Digital Drama

Posted on April 26, 2017 in Digital, Special collections by Aedin

We have not digitized anything in our Irish theatre collections. While we have a great collection of theatre programs and scripts, much of this is in copyright.

But I have been watching with great interest the digital project of the plays of Dion Boucicault at the University of Southern Florida, and the potential it holds for scholars of Irish drama.

The Dion Boucicault Collection at USF Libraries is one of the largest Boucicault collections in the world. Under Matt Knight’s careful stewardship, selected works are displayed and contextualized in a clear and easily-navigated website.  The introduction explains that Dublin-born Boucicault was wary of publishing his plays for fear of piracy, and therefore few of his scripts exist in print.

The collection website lists fourteen plays of which ten are currently available on the site. These include The Shaughraun and Robert Emmet.  Selecting a play from the menu takes you to an introductory page with brief information on the play and its performance, and links to the digital items, in most cases a promptbook which can be viewed online or downloaded, and a transcript.

The promptbook for Marriage, for example, is described in the catalog as “typed pages with extensive notes from the stenographer and minor notes from the author”.

The Shaughraun section includes the most interesting content, with multiple promptbooks and photographs from various productions of the play.

After exploring the website, I sought more information on USF’s collection and sure enough I found a library finding aid, or archival description, of the Dion Boucicault Theatre Collection 1843-1887. Here we learn that the collection was originally bequeathed by Dion Boucicault to his widow Louise Thorndyke, and was sold a couple of times before being acquired by USF.

The collection consists of 27 boxes, and the finding aid provides a detailed list of contents.

I wish the website had a link to the finding aid and a brief explanation of the scope of the collection, and that the finding aid likewise provided some indication of the digital project. That would be of great assistance to people who stumble on either one.

I hope more collections will be digitized in a similar way, and and I expect to spend much time exploring this website as we learn to use our library’s digital exhibit facility.




Weekly Freeman

Posted on April 20, 2017 in Uncategorized by Aedin

A Volume of Weekly Freeman cartoons from the 1880s was recently added to our collection. The RBSC Blog has a brief description:


Recent Acquisition: Tenants, Evictions and Newspapers: a volume of cartoons from the Weekly Freeman

The cartoons may be viewed in the Reading Room of the Hesburgh Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections Department.



The Easter Rising Exhibit

Posted on March 23, 2016 in Special collections by Aedin

1916 exhibit poster

Throughout the world, Irish people are commemorating the Easter Rising of 1916. Films, documentaries, performances, exhibitions, and newly-written books on 1916, the people and the events, are everywhere.

The University of Notre Dame has made a very important contribution with the three-part documentary by Professor Bríona Nic Dhiarmada, 1916: The Irish Rebellion.

At the Hesburgh Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections, an exhibit of books, manuscripts and ephemera is on display until April 28th. Easter, 1916: The Irish Rebellion features books by leaders and participants, a very rare copy of the poem Easter, 1916 by W. B. Yeats, a letter from Sir Roger Casement, and a manuscript record of South Bend residents’ subscriptions for an Irish Government bond.

Information on hours and tours is on the Rare Books website.

Last lines of a 1914 letter from Mary Colum seeking money for arms.

Last lines of a 1914 letter from Mary Colum seeking money for arms.

Radharc Documentaries in the Hesburgh Library

Posted on February 1, 2016 in Media by Aedin

Anois teacht an earraigh beidh an lá ag dul chun síneadh,
Is tar éis na féil Bríde ardóidh mé mo sheol.

Most Irish schoolchildren were introduced to those lines at some time, and so the first of February, in addition to being the feastday of Saint Brigid, is associated with Raifteirí the poet’s celebration of Cill Aodáin in County Mayo. The lines are translated as follows:

Now with the coming of spring the day will begin to stretch,
And after St. Brigid’s Day I will hoist my sail.

Bridgits NightAmong the Hesburgh Library’s DVDs is a short documentary in Irish, made in 1961, describing Donegal traditions on the night of St. Brigid. The eight-minute film shows the family making crosses, preparing food and following the traditional prayers for the protection of Saint Brigid.

This is only one of the films in the Radharc collection, a very rich and interesting collection of documentaries in the library’s DVD collection.  Radharc documentaries were made by a Catholic group headed by Fr. Joe Dunn, from the early 1960s until the 1990s. The documentaries cover topics that were of interest to Irish Catholics, including history and social concerns, and also the affairs of other countries, particularly where Irish emigrants or Irish missionaries were involved. Thus there are documentaries on the Philippines, Mexico, Nigeria, El Salvador, the United States and England, with coverage of food aid to Biafra, religious orders, and Irish immigrant workers in England.

For a guide to the Radharc Collection at the Hesburgh Library, please consult the Libguide Ireland On Film: Radharc Documentaries.

These and other DVDs are in the Library’s Lower Level.


October Arrivals

Posted on October 19, 2015 in Uncategorized by Aedin

Oct 18 book 6Here is a small sample of our recent arrivals:

Semibreve by John F. Deane.  Carcanet.

A Hundred Doors by Michael Longley. Wake Forest

One Wide Expanse by Michael Longley. UCD Press.

What Just Happened by Sara Berkeley Tolchin. Gallery Press.

There Now by Eamon Grennan. Gallery Press.

What’s left of the Flag by Jimmy Murphy. Samuel French.

Blue Raincoat Theatre Company by Rhona Trench. Carysfort.

Radical Contemporary Theatre Practices by Women in Ireland edited by Miriam Haughton and Mária Kurdi. Carysfort Press.

Medieval Ecclesiastical Buildings in Ireland, 1789-1915: Building on the Past, by Niamh Nic Ghabhann. Four Courts.

Clerics, Kings and Vikings: Essays on Medieval Ireland in Honour of Donnchadh Ó Corráin, edited by Emer Purcell et al. Four Courts.

Oct 18 book 8Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, Unrepentant Fenian by Shane Kenna. Irish Academic Press.

Terrible Queer Creatures: Homosexuality in Irish History by Brian Lacey. Wordwell.

The Tudor Discovery of Ireland by Christopher Maginn and Steven G. Ellis.  Four Courts.

Three Centuries of Irish Art: Crawford Art Gallery Collection.

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh: Selected Writings and Speeches, 1970-1986. Cló Saoirse /Irish Freedom Press.

Cumann na mBan. 100 Years Defending the Republic. Lita Ní Chathmhaoil and Dieter Reinisch. Cló Saoirse/ Irish Freedom Press.

Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland. Andrew Sneddon.

The Postcolonial Traveler: Kate O’Brien and the Basques = La Viajera Poscolonial/ Kate O’Brien y Euskadi.  Academica.

The Economics of Schooling in a Divided Society: The Case for Shared Education. Vani K. Borooah and Colin Knox. Palgrave

All these books are now listed in the Library Catalog.






Two Manuscripts in the O’Neill Collection

Posted on July 10, 2015 in Digital, Old Books, Special collections by Aedin

Hudson image

In 1931 Captain Francis O’Neill, one of the great collectors of Irish music, gave his library to the University of Notre Dame. O’Neill, born in County Cork in 1848, left Ireland in his teens and after some interesting years which included working as a sailor, settled into a career in the Chicago police force, becoming Chief of Police in 1901. Throughout his life his passion was Irish music, and he collected assiduously from Irish immigrants in the Chicago area. He also amassed a large collection of books on music and on Irish history, and these books, now in the Hesburgh Special Collections, show signs of his research in small pencil marks in the margins.

Many Irish dance tunes might have been lost but for the collections that O’Neill published. His collections are among the most important sources of Irish dance music.

In addition to the books, the Library received two manuscript books, each with an interesting provenance. The manuscripts were in poor condition, and have recently been taken to the Conservation Lab where conservator Sue Donovan stabilized bindings, carried out some mending and re-sewing, and returned them to the Rare Books Department in new custom-made cases.

They have also been digitally scanned, and may be viewed by clicking on the links below.

Reidy page
MSE 1435-B

P.D. Reidy Manuscript. [c1890]

Manuscript of Patrick Reidy, Professor of Dance.

The Dancing Master was popular in rural Ireland in the nineteenth century. Travelling dancing masters would stay some weeks in an area, and hold classes there. O’Neill devotes a chapter to the Dancing Master in his Irish Minstrels and Musicians (Chicago, 1913).

With the Irish peasantry dancing was a passion, hence the necessity for a teacher. On stated evenings during the winter, regardless of the condition of the roads, or the inclemency of the weather, a large company of aspirants for the skill, ranging in age from ten to forty years, would assemble in some roomy barn having a smooth hard floor of clay to be instructed in the salutatory art…
O’Neill 421

London in the 1890s had a large Irish population, and had its own branch of the Gaelic League by 1897, and when this branch eventually engaged a professional teacher for dance classes, they found Patrick Reidy, or Professor Reidy, a well-known dancing master from Kerry, living in Hackney, London.

It was Reidy who introduced and taught the group dances such as ‘The Siege of Ennis’ and ‘The Walls of Limerick’ which first became popular in London Gaelic League gatherings, then spread throughout England and into Ireland, through Gaelic League activities such as the 1901 Oireachtas in Dublin. Reidy was also one of the chief sources for the dances in A Handbook of Irish Dances (1902).

Our information on the manuscript in Captain O’Neill’s collection comes from O’Neill’s Irish Minstrels and Musicians. Apparently he and O’Neill were corresponding, and according to O’Neill, “the talented and kindly ‘Professor of Dancing, London and Castleisland,’ obligingly forwarded us a MS. book of music and a treatise from his own pen entitled: Dancing-Theory as It Should Be.”

This manuscript contains 37 pages of music, mostly dance tunes although there are some slow airs. A note on the source is often provided, with occasional additional comments such as that on the illustration above.

For more information on Patrick Reidy and the development of Irish céilí dancing, see Nicholas Carolan: The beginnings of ceili dancing: London in the 1890s. Dublin: Irish Traditional Music Archive, 2012. PDF:

MSE 1434-B
H. Hudson Manuscript [c.1841]

Manuscript of Henry Hudson of Dublin.

Henry Hudson (1798-1889) was a Dublin dentist and one of the early collectors of Irish songs and music. He collected and transcribed music and published selections, 106 melodies in all, in The Citizen or Dublin Monthly Magazine, of which he was musical editor from 1841 to 1843.

In a letter written to Charlotte Milligan Fox, dated July 28th, 1911, O’Neill explains that he purchased the Hudson manuscript volume through Nassau Massey of Cork. Of the other six manuscripts in Hudson’s collection, five are in Boston Public Library and one is in the National Library of Ireland.

O’Neill describes his volume as follows:

‘Vol. 3 – H. Hudson’ is strongly penned on the outside of the cover. On the inside of the front cover, and continued along the   fly-leaf, is an index commencing with No. 243 and ending with 370, followed by the signature, ‘H. Hudson, 24 Stephen’s Green.’ The little volume is oblong, 9 by 3¾ inches.
Of the total number of tunes and airs –128—full fifty seem to have been taken from another numbered MSS. collection made by F. M. Bell, who credits them to Mrs. Foley, Margaret Foley, Mary Parker, and Margaret Kearney.
Others to whom H. Hudson acknowledges his indebtedness are James Barton, John Barton, John McFail, besides Simon Sullivan and Jack Piggott, pipers; also ‘Dublin Ballad-singer,’ Cocks’ ‘Encyclopædia of Melody,’ Walker’s ‘Hibernian magazine,’ and ‘Ordnance Survey of Londonderry.’
Perhaps the most interesting notation in the volume is: ‘The Maid of Sweet Gurteen,’ taken down by W. E. Hudson from singing of a little girl, Trassan (?) Street, six o’clock p.m., 9th December, 1840; and ‘Erin’s Lovely Home,’ taken down by W. E. Hudson, Naas, 17th December, 1840.

C. Milligan Fox “Concerning the William Elliott Hudson Collection of Irish Folk Songs” in the Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, Vol. X (1912), pp. 5-9.

Gulliver’s Travels

Posted on March 17, 2015 in Old Books, Special collections by Aedin
Plate from Gulliver's Travels illustrated by Arthur Rackham.

Plate from Gulliver’s Travels illustrated by Arthur Rackham.

The Hesburgh Special Collections has an excellent collection of Jonathan Swift. The collection was developed from two main sources, the Vienken Collection and the Michael Foot Collection.

The collection of Gulliver’s Travels spans a couple of centuries, from the earliest editions printed in 1726 and 1727 to illustrated editions of the twentieth century.

I’m preparing for a class visit, and selecting the editions to have on view.  There are so many!  I should select one early edition, one translation, and one or two later illustrated editions.  Below are some of the editions currently on my shelf:

Thomson endGulliver’s travels into several remote nations of the world by Jonathan Swift; with a memoir of the author ; illustrated with upwards of 300 wood-engravings, from designs by J.G. Thomson, engraved by W.L. Thomas.London: S.O. Beeton, [1864?]

Even the “memoir of the author” is illustrated.



Gulliver’s travels into several remote regions of the world: in four parts by Jonathan Swift; illustrated by above 100 designs by Gordon Browne. London : Blackie, 1886.

This one is “adapted and edited for youth”.


French 1813Voyages de Gulliver traduits de l’anglais de Swift par l’abbé Des Fontaine. Paris : Chez Billois, 1813.

This translation was first published in France in 1727.

The bibliography of Swift, frequently referred to as “Teerink”, whose numbers are used to identify various editions, is available for use in the Special Collections Reading Room: H. Teerink, A Bibliography of the Writings of Jonathan Swift, second edition, ed. Arthur H. Scouten. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1963.

The illustration at the top of this page is one of my favorites.  It is from the following 1909 edition: Gulliver’s travels into several remote nations of the world / Jonathan Swift; illustrated by Arthur Rackham. London : J.M. Dent & Co. ; New York : E.P. Dutton & Co., 1909.

Malton’s Views of Dublin

Posted on February 13, 2015 in Old Books, Special collections by Aedin

Malton Capel St BridgeThe Hesburgh Library Special Collections recently acquired a very handsome edition of Malton’s Views of Dublin.

James Malton. A Picturesque and Descriptive View of the City of Dublin Described. In a series of the most interesting Scenes taken in the year 1791. By James Malton. With a brief authentic history from the earliest accounts to the present time. Engraved titlepage and dedication, Arms of Dublin, a Correct Survey of Dublin as it stood in the year 1610, and twenty-five plates of views. London, 1803.


The detail above is of the view of City Hall across the Liffey from the corner of Capel Street.

New Issues of Journals

Posted on January 6, 2015 in Journals and Magazines by Aedin


Issue 63 of the Dublin Review of Books has just come out.



Among the books reviewed are the following:

Periodicals and Journalism in Twentieth-Century Ireland, Mark O’Brien and Felix M. Larkin (eds), Four Courts Press.
Hesburgh Library status: In process.

Romancing Ireland: Richard Hayward 1892-1964, by Paul Clements.  Lilliput, 2014.
Hesburgh Library: DA 963 .C54 2014

Captain Jack White: Imperialism, Anarchism and the Irish Citizen Army, by Leo Keohane, Merrion Press.
Hesburgh Library status: In process.

Ireland and the Irish in Interwar England, by Mo Moulton, Cambridge University Press.
Hesburgh Library: DA 125 .I7 M68 2014


Irish Studies journals with recent issues:

New Hibernia Review, Vol. 18, no. 4 Winter/Geimhreadh 2014

New Hibernia ReviewProject Muse is our subscription service for this journal, and may be accessed via the Library:

The most recent issue includes the following:

Bob Quinn. Conamara Revolution.

Stephanie Rains. “Do you ring? Or are you rung for?” Mass media, class, and social aspiration in Edwardian Ireland.

Siobhán Campbell. Filíocht Nua: New Poetry.

Mark S. Quigley. Modernization’s lost pasts: Sean O’Faolain, the Bell, and Irish modernization before Lemass.

Tomás Ó h-Íde. Robert Flaherty’s Oidhche Sheanchais: The first film in Irish.

Wes Hamrick. The public sphere and eighteenth-century Ireland.

Ian O’Donnell, David M. Doyle. A family affair? English hangmen and a Dublin jail, 1923-54.

Christelle Serée-Chaussinand. Actaeon revisited: Seamus Heaney and Sinéad Morrissey respond to Titian.

Ellen Scheible. Imperialism, aesthetics, and Gothic confrontation in The Picture of Dorian Gray.


Éire-Ireland:  Volume 49, Issues 3 & 4, Fall/Winter 2014.

eir.49.3-4_front_smThis journal also comes via a subscription to Project Muse, and so the articles may be found via the Library.

Contents of the current issue include the following:

Andy Bielenberg. “Something of the nature of a massacre”: The Bandon Valley Killings revisited.  Andy Bielenberg, John Borgonovo, James S. Donnelly Jr.

Elizabeth Cullingford.  American dreams: Emigration or exile in contemporary Irish fiction?

Ellen McWilliams. “No place is home– It is as it should be”: Exile in the writing of Maeve Brennan.

Darragh Gannon.  The rise of the Rainbow Chasers: Advanced Irish political nationalism in Britain, 1916-22.

Mel Farrell. From Cumann na nGaedheal to Fine Gael: The foundation of the United Ireland party in September 1933.

Nicholas M. Wolf. Introduction: Mathew Carey and Dublin. Nicholas M. Wolf and Benjamin Bankhurst.

Padhraig Higgins. Mathew Carey, Catholic identity, and the Penal Laws.

James Kelly. Mathew Carey’s Irish apprenticeship: Editing the Volunteers Journal, 1783-84.

Nicholas M. Wolf. Advocacy, the Enlightenment, and the Catholic print trade in Mathew Carey’s dublin.

Ronald Schuchard. “Into the heartland of the ordinary”: Seamus Heaney, Thomas Hardy, and the dividied traditions of modern and contemporary poetry.

Terence Brown. Seamus Heaney’s tender Yeats.

Stephen Regan. “Things remembered”: Objects of memory in the poetry of Seamus Heaney.


Estudios Irlandeses, Issue 9 (2014)

Estudios 9Estudios Irlandeses, the peer-reviewd, open source electronic journal of the Spanish Association for Irish Studies, is published online in March, so this issue is not quite so recent.

Among the articles, essays, interviews and translations in Issue 9 are the following:

Mercedes del Campo del Pozo. “Mother Ireland, get off our backs”: Gender, Republicanism and state politics in prison short stories by Northern Irish women writers.

Claire A. Culleton. Competing concepts of culture: Irish art at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games.

Juan F. Elices. Uchronian scenarios in the context of Irish literature: The case of C. B. Gilford’s The Crooked Shamrock.

Bill Gray. “A thrilling beauty”? Violence, transcendence and the Shankill Butchers in Eoin McNamee’s Resurrection Man.

José M. Yebra. The interstitial status of Irish gayness in Colm Tóibín’s The Blackwater Lightship and The Master.




New Books in November 2014

Posted on December 8, 2014 in Uncategorized by Aedin

Kane Elizabeth New arrivals in November include the following:


Elizabeth I and Ireland edited by Brendan Kane and Valerie McGowan-Doyle.  Cambridge U.P., 2014.  DA 355 .E566 2014 *

Maeve’s times: in her own words. Maeve Binchy. Edited by Róisín Ingle.  Introduction by Gordon Snell.  Knopf, 2014.  PR 6052 .I7728 A6 2014

U2: the definitive biography. John Jobling. Thomas Dunne Books, 2014.  ML 421 .U2 J63 2014

Belfast Noir. Edited by Adrian McKinty and Stuart Neville.  Akashic Books, 2014.  PR 1309 .N65 B45 2014

Citizen convicts: Prisoners, politics and the vote. Cormac Behan. Manchester U. P., 2014. JN 1541 .B44 2014

Gender roles in Ireland: Three decades of attitude change. Margaret Fine-Davis. Routledge, 2014. BV 40 .F43 2014

* Check the catalog ( for the current availability of books.