outdoors in the desert); Molly Childers’ charitable work in aid of Belgian refugees, among others, (for which she received the MBE); and drawings of the first occasion in history in which zeppelins, sea planes, submarines and ships of war were deployed together.

IMG_7715Also of interest is the exhibition, with the same name, curated by Aisling Lockhart, which has just been installed for the occasion in the Long Room. This exhibition showcases diaries, photographs, drawings and letters, belonging to servicemen and their families, which are housed in M&ARL.

The Department of Early Printed Books have curated a Francis Ledwidge display in the Berkeley Library for the Roadshow.

Saturday’s programme of free events also includes music, poetry and drama events in the Chapel, Great War-related history tours of the campus, cooking demonstrations of ‘the food of WW1’, and a ‘Last Cricket Match of Peace’. The day will finish with the final bugle call of ‘The Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’.

WWI dress medals MS-EX-12_063The World War 1 Roadshow forms part of Trinity’s engagement with the Decade of Commemorations celebrations. A new website has been launched outlining College’s activities marking the Decade of Commemoration.

Estelle Gittins

The talk ‘Manage to exist and try and be cheerful’: sources in Trinity College Library’s Manuscript Collections for the History of the First World War takes place at 10.15am on Saturday 12 July in the Long Room Hub, Fellows’ Square.

The exhibition ‘Manage to exist and try and be cheerful’ will be on show for the next two months in the Long Room, Trinity College Library.