Archive for August, 2010

The Pue in Pue’s Occurrences

11 August 2010

Contributed by Turlough O’Riordan

I’m sure some of you, even the eighteenth-century experts among you and those who have read our ‘about’ page, will have asked the question at some stage: just who was this Pue character anyway? We asked Turlough O’Riordan of the Dictionary of Irish Biography to explain…

Richard Pue, the publisher of the noted eponymous eighteenth-century Dublin newsletter, founded ‘Dick’s Coffee House’ in Skinner Row in Dublin, sometime before July 1698. He was certainly active in book auctions by this time; John Dunton described him thus: “he is a witty and ingenious man, makes the best coffee in Dublin … and has a peculiar knack at bantering, and will make rhymes to any thing” [Dublin Scuffle (2000), 429]. Nothing is known for certain about his life before then.

Commencing publication of Impartial Occurences on 25 December 1703, in partnership with Edward Lloyd, Pue edited the newspaper, sometimes with Lloyd, for the next three years. It then went into abeyance before being re-titled as Pue’s Occurences (sic) in February 1712, by which time it was in Pue’s sole ownership.

Pue was as much a printer, publisher and editor as a coffee-house proprietor. Read More

Review of the Cork City Gaol

10 August 2010

By Lisa Marie Griffith

You would want to be living under a rock to have missed that Cork has made it into The Lonely Planet’s ‘Top 10 Place’s to visit’. At Pue’s we were wondering what historical attractions the city has on offer. I was in Cork for the August bank holiday weekend so I made my way to the Cork City Gaol and was impressed at what the Gaol had to offer in terms of local and national history.

The Gaol opened in 1824 and is unusual looking for a gaol for both it’s red colour (the red sandstone used in the building was quarried from the hills surrounding the building) and its Castle like features.  It was initially a Gaol for men and in 1878 it became the women’s prison. During the tour there is even a description of this change being introduced into the prison when one female prisoner recounts the sight of the men filling out under armed guard up the city quays on one side, while women were marched up the other side into their new homes.

The tour itself falls into two parts: Read more

What use are historians anyway?

9 August 2010

By Kevin O’Sullivan

It’s been a tough few months for history. In June, Diarmuid Whelan, lecturer in international politics at UCC, died at the age of just 37. The following month Peter Hart passed away in Newfoundland. And on Friday 6 August the profession lost Tony Judt, professor of European Studies at New York University, author of Post War: A History of Europe since 1945 (2005) and frequent essayist for the New York Review of Books, The New Republic, the TLS and the London Review of Books.

They left many friends, co-travellers, correspondents and discontents among history circles. Yet their work was also vitally important to a world beyond the gated communities of academia. Whelan’s searches through the Owen Sheehy-Skeffington collection in the National Library unearthed Peter Tyrrell’s Founded on Fear, a memoir of his life in Letterfrack Industrial School in the 1920s and 1930s and a vital contribution to the debate on child abuse in Ireland. The public view of Hart’s work may have, as one poster (Captain Rock) put it to Pue’s, ‘differed greatly from the academy’, but its findings and – most significantly – the debate it sparked were an important contribution to changing perceptions of Ireland and Irishness in the late 1990s. Judt’s contribution with Ill Fares the Land (2010) was a global one, but no less important to Irish society in its assertion that ‘something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today’. Read More

The National Leprechaun Museum

4 August 2010

Contributed by Eamon Darcy

On 12 July 1963, Seán Lemass, then Taoiseach, appeared on the cover of Time magazine alongside one of the most enduring images of Ireland (well, at least in American imaginations): a shifty-looking leprechaun, no doubt hiding something. Cynics amongst you would argue that the person over Lemass’s shoulder was just another member of Fianna Fáil protecting the whereabouts of their ill-gotten pot of gold and ‘lucky charms’. On closer inspection, the Leprechaun bears a striking resemblance to our favourite resident of St Luke’s. Indeed, his pot of gold has eluded the Mahon tribunal for a few years now. One could be tempted to urge Justice Mahon to grab him
and tickle him for a confession. Alas, this would inevitably fail; our guide at the National Leprechaun Museum warned us how crafty Leprechauns are, they may tell us where their gold is, but only through riddles and directions that can never be trusted.

A copy of this cover from Time hangs proudly in the foyer of the National Leprechaun Museum alongside other Leprechaun related artifacts – a mock Leprechaun uniform, a cartoon of Walt Disney in Ireland and, of course, the film poster advertising ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People’. Our guide informed us that this museum was a ‘monument to our storytelling past’ and suggested that we too would hear a tale or two, ‘some true, some not so true’ but all a very important part of our heritage. Read more

Peter Hart (1963-2010)

3 August 2010

Contributed by Fearghal McGarry

The death of Peter Hart at the age of 46 has deprived Ireland of one of its finest scholars: it is difficult to think of anyone who contributed more to the historiography of the Irish revolution, or whose work on the subject had a greater public impact.

Peter wrote three major works during his short academic career, and he was close to finishing several more at the time of his death. His first, The I.R.A. and its Enemies: Violence and Community in Cork, 1916-23 (1998), remains one of the most important studies of the period. It is a testament to the intimidating breadth of Peter’s scholarship that his second book – a collection of essays entitled The I.R.A. at War (2003) which explored the themes of his local study on a broader canvas – also serves as one of the best undergraduate textbooks on the Irish revolution. Mick: The Real Michael Collins (2005) was written for a popular rather than scholarly market. Peter had a refreshingly North American attitude about this: he wanted to write books that people would buy in airport bookshops, and he believed that academics should be able to connect with a mass audience (notwithstanding the hostility that their research could generate).

What made Peter’s work original? In part, his status as an outsider. Read More

Pue’s Recommendations for August

2 August 2010

Juliana Adelman The IFI are showing a bunch of old Jack Nicholson films this month, including two of my absolute favourites: Chinatown and Five Easy Pieces.  We tend to think of Nicholson as playing variations on eccentric old man, he is neither in these films.  And I think he actually plays the piano that well in real life.  I am currently engrossed in Being Human by Roger Smith, which is essentially an argument for the importance of historical understandings (as opposed to biological) of what a human is.  I think it’s a must read for all historians.  Sticking to humans, the current exhibition in the Science Gallery has nothing to do with history, but is really worth a visit.  BIORHYTHM explores the relationship between music and the body.  Finally, I am enjoying BBC 2’s Victorian Pharmacy on Thursday nights from 9 to 10.  Yes, as the review in the Guardian complained, it’s not very realistic since they can’t give people opium or poison them, but still pretty interesting.

Lisa Marie Griffith I had my niece in Dublin for the day recently (honestly that’s my excuse) and took her on the Viking Splash Tour. If you have been to Dublin you will have seen the yellow DUKWs (Amphibious World War II Vehicles) filled with kids and adults a like driving around the city shouting (a Viking roar) at unsuspecting Celts, ie anyone unlucky enough to be holding a map or a cup of coffee.  The DUKW enters the Grand Canal basin and the guide gave a wonderful tour of the area, the old canal and the background to the DUKWs. The IFI is showing ‘Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky’ from 6 August, an adaptation of a novel which deals with Chanel’s affair with the Russian composer. While not based completely on factual events it promises beautiful clothes from the early twentieth century which is enough to make me happy! If like me you have a weakness for beautiful clothes, particularly vintage pieces, then check out the Sartorialist for the month of May. The fashion blogger invited his readers to send in old fashion pics of families and friends and while procrastinating and catching up on my blogs I spotted them today. They are well worth a look and particularly strong with some beautiful pictures from the 40s and 50s, he also has some gorgeous shop fronts.

Tina Morin This August is a time of family gatherings, weddings, and much-anticipated visits from friends, two of whom arrive this week in advance of a wedding we’re all attending at the weekend. My husband and I plan to take these friends, one of whom is from the US, on a whirlwind tour of Belfast and the north coast, with necessary call-ins at Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, and Bushmills Whiskey Distillery, in addition to the near-obligatory murals tour in Belfast. If we have time, it’d be great to head south and bring our visitors to The Abbey Theatre’s current production of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars, which runs until 25 September. As we do all this sightseeing, I’m going to be sure to drop in copious literary tidbits whenever and however I can, on the back of the dismaying article in last weekend’s Irish Times: ‘If ever you go to Dublin town’. In it, writer Rosita Boland reveals the shocking ignorance about Irish literature and writing displayed by visitors, heritage-seekers, and residents alike. For a literary critic and a personal fan of Irish literature in all of its guises, the article is a heartrending read and, (to be a tad melodramatic about it), a real call to arms.

Kevin O’Sullivan You have to love Ireland, don’t you? On holidays in the midst of a dour World Cup, we caught the last two minutes of Holland v Brazil on a tiny, snowy screen in the ‘airport’ on Inis Mór, right before the attendant, with the words ‘watch this video’, switched over to the safety instructions and headed out to the runway to prepare our eight-seater (including the captain) plane for take-off. This month Aer Arann celebrates forty years of ‘seat of the pants flying’ to the islands from Indreabhán. If you get the chance, and can stomach the ten-minute trip, it’s well worth heading out to see Dún Aonghasa, Dún Eochla, and some beautiful beaches. Beats taking the boat any day. And while you’re on the west coast, keep an eye out for a couple of other ‘new’ attractions that we came across in July: Bonane Heritage Park near Kenmare, which opened in 2005; and Doolin Cave, home of a 7.3m stalactite, whose new visitor centre opened last month. The cave is a little pricey, but the experience will make it all the easier to head back into your local autumn-darkened library. Finally, if heading back to the library needs any selling, have a look at this great video that I came across last month (via Notes from the Field).