Friday, August 19, 2016

ESSE Conference at NUI Galway - Archive Tours and Exhibition

This week (22 - 26 August) NUI Galway welcomes to campus the 13th conference of E.S.S.E The European Society for the Study of English. The Society is a European federation of national higher educational associations which relate to all fields of study within English and the European study and understanding of English languages, literatures in English and cultures of English-speaking peoples.

The Archives service are delighted to support the conference with two exhibitions of literary works which highlight not only NUI Galway's rich collection of literary archives and special collections, writing in Irish and English from Ireland and the west of Ireland but also a visiting exhibition on-loan from the McClay Library of Queen's University Belfast. We hope conference delegates may take some time among a packed week to see the exhibitions and also take part in the daily lunchtime tour of the Archives.

The exhibition within our Archives and Special Collections Reading Room (Ground floor, Hardiman Building) offers a selection of highlights from our literary collections, such as first drafts and published first edition of John McGahern's acclaimed novel The Dark, known as "The Pit" in its initial writing; first editions of Thomas Kilroy's Booker-prize nominated novel, The Big Chapel; poetry in Irish from Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, letters from the late Seamus Heaney; programmes and images of Druid Theatre Company's many international successes such as its 1986 tour of Synge's The Playboy of the Western World and Tom Murphy's Conversations on a Homecoming. John Huston's film adaptation of James Joyce's short-story The Dead, with its deep Galway connections, is represented through material from the archive of Oscar-winning director, John Huston.

Exhibition in our Archives Reading Room
Also on display is a rare first edition of Cúchulain of Muirthemne by Lady Augusta Gregory, which was published in 1902 and represents a version of old Irish legends worked from oral and written folklore and stories collected by Gregory herself. The portrait of Lady Gregory, painted in 1912 by renowned artist Gerard Festus Kelly, also hangs in our Archives Reading Room.
Portrait of Lady Gregory at NUI Galway

Next to these published works are a wall-mounted display of water-colour sketches, painted by artist and playwright, Jack Butler Yeats. Brother of poet and senator, William, this 'Galway notebook' as it is known, contains many beautiful images of the landscape of the West of Ireland and captures the people, topography and culture of the West, through its fields and stone walls, Norman towers and castles and events such as the Galway Races.

In the foyer of the James Hardiman Library (through the electronic turnstiles) one can find the "Shakespeare Lives" exhibition. Assembled from the papers of celebrated Shakespearean actor and director, Sir Kenneth Branagh, located at the McClay Library of Queens University, Belfast, the exhibition offers a timely examination of the staging and reception of Shakespeare's work in Britain and northern Ireland both on-stage and on-screen.

Throughout the ESSE conference there will be daily lunchtime tours of Archives at 1pm, with a chance to see further material and explore in greater detail the documented heritage of the literary and theatrical collections of the Hardiman library. The meeting point is adjacent to the large 'Video Wall' in the foyer of the Hardiman Building. Please see your conference programme booklet for more information.

Looking forward to welcoming all ESSE delegates to Galway and to the Archives!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Gate Theatre Digital Archive now available to research at NUI Galway

The digital archive of the Gate Theatre, Dublin, is now accessible in the Archives Reading Room of the Hardiman Building. Comprising a wealth of material in a range of formats and media, the archive and documents of one of Ireland's leading theatres, from the late 1980s to present, is newly open to study and research.
Rosaleen lenihan as 'Mary Tyrone' in Eugene O'Neill's
'Long Day's Journey into Night', (1998)

The scale of the archive and its digitisation ensures it is a vast resource for the study and understanding of plays performed at the Gate but also of Irish theatrical, social and wider cultural history. Already available within the digital archive are over 10,000 photographs, 11,000 press files, 6,500 pages of programmes, over 2,000 pages of play scripts, 1,700 pages of annotated prompt-scripts, 600 lighting designs and wealth of other material such as posters and handbills. Audio-visual material, including video recordings of productions and audio files of sound scores and design, will also be made available over the course of the digitisation project over coming months.

Programme cover of Gate Theatre's Beckett Festival
The archive of the Gate Theatre comprises material mainly from the period 1980-present, during which the theatre has been managed by Michael Colgan. The Gate under Michael Colgan has distinguished itself internationally for its work with two Nobel Prize winners, Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. There is extensive correspondence with both writers, as well as huge detail about productions of their work. This will be of interest not only to Irish theatre scholars, but to people from further afield. There is also extensive archival material relating to other major writers, including David Mamet, Conor McPherson and Brian Friel. Indeed, Friel premiered seven plays at the Gate during the last 20 years of his life.

The Gate also has a long tradition of working with some of the world’s great actors; the archive features material relating to Orson Welles, Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Penelope Wilton, Stephen Rea, Ian Holm, Liam Neeson, Charles Dance, and many others.

By connecting the Gate material to existing archival material at Hardiman Library on the Abbey and Druid theatres, playwright Thomas Kilroy, actress Siobhan McKenna and numerous other collections, NUI Galway’s status as the leading international centre for the study of Irish theatre is further enhanced.

This video provides an overview of the archive and its content.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

'Shakespeare Lives' - Exhibition now on at Hardiman Library

Shakespeare Lives through Kenneth Branagh on Stage and Screen

James Hardiman Library Foyer

16-26 August, 2016

Shakespeare Lives is an unprecedented global programme of events and activities celebrating William Shakespeare’s work on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.

This exhibition celebrates the work of Kenneth Branagh in bringing Shakespeare to life on stage and screen and making the work of the Bard accessible to a global audience.
'Shakespeare Lives' exhibition at the Hardiman Library, NUI Galway

It features rarely seen artefacts from the Sir Kenneth Branagh Archive in Special Collections, the McClay Library at Queen’s University Belfast, which illustrate the actor-director’s remarkable Shakespearean career, from his debut as Henry V with the Royal Shakespeare Company aged just 23 to his Oscar-nominated screen adaptation of Hamlet, and beyond.

The exhibition is part of the programme, Shakespeare Lives across the Island: Conversations and Celebrations - 

It will run throughout 2016, exploring Shakespeare as a living writer who still speaks for all people and nations.

Kindly hosted by James Hardiman Library, National University of Ireland, Galway

Monday, August 8, 2016

Building an Exhibition - Jordan Markey, Research Intern, "A University in War and Revolution"

Experience as Research Intern in ‘A University in War and Revolution, 1913 - 1919‘ Project and Exhibition.

Jordan Markey
My name is Jordan Markey. I have just completed a B.A. in History and Geography in NUI Galway and I am currently starting my studies for the M.A. in History here. In the Spring of 2015 I was made aware of a number of exclusive places for undergraduate history students to get involved in an upcoming exhibition in the university based on the Irish revolutionary period of 1914 – 23. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the three students brought on to assist with the project – the only of which that wasn’t in the final year of their undergraduate students.

My role as a research intern consisted of perusing the variety of collections within NUI Galway’s Special Collections and archives for a range of materials relating to the involvement of University College Galway in nationalism, republicanism and the events of the Easter Rising in Galway. My research brought me to investigate a broad range of materials, such as personal collections, local and national newspapers, manuscripts, witness statements and memoirs. Gathering this material also involved external trips to institutions such as the National Library, National Archives and County Museums. The final phase of my work was to compile a report of what I had discovered, and make a critical assessment of what would be the optimal material and stories to feature in a visual exhibition.
Working on this project has been immensely enjoyable, intellectually rewarding and allowed me to challenge myself academically and personally.

 I have engaged with institutions such as archives, museums and libraries to an unprecedented extent in my academic career so far, leaving them being seen no longer as imposing, closed off spaces, but as very accessible, valuable and versatile places for many different avenues of research and learning. I have also met and forged professional relationships with various historians and archivists, as well as those in librarian and support services both in Galway and throughout Ireland. I have also challenged my critical thinking and research methodologies by being engaged with a project on an unparalleled scale to what I have been involved with before. It was also challenging, yet very exciting, to broaden my research interests by studying an area outside of my personal expertise.

Looking back, I am extremely glad that I decided to get involved in this project. While it was not without the odd hurdle, it was a very fulfilling few weeks and a great learning process for someone like myself who is interested in a career in history. The official launch of the exhibition was a moment of great personal pride and fulfilment for a lot of challenging work. If another such opportunity arose again I would absolutely not hesitate to put myself forward and get stuck right in. I would also encourage anyone in a similar position to myself, or just with an interest in historical studies and practice, to make the most of an opportunity like this.

I would like to extend my thanks to the project co-ordinators, staff in the James Hardiman Library/Special Collections and the History Department of NUI Galway for their guidance, assistance and giving me the opportunity to work on this very worthwhile project.

Monday, July 25, 2016

"Riders upon galloping horses" - Galway Races from the Archives

Cover of programme, Galway Races, 1969
An evening at the Galway races over a century ago inspired the poet W.B. Yeats to write a poem especially to mark what he had experienced. Written at the home of his friend and collaborator, Lady Augusta Gregory, Coole Park, in county Galway in 1908, "At the Galway Races" sums up the spectacle, passion and revelry that the unique annual Galway race meeting brings. There is also a series of watercolour sketches by Jack.B Yeats which depict various scenes from the Galway Races, race meetings, horse and trade fairs in the West of Ireland dating from 1900 and which are on display in our Archives and Special Collections Reading Room.

At Galway Races
There where the course is,
Delight makes all of the one mind,
The riders upon the galloping horses,
The crowd that closes in behind:
. . . .
Its flesh being wild, and it again
Crying aloud as the racecourse is,

And we find hearteners among men
That ride upon horses."                                  

Within the archives of the Hardiman Library is a race card from the centennial meeting of the Galway Races. The 1969 meeting marked 'a century of racing at Ballybrit' and in particular, its centrepiece event, the Galway Plate. The programme includes a note on the history of the races written by Christy Townley, then Librarian of the Hardiman Library, U.C.G., as the University was then known. 

The runners and riders for the centennial plate race are listed - thirteen listed starters in all. The prize money is detailed and the distance noted as being "two miles and about five furlongs". The owner of the race-card lists the placed finishers with the winner of the 1969 Galway Plate being "Royal Day", owned by Mr. P. Dunne Cullinan and trained by P. Sleator. (there is no evidence that this racegoer had the winner backed!)

Entrants in Galway Plate, 1969
Also of note on the back cover of the programme is a tip for "an essential for Galway Week . . ." and being "a credit or deposit account with Tote Investors (Ireland) Ltd." Hopefully that 'credit account' did not grow too large. 

Happy race-going to all!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

French Playboys of the Western World

As the build-up begins to the awarding of the designation of European Capital of Culture, a look into the archives reveal endless cultural exchanges between Galway, its people, place and of course culture and the continent. In 1984, La Baladin du Monde Occidental (The Playboy of the Western World) a French translation of the iconic play written by J.M Synge, was produced in Galway by a French theatre group - Théâtre du Pré Perché, a theatre group from Brittany. The play was produced at the Jesuit Hall in Salthill, a venue also used by other theatre groups such as Druid Theatre Company on various occasions.

A further French production of 'Le Balladin' and a programme for which is within the Druid Theatre Company archives at the Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, is a production by 'Théâtre des Treize Vents', the national dramatic centre of the region of Langeudoc-Roussillon, based in Montpellier. The programme contains numerous articles on the history of the play, information on the culture and history of the West of Ireland and a biography of Synge.

In 1896, Synge had a chance encounter with the poet and dramatist, W. B. Yeats, who gave Synge the now famous advice, which was to give up Paris and go to the Aran Islands. "Live there as if you were one of the people themselves; express a life that has never found expression." As well as the volume of essays published by Synge in his "The Aran Islands", the infamous 'Playboy' was born from that trip and as can be seen in these images, brought the wild stories of Christy Mahon to the French  language.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Public Lecture: Myth and Memory: the Battle of Aughrim (1691)

Myth and Memory: the Battle of Aughrim (1691)
to mark the bequest of the Morrissey Collection to the James Hardiman Library by Colman Morrissey

Dr Pádraig Lenihan

Discipline of History, NUI Galway
8.00 pm, Tuesday 31st May 2016

Aula Maxima, Quadrangle, NUI Galway

All Welcome

NUI Galway has received a significant donation of books about the Williamite War (1689-91) in Ireland and its aftermath from Colman Morrissey, son of a graduate of the University.

Over a period of 45 years Colman assembled the collection of over 200 Volumes containing all the known contemporary accounts of the war. For example the collection includes a copy (one of only 200) of John T Gilbert’s 1892 edition of the early eighteenth century manuscript ‘The Light to the Blind’. A highlight of the collection is a List of Claims  printed in 1701 of the Court  held in Chichester House (now the Bank of Ireland on College Green) Dublin where lands confiscated from the Irish Catholic losers and granted to the winners. This massive tome contains details of the former owners and the actual judgements on the claims written in by hand and so is a unique record of the land confiscations and transfers.

Other highlights include: the first biography of William of Orange/William III in 1703 in original binding; the first biography of King James II by J S Clarke published in 1816 also in original binding; the English 1759 translation of the Memoirs of the Duke of Berwick (natural son of James and a celebrated general in French service); a signed copy of William King’s influential State of the Protestants in Ireland…published in 1691; and its refutation by Charles Leslie in 1692. A framed copy of the 1688 Proclamation by Richard Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnell, proscribing persons in the province of Ulster and the town of Sligo as traitors is also included.

In addition there are copies of most of the publications by subsequent authors, including definitive Army Lists of the Jacobite Army, together with numerous shorter contemporary manuscripts describing parts of the conflict in various regions of the country, both North and South. In addition, the collection contains most of the publications from the 20th century dealing with the conflict including some rare items. Most items are in their original bindings and where repairs or rebindings have been necessary they have been carried out in a most professional manner.

John Cox, University Librarian at NUI Galway, said: “This is a wonderful collection and it is a real honour to receive it and to add it to the Library’s special collections. Colman has brought all his passion for this period of Irish history to bear on the collection, making great efforts to assemble it and often tracking down books in unusual places.”

Colman’s fascination with the Jacobite War was inspired by a boyhood visit to the Aughrim battle site. He was brought by his father, a friend of Martin Joyce, the local schoolmaster and guardian of the memory of Aughrim. This passion was subsequently reawakened by Richard Murphy’s 1965 epic poem on the Battle of Aughrim. The decision to donate the collection to NUIGalway in memory of the donor’s father, Joseph H. Morrissey, was taken because the Battle of Aughrim, the bloodiest and most decisive battle in Irish history, was fought in Connacht and because the donor’s father was a graduate of NUI Galway, or UCG as it was known then, where he attained a B.A. degree (with Martin Joyce) in 1935.
Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, said: “This is a most generous donation by Colman Morrissey, representing a lifetime of collecting, and we are delighted to honour the memory of his father in receiving it. The collection will be of great value to researchers now and in the future”.

NUI Galway’s Dr Pádraig Lenihan commented: “The collection will provide a wonderful resource to those interested in a time when the west was awake and events of continental reverberations took place on our doorstep.”

The Morrissey Collection will be included in the Special Collections of the Library and located in the Hardiman Research Building.