Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ireland's Early Aviators - Images from the Archives

A current exhibition on-going at Dublin Airport celebrating 75 years of civil aviation in Ireland. The exhibition includes photographs depicting the development of Dublin Airport, the place of Aer Lingus and the first pilots, crew and passengers of these first flights.

An interesting link to the collections here at the James Hardiman Library include a series of images within the Ritchie-Pickow archive, which depict scenes of those very years of the first commercial flights in and out of Ireland in the 1940s and 1950s. The images show aircraft, pilots, airport buildings, cabin crew and even a scene of where mass was being said in a hanger at Dublin Airport, which the passengers in attendance. Over 300 images relate to flying and air travel in Ireland alone.

These images are a wonderful insight into the history of aviation in Ireland and a window into the social and economic impact of the growth of flying through tourism, political connections, social events, trade and financial impact that linked Ireland's early aviators.

Here are some images from Ireland's early aviators in the Ritchie-Pickow archive:







You can view an online exhibition of a selection of images from the Ritchie-Pickow archive here.

Duddy, 'Fred' and Brokering Peace in Northern Ireland

Dr. Niall O'Dochartaigh, Prof. Jim Browne, President, NUI
Galway and Brendan Duddy
Throughout over twenty years of violent conflict in Northern Ireland a secret channel of communication linked the IRA to the highest levels of the British government. At the heart of this channel was a single intermediary, Brendan Duddy. His house was the venue for secret negotiations between the British Government and the IRA throughout 1975. He managed the intense negotiations over the Republican hunger strikes in which ten men died (1980-1981) and he was at the heart of the contacts (1991-1993) that culminated in a secret offer of a ceasefire that was a precursor to the public IRA ceasefire of 1994.
Deposited at the Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, the archive of Brendan Duddy provide a unique insight into this channel from the perspective of an individual who operated at the intersection of the two sides. 
The papers include coded diaries of contact kept by Duddy throughout 1975 and early 1976 and a diary kept for several months in 1993 when communication between the British Government and the IRA was at its most intense, as well as documents exchanged between the British Government and the IRA. Taken together with the Ruairí Ó Bradaigh papers, also at NUI Galway, these archives  provide a window on the secret back-channel negotiation that was one of the most intriguing aspects of the Irish peace process.
A recent article published in the London Review of Books and written by BBC journalist Own Bennett Jones, explores in detail the effect a single coded message, whose origins and author are still highly contested today. Owen Bennett Jones tells the story of how Duddy, MI5 operative, codenamed 'Fred' and a note to the British Government headed by John Major, said to have been authorised by Martin McGuinness, declared, "The conflict is over".


An online exhibition of selected material from the Duddy Archive, including extracts from the 1974-75 ceasefire talks and pages from 'the Red Book' kept by Duddy as he tried to broker an end to the 1981 Hunger Strikes is available here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Playback: The Abbey Theatre Digital Archive on "Dúiche", TG4



A great piece exploring the riches of the Abbey Theatre Digital Archive at the Hardiman Library, NUI Galway was aired on "Dúiche", programme, TG4 recently. "Duiche" presented by Síle Nic Chonaonaigh, features in-depth interviews with Hardiman Library Archivist Aisling Keane and Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, NUI Galway, showcasing the scale and scope of the digitisation project and also its implications for teaching, research and learning at NUI Galway. With over one million items of multi-format material available at NUI Galway when the project is completed, it comprises one of the world's greatest theatre, literary and social history collections.

You can watch the programme at the following link with the segment on the Abbey Theatre Archive beginning in the second-half of the programme at c. 11.30 minutes in.

http://www.tg4.tv/play.php?pid=3990732475001&title=D%C3%BAiche&series=D%C3%BAiche

For more on the Abbey Theatre Archive at NUI Galway, you can watch the below video:


Friday, January 9, 2015

Shields, Robinson and O'Casey - but who is the Photographer?

One of the recent television highlights was the wonderful documentary, "Man on the Bridge" - the story of Arthur Fields, the street photographer in Dublin who was known simply as 'the man on the bridge'.

Over a career spanning five decades, Fields took hundreds of thousands of photographs on the streets on Dublin, but strikingly, no negatives survive. The 'Man on Bridge' project sets out to gather those images from people all over Ireland and abroad who may have a photograph of a parent or grandparent on their wall that was taken by Fields.

Within the Shields family archive here at the Hardiman Library, there is a photograph taken by an unknown (or at least unidentified) street photographer, of Arthur Shields, Lennox Robinson and Sean O'Casey. The three are walking down a city street; Shields is to the front and left with Robinson and O'Casey to the right respectively. Robinson is smoking a cigarette and O'Casey, seemingly in conversation with Robinson, is also holding a cigarette.

T13/B/338: Arthur Shields, Lennox Robinson, Sean O'Casey, Summer 1935
The reverse of the photo simply reads, "Summer 1935, Boss, Lennox Robinson, Sean O'Casey". 'Boss' was the nickname for Arthur Shields.

The question remains: Is this photograph taken in Dublin? if so, is Arthur Fields the photographer? 

If so, it is surely one of the most literary and theatrical of Fields' images, with three Irish theatre greats in the image.

If anyone may be able to shed some light and information on this image it would be wonderful to hear.

An online exhibition from the Arthur Shields/Shields family archive, Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, is available here.

You can watch the 'Man on the Bridge' documentary online here.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tim Robinson - The Man and the Archive on 'Arts Tonight'

Tim Robinson
Late 2014 brought the exciting news that the exceptional writer and cartographer, Tim Robinson, would deposit his archive with the Hardiman Library, NUI Galway. Encapsulating a lifetime of work committed to documenting the Irish landscape and in particular the regions of Connemara and the Burren and also the Aran Islands, the Tim Robinson archive is an incredible insight and record of how the landscape has been studied, mapped and documented and now this archive will be catalogued and made accessible for research at the Hardiman Library.

To celebrate this archive, a new book entitled Connemara and Elsewhere, edited by Prof. Jane Conroy, was published by the Royal Irish Academy in association with NUI Galway. Also, Vincent Woods, host of RTE Radio's Arts Tonight series, visited the Hardiman Library to view and explore the archive as well as visit and interview Tim Robinson himself at his home in Roundstone, Co. Galway.

You can listen back to the Arts Tonight special episode here

The Interpreting Landscape exhibition opening up the Tim Robinson archive continues throughout January at the Hardiman Building.




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nollaig Shona


Best wishes of the Season to all our readers, and looking forward to seeing you again when we open again on the 5th January, 2015. The images here come from the Bairead Family Collection. Stiophan Bairead was first Treasurer of the Gaelic League from 1893 to 1920, and one group of items (G3/15) consists of early Christmas cards from the League.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Prof. Kevin Boyle Archive Launch and Symposium


On 28th November a memorable and fascinating series of events saw the Professor Kevin Boyle archive officially launched at NUI Galway. A seminar entitled "the Human Rights Scholar-Activist / Activist-Scholar", excellently organised by the School of Law and Irish Centre for Human Rights, saw a host of local national and international speakers, including keynote speaker, Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, Chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, present papers on not just Kevin Boyle's major contribution to teaching and practising of law and Human Rights advocacy and activism but on wider, current and important issues of human rights law and conditions in Ireland and internationally.

 Following the symposium, the launch of the archives was officiated by the Attorney General Máire Whelan, a former student of Professor Boyle and an alumni of NUI Galway, spoke warmly and passionately about Kevin's contribution and to the potential of the archive for future research.

You can watch all the proceedings of the symposium - The morning session and the afternoon session.

For more on The Professor Kevin Boyle archive and to access the archive catalogue please click here

You can read Irish Times coverage of the launch here