News & Events

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  • The Lord Mayor’s Certificate in Oral History will be offered at Dublin City Library and Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2 on Monday evenings from September 2016 until April 2017. The course consists of 70 hours part time and the course will equip participants with skills in the preparation and conduct of oral history projects, including best practice in the collection and archiving of oral history interviews. The closing date for course applications is 5.00 p.m. on Friday 16 September 2016. Dublin City Council offers two Bursaries for candidates taking the Lord Mayor’s Certificate in Oral History, and closing date for bursary applications is 5.00 p.m. on Friday 9 September 2016
    Full details of bursary and course application can be downloaded online or please email Dublin City Library and Archive with details of your postal address to request print versions.

  • ‘Óglaigh na hÉireann 1913-1918 The Irish Volunteers’ exhibition was officially launched in Louth County Archives by Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, Councillor Peter Savage on Tuesday 16th February 2016.
  • Leading European Research Project showcases half a million resources on Medieval and World War I history from over 1,200 institutions across the globe One of the largest historical archive platforms worldwide Read More .......

Explore Your Archive Story Boxes

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ESB Story Box 2016

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In light (no pun intended) of the 70th anniversary of the Rural Electrification Scheme on 5 November 2016, we’ve used this year’s Explore Your Archive campaign to showcase some key pieces from our rural collection.

Rural electrification collection

Our collection relating to the electrification of rural Ireland (1946–1978) is one of the richest in ESB Archives, providing not only a history of ESB and the scheme itself, but a broader social record of life in Ireland during a period of great economic and industrial change. We hold various types of records relating to the scheme, including: the records of the Rural Electrification Office (REO); ESB annual reports; photographs; public relations material such as information pamphlets and print advertisements; issues of the staff magazine REO News; and audiovisual content, such as original video footage and oral histories of retired staff.




                                                               2.	Still from original PR film about rural electrification, 1950s  Survey of Avoca rural area, Co Wicklow, listing the number of acceptances and refusals of the scheme, c1950  Cover of REO News, January 1953  5.	Cartoon speaking to the success of the scheme, REO News, August 1958

                                                                     6.	PR Pamphlet, ‘What a Unit Can Do’, 1950s  Print advertisement, ‘Good Housewives Cook Electrically’, 1950s  Progress of the scheme, appendix to ESB Annual Report 1965A rural sales van selling appliances door to door, 19 May 1954


New modes of access

At ESB Archives, we pride ourselves on providing quick and easy access to key information about our collections online, using open-source technology. Keeping our researchers’ needs in mind, we’ve compiled data from the REO records, ESB annual reports and issues of REO News, and brought this information to life using maps and infographics. Rural infographics provide a quick overview of key facts about the scheme at national level. Our interactive rural map allows researchers to search all 792 rural areas used in the roll out of the scheme. We also recently launched a series of individual blog posts for each county and rural area, detailing key dates and statistics at a local level.

                                                     Extract from ESB Archives rural infographic  Interactive rural map  Key information relating to each county


Archives blog

We update our blog weekly, focusing on recently uncovered or digitised material from our archival collections. Our blog allows us to regularly reach a wide audience and to engage with our material in new ways. It has also inspired members of the public and retired ESB staff to share their ESB story. In the run up to the 70th anniversary of rural electrification, we posted a variety of new material, including: a re-imagining of some of our key rural images using Google Maps; a glimpse into Irish family life in the 1960s through our ESB Housewives’ recipe calendar; and a photographic record of the ESB career of Tim Slevin, who worked on the scheme in the 1950s.

                                                    Rural electrification then and now Dromiskin, Co Louth, 1949 and 2009  ESB Housewives’ Calendar, November 1962  Rural scheme employee Tim Slevin, 1950s

70th anniversary of the Rural Electrification Scheme

It’s been wonderful to see so much happening to mark the recent 70th anniversary of rural electrification and how our archive could contribute to many of these projects. Highlights include: an RTÉ Doc on One broadcast on 5 November 2016, based on the recent book of rural memories Then There Was Light, edited by PJ Cunningham and Joe Kearney; a weekend feature in the Irish Times by award-winning journalist Rosita Boland; and our exhibition at the Carlow County Museum, which will run until the end of 2016.

                                                      RTÉ Doc on One, ‘Then There Was Light’, broadcast 5 November 2016  First pole erected at Kilsallaghan, Co Dublin, 5 November 1946  Display of rural artefacts and farm machinery at Carlow County Museum

For more content on rural electrification and other collections in ESB Archives, visit our website and follow us on twitter @esbarchives.


© all images, text and video copyright ESB Archives

UCD Story Box 2016

Papers of Terence MacSwiney, UCDA P48b and UCDA P48c

Since its inception, UCD Archives has centred its collection policy on a core of political private papers. Private paper collections are invaluable in illustrating the multifaceted nature of the lives of Ireland’s most illustrious sons and daughters and the Terence MacSwiney papers provide one such example. Consisting of his own personal papers and records compiled by his biographers, the collection provides insight into the character of Terence MacSwiney, the martyred lord mayor of Cork, but also sheds light on the other aspects of the Irish political figure including his family life and his literary aspirations.

Terence James MacSwiney (1879–1920) was born in Cork to John MacSwiney and Mary MacSwiney (née Wilkinson). Following the failure of his tobacco factory business, John MacSwiney emigrated to Australia alone in 1885, leaving his wife to care for their seven surviving children. The family portrait featured was taken just prior to John MacSwiney’s departure (UCDA P48b/272). Due to the family’s financial strain, Terence MacSwiney temporarily abandoned his education at the age of fifteen, taking up a job as a clerk to supplement the family income. Fortunately, the hiatus from his academic pursuits was relatively short-lived as he returned to complete a degree in mental and moral science in the Royal University of Cork [now University College Cork], graduating in 1907 (UCDA P48b/278).

During this period, MacSwiney developed his passion for poetry and literature becoming a founding member of the Cork Literary Society and the Cork Dramatic Society. The programme pictured advertises his play The Holocaust showcased alongside a play penned by Daniel Corkery (UCDA P48b/263). He wrote extensively; primarily producing articles, plays and poetry centred on Irish nationalist issues but also writing material with more personal and sensitive themes.


                                                                                 p0048b_0092_001  p0048b_0092_002 p0048b_0092_003 p0048b_0263_001

As his interest in cultural nationalism grew, so too did his active involvement in the political element of the Irish struggle for independence. On 14 December 1913, he attended the inaugural meeting of the Irish Volunteers in Cork and was named a member of the Cork executive in 1914. His papers feature the delegate card he received at a meeting of the Irish Volunteers in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin on 19 October 1914, signed by Eoin MacNeill and Bulmer Hobson (UCDA P48b/360).

Prior to the outbreak of the Easter Rising of 1916, MacSwiney, along with Tomás MacCurtain, had been attempting to mobilise troops in Cork. This was in response to a circular letter issued by Eoin MacNeill warning that the British government had plans to move against the Irish Volunteers (UCDA P48b/364). However, the subsequent scuttling of the Aud and the countermanding orders received from Eoin MacNeill caused confusion among the Cork Volunteers. At the behest of the Bishop and the Lord Mayor of Cork, MacSwiney and MacCurtain ordered the Volunteers to surrender their arms to the civil authorities and ensured that no armed insurrection took place.

                                                                      p0048b_0263_002  p0048b_0263_003  p0048b_0272  p0048b_0278

His prolonged guilt over the failure of the Rising in Cork is evident through correspondence held within the collection; perhaps most notably in a letter sent to Cathal Brugha from Brixton prison shortly before his death in which he states “the pain of Easter Week is properly dead at last” (UCDA P48b/416).

Although he was not involved in the armed insurrection, Terence MacSwiney was nonetheless placed under arrest on 3 May 1916 and sent to Frongoch prison with other Irish prisoners of war. The Welsh internment camp became a breeding ground for Irish nationalism and MacSwiney immediately resumed his activities with the Cork brigade of the Irish Volunteers following his release.

The final years of MacSwiney’s life were marred by frequent bouts of imprisonment including an arrest in November 1917 for wearing a military Irish Volunteer uniform in public (UCDA P48b/365). In a letter to his wife, MacSwiney discusses celebrations held for Éamon de Valera’s birthday, indicating the sense of comradery among Irish prisoners in British jails in the wake of 1916 (UCDA P48b/92). This letter was sent three months prior to de Valera’s notorious escape from the prison.

                                                                                       p0048b_0360  p0048b_0364  p0048b_0365_001  p0048b_0365_002

Despite his incarceration in England, MacSwiney was elected as the Sinn Féin MP for Mid-Cork in the 1918 General Election, becoming a member of the first dáil following his release in early 1919. The following year, MacSwiney took the helm of the Cork No. 1 Brigade and was elected lord mayor of Cork following the assassination of Tomás MacCurtain on 20 March 1920 by members of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

Shortly after his appointment, MacSwiney was arrested while chairing a Sinn Féin court at Cork City Hall. During his trial in August 1920, he signalled the beginning of his hunger strike and has been quoted as saying “whatever your Government may do, I shall be free, alive or dead, within the month”. MacSwiney was handed down a sentence of two years’ imprisonment.

Due to the longevity of the hunger strike, there were a string of accusations that MacSwiney was secretly taking nourishment but these claims were vehemently disputed by his family members (UCDA P48b/429). MacSwiney’s plight became the focus of increased international attention and the subject of a growing debate involving the Catholic Church on the morality of hunger strikes and self-sacrifice.

Throughout the strike, MacSwiney received letters of support from prominent Irish figures including Daniel Cohalan, Bishop of Cork (UCDA P48b/620) and Alfred O’Rahilly, noted academic and former TD (UCDA P48b/610). Despite his deteriorating condition, MacSwiney continued to express his optimism that Ireland would become a free republic.

                                                                                        p0048b_0365_003  p0048b_0416_001    p0048b_0416_002    p0048b_0428

MacSwiney eventually succumbed on 25 October 1920 after seventy-four days of hunger strike. His body was removed to St George’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Southwark (UCDA P48b/673) and was subsequently transported to Dublin for a public memorial service before finally being returned to his native Cork. Thousands came to pay their respects as his body lay in state at Cork City Hall. He was ultimately buried at St Finbarr’s cemetery, Cork.

Terence MacSwiney has been elevated to the position of an iconic martyr for Irish nationalism but his private papers provide a more rounded view of a complex character. As family friend Pauline Henley wrote to one of his biographers in 1928, “I know two Terence MacSwineys – the one I knew prior to 1916 and the tragic figure that finally gave his life for Ireland” (UCDA P48c/62).

                                                                                                           p0048b_0610_002        p0048b_0673_008


Guinness Archive storybox 2016:

Sketches of John Gilroy

On 7 February 1929, the Guinness Company embarked on a new phase in its history by publishing its first ever advertisement in two daily UK newspapers, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express. In the 87 years since this first advertisement, the brand has been responsible for creating some of the most memorable press, poster and television ads in popular memory and has truly been at the forefront of advertising innovation across the globe.

In the Guinness Archive we are very fortunate to have a large collection of original hard copy advertisements, which are preserved in our environmentally-controlled archival storage area. Approximately 4,500 posters, showcards, calendars, press advertisements and drawings within this collection have been digitized, enabling the staff of the Guinness Archive to easily share these images with researchers and current marketers of the brand in search of creative inspiration.

One of the most interesting parts of the collection is a series of original artwork comprising 602 items. This collection features the rough sketches of John Gilroy (1898-1985), the artist who shaped the first thirty years of GUINNESS® advertising.

Gilroy was recruited in 1925 by the advertising agency S.H. Benson's. In 1928 Benson's began work on the first advertising campaign for GUINNESS® beer and from then until the early 1960s Gilroy was above all associated with advertising of GUINNESS®.

Gilroy is particularly associated with two campaigns for GUINNESS®, which ran simultaneously for nearly thirty years from the 1930s. The first involved the slogan "Guinness for Strength" showing people performing incredible feats of strength empowered by GUINNESS®. The most popular posters in this series were the "Girder"(1934) depicting a workman effortlessly carrying a massive girder on his head and the horse and cart with the farmer pulling the cart (1949).

The second campaign featured zoo-animals. At the time Benson's had been trying unsuccessfully to develop a human "Guinness family" for its advertising. The idea of using animals to advertise GUINNESS® occurred to Gilroy after visiting the circus. While watching a performing sea-lion he entertained the curious thought that the animal would be smart enough to balance a glass of GUINNESS® on its nose! It became the concept for one of the world's longest running advertising campaigns "My Goodness, MY GUINNESS”. The hapless zookeeper, a caricature of Gilroy himself, watched over the family of animals which included an ostrich swallowing a GUINNESS®, glass and all, a pelican with a beak full of bottles, a tortoise, a lion, bear, crocodile, kangaroo, giraffe, polar bear, gnu, kinkajou, penguin (particularly associated with Draught GUINNESS® to emphasise its coolness) and, of course, most famous of all, the toucan. The last major Gilroy poster dates from 1961 and shows animals at the seaside.

Gilroy’s original sketches are a very valuable resource for fans of his work and of GUINNESS® advertising, as they vividly demonstrate the development of ideas for many iconic advertisements. This storybox also shows the aesthetic beauty of the original drawings, clearly demonstrating the depth of Gilroy’s talent as a portrait artist.

                                                 MK_01_01_00_05  MK_01_01_01_57  MK_01_01_03_08  MK_01_01_04_67 

                                                                mk06_01_08_0006     MK06_01_68_0007        MK06_01_08_0010 

                                                      MK06_01_08_0024  MK06_01_08_0025 MK06_01_08_0026

IBVM (Loreto) Institute & Irish Province Archives Story Box 2016

Explore the evolution of Loreto education from 1821, through our convent and school archives from Loreto Archives, 55 St Stephen’s Green.

The first ‘Loreto’ school was opened in Dublin in 1821, by Dublin woman, Frances Teresa Ball, to educate Catholic girls. Founded on the principles of the IBVM foundress, Mary Ward that ‘women in time to come will do much’, Loreto pupils were offered a broad and empowering education. Explore the evolution of Loreto education through our storybox.

Prospectus from Loreto Fermoy late 1800’s

Loretto (sic) Abbey Fermoy was established in 1853. The prospectus offers a unique insight into life in a Loreto boarding school in the late 1880’s.

A broad curriculum was offered, and Loreto Sisters taught almost all of the subjects.

Fees were paid on a quarterly basis, and covered basic tuition, supervision, board, laundry and food. Extra tuition fees were charged for stationary, use of musical instruments, singing, drawing and harp classes.

Certificate presented to a pupil in Loreto Fermoy and Premium (prize) awarded to pupil inLoreto Abbey Rathfarnham (pre 1861)

Until 1878 there was no public system of examinations, but Loreto schools had a system of internal assessment. Pupils sat written and oral examinations in each term. At the conclusion of the examinations, pupils were presented with certificates and prizes, known as premiums. Prizes usually took the form of non-fiction books (on history, geography, and the lives of saints or French literature. The French books were especially valued, and were imported directly from France.

The Board of Intermediate Examination Gold Medal awarded to Ellen Burke, pupil Loreto Navan 1897

In 1878, the Intermediate Education Act introduced a series of public examinations. In 1880, Loreto schools, on the request of the Archbishop of Dublin, began to prepare pupils for the Intermediate exams. Successes in these public examinations were lauded and publicly celebrated. Gold medals (such as this) were awarded to pupils who had achieved top marks in the Intermediate Education Board Examinations.

Mary Hosey BA – one of the early Loreto pupils who obtained university degrees.

The question of higher education for women was a contentious issue in the late 19th century, and was initially opposed by Catholic hierarchy. In spite of this, Loreto, along with the Dominican and Ursuline orders worked successfully to promote higher education for middle-class Catholic women. Loreto College, St Stephen’s Green was amongst the most successful Catholic women’s colleges in the last years of the 19th Century. Mary Hosey was amongst one of the first Loreto pupils to be awarded a university degree.


                                                                                                            IBVM (Loreto) Institute & Irish Province Archive

RTE Archive Story Box 2016

'Strumpet City' was a landmark RTÉ Television drama series, first broadcast in seven parts from 16 March 1980. It was set in Dublin during the turbulent period of labour unrest that took place between 1907 and 1914, and focused particularly on events leading to the ‘Lockout’ of 1913. Filming took place at several locations around Dublin, including Henrietta Street, North Wall and Dún Laoghaire.

The images selected here are part of the RTÉ Stills Library’s and RTÉ Document Archives’ holdings, and reflect some of the work that went into all aspects of the production. RTÉ designer Lona Moran’s sketch for a wedding dress is part of the RTÉ Document Archives’ Strumpet City Collection, while the production stills are among the RTÉ Stills Library’s holdings – they were taken by photographers working for the RTÉ Guide and the RTÉ Stills Department.

The series included a re-enactment of the 1913 baton charge by Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) of striking workers who had gathered to hear a speech by Jim Larkin. A still photo of the original event, part of the RTÉ Stills Library’s Cashman Collection, can be seen alongside the ‘Strumpet City’ recreation. Behind-the-scenes shots of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra recording the score, a shot of North King Street in 1979 taken for design purposes and the RTÉ Wardrobe Department at work on the costumes are also included.

Further information on RTÉ Archives can be found here:

The RTÉ Stills Library’s holdings can be searched online here:

                            2002_029   2002_037  2002_039  2002_070  


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                                              2290_074  2314_090_1  RTÉ Document Archives


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