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.


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

Elusive Images

May 1936

While music scores have been the central focus of the ‘In Tune’ exhibition, other items such as letters, photographs, and sound recordings have been included to provide context and add variety and colour. Some relevant images were available from our own collections, but others required some detective work.

To mark the 250th anniversary of the Chair of Music (one of the factors which prompted the exhibition), portraits of three former Professors were reproduced as hanging panels. One came from the College collection: the vivid portrait of Brian Boydell by Andrew Festing which hangs on the main stairway to the Senior Common Room. The other two were procured from external sources without much difficulty.  A fine portrait of the first Professor, the Earl of Mornington, survives at Stratfield Saye, the country seat of his descendent the Duke of Wellington. And I happened to notice a portrait of Ebenezer Prout while visiting another college with which he was associated – the Royal Academy of Music in London.

The Library collections include striking photographs of two of the Irish composers featured in the exhibition – Ina Boyle and Brian Boydell – and Gerald Barry supplied a contemplative photograph of himself taken by Betty Freeman. The fourth composer – Frederick May – proved more elusive.

May 1943

Two of May’s most celebrated compositions are included in the exhibition: his String Quartet (1936), and the vocal work ‘Songs from Prison’ (1941). The most readily-available photograph of the composer shows him several decades later, after ill-health had brought his composing career to a premature end. Dr Mark Fitzgerald drew my attention to two earlier newspaper photographs of May: the first published in the Irish Independent on 1 January 1936 to mark his appointment as musical director at the Abbey Theatre, and the second from the Irish Times in 1943. Both were too ‘grainy’ for use in the exhibition, but the Independent image was produced by Lafayette Studios so there was a possibility that a better print might still exist. Unfortunately not, however: enquiries to both Lafayette and the Abbey Theatre brought a similar response – “We had a fire …”

May-Fleischmann 1938Salvation came from an unexpected source. Dr Ita Beausang, while researching Ina Boyle, had acquired a photograph of Boyle together with three fellow composers, taken in West Cork in 1938 by Tilly Fleischmann after a concert of their works conducted by her son Aloys. One of the four was a youthful Frederick May. The photograph exists in an album now owned by Ruth and Maeve Fleischmann, who kindly arranged for a digital copy by Roisin O’Brien to be delivered just on time for the exhibition launch.

In Tune, sponsored by KBC Bank, runs until 1 April 2014.The exhibition is also available online. Full details of the accompanying lecture and concert series are available here.

Roy Stanley

Music Librarian

Forthcoming Lectures

Brian Boru Exhibition ImagingThe next month sees an abundance of public lectures around Dublin which use Trinity College Library’s manuscripts collection as source material. The diversity of the lectures reflects the breadth of research interest in our material. From 17th– century Puritanism to 1950s healthcare, via 20th– century composers, Viking invaders and a certain famous harp, there should be something for everyone.

19 March, Dr Polly Ha, (UEA and TLRH Fellow); Recovering the Birth of Independency at Trinity College Library: Puritanism and Liberty in the 17th Century, Trinity College Long Room Hub, 6.15pm.

20 March 2014, Dr Mark Fitzgerald (DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama); 20th -Century Irish Composers, Trinity College Long Room Hub, 6.00pm. Part of the lecture series associated with the In Tune exhibition of music in the Old Library.

3 April, Dr Robbie Roulston, (UCD); The Most Priceless Possession of Protestants in this Country: The Adelaide Hospital and Upholding Protestant Healthcare in Ireland 1950-1972, CHOMI seminar series, Room K114 School of History and Archives UCD, 5.00pm.

11 and 12 April, National Conference on Clontarf 1014-2014 at Trinity College Dublin. Including a talk by Denis Casey on Brian, Armagh and the Irish Church. Dr Casey was the researcher for the soon-to-be launched Brian Boru exhibition in the Old Library.

15 April, Moira Laffan; William Lecky, the Historian.  Also a short talk by Dr Sean Duffy convenor of the National Conference on Clontarf 1014-2014, Foxrock Local History Club, Parish Centre, 8.00pm. Adm €4.

29 April 2014, Janet Harbision, (Irish Harp Centre and Irish Harp College, Limerick); The Brian Boru Harp and its Musical Legacy, Dublin City Hall Lunch Time Lectures, Council Chambers, Dublin City Hall, 1.10-1.50pm. This talk is part of a wider series of lectures entitled Commemorating Clontarf: the battle and its legacy.

Discover more about M&ARL’s collections via our online catalogue MARLOC.

Estelle Gittins