Friday, September 15, 2017

Culture Night 2017


This year’s culture night takes place on the 22 September. Culture night is an annual all-island public event that celebrates culture, creativity and the arts. The James Hardiman Library is holding an evening of talks and an exhibition to celebrate culture. The focus of the talks is on community development with the focus on materials from the Muintir na Tíre collection as well as volumes from the 19th century printed collections.

The James Hardiman Library’s collections hold a rich source of material on local and community studies. In the archives we have collections from The Abbey Theatre, The Gate Theatre, Professor Kevin Boyle, Brendan Duddy, Ritchie-Pickow, Éamon de Buitléar, Tim Robinson and Druid Theatre company to name but a few. The James Hardiman Library has recently acquired the archive of Muintir na Tíre, a national voluntary organisation dedicated to promoting the process of community development. A series of blogs have been written about the work to date of making the collection accessible for researchers. 



The Muintir na Tíre talk will look at Rural Ireland and Landmark two publications of Muintir na Tíre and discuss how they promoted community development before and after the United Nations definition in 1958. These will also be on display in the exhibition. Community development in Galway and the West of Ireland will be discussed as well during the talk. Much earlier attempts at community development in Galway will be addressed in the talk on James Hardiman and his involvement with organisations such as the Royal Galway Institution.

Venue: Room G010, Hardiman Research Building

Talks:
18.30: “Muintir na Tíre Periodical literature”.  Speaker: Fiona Kearney, Archivist

19.30: “James Hardiman, historian of Galway” Speaker: Marie Boran, Special Collections Librarian

We hope you can come along and join us for the evening. 



Friday, September 1, 2017

Muintir na Tíre's financial and governance records

In my last blog I wrote about the various stages of work that an archivist does in preparing a collection to make it accessible in the reading room. Having completed the arrangement (almost) I have now started describing the collection. These descriptions will provide researchers with sign posts to what is contained in a file or bound volume.

The material I have been cataloguing in the collection so far has been mainly financial records and governance records of Muintir na Tíre. The financial records of Muintir na Tíre contain various ledgers detailing membership, income and expenditure, annual reports and petty cash books. The annual reports of Muintir na Tíre date back as far as 1945. Below is an example of the annual report from 1974. These records provide a great understanding of the financial position of Muintir na Tíre throughout its history.  



 

 

The ledgers dealing with membership provide us with the details of the guilds and community councils who registered as members with Muintir na Tíre. The Guild’s Ledgers contain information on the subscriptions that guilds had for Landmark. Below is an example of this. All this valuable information provides us with evidence of the number of guilds/community councils that were members of Muintir na Tíre down through the years. We can ascertain the history of guilds/community councils for the last 80 years from these records as well.


A constitution has been used as the governing method of Muintir na Tíre since its foundation. The constitution has been amended over the years to reflect the development and different ways of working of Muintir na Tíre. In 1996, Muintir na Tíre became a Company Limited by Guarantee and now has a memorandum of understanding and articles of association. They developed guidelines on setting up a community council and they provided a template for the constitution they required if setting up the council as a company limited by guarantee. Examples of some of the constitutions is provided below.



 


We also get an understanding of the election process in Muintir na Tíre. The Honorary Returning Officer was a busy person organising and managing the election process from the nominations to confirming the names of those elected. We see the variety of individual who were nominated and got involved in the National Council.

 


Finally, we also get an understanding of the decisions made by the National Council of Muintir na Tíre. The minutes of the National Executive committee meetings provide the eveidence of the decisions made by the leadership of Muintir na Tíre down through the years. They also show the many discussions that took place on various issues that faced Muintir na Tíre and the many projects they got involved in.



These records provide us with the evidence of how Muintir na Tíre was governed over the last 80 years. The descriptions for these records have been written and while you have to wait until the collection as a whole is catalogued before they are available for consultation, you can start thinking about how you can use this wonderful collection for your research purposes. 

  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Who is Katie Roche? - From the Archives

Programme from opening night, 'Katie Roche', 1936, Abbey Theatre Digital Archive
The story of the eponymous young woman of the play, Katie Roche, is often unbeknown to Irish theatre audiences. Lesser known still is the story of the play’s author, Teresa Deevy. One could be forgiven for confusing the stories of both women, Roche and Deevy – their stories interchangeable where either’s ambition and ability were left unfulfilled by demonstrable forces beyond their control. Authority has a habit of getting in the way.

Such was the case for both Deevy and her play Katie Roche. First performed at the Abbey Theatre in March 1936, the play’s opening night review in the Evening Herald included the following remarks: “The point of the play, if point there is, is most evasive. It seems to be little more than a clever psychological study of a girl who gives her name to the piece.” This critic who describes Katie as a “complex creature as near to insanity as makes no difference” spent most of the review trying to define Katie herself, describing her as full of “gamin elfishness . . . queer, fiery, and at times a pitiful character.” We are still left quite unaware of Katie's story or of who she is or the fate that befalls her.

Screenshot from Abbey Theatre Digital Archive, NUI Galway

Deevy’s play presents a young woman, Katie, who as born out of wedlock, is depicted as someone who is somehow, incomplete, unknowable or wild. In marrying an older man, Stanislaus Gregg, an artist of renown, Katie untimely succumbs to the pressures of conformity, to play ' a role' as a wife and within a family.  

As a reader of this review some eight decades later, one would be none much the wiser as to knowing who Katie is, or what she experienced, or what Deevy sought to accomplish with the play. In fact, the review concludes that the “the people in it are unprobable beings in an unprobable world of their own.” The ‘improbable world’ that the reviewer speaks of relates more to conservative Ireland of the 1930s of which the play is both a product of and a response against. Fintan O’Toole writes that: “It is easy enough to see that she didn’t fit in with the increasingly reactionary atmosphere of the national theatre, however, and that her work raises startlingly blunt questions about the role of women in Éamon de Valera’s Ireland.”

Image from 1975 production of 'Katie Roche'. Abbey Theatre Digital Archive 
The play was one of the most popular at the Abbey theatre throughout the 1930s and foregrounded Waterford-born Deevy as a playwright of much promise, vision and talent. But all would not be so. Newly digitised records from the Abbey Theatre Digital Archive, available at the Hardiman library, NUI Galway, allow researchers a new opportunity to study the history of this play and of Teresa Deevy herself. Research by Abbey Theatre Digital Archive Fellow, Tricia O’Beirne, who transcribed the minute books of the first thirty-five years of the Abbey Board as part of a digitisation project discovered that:

In one of the last entries to the minute books, on the 28 April 1939, Teresa Deevy, the playwright who gave the Abbey one of their most successful plays of the thirties in Katie Roche, is rather mysteriously dismissed from her contract. Previous academic research has tended to place Deevy’s break with the Abbey in the early 1940s, when she submitted Wife to James Whelan which was rejected by Blythe, but here is evidence that in response to her inquiring about her play Holiday House, which had been accepted by the board a year previously, the board decide not to produce it ‘and agreed that the contract with Miss Deevy should be allowed to lapse’. This terminology is not employed elsewhere in the minutes and no explanation is given for the dropping of one of their most popular and critically acclaimed playwrights.

Deevy’s involvement with the Abbey theatre, as a playwright of other new work at least, ends with Katie Roche. After its premiere in 1936, the play was revived in 1937, 1938, 1949, 1953, 1954, 1975 and 1994, before being revived currently on the Abbey stage in 2017. The production history and records of the play, newly digitised for the first time at NUI Galway, reveal how this play, much loved by its original audiences has faded into a sporadic production over the subsequent decades.

From the original production, the stage management files, revealing sketches and drawings of the stage and set, lists of props, cue-sheets for lighting and sound, also included detailed annotation down to the detail of the colour of carpets and curtains used on set. In the absence of photographs, for example, these records are an invaluable account of the original staging which was produced by Hugh Hunt and designed by Tania Moiseiwitsch and provide evidence as to why it struck a chord with both audiences and to those who may have considered Katie “a wild” and dangerous figure for modern Ireland.
Stage management files, 1936, 'Katie Roche', Abbey Theatre Digital Archive


Later records, such as prompt-scripts, give further opportunity to follow how the play was and could be mounted, giving an indication of the craft of Deevy the playwright and evidence as to just why exactly she was known as a playwright of such ability before her contract was “allowed to lapse” in such a crude manner.
Digitised audio reels, 1975, 'Katie Roche' Abbey Theatre Digital Archive


Audio visual records, such as audio files from productions in the 1980s and 1990s give a chance for the first time to hear how the play was scored and a how music and affects were integrated into the production. A video recording of the 1994 production of Katie Roche, on the Peacock stage, starring Dearbhla Crotty in the titular role of Katie, brings the archive story of the play full-circle, allowing us to watch, hear and experience, as far as possible, the play in action and brought to life from the past. More than eighty years after the play was first performed, the archive and records of the play’s production and its reception can bring us closer to knowing more about the complex stories of both Katie Roche and Teresa Deevy.

The transcribed minute books of the Board of the Abbey Theatre 1904 - 1939 are available here.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The work of an archivist

In the first blog post I wrote I spoke about the various stages of the work that an archivist does in preparing a collection to make it accessible in the reading room. I am now down to the last of the boxes and files in the arrangement phase. The time it can take to arrange an archive can vary depending on the size of the archive and the order in which the material is in the archive. 

During the arrangement phase archivists look to keep and respect the order that the creators arranged their own records. In archival terminology this means that I look at the Muintir na Tíre collection as a fonds. This comes from the term respect des fonds, an archival principle which tells us to acknowledge the source, or provenance, of records when we are arranging them. By maintaining the original order we can learn a lot more about the organisation and the records and how Muintir na Tíre worked.

However, this is not always easy to do especially when you receive a collection has been stored like below and no original order has been kept.


Another aspect that makes it hard to appraise and arrange the collection and follow the archival principles described above is when you get a bundle of loose papers. It requires a lot of patience and skill to arrange the material and put some order on it and make sense of the material in the bundles.


My work as an archivist is to help put order on the archive especially the messier aspects of it and provide sense of the records but also help researchers make sense of it. 



The Muintir na Tíre archive as stated in my first blog was partially organised. This work was done by Tom Fitzgerald. Tom Fitzgerald worked in Muintir na Tíre for over 60 years and was the main administrator and was the creator and keeper of the majority of the files within the archive. Building on this work I will provide further sense of the archive.

That means that each item will have been arranged in a hierarchy that will look something like below:


But what does this actually mean? This means that as I am arranging the Muintir na Tíre archive (fonds) that it will be divided into series and subseries which are groupings of the records based on function or theme or subject. The series or subseries would then have files which includes items within them. 

A description will be provided for at the top level and or the file level of the collection. Each file will also be provided with a reference number. The archive uses archival management software to create our catalogues/finding aids and publish the catalogue on line. To view the catalogue go here.

I hope that this blog has given you a further insight into the work of an archivist as we are progressing through the Muintir na Tíre archive and end one phase and begin another. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Celebrating the Galway International Arts Festival - From the Archives


The Galway International Arts Festival is celebrating 40 years this year. Over those many years the Festival has grownt o become not just the highlight of Galway's cultural and artistic calendar every but also that of Ireland, now recognised as one of the major annual arts festivals in Europe.

The archive of the Galway International Arts Festival resides within the archive collections of the Hardiman Library of NUI Galway. It is an amazing record of how the festival was established and grew to attract not just the best of Irish artists and performers of all kinds, but also the cream of international talent. The collection consists of over thirty-five boxes of manuscripts and documents, comprising some of the first minute books of the Festival committee, correspondence with leading artists, programmes and posters for various events, an expansive photographic collection, press cuttings and of course the famous Galway Arts Festival posters themselves.

The archive of Galway Arts Festival includes a detailed record of administration, productions and events held during the Galway Arts Festival since its inception in 1978. The collection includes records which document the establishment and early years of the Galway Arts Festival and follows its growth and expansion into one of Europe's largest multi-disciplinary arts festivals. In the administrative records there are editions of minutes from Galway Arts Festival committee and management meetings 1980-1982. Financial records from this time also document the income and expenditure of the Galway Arts Festival and the Galway Arts Group as well as detailing levels and requirements of sponsorship for the Galway Arts Festival. The production files include a high volume of excellent quality photographs from full productions and events across all disciplines in the Galway Arts Festival. The photographs are black and white and also colour and cover theatre, comedy, dance, music, literature, visual art, street events and children's events. These images are printed on good quality photographic paper and range in size.




A series of slides also present a visual element to this collection. The Galway Arts Festival archive boasts a large volume of posters and other promotional ephemeral material. This outsize material relates to full productions in the Galway Arts Festival and also publicity material issued by the Galway Arts Festival. The series of press files contain records of local (Galway and West of Ireland) press cuttings of interviews with and features on members of Galway Arts Festival directors and management, reviews of productions and events at the Festival and news on Arts, theatre and culture in general nationwide around Ireland. This series of records is complemented by a series of press releases that document the information given to media at the outset of the Galway Arts Festival. A detailed and comprehensive list of events in various codes including theatre, music, visual art, children's events, literature provide an account of all acts which performed each year at the Galway Arts Festival.



The records reveal just how much the people of Galway, the West and from much further afield have been an active part of the spectacle of the festival. Images of crowded streets and venues across the city show how audiences have been enthralled by all the Festival has to offer for all tastes and interests. The archive also compliments other related local artistic and cultural archives, such as those of Druid Theatre, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, Macnas and many more, building a comprehensive memory of the Arts in Galway for over the past four decades.

A full listing of the Galway Arts Festival archive is available on the Library online catalogue

For any visitors to the Galway International Arts Festival and are curious about this amazing archive collection, please do contact the Archives service for information on access.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sociologists in Muintir na Tíre

Muintir na Tíre pioneered and were involved in promoting many new concepts and technologies in its 80 year history. They were involved in rural electrification, group water schemes, community alert and community development. They had prominent Irish sociologists involved in the organisation in the 1940s to the 1990s. Among these were Jeremiah Newman, Bishop of Limerick, Dr Thomas Morris, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly and Tomas Roseingrave.

Within the Muintir na Tíre collection we are lucky to have the papers relating to Muintir na Tíre of Dr Thomas Morris and of Tomas Roseingrave. We do have correspondence from Jeremiah Newman but these are contained in the correspondence of Muintir na Tíre not his own papers.

Dr Thomas Morris was the National Recording Secretary of Muintir na Tíre. He was Vice President of the diocesan seminary, St Patrick’s college in Thurles and became Archbishop of Cashel and Emly in 1960. In the archive we have correspondence that was received by Dr Morris with regard to the work of Muintir na Tíre, his role as editor of Landmark and with regard to his views on sociology, rural Ireland and community development.

He was concerned with the internal organisation and structures of Muintir na Tíre and produced papers on how the secretary should work, the use of filing systems and the structures of guilds. 


In the 1940s and 1950s the Catholic Church were vocal against Communism across Europe. This view was supported by both Canon Hayes and Dr Morris who spoke out against communism in Ireland. Below we have an example from a paper written by Dr Morris on this.

       




















He also looked at community development in rural Ireland. One of the papers in the archive is ‘Organisation of Rural Workers’ which looks at the history and structure of the agricultural industry, growth of workers’ associations and the parish organisation in Muintir na Tíre.


The other prominent sociologist involved in Muintir na Tíre was Tomas Roseingrave, who had a Master’s Degree in social science from UCD. He was Director of manpower studies in the Department of Labour. In 1968 he became the second National Director of Muintir na Tíre. He resigned from the post in 1975 but continued on as consultant National Director and was involved until his death in 1993. In 1973 he became a member of the EEC Economic and Social Committee where he was President in the 1981.

Roseingrave was a constant in Muintir na Tíre from 1968 to his death in 1993. His work as National Director included setting the direction of the organisation, developing policy and organising the administration and staff.  He communicated with various organisations and government departments on behalf of Muintir na Tíre and also represented them on various committees and bodies.

He also led a number of Muintir na Tíre projects. As the lead on the E.E.C. Pilot project the Community Development Officers reported to him on their work. The outcome of this was the report Pilot Scheme on Training Programme for Community Development Officers. 


He also wrote many paper on community development. Below is an example of an article he wrote for Community Focus in 1979 

             

and this paper published in 1974. 


In his role on the Economic and Social Committee he became well versed on European issues and was a support of Ireland joining the E.E.C. He was very concerned with community development and the improvement of rural life and decreasing the gap between rich and poor. This can be seen in his address at the Plenary Session of the Economic and Social Committee in December 1981.


Muintir na Tíre have been very lucky to have prominent sociologists involved to help develop the theme of community development down through the years. 


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Muintir na Tíre's Community Development Officer - A Common Thread

As mentioned in an earlier post I spoke about getting to be the first to explore an archive. Another perk is getting to see common threads, trends in the work an organisation/person, the issues that come up over and over again and how the organisation/person worked.

In Muintir na Tíre one of the common threads throughout its 80 years in existence is the use of Community Development Officers/Community Alert Development Officers. The role has been used to spread the word and work of Muintir na Tíre in the community. The Development Officers formed guilds, community councils and community alert group with the local community. They provided advice and guidance to these and ensured they were informed of any decisions from headquarters.  

In the archive we can see the role of Organisers in the 1950s is to spread the work and word of Muintir na Tíre in communities and to from guilds. There were approximately six organisers employed by Muintir na Tíre during this time. Each week the Organiser had to submit a report to Headquarters with regard to the weeks work and note if a new guild was formed. Below is a repot from O. Reilly who covered Tipperary, Kilkenny, Kerry, Kildare and Meath. These reports give a great insight into the communities that Muintir na Tíre engaged with and the issues that were facing guilds. 


In the 1970s Community Development Officers were employed in the E.E.C. Pilot Project. Funding for the pilot project came from the European Social Fund. The project was focused on training community development workers in rural community work which led to employment opportunities through local enterprise. The project also focused on developing community councils, identifying community needs, organising local resources, linking of local resources to those available at higher levels and seeking to accommodate the local projects within the plans and programmes devised at statutory, regional and national levels of administration/organisation [Tierney p.158]. The Community Development officers advised on the creation of community councils and the identification of the needs and objectives of rural-urban societies. They operated in defined locations and worked closely with community council and provided them with training and a professional approach. A copy of Conditions of Employment for Community development officers can be seen below. They also provided weekly reports which are also in the archive.


In the 1980s there were two types of employee’s in Muintir na Tíre. One of these was the Community Development officer who continued to focus on community development, supporting community councils and creating new councils. Kevin Hickey was employed by both Headquarters and Cork County Federation and his role and achievements in Cork is described below.


The 1980s also saw the creation of Community Alert in rural Ireland in 1985. To help promote Community Alert, Muintir na Tíre employed and continues to employ Community Alert Development Officers who help establish community alert groups in local communities across Ireland. They work closely with An Garda Síochána. The Community Alert Development Officers also completed weekly work reports. Below is an example of a report from the 1990s from Pat Doyle. 



These reports provide a great insight into the development of community alert and the issues facing communities in rural Ireland.

The role of a community development officer to promote the work and word of Muintir na Tíre has been an effective tool for 80 years. This role is one of many common threads in the archive.