Thursday, March 27, 2014

Happy World Theatre Day from the Archives!

Here at the Archives of the Hardiman Library we are spoiled with the richness of our theatre collections. As the raw materials for study and research of theatre and performance in Ireland as well as Irish theatre abroad, these collections preserve and make accessible the stories, people, places, decisions and great works which have graced theatres all over Ireland and internationally.

The Hardiman Library is a hub for theatre research through collections such as the Druid Theatre, Thomas Kilroy archives, Lyric theatre Belfast Archive, Siobhan McKenna archive, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe and many others.

The Abbey Theatre Digital Archive is leading the way in technology and theatre archives as the largest theatre digitisation project in the world is underway on campus here at NUI Galway, preserving and making accessible the records of Ireland's National Theatre.

To celebrate World Theatre Day we have produced a short video using digitised material from our Shields Family Archive. Focused mainly on the Abbey theatre actor, director and stage manager, Arthur Shields, the collection is a wonderful insight into the life and career of Shields, who was a participant in the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin and had a long career on the Abbey stage, as well as overseeing the demanding Abbey tours to America in the 1930s. To view any of the images (and more) from the Shields archive you can view a stills exhibition here.

 It is just one of our many theatre collections here at the Hardiman Library and we hope you enjoy the video and World Theatre Day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ask an Archivist! - James Hardiman Library Archives Online Forum

What are Archives? What collections are held by the Hardiman Library? How can Archives benefit my research?

These are just a few of the questions you may have regarding the treasures of the archival holdings of the James Hardiman Library. On Tuesday 25th March, all are welcome and invited to a special online forum where you can live-chat with the staff of the Archives service of the James Hardiman Library.

Discover for yourself the archive collections which span over 500 years of local and national history across a wide and varied range of disciplines, from Galway history, landed estates, folklore, photographs, theatre including Druid Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, Northern Ireland conflict, society and politics, literature through the archive of John McGahern, digital archives such as the Éamon de Buitléar archive and much more.

You can find more information here and a link to a digitised guide to our archive collections here.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Lifeworlds: Space, Place and Irish Culture

Ómós Áite International Conference 

Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway

          27-30 March 2014
Dancing in the Kitchen (Bridie Callinan and Kathleen O’Loughlin, Co. Clare). Photograph by Christy Mc Namara© 1993-94.
The international conference Lifeworlds: Space, Place and Irish Culture, hosted by the Ómós Áite: Space/Place Research Network,will take place at NUI Galway, 27-30 March 2014. Conference sessions, plenary lectures and the mapping workshop are free and open to the public. Places are limited for all events - early booking is advised.
Lifeworlds: Space, Place and Irish Culture specifically focuses on the centrality of space and place in Irish ’lifeworld’ experiences, both within the geographical boundary of the island of Ireland and the migrant spaces of the Irish diaspora. The conference brings together a unique network of international scholars and community-based practitioners in an effort to broaden our understanding of the role of space and place in the construction of modern Irish culture and identity at home and abroad.

Conference panel sessions and plenary lectures will take place at NUI Galway, with a public Community Mapping Workshop hosted by the Galway City Museum, Saturday 29 March 2014.

Conference Programme
Conference Venues
The Moore Institute, Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway, and the Galway City Museum, Spanish Arch, Galway City.
Contact: Dr Tim Collins and Dr Nessa Cronin

Conference Organisers
Lifeworlds is organised by Dr Tim Collins and Dr Nessa Cronin, co-convenors of the Ómós Áite: Space/Place Research Network, Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway.

Lifeworlds – supported by:
  Ómós Áite: Space/Place Research Network, Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway
  School of Humanities, NUI Galway
  Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI), NUI Galway
  The Moore Institute, NUI Galway
  The Ryan Institute, NUI Galway
  Galway Dance Days and Galway Dancer in Residence
  Centre for Creative Arts and Media (CCAM), Galway and Mayo Institute of Technology 
  Education Office, Galway City Museum
  Space&Place, Geography, NUI Maynooth
  Burren Beo Trust, Kinvara, Co Galway
  Mapping Spectral Traces International Network
  Irish Landscape Institute
  Uniscape, Villa Medicea Careggi, Florence, Italy

Lifeworlds and Galway Dance Days Festival, 28-30 March 2014
Lifeworlds is a partner symposium to the Galway Dance Days Festival and Corp_Real Symposium, curated by the Galway Dancer in Residence, and Ómós Áite affiliated artist, Dr Ríonach Ní Néill. The Corp_Real Symposium is a locus for artists and scholars interested in body-based practice and performance to share knowledge of practice, performance and research. Events for Galway Dance Days take place at the Town Hall Theatre, NUI Galway and various Galway city and county locations.
Contact details: Ríonach Ní Néill -

For further details see  and  
Ómós Áite Space/Place Research Network was established by Dr Tim Collins and Dr Nessa Cronin in 2009 to promote the interdisciplinary study of issues relating to the social, cultural and political production of space and place in modern Irish society. Work conducted by the group critically examines how personal and national identities, cultures and communities ground themselves and construct their sense of place in a world that is becoming increasingly globalised and is sometime perceived as being ’placeless’. While such spatialised concerns are wide-ranging and demand a critical engagement across a variety of discourses, the focus of much research underway with members is with the significance and role of place and space in Irish culture and society today.

Ómós Áite meets on a monthly basis at the Centre for Irish Studies, NUI Galway, to discuss theoretical readings and practice-based issues relating to questions of space. The research group seeks to forge further thematic connections across key disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences, with a particular emphasis on both foundational texts and current work underway in Cultural Geography, Irish Studies, Modern Languages and Literatures, Critical Theory, Philosophy, Performance Studies, and Visual Art and Design.
The network is also affiliated with the Space&Place research network, Geography, NUI Maynooth, and with the Mapping Spectral Traces international collective.

Ómós Áite is an interdisciplinary collective of academics, affiliated artists and community practitioners located in the West of Ireland, engaged with contemporary issues of space and place in Irish culture and society. New members are most welcome at any time.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Record of College Life in the City of the Tribes – Q.C.G. 1902 - 1908

110 years ago, a magazine, "A Record of College Life in the City of the Tribes – QCG" was published on campus and informed students of the important matters of the day in the Spring Semester of 1904.

The magazine is quite satirical in tone and comments on various aspects of the life of a Queen's College Galway student at the turn of the 20th Century. From the years 1902 – to 1908, this thrice-yearly published 'Record' includes articles on the sporting, academic and societal achievements of these early QCG scholars.  Notes are includes on individual faculties including Arts, Medicine and Engineering, poetry, sporting reviews, coverage of Literary and Debating Society events and other matters of the day.

Notes on Arts and also Medical faculty news (Click to enlarge)

Volume 1, issue 1 was published in Nov 1902. The editorial from that issue reads:

"It has taken an uncommonly long time to provide a local outlet for the literary abilities so often proved of the students of this successful College. Now, owing to some enterprise unprecedented in the dreary West, which became conspicuous in the last Session, this Magazine makes its appearance to disseminate the glowing sentiments of our youthful aspirants to the amaranthine bay."

Editorial details of the magazine
Other content, such as the advertisements, might be of interest to those studying the history of advertising or of business servicing the College in Galway over a hundred years ago. Numerous students and staff are mentioned and their achievements and activities notes, providing an interesting, important and also humorous picture of past campus life.
Advertisements in 'The Record'

The issues are available for study and consultation in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room, Ground Floor, the Hardiman Research Building. 

Archives and Special Collections Reading Room

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Public Lecture: "The "Singing Flame" Rekindled: The Destruction of the Public Records Office 30 June 1922"

"The "Singing Flame" Rekindled: The Destruction of the Public Records Office 30 June 1922"

In the opening engagement of the Irish civil war on the 30th June 1922, the irreplaceable archive held in the Public Records Office inside Dublin's Four Courts was destroyed by fire and explosion. 

Immediately the opposing Free State forces and anti-treaty IRA blamed each other for the Public Records Office's destruction. In recent years some leading historians have claimed that the anti-treaty IRA deliberately destroyed the archive as act of vandalism before surrendering to the Free State Army. The evidence for this interpretation, as Dr John M. Regan explains in his lecture, is far from conclusive.

Regan revisits an iconic event of modern Irish history to open a discussion about the different ways history is written. Interpretations of the destruction of the Public Records Office, Regan argues, demonstrate how some historians reinterpreted the past in response to the recent 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland.

The reinterpretation Regan describes rewrites the past not as it happened, or the way we were taught it happened, but instead recasts history in a more desirable form better suited to our needs in the present. This approach to the past has sometimes been inaccurately called 'Revisionist History', but like other professional historians Regan's call the approached 'Invented History', where its aim is to amend, redefine, and 'improve' the publics' memory. Invented history, Regan says, has been a preoccupation of some Irish historians over recent decades, but he questions whether or not society is best served by it.

Dr John M. Regan is lecturer in Irish, British, and Public History at the University of Dundee, Scotland. His latest book Myth and the Irish State was published by Irish Academic Press in December.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Digitised Archives at the Hardiman Library

The Hardiman Research Building - Home to Archives and Special Collections
The James Hardiman Library is committed to making material from its archival and printed collections available online.  Digitisation of these unique treasures of the Library's Archival and Special Collections material opens up access to these valuable resources and allows them to be used and enjoyed by all.

By using leading technologies and expertise, digitisation is providing a preserved record of old and fragile material, thus ensuring that these resources will survive and remain accessible for scholars for long into the future. Allied to this, the digitisation of material will allow unprecedented access to material by scholars not just here on campus at the Hardiman Library but to a national and international audience, creating a global network of students and scholars of all interests and disciplines. 
Reading room for Archives and Special Collections

An overview and links to a selection of our online digital exhibitions including material from the Brendan Duddy Archive, the Huston family Archive, the Ritchie-Pickow photographic archive, the Historic University Calendars and many other collections are available here:

For a guide to some of the digitised archival and special collections material at the Hardiman Library browse and read our online guide, with other examples of some of this material available here:

Also you can view the following information videos on the Abbey Theatre Digitisation Project and also the ongoing digitisation of the Chartlann Éamoin de Buitléar/Éamon de Buitléar Archive , two of the major digitisation projects currently ongoing at the Hardiman Library and in association with our archive and digitisation partners.

'A Digital Journey Through Irish Theatre History'

'Cartlann Éamoin de Buitléar'

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Galway Love Story

If this particular time of year makes one appreciate a good love story all the more, then the story of James Joyce, Nora Barnacle, the death of a young man and a mix of poetry and the greatest short-story ever written surely makes this a suitable and timely tale.

Moving from Galway city and areas such as Rahoon to Dublin City on the feast of the Epiphany, the story of love and loss is retold through a blurring of reality and fiction. Manuscripts here at the Hardiman Library add much to the telling of the story.

Among the Special Collections is a limited edition manuscript copy of Pomes Penyeach, a book of poems hand-written by James Joyce, printed on Japanese silk paper and hand illustrated by Joyce's daughter, Lucia Joyce. Published by Obelisk Press and sent to the Hardiman Library directly by James Joyce in 1935. Obelisk press was run by Run by Jack Kahane, an admirer of Joyce’s work, and Desmond Harmsworth.

Editions were signed by Joyce and offered for sale at £12. Joyce sent copies to other authors and connections in the publishing world. His letter to the Librarian at University College Galway notes that copies were also deposited in the British Museum Library and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, France.

Inscription by James Joyce

Joyce’s letter to Prof. John Howley, University Librarian of U.C.G., was written in August 1935 and in it he indicates that his uncle-in-law, Michael Healy, had requested him to send a copy of the special edition of Pomes Penyeach to the Library. Joyce states that he was doing so not only because the illustrator was a “grand-daughter of Galway” and the bearer of one of the ancient tribal names but also as a token of appreciation of the support he had received over the years from Michael Healy himself.

Letter from Joyce to UCG Librarian, 1935

The story takes a twist when one looks at the poem, 'She Weeps Over Rahoon'. The wall of the graveyard in Rahoon now bears a plaque bearing an inscription of the poem. The graveyard also holds the family vault of the Bodkin Family of Galway and in it lies the remains of 17 year-old Michael Bodkin, who prior to his early and untimely death was the boyfriend of the young Nora Barnacle. Nora, of course would later be the love of James Joyce.

Example of illustration in 'Pomes Peanyeach'
'She Weeps Over Rahoon' - Rahoon Graveyard

In 'The Dead', Joyce's masterpiece finale to his volume of short-stories, Dubliners, the character of Gretta Conroy mourns still the death of her young lover, also named Michael, and who died many years previously in Galway. In a powerful climactic scene of the film version of 'The Dead', directed by John Huston, Gretta (played by Anjelica Huston) tells for the first time to Gabriel (Donal McCann) of her past love for Michael Furey:

"O, I am thinking about that song, 'The Lass of Aughrim'. . . I am thinking about a person who used to sing that song . . . I think he died for me."

'The Dead' - from the Huston Archive
Script cover page - 'The Dead' - from Huston Archive

Scene of revealing of past love for Michael Furey - 'The Dead'
From the Huston Archive

Scholars have debated that this Michael Furey is indeed the same Michael Bodkin who was in love with and loved by Nora Barnacle and whom Joyce had written into the story "The Dead". What is for certain is that this is truly a gripping and masterful story, a love story of reality and fiction.

The Huston archive online exhibition is available here

For more on the Archive and Special Collections of the Hardiman Library please click here.