Archive for December 4th, 2009

Working for the Dictionary of Irish Biography: a personal experience

4 December 2009

Contributed by Patrick Maume

We asked Patrick Maume to provide Pue’s readers with an inside view of the Dictionary of Irish Biography.  The following offers a perspective on the DIB as historical process rather than focussing on the results.  Enjoy!

I have worked as a researcher on the Dictionary of Irish Biography since April 2001.   I have written almost 300 entries on nineteenth and twentieth-century figures, and am currently working on the first supplement.

In the early stages the editors adopted many of my proposals for additional names.   This last feature tailed off as work progressed because of the requirements of publishing.  I have regrets about some names whom I found too late for inclusion – such as William Desmond Taylor (pictured left), the silent movie director whose unsolved 1922 murder was one of the earliest major Hollywood scandals – but hope they may get into an eventual supplement.  At the same time I am glad that someone like Elizabeth Somers – an early twentieth-century nationalist activist and industrial revivalist – has been given her place in the sun, and might not have without my suggestion.  I am also glad that by finding Paul Mohr’s fine biography of the nineteenth-century astronomer John Birmingham on a remainder pile in Liam Byrne’s bookshop in Galway, I was able to make Birmingham’s entry fuller and more accurate than would otherwise have been the case.  I hope this will lead to Mohr (whose book was generally overlooked because privately published) getting more credit for his research. Read More