Archive for April, 2011

Grave robbing at Glasnevin

29 April 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

By now I am sure you will have heard that Glasnevin Cemetry won a THEA award (The Themed Entertainment Association) for their new museum. This prompted me to take a visit to check out the museum and I was very impressed. Here is a mock-up of a grave robber in action from the history of Glasnevin exhbit. By the nineteenth century some grave robbers had perfected their trade and instead of digging up the coffins in full they would dig a shaft at the head of the coffin, break the small panel allowing them entrance to the coffin, slip a noose around the neck of the corpse and drag the body out.

Celebrating two years of Pue’s Occurrences, and a new address

28 April 2011

From the editors

If you can believe it – because we certainly can’t – it’s been nearly two years since the Pue’s Occurrences collective made its first contributions to the blogosphere. To celebrate, from today Pue’s is moving to a new – and simpler – address: But don’t fret; there’ll be no change to your usual historical service. Just update your bookmarks/favourites/Google Reader and RSS settings (if, indeed, you use any of the above) accordingly to continue to receive our regular postings from the world of history. And don’t worry if it slips your mind – typing into your browser or searching for ‘Pue’s’ in your favourite internet search engine will still bring you to us.

Public service announcements over, we should also tell you about some of the fun things we have lined up to celebrate our birthday over the next six weeks or so. First up is a special Pue’s contribution to RTÉ Radio 1’s The History Show. Tune in this Sunday evening, 1 May, between 6 and 7 pm, to hear us chat to Myles Dungan about the hows and whys of history online and give our recommendations for the best of what’s out there on the web – everything from Google Books to newspaper archives to Antarctic preservation and iTunesU! For those of you outside Ireland – or away from a radio on a bank holiday Sunday afternoon – you can catch it as a live stream from the RTÉ website or download the podcast from iTunes.

There will be plenty more to follow in the month of May: our individual reflections on being part of a vibrant online history community, our favourite reads, our most read posts, and much more. It’s our way of celebrating, thanking, and looking forward to hearing more from you, our readers, commenters and contributors who have made Pue’s such an interesting place over the past twenty-four months or so. Watch this space!

Oranges and Sunshine

27 April 2011

Contributed by Joanne Mc Entee

 ‘Did you want to come to Australia?’ ‘I thought I was going on holiday. They told me I was going on holiday. Said I would be away for six weeks. I didn’t know where Australia was.’

(Child migrant, Perth, 1988)

The holiday proved short lived. Within two days of arriving in Australia the child was scrubbing floors in an orphanage.

Oranges and Sunshine (2010) directed by Jim Loach tells the story of the children who were sent abroad under state-sponsored migration schemes to various parts of the British empire from the mid- twentieth century until 1970. Through the courage and determination of one social worker from Nottingham the issue was brought to international attention. This film is her story too.

In 1986 social worker Margaret Humphreys who was known for her interest in adoption cases, received a letter from a woman named Madeleine who claimed she had been sent from a children’s home in England to Australia over forty years earlier. She was requesting assistance in finding her family. Humphreys was intrigued by the letter and although initially a little sceptic, subsequent investigations corroborated Madeleine’s claims. Thus began the long and emotionally draining process of uncovering a heart breaking state secret that had been concealed for decades. Read more

Playboys, Paycocks and Playbills

25 April 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

If you need any excuse to get out and visit the museum and gorgeous grounds at the Pearse Museum, St Enda’s Rathfarnham,  look no further then their current exhibition ‘Playboys, Paycocks and Playbills: Abbey Theatre poster design from the 1970s and 1980s’. The above image (and two below) are part of the exhibit normally housed at the National Print Museum. The exhibit explores in the main the work of two in-house poster designers for the Abbey, Kevin Scally and Brendan Foreman, who worked for the theatre 1974-79 and 1980-88 respectively. The exhibit adds an interesting dimension to the history of art, theatre and design in twentieth century Ireland.

The curator Brian Crowley says that ‘posters had not played a major role in the early years of the Abbey’  but there was a growing awareness in the 1970s of the importance of advertising and design to convey the spirit and ethos of individual productions. The posters are ‘one of the few tangible records of a production once its run had ended’ so they are unique ephemera and an important document for the history fo the theatre. The exhibit runs until 6 June so get there soon. See more

Picture Post

22 April 2011

By Christina Morin

Some of my reading material this week…

Learning Online

20 April 2011

By Christina Morin

Last Wednesday, there was an interesting piece in the Irish Times called ‘The University of YouTube’ by Edel Morgan. The idea behind the article was to ascertain whether ‘teaching yourself on the web [is] as effective as interacting in a classroom’. As part of the experiment, three individuals undertook three separate challenges designed to test the quality of online tutoring. Morgan’s husband, for instance, used an uploaded lesson by hairdresser-to-the-stars, Richard Ashforth, to learn how to reproduce that ever-so-difficult-to-achieve just-out-of-the-salon look. The result of his newly acquired blow-drying skills was, as Morgan herself admitted, pretty good. The two other challenges involved learning sign language and a sequence dance, with varying rates of success. Both of those challenges, in fact, concluded with mixed feelings towards online learning, suggesting that it could flesh out but not wholly replace classroom learning… which got me thinking about iTunes U, an enterprise that attempts to merge classroom and virtual learning by allowing individuals to access, among other things, lectures recorded by experts in their fields from a broad range of universities. Juliana has written about iTunes U before, emphasising its potential helpfulness in lecture preparation, but I had never explored it until Morgan’s Irish Times piece prompted me to wander through its virtual halls. Read more

The Bit of Spade Work!

18 April 2011

Contributed by David Garreth Toms

Long before I began my PhD in 2009, I would pick up a copy of the Waterford Soccer Monthly from time to time. My favourite part, perhaps predictably, was the old photographs of teams from the 1920s and 1930s. There is often something otherworldly about photographs of sports teams from that era. Thinking more on it, it is the formality of the occasion of having one’s photograph taken – after all, the photographic image was not then as ubiquitous as it has since become. The rigidity of the subjects (out of technical necessity) also ensures photographs from that era have an idiosyncratic strangeness to them.

This piece isn’t really about the photographs that appeared in the Waterford Soccer Monthly (WSM) though. Instead, it is about the old-fashioned digging around, the donkey-work of historical research. I remembered those photographs when it came time for me to begin research on grassroots football in Waterford city as part of my thesis. Typically, the old copies of the WSM had long been consigned to the bin in my house. So it was with hope that I e-mailed the editor of the magazine, and sure enough he kept his entire back-catalogue. What’s more, he had original scans of many of the photographs I was looking for, and much more besides. Read more

Picture Posts

15 April 2011

By Christina Morin

This is the first of what we hope will become a weekly series consisting of an image, illustration, photograph, cartoon, drawing, or other visual representation (or representations) drawn from our various experiences, undertakings, and encounters of the preceding week. Each image will be posted with limited accompanying text, with the idea that it serve more as a conversation starter than a discussion in and of itself. What we post will be related in some way to what we do, whether it’s a picture of an untidy desk just after an important article has been submitted, or a screen grab of the website which served as a procrastination tool, or a cartoon that seems particularly applicable to current events. In other words, these picture posts will be much like our normal discursive entries, with the exception that they will be primarily visual rather than verbal. We hope to provide, in a slightly different format than usual, some food for thought. And if we happen to get a laugh or two in the process… well, there’s no harm in that!

So, without further ado, here is the inaugural picture post, taken from my procrastination on YouTube this week. Enjoy!

Spring Cleaning Gone Too Far?

13 April 2011

By Christina Morin

With a visit from my parents fast approaching, I spent much of this weekend engaged in that age-old activity prompted by the thought of mum coming to town: cleaning. In fact, I spring-cleaned the house, deciding that this visit of my super-clean, totally uncluttered mom was the perfect time to scrub the floorboards, tidy the under stairs cupboard, and generally de-clutter the place from a year’s worth of accumulated stuff. As I hoovered, dusted, and scrubbed, I thought about the extreme act of de-cluttering performed by Stuart Walton, who, in a piece for The Guardian on 9 April, spoke of ‘laborious[ly] disburdening’ himself of the vast majority of his considerable collection of books. While moving house, Walton was inspired to donate most of his 2,000 odd books to charity shops, in what was obviously a painful but, it seems, ultimately liberating experience for him. As Walton correctly observes, ‘we develop bonds of intellectual and emotional affection to books, which makes the act of disposing of them seem like wanton ingratitude’; yet, he doesn’t record any regrets about his decision to offload his library. Rather the opposite, in fact, Walton questions the need and desire to keep books in the first place now that we have firmly entered the digital age: ‘space is at a premium and limitless quantities of literature, music and film can be stored digitally [… so] [w]hy keep a hard copy?’. Now in his new, almost book-free house, Walton follows a strict policy of ‘buy, read, flog on Amazon Marketplace’. Read more

Further Adventures in Eighteenth-Century Fiction

11 April 2011

By Christina Morin

It’s been a while since I’ve shared my thoughts on my favourite eighteenth-century Irish fiction, so I thought I’d offer a few more suggestions. Given the nature of my current research (a project called ‘The Gothic Novel in Ireland, 1760-1830’), I’ve been reading extensively in Irish Gothic fiction from the mid- to late-eighteenth century. As a result, my recommendations are drawn from this recent reading of now overlooked but no less interesting fiction. Unfortunately, these texts are so rare today as not to be available in modern editions – so you won’t be able to head out into the sunshine we’re having for a lazy though potentially sublime afternoon. That is, of course, unless you have a laptop, wifi, and remote access to Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO). Be that as it may, these are fascinating examples of eighteenth-century Irish literary production, all of which point to the need to re-assess current perspectives on Irish fiction of the period and its important contribution to the contemporary rise of Gothic fiction. So, without further ado….

  1. The Adventures of Miss Sophia Berkley (1760) by ‘A Young Lady’ has been identified in recent years as a Gothic novel predating Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) – the text now generally understood as the ‘first’ British Gothic novel. Set initially in Ireland, the novel follows the eponymous heroine as she meets and falls in love with the son of an ancient Irish family. On the eve of their marriage, however, Horatio is killed and taken away by pirates near Sophia’s coastal home, and she is left distraught. Worse is yet to come, however, when her father, falling fatally ill, reveals that his affairs are horribly compromised. Upon her father’s death, Sophia emigrates to London, where she endures a series of unfortunate mishaps, abductions, and daring escapes before….  Well, I won’t spoil the plot for you. Suffice it to say, there is a happy ending, but perhaps not the one you might expect. Only one volume long, The Adventures of Miss Sophia Berkley won’t require too much investment on your part and is well worth the read! Read more