Archive for August, 2009

PhD Diary: Gráinne McEvoy

17 August 2009

Contributed by Gráinne McEvoy

Irish_passportDo you consider your PhD to be a job or a vocation? Like medicine and the holy orders, it’s a vocation. As evidenced by the on-call hours, the modest income, and the conviction that no other job is nearly as important.

In 20 words or less, tell us why you decided to do a PhD? In the most positive sense possible, and without a shred of irony, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.

Gráinne’s Diary: I fully agree with Tomás Irish in the last PhD Diary who wrote that he views doing a PhD as a vocation but tries to treat it as a job. Indeed, I have to dispense with modesty and commend myself for generally sticking to a nine to five routine, even if my workload too often requires an additional seven to eleven nightshift. For some reason, though, and despite the fact that my family and close friends are immeasurably supportive and proud of what I have chosen to do, I still feel the need to prove to my non-academic loved ones that while my career choice may appear self-indulgent and airy-fairy, I still have a routine and responsibilities just like a real grown-up. I repeat ad nauseam that I have teaching responsibilities, I don’t watch daytime TV, and I work at a desk in a grey cubicle complete with hand lotion and pictures of my nieces and nephews. Before you advise me against protesting too much, I should point out that I am a sort of academic emigrant; I’m pursuing a doctoral degree in Boston. Read More

A couple more favourites…

12 August 2009

Contributed by Christina Morin.

Eighteenth-century novel

Last month Christina Morin gave us her recommendations for the eighteenth-century novel. Here are a few additions to her favourite novels from history:

A couple more suggestions for these long (rainy!) summer days:  Regina Maria Roche, The Children of the Abbey (1796): Copies of Roche’s fantastically convoluted Gothic novel are few and far between, but if you have access to a good research library, you’re in luck. Otherwise, a quick trawl on the internet will turn up quite a few late-nineteenth century editions from America – a find in and of itself! Once you have the novel in your hands, I can guarantee that you won’t want to let go of it, as this ‘amazingly durable’ novel – as Ian Campbell Ross has called it – is a fascinating combination of the Gothic and the national/regional more commonly associated with Edgeworth, Sydney Owenson, and Charles Robert Maturin. Read More

Interview: Myles Dungan, Broadcaster and Historian

10 August 2009

Pue’s Interviews is a regular series of short questions and answers with those who work in the history industry in Ireland – in the museums, universities, publishers, libraries, archives and elsewhere – to give an insight into the people who make it tick.

Interview date: 23 July 2009

Pue with MicrophoneWhat book do you wish you had written?

Catch 22.

What would you do if you were not working in broadcasting?

Probably still doing secondary teaching.

When was the last time you looked at Wikipedia?

Two days ago.

What event had the greatest impact on history in Ireland?

The Parnellite split.

What are you reading now?

William O’Brien’s Recollections (1905) and Petticoat Rebellion: The Anna Parnell Story (2009).

Interview: Andrew Smith, Education and Outreach Department, National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin

10 August 2009

Interview date: 21 May 2009

pue-with-microphoneWhat book do you wish you had written?

I really wish I had written a book on duelling in Ireland. Unfortunately people like Prof. James Kelly beat me to the punch. It’s a fascinating subject with colourful stories and fascinating insights into Ireland in the 18th and 19th Century. Ireland was also a unique case in this respect owing to the quantity of duels fought, the frequency of deaths, the massive gun industry and the high profile examples. I think there is still more work which could be done.

What would you do if you were not working with the National Museum?

I would probably be teaching history in secondary schools as I was before I started work here. I would still love to move around a little more within the subject though.

When was the last time you looked at Wikipedia?

Yesterday. It’s obviously not ideal but I think it is still an extremely powerful tool.

What event had the greatest impact on history in Ireland?

This is actually a funny question as I was asked exactly the same in my interview for this job! I am sure with more thought I could come up with numerous inventions which changed peoples lives irrevocably. It’s hard to see beyond the obvious 1170, 1916, Famine etc, however I will give the same answer as I did when I was asked before, probably the outbreak of the First World War. This event led to the involvement of over 200,000 Irish men in one of the most horrific wars in history and also of course set off a chain of events which led to the creation of modern Ireland. I usually pick this event because it is so often overlooked.

What are you reading now?

At the moment I am doing research on Military buildings in Dublin as I am hoping to run a course in UCD some time later this year on the subject. I have been trawling through editions of “An Costantoir” looking for articles on the Magazine fort in the Phoenix Park.

Behan’s Wonderland

7 August 2009

By Lisa-Marie Griffith

The HostageLast night I went to see Wonderland production’s  The Hostage currently playing at the Pearse Centre, 27 Pearse street. I thoroughly enjoyed their adaptation of Moliere’s The Miser last year at the Joyce Centre on North Great George’s Street. This was particularly enjoyable because it was enacted in eighteenth-century dress in the beautiful georgian rooms in the Joyce Centre and the production took full advantage of this; the backdrop really encouraged the audience to get into the play by sitting them right in the middle of the plot as it unfolded. While I know very little about Brendan Behan, I know he was a notorious drinker, I purchased tickets for The Hostage on the strength of Wonderland’s production of The Miser. I will think twice about walking into this trap again. Read More

Harry Patch (1898-2009)

7 August 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Morning_a_Passchendaele._Frank_HurleyInteresting when two worlds collide. This morning the funeral took place of Harry Patch, the last surviving Briton to have fought in the trenches of World War I. He was 111 years old. There have been plenty of words written on Patch’s life, how he refused to speak of his experiences to anyone until approached by BBC documentary-makers in 1998, his views on the futility of war, and what he symbolised to the modern world.

But perhaps the most compelling words were those uttered by Patch himself. One of the most intriguing reactions to his death has been the release by British band Radiohead of a song titled ‘Harry Patch (In Memory Of)’, with lyrics adapted from Patch’s own recollections:

‘I am the only one that got through
The others died where ever they fell
It was an ambush
They came up from all sides Read More

The Beggar’s Opera

5 August 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Vaclav HavelIsn’t it funny how history can always teach you something? Or, more appropriately, remind you what you should have learned, after it’s too late? I’m reading To the Castle and Back at the moment, the autobiography of playwright and former Czech president (1989-2003) Václav Havel. It is, as you might expect, no ordinary memoir. Compelling and brilliantly written across three parallel narratives (interviews, reflections, and instructions to his staff), Havel’s experiences offer a fascinating account of the transition to democracy and the travails of a country (and, after 1993, two countries) re-asserting its place in the modern world. A very different situation to our own current malaise, yes, but as anyone who has been in Tesco’s ten floors across two buildings in the centre of Bratislava will attest, there’s a certain parallel with the more is better, grab-what-you-can climate of the last fifteen years.

Quelle surprise then, that Havel, recalling the privatisation of the Czechoslovak economy (pp. 158-9), should write in terms that resonate so strongly with post-Tiger Namaland.

Many years later I began, for the second time, to change my mind. It happened when I observed that the majority of our most dubious new capitalists, Mafiosi, and entrepreneurial con men had emerged from the small privatisation process, that is to say, from the auctioning off of small business. At the time, anyone could borrow money, buy any property at an auction, and then either sell it off again at a profit or strip the assets and file for bankruptcy. Then all they had to do was keep on investing borrowed money, without, of course, ever returning the loan. This led to the collapse of banks or to enormous state bailouts in the banking sector. Read More

Pue’s Recommendations for August

3 August 2009

Pue’s Recommendations is a (mostly biased) monthly list of things worth reading, watching, listening to and attending, put together by the editors of Pue’s Occurrences. If there’s anything you think we’ve missed out on, or anything you think isn’t worth the mention, feel free to leave us a comment.

The RivalsJuliana Adelman August 22-30 is Heritage Week. There are hundreds (thousands?) of free events going on around the country, bound to be something worthwhile near you. Be a tourist in your home town. They’re teaming up with Archive Awareness again this year, but there don’t seem to be any Irish events listed yet. So archivists out there, sign up! Also Robert Macnamara died in July this year (he was born in 1916) so in commemoration I’m re-reading Tim O’Brien’s first Vietnam novel, The Things They Carried.

Lisa-Marie Griffith I have just discovered Dublin City Blog – a fantastic way of finding out what’s going on in the capital. On Wednesday the 16th of August, Meeting House Square in Temple Bar hosts the ‘Culture & the City Debate‘. I have never been but this looks like it could be really interesting and promises to be lively. Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals is playing at the Abbey 28 July – 19 September and while I haven’t seen this yet, the reviews I have seen, and the photographs of the set and costume, promise a fantastic production.

Kevin O’Sullivan This summer why not step off the beaten track around Ireland? In the East, head to the megalithic burial tombs at Loughcrew, Co. Meath or to Old Mellifont Abbey in Co. Louth. In the South, the heritage town of Lismore, Co. Waterford, is a gem, and the link to Walter Raleigh and Richard Boyle continues to Youghal in East Cork. Heading West, next time you’re in Kerry, visit Staigue stone fort, near Sneem. And finally, in the North, have a look at the two cathedrals and St. Patrick’s Trian in Armagh city. To read? Aalen, Whelan and Stout (eds.), Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape (1997).