Rare Books Group Pull-Up at IFLA WLIC

A promotional pull-up banner, focusing on the Library Association of Ireland’s Rare Books Group, was originally created for Library Boulevard, part of the 87th IFLA World Library & Information Congress held in Dublin in July 2022. Library Boulevard displayed a large number of pull-up banners to showcase what libraries and library staff do in Ireland. To share more about the rich and diverse collection images of maps, manuscripts, bookbindings, prints, libraries, printed works and illustrations used within the pull-up banner we’ve created this blog post.

Promotional pull-up banner for the Library Assocation of Ireland’s Rare Books Group.

Maynooth University Library – Book of Hours 

There is a small collection of medieval manuscripts in the Russell Library of St. Patrick’s College Maynooth. Included in the collection are three Books of Hours. A Book of Hours is a devotional text for the laity and includes prayers and psalms for each stage of the day. They often include information on the lives of saints, both locally important and universally honoured. This type of medieval manuscript was one of the most popular books of the late Middle Ages and are often beautifully decorated and illustrated with religious scenes.

Page from a Book of Hours. At the top of the page a woman is sitting reading in a garden and underneath the image is a block of text. Around the image and text is a decorated border with swirls and leaves.
Book of hours, Russell Library

Royal Irish Academy Library – The Cathach

The Cathach / The Psalter of St Columba (RIA MS 12 R 33) is the oldest extant Irish manuscript of the Psalter and is held in the Royal Irish Academy Library. It may also be the earliest example of the form of Irish writing known as insular majuscule script. The surviving portion of the manuscript contains a Vulgate version of Psalms XXX (10) to CV (13) with an interpretative rubric or heading before each psalm. It is written in Latin. It is traditionally ascribed to St Columba (Colum Cille) as the copy, made at night in haste by a miraculous light, of a Psalter lent to Columba by St Finnian. A dispute arose about the ownership of the copy and King Diarmait Mac Cerbhaill gave the judgment ‘To every cow belongs her calf, therefore to every book belongs its copy’. The arbitration failed and the controversy led to the battle of Cúl Dreimne in AD 561, where an alliance of northern septs defeated King Diarmait. St Columba left Ireland and went to Iona in AD 563, perhaps exiled as punishment for the lives lost in the battle. The Cathach is digitised and available on Irish Script on Screen.

A folio from the Cathach. There is one decorated letter.
Cathach, f.19r, Royal Irish Academy Library

The Edward Worth Library – Bookbindings

The book-collection assembled by Edward Worth (1676-1733), a notable Dublin physician, is one of the treasures of the city’s cultural inheritance. The Edward Worth Library is housed in Dr Steevens’ Hospital, an institution of which Worth was a governor and major benefactor. Worth collected as a man of science, a gentleman, and a connoisseur. Beside medical books, ancient and modern (ie. 18th century), one finds important contributions to the study of related sciences, then philosophy, the classics, history etc. Worth was particularly interested in the book as object: the collection not only holds fine examples of sixteenth-century typography but is also considered to be the best collection of early modern book bindings in Ireland.

Highly decorated spine bindings in red spine title labels and gold tooled intricate designs in panels down the spine.
A selection of books in the Edward Worth Library.

University College Dublin Library – Foras Feasa ar Éirinn

UCD O’Curry Ms 15, is a 1698 copy of Geoffrey Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Éirinn which was once owned by the 19th century antiquarian Eugene O’Curry. Foras Feasa, was written in 1634 and translates literally as a Compendium of Knowledge about Ireland. It was written in two parts, the first book spans earliest times to the coming of Christianity, and the second from the time of St Patrick in the fifth century to the coming of the Normans to Ireland in the late twelfth century. This is University College Dublin Library‘s oldest copy of this Keating work which also features in the Morris and Ó Lochlainn manuscript collections. The scribes are Uilliam Ó Loingsigh, or William Lynch, and Richard Tipper. As you can see from this image, the title page of this 17th century manuscript is arranged like a printed book with hand drawn embellishments that look like printed headpieces and tail pieces.

TItle page to Foras Feasa ar Eirinn. There is a highly decorated border are found the title.
Foras Feasa ar Éirinn, UCD Library

Marsh’s Library – An 18th Century Library

Marsh’s Library is a perfectly preserved library of the early Enlightenment in central Dublin. It opened in 1707 as the first public library in Ireland and still welcomes visitors, tourists and scholars. The interior of the Library has remained unchanged for over three centuries. The library houses important book and manuscript collections. It houses more than 25,000 early-modern printed books. Its holdings in this area are widely known, but its more than 300 manuscripts from the medieval and early modern periods are comparatively unknown even among specialists. The image shows a view of the first gallery of Marsh’s Library with the portrait of the founder, Narcissus Marsh (1638-1713).

Photo of the interior of Marsh's Library. On either side of an aisle are bookshelves with book-bindings showing. At the back of the photo is a portrait of Narcissus Marsh.
Interior of Marsh’s Library.

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies – Ó Fearaoill Manuscript

The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies’ School of Celtic Studies Library aims to provide the best facilities and materials for the purpose of advanced research in the area of Celtic Studies. The Ó Fearaoill Manuscript is a 19th century manuscript and is forms part of the bequest of the late Fr Patrick Ignatius McLoughlin. It is written by a teacher called Seamus O’Fearaoill and is an interesting account of Ogham writing and abbreviations used by Irish scribes. Description: Paper. 20 x 16.5 cm. pp. 190, scribal pagination 1–64 (pp. 3–4 missing) continued in later pencil to 163. The Ó Fearaoill Manuscript is digitised and available on Irish Script on Screen.

A page from an Irish language manuscript. The page shows ogham lettering and there is commentary underneath.
Ó Fearaoill Manuscript, p.21, School of Celtic Studies Library

Chester Beatty

Chester Beatty is the pre-eminent Irish museum promoting the appreciation and understanding of world cultures with holdings of manuscripts, rare books, and other treasures from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Once the private library of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968), a successful American mining engineer, collector and philanthropist, the Chester Beatty is also today a research library for scholars from all over the world. The wide-ranging collections of the Chester Beatty include more than 800 Japanese woodblock prints. This image of two women walking under flowering cherry trees in Edo (modern Tokyo) is from the series 36 Views of Mount Fuji designed by artist Utagawa Hiroshige in 1858. This was the second series Hiroshige designed with this title, bringing new scenes and perspectives to a subject earlier depicted by the equally renowned Hokusai.

Sumida river embankment in Edo by Utagawa Hiroshige Chester Beatty (J 2708)

University College Cork Library – A New and Correct Chart of the Harbour of Corke

A New and Correct Chart of the Harbour of Corke (1759) by the Rev. John Lindsay is an ungraduated chart of Cork with two compass radiates. The soundings and shallows indicate what boats and ships may traverse the channel. The islands in the lower harbour are named: Great Island, Spike Island, Little Rocky Island, Great Rocky Island and Haulboling Island. In addition the map shows a variety of trees, buildings and boats. The map is dedicated to the Lords Commissioners for Executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of Great Britain. The scale on the map is ‘English miles’ and there is a note indicating that this map is a continuation of ‘Corke Harbour’ from a smaller scale. Lindsay served as chaplain on H.M.S. Fougueux and the chart was completed from 1757-1758.

Coloured chart of Cork Harbour showing the islands and water depths. There is a cartouche giving the title of the map on the left.
A New and Correct Chart of the Harbour of Corke, UCC Library.

National Library of Ireland – Féile na Samhna Broadside Poster

The mission of the National Library of Ireland is to collect, preserve, promote and make accessible the documentary and intellectual record of the life of Ireland and to contribute to the provision of access to the larger universe of recorded knowledge. Féile na Samhna ó 29adh Deire Fóghmhair go dtí 3adh Samhain an chuirm cheóil is a broadside poster issued by Conradh na Gaeilge in 1917 for its annual Hallowe’en festival. It advertises a concert and a céilí to be held in the Mansion House. It is printed using a lithographic process by the Dublin firm of [Colm] O’Loughlin, Murphy and Boland and the printer’s stamp is in Irish on the lower right-hand corner.

Multi-coloured page for 'Féile na Samhna ó 29adh Deire Fóghmhair go dtí 3adh Samhain an chuirm cheóil' issued by Conradh na Gaeilge. There is a decorated border coming down from the C of 'Conradh'.
Féile na Samhna Broadside Poster, NLI.

Trinity College Dublin Library – Aibidil gaoidheilge agus caiticiosma

This alphabet and catechism was the first book to be printed in the Irish language and the first to be printed with an Irish type-face. The type was cut under the direction of John Kearney, then Treasurer of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and was made at the expense of Queen Elizabeth I. It is a hybrid fount, containing some roman letters, an italic capital and lower case ‘a’ and some distinctively Irish forms including special ligatures. The book was intended to promote the evangelization of the Irish-speaking population and to open up the latter’s path to knowledge and religion. Only three other copies of the Aibidil are known to exist. Aibidil gaoidheilge agus caiticiosma is from the Library of Trinity College Dublin, shelfmark: OL Safe 1.22

Title page of 'Aibidil gaoidheilge agus caiticiosma' written in a hybrid fount.
Aibidil gaoidheilge agus caiticiosma Baile Átha Cliath [Dublin], 1571. By permission of The Board of Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin.

NUI Galway – Maria Sybilla Merian, Erucarum Ortus

NUIG Library‘s Special Collections holds a copy of Mariam Sibillam Merian, Erucarum ortus, alimentum et paradoxa metamorphosis… (Amstelaedami: apud Joannem Oosterwyk, 1718). Maria Sibylla Merian 1647-1717), naturalist and scientific illustrator, was born in Frankfurt. Her two daughters, Johanna Helena and Dorothea Maria, also became natural history writers and illustrators. In 1699, Merian and Dorothea Maria went on an expedition to the Dutch colony of Suriname, to investigate, document, and illustrate the life cycles of many plants and insects in the jungles. The Erucarum ortus is a Latin translation by Dorothea Maria of her mother’s Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung und sonderbare Blumen-Nahrung, first published in 1679. This work on the origin and transformation of caterpillars into butterflies helped dispel the myth that insects were spontaneously generated. The illustration opposite the title page, is a hand-coloured engraved allegorical frontispiece by Simon Schijnvoet dated 1717.

Coloured print of various people talking around a table. There are two arches around the people.
Maria Sybilla Merian, Erucarum Ortus (Amsterdam, 1717), NUIG Library.

Royal College of Surgeons Library – Print of the first iteration of the RCSI

Grey scale print of the Royal Collection of Surgeons in 1831. The building is in the centre of the print and is flanked by another building on one side and a street in the other. Various figures are on the left in the foreground. The building has one large arch in the middle on the ground floor and a window on either side. There are three large windows on the first floor and a pediment over the first floor.
Anonymous, Royal College of Surgeons, 1810, RCSI Library.

Surgeon’s Hall opened on St Stephen’s Green in 1810 and is the first iteration of Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland on the Green, which was later expanded in 1830. This print is part of the RCSI art collection. RCSI Heritage Collections reflect the history of RCSI as well as the advancement of teaching and practice of surgery and medicine in Ireland. They include the RCSI art collection, photographs, the College archives, manuscripts, pamphlets, antiquarian books, medical instruments, silverware and ephemera.

Posted by Elaine Harrington, on behalf of LAI Rare Books Group.

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Researching Painting Dublin: Using Special Collections for Art History Research

The 2022 Rare Books Group Annual General Meeting took place on Monday 7th March. Following the meeting Dr Kathryn Milligan gave a presentation on ‘Researching Painting Dublin: Using Special Collections for Art History Research.’ The presentation is now available to view below. We would like to thank Kathryn for her most interesting talk.

Painting Dublin, 1886-1949: Visualising a Changing City’ by Kathryn Milligan is available from Manchester University Press.

Scríbhinní i nGaeilge i mBailiúcháin Speisialta in Éirinn – Writings in the Irish Language in Special Collections in Ireland

On December 3rd 2021 the Library Association of Ireland’s Rare Books Group held their Annual Seminar via Zoom. The theme of the seminar was Irish Language collections in Special Collections, in particular manuscript collections. The aim of the seminar was to help us identify links between collections in different institutions and to help inform our users about the variety of collections held throughout Ireland.

Session One
Chair: Margaret Irons


If bibliographies could speak … Clóliosta and the history of print culture in Irish / Mícheál Hoyne, School of Celtic Studies (DIAS)

UCD’s Ferriter and Morris Manuscript Collections /
Meidhbhín Ní Úrdail MRIA, Associate Professor, School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore, UCD

Irish Language Collections in the National Library of Ireland /
Gerard Long, Assistant Keeper, Department of Special Collections, NLI

Session Two
Chair: Alexandra Caccamo

Lámhscríbhinní de hÍde and others : Irish Language Manuscripts, James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway / Marie Boran, Special Collections Librarian, James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway

Eugene O’Curry’s Gaelic Manuscripts, the Colm Ó Lochlainn Manuscripts and other Manuscripts in UCD Library / Evelyn Flanagan, Head of Special Collections, UCD Library

The Irish Language Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College Dublin
/ Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin

A Call for Public Aid: Forming & Developing UCC’s Irish Language Manuscript Collection / Elaine Harrington, Special Collections Librarian, UCC Library

Irish Language Manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy /
Meadhbh Murphy, Deputy Librarian, RIA

Gaelic Manuscripts in the Russell Library, Maynooth /
Yvette Campbell, Assistant Librarian, Collections & Content, NUIM

RBG / CDG Workshop: ‘Introduction to Special Collections’

The annual Rare Books Group workshop took place online in early October. Organised in collaboration with the Library Association of Ireland’s Career Development Group, the focus of the event was to give early career professionals and aspiring special collections librarians an insight into working with rare books and unique and distinct collections.

Presentations included an overview of the material found in special collections along with its handling and care, a working day of a special collections librarian and routes to professional development. The workshop concluded with a panel discussion, chaired by Clare Conneally of the CDG, on the training and recruitment of special collections librarians.

A day working in Special Collections
Amy Boylan, Marsh’s Library

Overview of the types of materials held in Special Collections
Evelyn Flanagan, UCD Library

Handling special collections material – Suppliers of preservation equipment
Evelyn Flanagan, UCD Library

Training & Professional Development: Dundee / Aberystwyth
Celine Ward, Chester Beatty Library

Training & Professional Development: London Rare Books School
Marie Boran, NUI Galway

Online Exhibition: Beggars and Artisans: A Cultural History of Cork’s Franciscan Friary

Front cover to Franciscan Cork: A Souvenir of St. Francis Church Cork. MP 274.19 FRAN, Special Collections, UCC Library.

On the week of 31 May The River-side posted a series of blog posts comprising a student-created online exhibition ‘Beggars and Artisans: A Cultural History of Cork’s Franciscan Friary.’ This online exhibition is curated and overseen by Dr Małgorzata Krasnodębska-D’Aughton, Senior Lecturer, UCC’s School of History and Elaine Harrington, Special Collections Librarian, UCC Library. Two MA in Medieval History students: Morgan Hole and Martha Ewence, created the exhibition as part of HI6091 Skills for Medieval Historians. Dr Małgorzata Krasnodębska-D’Aughton, Senior Lecturer in Medieval History in the School of History has written an introduction to Beggars and Artisans. 

This online exhibition uses printed items from Munster Printing, from UCC Library’s Special Collections, to explore themes of cultural continuity with a particular focus on a single church of St Francis in Cork.  The exhibition celebrates the ongoing collaboration between Special Collections and the MA in Medieval History programme; this collaboration has already brought about four other online exhibitions inspired by the Library’s early modern maps, facsimiles and rare books: Mapping Cork, The Luttrell Psalter, The Book of Kells and Viking Cork. 

We thank Dr Kevin Murray from the Department of Early & Medieval Irish, Prof. Lee Jenkins from the School of English and Dr Anne-Julie Lafaye from the Irish Research Council for addressing our queries in relation to different parts of the blog.

Many thanks from all in the project for the generosity in providing images free of charge from Trinity College Dublin Library, the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society and Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, UCD and UCD-OFM Partnership. Our thanks also to the National Gallery (London) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) in providing images under a Creative Commons license.

More importantly, the project has been completed during the COVID-19 crisis and its completion is a great testimony to the value of teamwork and collegiality, and the commitment of the MA students to produce high quality research during challenging times.


All posts may be accessed via https://blogs.ucc.ie/wordpress/theriverside/tag/beggars-and-artisans/ Please share posts as#BeggarsAndArtisans

Elaine Harrington
Special Collections Librarian
Boole Library, University College Cork,

Rare beyond words – Special Collections and Access in 2020

The LAI Rare Books Group Annual Seminar took place on Friday 20 November and focussed on the  challenges special collections librarians faced during and after lockdown. In true 2020 style the seminar took place online and the videos are available to watch below. A big thank you to all our speakers and all who joined us on the day, we hope to see you in person for the next seminar!

Session One
Chair: Margaret Irons


Down the rabbit hole: moving library (and country) in lockdown / Amy Boylan, Marsh’s Library

Carry on regardless / Sophie Evans, Royal Irish Academy

A researcher’s perspective on closed libraries during lockdown: challenges, changes and collaboration / Chantal Kobel, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

Session Two
Chair – Elaine Harrington

National Library Re-opening – Lessons in contingency planning / Gráinne MacLochlainn, National Library of Ireland

Reopening a university library: politics, persuasion and persistence / John Cox, NUIG

Panel Discussion: What Covid-19 means for Special Collections.
Chair – Evelyn Flanagan

Online Exhibition: Mapping Cork: Trade, culture and politics in medieval and early modern Ireland.

Civitates_Corcke_Map_Full_Page
Page with maps of four Irish cities (Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Cork) in Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Cologne, 1618, edited by Georg Braun, engravings by Abraham Hogenberg. Special Collections, UCC Library.

 

This week (beginning 18 May) The River-side will post a series of blog posts comprising a student-created online exhibition Mapping Cork: Trade, culture and politics in medieval and early modern Ireland. This online exhibition is curated and overseen by Dr Małgorzata Krasnodębska-D’Aughton, Senior Lecturer, UCC’s School of History and Elaine Harrington, Special Collections Librarian, UCC Library. Four MA in Medieval History students: Andrew Neville, Emmanuel Alden, Patrick McKee and David O’Mahony, created the exhibition as part of HI6091 Skills for Medieval Historians. Dr Diarmuid Scully, Lecturer in Medieval History in the School of History has written an introduction to Mapping Cork.

This online exhibition uses a map of Cork from the early seventeenth-century Civitates orbis terrarum housed by UCC’s Special Collections to explore the themes of urban and national identity with a particular focus on Cork city as a centre of trade, culture and politics.

The exhibition celebrates the ongoing collaboration between Special Collections and the MA in Medieval History programme; this collaboration has already brought about three other online exhibitions inspired by the Library’s rare books and facsimiles: The Luttrell PsalterThe Book of Kells and Viking Cork. We thank Dr Hiram Morgan and Dr Diarmuid Scully for their comments and advice on the text of the blog, and Peter Finnegan for his talk on the Blackstone Launchpad facilities available to postgraduate students.

Many thanks from all in the project for the generosity in providing images free of charge from the National Library of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin Library, Utrecht University and the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society. Our thanks also to the National Library of Ireland, Ghent University Library, the British Library, the Library of Congress and Cambridge University in providing fair use or Creative Commons images.

More importantly, the project has been completed during the COVID-19 crisis and its completion is a great testimony to the value of teamwork and collegiality, and the commitment of the MA students to produce high quality research during challenging times.

All posts may be accessed via https://blogs.ucc.ie/wordpress/theriverside/tag/civitates-orbis-terrarum/ Please share posts as #MappingCork.

 

Herbert Dobbie’s cyanotypes of New Zealand ferns

Alexandra Caccamo (Librarian, National Botanic Gardens) discusses a remarkable book of cyanotypes from the special collections of the National Botanic Gardens.

cover 2
New Zealand Ferns. 148 Varieties  by Herbert Dobbie

One of the first tasks I undertook when I started working in the National Botanic Gardens in 2007 was to review the open access collection.  During this audit, I found a number of items that were later moved to the special collections.  One of these items was a thin volume by Herbert Dobbie, entitled New Zealand Ferns. 148 Varieties (1880).  It caught my eye, as it was an unusual book, consisting entirely of cyanotypes.

I had never come across a cyanotype book before so, I was quite excited to find Dobbie’s book on the shelves. Immediately I removed it for safekeeping to the more secure storage of the special collections and started to do some research, finding two articles on Dobbie written by John D. McCraw.

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