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

Mary Christmas

MS10983_2_LO Princess Mary TinWith the approach of Christmas in 1914 the seventeen-year-old Princess Mary, daughter of King George V, organised a public appeal to send presents to the troops fighting in the Great War.

‘HRH the Princess Mary’s Christmas Fund’ was launched on 14 October and soon captured the public imagination raising £162,591 12s 5d to ensure that every person ‘wearing the King’s uniform on Christmas Day 1914’ received a Christmas present; this amounted to 2,620,091 servicemen and women.

MS10983_1_LO Princess Mary Tin 1

The gifts took the form of embossed tins containing small treats aimed at boosting morale. All boxes contained a photograph of the princess and a Christmas card, but then a variety of contents were selected to cater for different recipients; most boxes contained 1 oz of tobacco and 20 cigarettes, but alternative boxes for non-smokers were also produced containing writing paper and a bullet pencil. An effort was also made to tailor the contents to the dietary restrictions of various religious groups fighting under the British flag. The Gurkhas were to receive the same gift as the British troops; for Sikhs the box was filled with sweets and spices; for all other Indian troops the box had a packet of cigarettes, sweets and spices. Authorised camp followers, grouped under the title ‘Bhistis’, were to receive a box of spices. All the aforesaid gifts were deemed unsuitable for nurses serving at the Front who were instead offered the box and a packet of chocolate.

The large number of people who were to receive the gift rendered it impossible to manufacture, supply and distribute the gifts by Christmas Day 1914. So whilst most troops serving in France and in the Navy received their gifts by Christmas Day, other members of the British forces received theirs later accompanied by a Happy New Year card.

The logistics of producing over 2 million brass tins were also very complex. Brass was a valued metal for the war effort, and sources were scarce. Large quantities were bought from America, but the bulk of an order to be used in the manufacture of the tins sank with the RMS Lusitania when she was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland on 7 May 1915.

Having used or consumed the contents, servicemen and women often used the tins to carry other small items, which ensured the survival of a relatively large number of these unique containers. One such tin came into the Library’s possession and is currently on display in the Long Room as part of the exhibition ‘manage to exist and try and be cheerful’ mounted to commemorate the anniversary of WWI.

Estelle Gittins

Still Soldiering On

1914-1918It is only right and proper that the centenary of the cataclysm that was the First World War should be acknowledged again and again for the next four years. Trinity College Library has been, and will continue to be, involved with College-wide projects to honour the memory of the people and the times. The WWI Roadshow, which was hosted by the College on 12 July last was one such event. RTE was one of the driving forces behind this and the result, a week-long Nationwide special on the War in general, culminates tonight with a programme shot in large part on campus during the Roadshow. One segment was filmed in the Long Room Hub featuring an exhibition of reproductions of the war-time recruitment posters, from Early Printed Books and Special Collections. There were over 200 of these originally produced, specifically tailored to the Irish audience, and the Library’s collection is the most complete one to have survived. It was presented to the Library by Rupert Magill shortly after the end of the war.

The College Communications Office produced a film on the day also which can be viewed here; this gives a lot of attention to the exhibition in the Long Room of M&ARL material relating to the war.

The Library is also represented on the Decade of Commemoration committee and is the contact point for its website wherein WWI-related activities, and other commemoration projects, which are being planned across the College, may be advertised.

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.