Wednesday, December 16, 2015

NUI Galway and Abbey Theatre release digitised Abbey Minute Books, 1904-1939

This week the Abbey Theatre/NUI Galway Digital Archive Partnership made freely available online the digitised minute books of the Abbey Theatre 1904 – 1939.

As part of the Yeats2015 celebrations, the online digital archive of Abbey Theatre Minute Books will be made available to the public for the first time. Collectively, the minute books amount to nearly 1,000 pages, covering some of the Abbey’s most significant events from the period 1904-1939, being the period that spans Yeats' lifetime.

'A Digital Journey Through Irish Theatre History', the Abbey Theatre - NUI Galway Digital Archive Partnership is the largest digital theatre project ever undertaken, and heralds a new era in Irish theatre scholarship, both nationally and internationally. Previously unseen, the Abbey Theatre Minute Books include the period in history when both Lady Gregory and W.B. Yeats were involved in the management of the Abbey Theatre.

The Abbey Theatre minute books contain notes from meetings of the theatre’s Board of Directors. They offer a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of the theatre, showing how the Abbey’s managers dealt with a variety of issues, from choosing plays to determining how much to pay their actors.Along the way, we find important information about leading figures from the Irish Literary Revival and beyond: not just W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and John Millington Synge but Sean O’Casey, Lennox Robinson, Teresa Deevy, Sean O’Faolain, Frank O’Connor, and many others. We also learn about great Irish actors such as Molly Allgood, Ria Mooney, Barry Fitzgerald, Cyril Cusack and many more.

Prof. Patrick Lonergan
NUI Galway Professor of Drama Patrick Lonergan said that the minute book will be of huge interest to theatre scholars, historians, and anyone with an interest in Irish culture: “the story of the Abbey Theatre is in many ways the story of our nation in microcosm. This online resource shows the Abbey Theatre and NUI Galway working together to reveal new aspects of that theatre’s story – and, by extension, new aspects of the story of Ireland. Users of the site will be able to search easily through hundreds of pages of records, and can move between the handwritten originals and carefully transcribed webpages. And all of this is available entirely free of charge to readers anywhere in the world.”

The minute books allow us to understand better how theatres are run. Yeats wrote about his approach to theatre business in a poem that was tellingly called “The Fascination of What’s Difficult”, cursing “plays/ that have to be set up in fifty ways”. Here we find Yeats encountering all sorts of difficulties - from the threat of government censorship of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars in 1926 to the leaking of his late play Purgatory to a Jesuit priest in 1938. And those difficulties are indeed fascinating.

Dr Charlotte McIvor, lecturer in drama and performance at NUIG, said that the books contain valuable information for scholars and teachers. She said: “I think they are going to be very important in explaining to students the different kinds of labour involved in running a theatre.”Dr McIvor said the books document “in minute detail” the decisions of the board right down to discussions about whether or not to allow cigarette smoking in the theatre. “I think you could honestly take any two pages in these books and build a successful lesson around it,” she added.
Dr. Charlotte McIvor

Playwright and Abbey board member Thomas Kilroy said the books help illuminate the relationship between the early theatre and the changing Irish State.He said: “One extraordinary thing which I had never heard of before which was that in 1939 Dublin Corporation tried to establish stage censorship. They assembled a number of inspectors to establish what was going on in Irish theatres.”

We also learn much about the day to day activities of keeping a theatre in business: the struggles to find appropriate funding, the actors’ requests for extra money or time off, and the maintenance of the building. And of course we learn much about Ireland, both before and after independence. The Abbey Theatre famously was the first state-subsidised theatre in the English-speaking world, earning funding in 1925 from the newly independent Irish Free State.

Bryan McMahon, Chairman of the Abbey Theatre said:  “The Abbey Theatre is proud to reveal, for the first time, our early Minute Books, an exciting milestone in our ground-breaking digital archive partnership with NUI Galway.   It is wonderful to manifest digitally the inner workings of the national theatre during its formative years.  These Minute Books give us fascinating insights into the management style and business acumen of W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory and the contribution made by the Board of Directors.  Indeed, the Minute Books reveal that Yeats was so integral to the Abbey Theatre, that Lennox Robinson, playwright and Board member, was dispatched to France to assist in the repatriation of his remains.  As we all know, it was an unsuccessful mission.  The Abbey Theatre is delighted that in this Yeats’ commemorative year, the full story of W.B. Yeats as theatre maker can be fully revealed.”

The Abbey Theatre Minute Books can be viewed

Excerpt from the Abbey Theatre digitised minute books

Friday, December 4, 2015

Explore our unique Archives Collections online!

We recently introduced a new web interface through which you can browse the archives collections of the James Hardiman Library online.

Here are 5 ways in which your research could be transformed by this exciting new development!

1. Archives are amazing sources of inspiration. They hold an abundance of potential research material that can be applied to virtually any discipline to create innovative research. The catalogue could hold the key to unlocking your next research project, and you will never know unless you look!

2. Even if you don't unlock your next research project, simply by browsing through the Showcase and Image Gallery sections of the page, you are certain to find out about something or someone new.

3. The enhanced search functionality afforded by this new service means you can carry out keyword searches across the entire catalogue. This means you can browse over 20,000 records from 350 collections simultaneously, bringing insights from other sources to light that you may not have considered before now.

4. The archives catalogue is one part of a new suite of tools aimed at opening up our archives. Why not look at the catalogue alongside some of our digital projects which are available on Keep an eye out for new projects on this page, and you can still find our older digital projects on These will be migrated to the new system soon.

5. Finding something you are interested in on our catalogue gives you the perfect excuse to work in our beautiful reading room, located on the ground floor of the Hardiman Research Building in the heart of NUI Galway's campus.

Check it out now on Happy Browsing!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Library Ireland Week Special Lecture - David Roberts Tour and Illustrations of the Holy Land 1838-39

Between 1842-1845 the Scottish artist David Roberts published two lavish volumes of lithographed prints. The prints depicted sketches made by Roberts on a tour which included Egypt, Sinai, Idumea (modern day Petra) and the Holy Land in 1838-39. Appearing in different editions the Roberts volumes are famous amongst book collectors, art historians and archaeologists for their depiction of places and historical monuments in the Middle East over 175 years ago.

To celebrate the theme of Library Ireland week which this year is “A Library holds a World of Ideas” our Special Collections librarian, Marie Boran, will give a talk on the Hardiman Library’s copies of these splendid volumes.

Date: Friday 20 November
Time: 13.00
Venue: Room G011, Hardiman Research Building, NUI, Galway

All welcome

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New Play from the Archives - Mary O'Malley, The Lyric Theatre and W.B. Yeats in Northern Ireland


As part of the Arts in Action programme, two students from the centre for Drama and Theatre, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway, Martin Kenny and Beau Holland with two drama students from the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, Luke Bannon and Sarah Blair,  will work together with Caroline Lynch, Writer, Actress, NUI Galway graduate and Theatre Director, to present a new piece of writing based on the extensive archive of Mary O’Malley and the Lyric Theatre, which is held at the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway and researched by archivist Barry Houlihan.

This collaboration is a unique occasion for the student actors from Galway and Belfast to meet and work together on a project whose central character was full of determination and belief in the power of theatre to bring individuals together and turn them into a group whose power is greater than the sum of its parts. By exploring the Lyric Theatre archive of the James Hardiman Library, the story of Mary O’Malley’s journey and the history of Yeats’ work in Northern Ireland will reach new audiences in this the 150th anniversary of the birth of W.B. Yeats.

The Lyric Theatre archive is a detailed record of the growth and development of the theatre and its founding director, Mary O’Malley. This event will mine and explore that archive, share new material and present a live event that will draw the audience into the Yeats-inspired Belfast and world of Mary O’Malley and the birth of a new theatre across a time of immense social, political and artistic change.

 Mary O’Malley (Hickey), was born in Mallow, Co. Cork in 1918 and would develop from her childhood a life-long passion and enthusiasm for the theatre. O’Malley describes her “first big adventure” to the theatre being at age six and seeing Dion Boucicault’s Colleen Bawn at the local town hall in Mallow, and was “wildly excited by it”. O’Malley’s first visit to the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, aged thirteen, accompanied by her older brother, Gerard, allowed O’Malley to see W.B. Yeats in the flesh and experience being at the National Theatre. This would be the beginning of a continuous connection between O’Malley and the artistic and theatrical spirit of Yeats.
Following a move to Dublin, Mary would meet Pearce O’Malley, a doctor and graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast and they married in September 1947 and moved to Belfast.

It is in the O’Malley family home in Belfast that Mary established the Lyric Players. Along with a group of friends and family, O’Malley directed, designed and produced an extraordinary volume of work, beginning in 1951, notably the plays of W.B. Yeats and leading European playwrights which were not often staged in Ireland at the time. The first season in 1951 consisted of three plays, including At the Hawk’s Well by W.B. Yeats. Yeats was a foundational, constant presence and influence on O’Malley and the endeavours of the Lyric Players and the Lyric Theatre, from their journey of amateur to professional and forging ahead to become a ‘National’ theatre for Northern Ireland.
The tension and fragility of peace and life in Northern Ireland was a further influence on the Lyric Theatre as it developed in the backdrop to the emerging Civil Rights movement and later throughout the Troubles. O’Malley would recount how at the point of breakdown of the Sunningdale talks in 1974, “In my bones, and for the first time, I felt a certain despair.” The political position of Northern Ireland and the ongoing conflict would resonate through O’Malley’s formidable personality and incidents such as controversy regarding the playing of the British National Anthem at the theatre, which would see O’Malley step-down from the Lyric Theatre Board for a period of time.

The growth of the Lyric Players group to the Lyric Theatre as we know it today, from amateur to professional, is an incredible journey and which is dominated by the tireless work and vision of Mary O’Malley. The presence of Yeats is embodied in the Lyric Theatre. The growth of the theatre was a cultural revolution for Northern Ireland as much as the Abbey Theatre was in the South. 

Mary O'Malley at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast
All Welcome!

Venue: The Cube
Date: 19th November
Time: 1-2pm

Admission: Free

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Honouring Stephen Rea at NUI Galway

NUI Galway has this week honoured the acclaimed Irish actor, Stephen Rea, by conferring on him an Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree. Rea has amassed a career in the performing arts on both stage and screen that has seen him portray a rich lineage of complex characters who are deeply connected to the Ireland of its time and place and also to an international connection to the wider world.

In advance of the conferring ceremonies, Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, said:
“NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history. This week we are very proud to honour Stephen Rea for his outstanding and distinctive contribution to the world of culture, theatre and film in Ireland and far beyond. NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to recognise his exceptional talent and achievement. On behalf of the University I congratulate Stephen and each of the 2,500 students who will be conferred with degrees this week from NUI Galway. ”

Dr Charlotte McIvor, Lecturer in the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, delivered the citation in honour of Rea paid tribute diverse range of work over forty years in the Arts:

"Stephen Rea  has taken us around the world and through time, inhabiting souls whose fragile and often violently conflicted layers of self have laid bare struggles for identity and connection that are fundamental to the human condition.   He is one of the most recognizable faces of the stage and screen, yet always unfamiliar, shape-shifting to meet the terms of the worlds he has inhabited through his work. Through his characters, he has brought us face to face again and again with the brutal and divisive politics of our small island and elsewhere."

Within the archive collections of the Hardiman Library there is a vast array of records that document and highlight the relationships between Rea and writers, playwrights, directors and theatres that have shaped his career. A key relationship is to Irish theatre via Field Day Theatre Company, whom Rea was a founding member and also the connection with the playwright Thomas Kilroy, himself a later member of Field Day and the author of Double Cross, written for Rea and produced in 1986. The plays of Brian Friel again have a large presence in the archives through Field Day records but also via the archive of the Abbey Theatre, digitally available at the Hardiman Library, along with the Thomas Kilroy archive and many other related literary and theatrical collections.

The Kilroy archive contains manuscript drafts and notes of the play Double Cross, programmes and flyers and also correspondence with Rea as well as a range of records relating to Field Day Theatre Company.

Rea starred in many Friel premieres for the Abbey Theatre, including the Freedom of the City (1973) and Aristocrats in 1979 and also Making History for Field Day Theatre Company at Derry in 1988.

Here is a selection of some archive material from these productions as we honour an congratulate Stephen Rea.

For more coverage of the honourary conferring and for video interviews with Rea please click here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Brian Friel - An Appreciation

It is with great sadness that we note the laying to rest of Brian Friel yesterday. A quick look through our archival holdings shows the range and influence of Brian as a playwright and a friend to various theatre people for well over fifty years. From writers such as John McGahern and Thomas Kilroy, to a variety of theatre companies and actors, the energy and enthusiasm he brought to Irish theatre is clearly visible. In September 1963 the Lyric Theatre staged "The Enemy Within".

Featuring George Mooney in the role of Columba, it was one of a number of plays staged by the Lyric Theatre Company from young emerging Irish writers in the late fifties and early sixties.

Another play which features strongly in our collections is the "Loves of Cass Maguire". Siobhan McKenna's role as Cass in the Abbey's 1967 production introduced one of the most enduring characters to an Irish audience.

It was also one of the plays staged by the Druid Theatre Company in their opening production in the Summer of 1975, revived in 1996 for the 21st anniversary production, both productions starring Marie Mullen.

The Abbey Theatre Digital Archive, uniquely available at NUI Galway, captures the legacy and engagement of Brian Friel with Ireland's national theatre. The Abbey would première some of Friel's most powerful plays from the 1970s to present day, including The Freedom of the City (1973) Volunteers (1975) Living Quarters (1977) Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) Wonderful Tennessee (1993). The Abbey archive contains scripts, prompt scripts with detailed annotations, posters, programmes and recorded videos of performances of many of Friel's landmark works.

With around ninety references to Brian in our online holding search engine, available at why not take a virtual tour through our holdings to appreciate the impact of one of Ireland's great playwrights on Irish theatre.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Nation Rising

This morning marks the launch of NUI Galway's calendar of events to commemorate 1916, A Nation Rising and the Archives Service is delighted to be hosting the launch here in the Special Collections Reading Room. A programme of events is available at

The archives service holds a range of material that refers to the events of 1916, some of which have a particular Galway focus. First of all there are the records from the College itself, which highlight the impact on the University in terms of staff and students arrested without trial in the immediate aftermath of the rising.

There is also an intriguing entry in the University's visitor book from the 4th August 1899 when Patrick and William Pearse sign their names in Irish. Pearse himself said that he first heard Irish spoken as a living language here in Galway, and it may well have been on this visit that this happened.

Other holdings in the James Hardiman Library Archives emphasise the links between the University and the events of 1916 and its commemoration. The Brian Cusack Papers show the student life of Dr. Brian Cusack, winner of the Moffet Medal for academic achievement presented by the President each year, for 1913. He was later to become the representative for Galway at the first Dail when it sat in early 1919.

Other material, from the G.A. Hayes-McCoy collection emphasise the commemoration of the Rising in 1966. Other items in our holdings include a special edition of the "Connacht Tribune" during the Rising detailing events in Oranmore and Carnmore in the outskirts of the town, as well as rumours of what was happening in Dublin.
From the Prionnsias Mac an Bheatha Collection there is copy of a special edition of the Irish language newspaper 'Inniu', which Prionnsias edited, commemorating the Rising in 1966.

Information on these items and other material relating to this time can be accessed at and is available for researchers in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sports Archive Month - From 'Association Football' to Soccer

This edition of Archives Sports Month from the archives looks at soccer on campus at NUI Galway. In the early years of the 20th century, the records show news reports, club notes and photographs from when it was known as 'association football' and by c.1910 it became more commonly called soccer in the club notes. While the records from 1914, below, detail increasing numbers of those taking up and playing soccer on campus, there is a lack of any notes or records in the college annuals for many years afterwards which would indicate a break in the soccer club activities until the mid-1920s. The images below are from the 1914-15 season, one of the last updates from that period:


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September Sports Month - Hockey on campus in the early 20th Century

September Sports month continues this week with a look at hockey as played on campus at UCG/NUIG. Looking back at the student annuals (available in our Archives and Special Collections Reading Room) which were published published in the early 20th century, the sports reports are a great resource for sporting history on campus. Hockey is one sport had the near unique distinction of fielding a mixed-sex team for the first time in 1912-1913. The team is pictured below and the report states:
"This year has been an important one in our Hockey Annals, for it marks the formation of a College Mixed Hockey Club, and this, we are glad to say, has turned out a decided success in every way. The team that we are able to put into the field is one that can be trusted to give a good account of itself on all occasions, and we expect it do great things in the future."

In the same notes, particular mention is made to some of the female players, "'Miss Prendergast and Miss Paul', who were selected to play for the Ladies Connacht team in a tournament held in Dublin recently." While success of both men's and women's teams were well documented in this year and noted to be among the most successful sports teams on campus, their fortunes would quickly wane as the reports for the following year of 1914 would show a club being potentially disbanded:

"When we think of the important position that the College Hockey Club once occupied amongst the hockey clubs of Connacht and the West, we must all feel regret that it holds that position no longer."

Various reasons were mentioned such as a lack of schools in the West having hockey teams that supplied willing players upon reaching College. Another was a lack of a dedicated ground of their own and also interestingly is the rather cryptic reason of "the college at present being in transition, a fact which is affecting all other games, including hockey." Things did improve over the coming years with the reports recording rising numbers and greater victories for the teams of the college hockey club.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Culture Night 2015 at the Hardiman Library!

‘Yeats and the West’ explores his life, work, legacy, and deep connections to the west of Ireland and wider western worlds. Through images, words, film, and sound, with touchscreens and rich display cases sourced from NUI Galway and archives around the world, featuring rare material from Yeats, J.M. Synge, and Lady Gregory, and original artwork from Jack B. Yeats, Gerard Dillon, and Fergus Bourke, ‘Yeats & the West’ tells anew an old story: a story of going west to find those places, real and imaginative, that change our sense of where and who we are.

This Culture Night, Friday 18th September, join the exhibition curators, Adrian Paterson and Barry Houlihan, and special guests, for a series of talks and guided tours of the ‘Yeats and the West’ exhibition and discover, in this anniversary year of Yeats2015, what the west meant to Yeats and what this might mean to us.

Tours and talks begin at 5pm, Hardiman Foyer, and continue on the hour until 8pm.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

September Sports Month - Camogie Success and Silverware at UCG: Ashbourne Cup, 1916

Our September Sports Series continues with a piece ahead of yet another All-Ireland Final appearance this coming weekend. This occasion features the camogie players of Galway and their hope for All-Ireland glory in Croke Park when they face Cork.
The archives of NUI Galway shed light on the long tradition of camogie on campus. These extracts highlight some of the winning teams who brought silverware back to campus at UCG in the early 20th Century.

Our September Sports Series continues with a piece ahead of yet another All-Ireland Final appearance this coming weekend. This occasion features the camogie players of Galway and their hope for All-Ireland glory in Croke Park when they face Cork.The archives of the Hardiman Library at NUI Galway shed light on the long tradition of camogie on campus.

These extracts highlight some of the winning teams who brought silverware back to campus in the early twentieth century   in the form of the Ashbourne Cup in 1916. The college annual recounts how:
"This year has been a phenomenal one in College athletics, for we have at last secured a cup through the agency of the lady students. The result, of course, was to be expected from the energy and enthusiasm with which we worked through the year under the able captaincy of Miss O'Dowd. The practices were regular, our able trainers Messrs. F. O'Doherty and P. Fahy, being of great assistance to us."

The victory was secured by Galway in a win over Dublin. "Friday was the day of the 'grand finale' . . . As on the previous day, there was no score on either side up to half-time. However, in the second half all anxiety on our side was removed when Miss Stella Cloherty scored a goal, thereby declaring Galway the winners of the cup!"

UCG Ashbourne Cup winners 1916

Camogie Notes 1916
Camogie Notes, 1920

UCG Camogie Team 1922-23

Friday, September 4, 2015

September Sports Month - Hurling on campus from the archives

The month of September will be a special 'Sports from the Archives' month, where we will post a series of pieces featuring features and images from past victories and interesting stories from the sporting annals of the University. From hurling, camogie, soccer, Gaelic football, rugby, hockey, tennis and more, the series will-tie in with upcoming events such as the senior and minor All-Ireland Finals featuring Galway teams going for glory, the Galway camogie team playing in the All-Ireland final; the Rugby World Cup (Dare we to dream?!) with the team including a current NUIG student in the squad.

This first post will focus on G.A.A as this weekend all attention in the West will be on Croke Park. The hurler of Galway will face Kilkenny in the Hurling Final and our neighbours of Mayo will face Dublin in an all-Ireland Semi-final. As we look back into the archives it can be seen that hurling too time to embed and develop among the student population on campus but took home the honours of the FitzGibbon Cup for the first time in 1919. Sadly no photograph of this team is printed but the match notes record "This year marked the turning-point of hurling at UCG. It was the first time for the past few years that Galway turned out a FitzGibbon team, and we are glad to say, won the cup. Martin Fahy was a capable captain…" The competition was played in Galway and UCG beat UCC in the first game by 11pts to 4pts. In the next round Galway beat UCD 25 pts to 23 pts. Following the third round of games, all honours were even as Galway suffered a loss to UCD of 3 pts. With all teams even on points controversy would arise as the Cork team refused to hand over the cup, believing as holders from the previous year, they should retain it. UCG had superior scoring difference in the tournament and after much debate took the cup back to campus of Galway.

Following this win, as the notes from the student annual of 1922-23, UCG did not field a team for a number of years. 
Hurling Notes, 1922-23

The hurling notes from an earlier student annual of 1916 show a further account of hurling on campus from the author under a pseudonym of 'Camán'. Typical of the time it is written in, the notes are strong in their sentiment of cultural nationalism and puts the GAA and hurling as a point of necessary revival. As well as sporting records, these accounts are interesting historical accounts of politics and society in the West.

As the time draws near to this Sunday when the Galway team will take to the field of Croke Park in the hope of bringing the Liam McCarthy Cup back to the West, it is good opportunity to look back on past sporting achievements on campus and we will bring you more updates throughout September. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

'Moon worship', - Yeats, the West and the Art of Gerard Dillon

Yeats & the West is an exhibition focusing not just on the work and influence of W.B. Yeats, but on the influence on him and wider impact of people, landscapes, languages, crafts, arts, and music from the west of Ireland and beyond. A major addition to the exhibition is a rare oil painting by Gerard Dillon of a night-time scene featuring a moonlight vista of a ‘typical’ Connemara landscape, its figures recalling some lost play by J.M.Synge. These characters, a shawled woman and a virile, moondrunk (or just drunk) young man, bowed in ritual before a moonlit boghole, also appear as shades from out of Yeats’s western phantasmagoria, reminding a viewer of landscapes Yeats himself had created in his first book, The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1889) (a volume praised by Oscar Wilde and William Morris) – in particular these lines from his poem “Ephemera”:
‘Your eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.’
And then She:
‘Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, passion, falls asleep.
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!’
the Arrow (4)
The artist Gerard Dillon was born in Belfast in April 1916 and grew up there, until moving to London in 1934 where he worked a house painter while honing his craft and trying to further his career as an artist. Despite being reared and working in the early years of his life in the urban streetscapes of Belfast, Dublin and London, it was the west of Ireland, most especially Connemara and the western islands which would have a major and lasting effect and influence on his work. Dillon would spend the year of 1950-1951 living and painting on the island of Inislacken. Over the next decade Dillon would receive substantial international recognition for his expressionism steeped in western culture and imagery.
Gerard Dillon, Self Portrait at Roundstone
Gerard Dillon, Self Portrait at Roundstone
Dillon did not confine himself to painting. He produced designs for posters, playbills, theatre sets and costumes for productions by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in the late 1960s. Working as part of a trio, the artists Arthur Armstrong, Gerard Dillon and George Campbell made up the consortium known, alphabetically, as A.D.C. This group also designed the posters for the first three theatre production posters at the Abbey Theatre after it reopened in 1966 following a fire at the theatre more than ten years before. The programme, from the 1969 production of Juno and the Paycock, two years before Dillon’s death, states in a note that “the posters sprang from the belief that artists should be closely identified with all artistic efforts in the country.”
Gerard Dillon by George Campbell (c) Mrs Joyce Cooper.
Gerard Dillon by George Campbell (c) Mrs Joyce Cooper.
The programme also contains cartoon drawings of characters from the play including Juno and Captain Boyle by Micheal MacLiammóir. Other similar artwork by MacLiammóir can be seen in the exhibition in the bookplate he designed for the personal library of actor and director Arthur Shields, examples of which are on display in the exhibition cabinets.
Cartoons by Michael MacLiammor
Programme for Juno and the Paycock (Abbey 1969). Cartoons by Michael MacLiammóir
As central part of Yeats & the West, the painting ‘The Moon Worshipper’ by Gerard Dillon is on public exhibition for the very first time at the Special Collections Reading Room. Dating from 1948, the painting, in oils on sturdy wood panel, is a wonderful example from a series of moonscapes over Connemara inspired, according to the artist, by a walk home after a late night in Roundstone.
Preparing 'The Moon Worshipper' for hanging. Dillon has decorated the reverse of the panel with outline faces.
Preparing ‘The Moon Worshipper’ for hanging. The reverse of the panel has been decorated with outline faces.
With the style deliberately primitivist, and the woman wearing one of the red traditional Connemara costumes noted by Synge, the picture’s central enthusiast perhaps wrily recalls the impassioned western pilgrimages of so many artists and writers. The exhibition curators gratefully acknowledge the loan of the painting for the duration of the exhibition, which is open until Christmas at the Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway.
Y West Reading Room (2)
The Dillon painting and other artworks by Jack B. Yeats on display at the Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Photographs of Claddagh Village, 1939

In 1939 Dr. Heinrich Becker came to Galway to begin his studies on folklore associated with the Galway Bay area. The first place he visited was Claddagh village, where he gathered folklore associated with the long fishing tradition of the Claddagh.
As well as talking to people from the locality, he also brought he camera, taking snapshots of the Village at an interesting time, when it was in transition from the traditional fishing village at the edge of Galway - almost a place apart - being transformed by the social housing programme of the late 1930s brought in by the government.
As well as examples of the new housing, he also took photographs of examples of the older houses, many of which were abandoned at that stage.
In the background of some of the photographs shows the well-known Long Walk across the river Corrib from the Claddagh.

Perhaps one of the nicest photographs shows three boys in the corner of the photograph peering intently into the window of a sweet shop.
There are over 10,000 photographs, slides, negatives and contact prints in the collection, and it is the intention to have these described, scanned, and available for consultation in the coming months. In the meantime keep an eye on the blog here for more photographs from this fascinating collection.