Archive for January, 2011

To pickle pidgeons…

30 January 2011

By Juliana Adelman

You may or may not have heard Catherine Cleary and I talking about 18th and 19th C Irish recipes on Myles Dungan’s History Show on Sunday night.  Being food fans and also curious, we decided to cook up some recipes found in the National Library of Ireland’s vast collection of manuscript recipe books.  It gave me a great excuse to look at these books, which have a kind of peripheral interest to my research on animal-human relationships (if you can call being slaughtered and eaten a kind of relationship…).  Anyway, much to our surprise the recipes were quite easy to follow and they all worked.  We did modify them using our judgment, but overall it wasn’t too difficult.  And most of them were actually delicious and well worth a try.  So I thought I’d share all the recipes below.  They are transcribed nearly as they appeared with some corrections of spelling to make them easier to understand.  If anyone is keen to try one, send an email and I can advise on how we modified it.  If you are interested in Irish food history, see Leslie A. Clarkson and E. Margaret Crawford, Feast and famine: a history of food in Ireland 1500-1920.

NLI MS 9563: Mrs Jane Bury’s Receipt Booke (c. 1700)

‘To make the best minse pye’

Take a neat’s tongue [that’s ox tongue] and boil and blanch it.  Cut it into thin slices and when it is cold mince it very small with 3 [epsilon symbol with line through it, some kind of measurement] of suet if tongue be very large if not 2 [epsilon] of suet, two pounds of currants one pound of raisins, stoned, and each of mace, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon in all the same, half a pound of sugar a spoonful of salt half a pint of sack [sweet sherry] some rose water some candied orange or citron mix all those well together & put into your coffin [a pie crust] being made thin and let them stand about an hour in the oven.

[These were actually the best mince pies.  We used butter instead of suet.  Tongue is delicious!  Really! A generous hand with the spices is good.  Also, we used rose syrup instead of rose water.  Tongue must be boiled for a good couple of hours (even up to 4), we did it for only about 1.5 hours and it was still a bit chewy.] Read more

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Honest to blog: web legitimacy

26 January 2011

Last year Pue’s organised a one-day symposium on blogging with speakers from Come Here To Me, the Irish Left Archive, Ireland After NAMA, the Sligo Model Blog and History Compass Exchanges.  We’ve decided to do it again this spring on 4 March in the Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin.  The focus, as the title suggests, will be on the credibility of blogs.  We’re interpreting this widely to include credibility as information sources, as archives, as public outreach, as communicators of research and as teaching tools.  Programme to follow soon.  If you’d like to join us, please register through the symposium’s page.

Something for the week

25 January 2011

By Juliana Adelman

The hated January is finally coming to a close.  The days are getting longer.  We can almost smell spring.  My bulbs even came up in the thaw.  January seemed an endless parade of budgets, resignations, reshuffles, press conferences, political waffle and whinge.  We will not miss it.  Nonetheless, there are a few things you might not want to miss in this last week of darkness.  These are Dublin events, please feel free to add good things happening elsewhere in the comments.

IFI Archive at Lunchtime

Last year the IFI started a new effort to bring their archive to the public through free screenings at lunchtime.  Currently celebrating its one-year anniversary, the programme is continuing this year.  January’s theme is islands and you have seven days to catch the films before February brings new choices.  Today at lunchtime (13:10) there is a documentary about Achill Island.  For tickets (free, but advanced booking available) see the IFI website.

National Gallery of Ireland

‘Colour & Light: caring for Turner’s watercolours’ ends on the 31st of January.  From what I managed to see of it with one eye on a destructive 3-year-old it is worth a visit.

Natural History Museum

‘Herds, regiments and troops’ is a guided tour with a history of the museum’s trophy heads, conducted by Catherine McGuinness from 12 to 1230pm on Saturday, the 29th of January.  I’m hoping to join it, depending again on the cooperation of a certain small companion.

Lighthouse Cinema

Breakfast at Tiffany’s has been reissued for the 50th anniversary.  You can see it on the 26th, 30th or 1st.  Book tickets here.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art

‘The Moderns’, is on display until 13 February showcasing Irish modern art c 1900 to 1970s.  In conjunction with exhibition is a lecture by Brian Dillon linking writers and artists in Irish modernism on the 27th at 4pm, book here.

That should keep you busy!

How do we write contemporary history anyway?

24 January 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Ok, I know what you’re thinking: another piece of shameless self-promotion from a member of the Pue’s collective. Well I can promise you, this is far from that. We are living – in case you hadn’t noticed – through historical times. The fabric of our economic and social systems is unravelling before our eyes, while our politicians continue to play the ‘game’ of electioneering and party politics. I never thought I’d see the day when the spectre of a chess-playing Charles Haughey hovering over my name would seem less threatening than a click to the front page of The Irish Times. On Friday (21 January 2011), I even found myself agreeing with John Waters in the same newspaper (a momentous occasion indeed): ‘No matter how bad things get, our collective sense of what is important can always be diverted into the drama of politics, which we are prone to mistake for reality.’

But what – if anything – are historians to make of it? Read More

The Croke Park Agreement and Irish universities

21 January 2011

By Juliana Adelman

A reader of Pue’s alerted me to this opinion piece in yesterday’s Irish Times (thank you, P).   The letter, signed by a long list of university staff including many professors, claims that implementation of the Croke Park Agreement in the university sector will have immediate and damaging effects including the curtailment of academic freedom.  DCU’s former president Ferdinand von Prodzynsk spells out what the agreement means in a post from the start of the month which you can read here. You can read Paddy Healy’s collection of material on the subject, including his own pieces in vehement opposition, here.  For a different viewpoint on the tenure issue, seen by many as threatened by Croke Park, see this post on the American context by ‘Dean Dad’.  Finally, let’s hear what you have to say!

I’ve been used!

20 January 2011

By Juliana Adelman

In theory, there is nothing more exciting for the academic than to find that her work has actually been read by someone and even, gasp, cited!  It is less exciting, however, to discover it being mustered in the cause of intelligent design.  Someone in cyberspace has seized upon an article of mine as evidence that evolution never happened.  Mind you my article does not have much at all to do with evolution or intelligent design.  Instead it is about the importance of personality, reputation and media exposure in the consolidation of scientific opinion.  Nonetheless, since I do mention Darwin one time it was doubtless this that brought the article to the reader’s googling.  I am not going to provide a link to the website, but if you are curious you can google ‘Eozoon’ and it will come up.

The fact that my article is being used by a pro-creationist lobby is slightly disturbing, although I have to admit that the lobbiest in question clearly read and understood the article and used my ideas in a rather subtle and clever attack on scientific authority.  While most historians of science are neither creationists nor relativists, recent historiographical trends have offered ample ammunition for these groups to seize upon.  Historical narratives depicting a heroic quest for scientific truth are now limited to popular science.  Instead, we tell stories of how one idea gathered support at the expense of others offering diverse nonscientific causes including social, political and cultural needs. Read more

My conversation with Margaret

19 January 2011

Contributed by Carolyn Shadid Lewis


This is a follow-up to the post I submitted in July, asking for help in finding women who worked as seamstresses in a parachute factory in Carrickfergus during the Second World War. [The image is from the parachute factory in Carrickfergus, courtesy of the National Archives of Ireland.-Pue]

Margaret Smyth warmly welcomed me into her home in Ballymena, directing her daughter to start the kettle as we settled into her living room.  She had trouble hearing, so she asked me to sit close to her.  She held my hand, gave me a smile and asked in a perplexed voice, “You came all the way from America to interview me?”  I laughed and assured her that she was worth the effort.

Now age 89, Margaret had worked for five years as a seamstress in the parachute factory in Carrickfergus during the war.  My journey to find her was long and varied, filled with the help and support of so many people on both sides of the border.  It was a difficult task, mostly due to my own lack of research skills, but also due to the unfortunate fact that the women’s experience during the Second World War was not well documented.   In the end, I found Margaret from the sheer luck that her daughter, Daphne, read my letter in the Belfast Telegraph and took the initiative to write to me.  Her letter arrived two weeks before I was set to return to the States, just as I gave up hope of actually finding anyone. Read more

9 of the best web resources for teaching history

17 January 2011

By Juliana Adelman

I have been doing more teaching in the past few years and have found an amazing number of resources online.  Some of them have been passed on through email lists or recommendations, but others have simply emerged from concentrated googling.  Although I found them useful for teaching, or thinking about teaching, many of them are also relevant to researchers.  Enjoy and feel free to add others in the comments.

1. Learning Historical Research.  This is an outstanding website, organised by the environmental historian William Cronon, which targets undergrads but has tips and reminders that even the most seasoned researcher might find useful.  It might be particularly useful if you are supervising a dissertation or conducting a class which requires primary research. Read more

Gulliver’s Travels at Smock Alley

14 January 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

I spotted this on the Smock Alley Facebook Page the other day and it is top of my list of things to do this weekend- The Wonderland production of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s travels at the Smock Alley Theatre.  Six actor/musicians undertake the central roles, while puppets are used for the Lilliputians and the audience are asked to use their imagination to conjure up the giants of Brobdingnag. The costumes and set look fantastic (see below for more pictures). The Irish Times review can be found here.

I love the idea of going to see a production of Gulliver’s Travels in a theatre which Jonathan Swift would have been familiar with. You can find a short history of the theatre and the restoration here.

Suitable for ages 7+ Running from 3rd Jan to 22nd Jan. Tuesday – Saturday 7pm; Saturday and Sunday 2pm, Children from €9.50; adults from €12; family of four from €44

See more pictures

Five of my favourite films

12 January 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

Last term I had the opportunity to show a film to my early modern European history classes. Film and historical dramas have become one of the primary places that the average person experiences history. History enthusiasts of course have documentaries, but only a small minority of people who engage with documentaries. Viewing a historical film can be a thoroughly rewarding experience for those who are interested in history but these films often have to be taken with a pinch of salt. While taking tutorials, however, I became increasingly aware that students often take for granted the accuracy of very sensational historic films and television series.

While explaining the Tudor and Stuart family tree in tutorials there were constant references from my students to That other Boleyen Girl, Marie Antoinette, The Duchess and Young Victoria. In Ireland the legacy of Michael Collins has coloured most people’s experience of modern Irish history and the film and its romantic portrayal of the War of Independence seems unavoidable when dealing with Ireland in this period. As a tour guide I am also becoming increasingly aware of the lasting impact of The Wind that Shakes the Barley which many American people view before they come to Ireland. That said, The Tudors also seems to be a favourite amongst many of my visitors.

For good or bad Hollywood and HBO are the touchstone for many people’s basic knowledge on historical events. The fabulous costumes and dramatic plot twists understandably stick in people’s minds more readily than their study prep for junior cert history. But this touchstone can be put to good use in the class room. Students seem to react positively to film, even if it is just short YouTube clips. We are, more than ever, in a television age. Read more