Archive for September, 2011

My Old Haunting Grounds

30 September 2011

I’ll be back in Cork today, enjoying the Digital Cultures Workshop at UCC and reminiscing about old times. I found this picture of Cork’s Patrick Street on Wikimedia Commons, which has it dated at 1890. Although there’s now a McDonald’s where the Woodford Bourne sign is on the left, it’s amazing how similar the late-nineteenth century and contemporary Patrick Streets are!

Have a good weekend! – Tina

Enter our Competition!

28 September 2011

Welcome to our first competition! We are offering six Pue’s readers the chance to go on a special guided tour of the tower and roof of St Patrick’s Cathedral on the morning of Saturday the 22nd of October, led by the education officer, Andrew Smith. The competition is simple:

Summarize your favourite century of Irish history in 115 characters or less.

If you are on twitter, send it as a tweet with the opening @puesoccurrences #puescomp. Otherwise drop us an email at puesoccurrences AT gmail DOT com. Every letter, every mark of punctuation and every space counts as a character. Short and punchy is the key. The deadline for entries is October 7th and we will announce the winners by October 12th. We’ll also publish the best entries on the blog. Good luck!

A few rules: the tour is not suitable for children under 16, anyone afraid of heights or anyone afraid of enclosed spaces. One entry per person (we welcome as many entries on as many centuries as you like but there is one place for each winner). Please be certain that you are free to attend the tour before entering.

See our dedicated competition page.

Next Stop: World Domination

26 September 2011

By Christina Morin

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a lawyer and had a pretty clear (if rather vaguely conceptualized) career plan: pro bono lawyer to Sandra Day O’Connor protégée to first female president of the United States. I’m not sure how sincerely I believed I would follow through on any of it, but I had fun imagining it all. In high school, I briefly toyed with the idea of becoming a doctor or a biologist and was encouraged by a particularly inspiring science teacher to think about a future in medical journalism. I wasn’t too keen on dissection or blood though, so I focused on the journalism suggestion and, by the time I started my undergraduate degree, I knew I was destined to be a famous journalist. Not just any journalist, of course – a foreign correspondent, covering breaking news from the far flung corners of the earth. Unfortunately, an eye-opening stint at the university newspaper ultimately convinced me that journalism wasn’t the ideal career choice for me: I hated ringing people up and asking them uncomfortable questions; I hated the late nights just before the paper ran….   Read more

Living at the edge of the world

23 September 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

It’s one of the things I like most about doing what we do (i.e. history): that moment when somewhere or something makes you think, ‘How the hell did anyone get here? Why did they come here? What did they do here? And how did they ever live here?’ and it drives you deeper and deeper into a spiral of research, sparked by the desire to delve into the soul of humanity and better understand what makes/made people tick. Not that I know much about life at this particular location (all knowledgeable direction gratefully accepted), but I think you know what I mean.

Why do we love books so much anyway?

19 September 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

I’m in the midst of a move at the moment – to the University of Birmingham – which means that I’m going through that thing that we all dread: sorting out my books. The ‘what to bring’ pile must, of course, end up smaller than the ‘what to put in storage pile’, but never seems to get any lower than the ‘I’ll definitely need this at some point in the next two years’ pile. It’s a fascinating but painful process, trying to figure out what’s worth taking, what could be, and what should be boxed, quite possibly never to see the light of day again.

I’d barely begun yesterday afternoon when the questions came. (Well, actually, the match came first, but why let one fascinating story get in the way of another.) Why is there so little fiction? Should I give this back or are the seven years since I borrowed it enough for squatter’s rights? The questions were followed by fascination: where did this come from? Is this even mine? And then of course came the guilt: why did I buy this if I was never going to read it? And, indeed, should I put it into the to-read pile now?  Read More

Attention historical geographers: a call for help!

15 September 2011

By Juliana Adelman

I recently noticed another history blogger experimenting with crowdsourcing advice and feedback on a developing paper.  I think this a great idea and hope to do it myself once my book chapters are a bit further on.  In the meantime, I am looking for a collaborator.  I am in the process of collecting a load of data about the locations of various animal businesses and industries around Dublin during the nineteenth century.  I would like to turn this data into some nice maps.  Now, I can draw dots on a scanned image of an old map using a free image editor and come up with some maps that are ok.  But I suspect that someone with GIS experience and some computer know-how would have a better idea.  The maps will be for a chapter in my book, to be published by the University of Virginia Press. I am offering co-authorship of the chapter to a geographer interested in collaborating and helping to produce the maps.  I suppose in this case I am supplying the data and the research questions and you are supplying the technical skills.  In the short term, it is a guaranteed publication.  In the long term, perhaps the beginning of a beautiful partnership?  Please contact adelmanj AT tcd DOT ie if you are interested.

Top Five: Museums (a personal choice)

14 September 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

I am, I must admit, not the biggest fan of museums. Monuments, yes. Galleries, certainly. But there’s something about museums that often seems, well, too wordy, unfocussed, or over-done. Which might seem like an odd admission, coming from (a) an historian, and (b) one about to list his five favourite museums. But read on…

The British Museum
Start with a classic. If you can get over the size – in many ways it’s too big, and there’s too much that you simply don’t want to see. And if you can ignore the provenance of its artefacts and how many of them were acquired. Then there is so much to excite and amaze, on repeated visits, that you can always find yourself in an unexpected room, in an unexpected wing, or on an unexpected floor – for hours on end. That and the A History of the World in 100 Objects tie-in has opened a whole new way of exploring even the most obscure exhibit. Oh, and it’s free too.  Read More

Where did it all go wrong? History’s battle for souls

12 September 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Since this is, after all, a history blog, we should probably start with the evidence. There is enough casual interest in our subject in Ireland to sustain a healthy publishing industry (peruse the catalogues of Irish Academic Press, Four Courts Press, UCD Press, UCC Press, Mercier, Gill and Macmillan et al for evidence), a dedicated monthly magazine (History Ireland), two national radio programmes (Newstalk’s Talking History and RTÉ’s The History Show), and a growing online community of bloggers and history writers. The genealogy industry continues to blossom, drawing in tourists from across the world in search of their Irish roots. Millions of others flock to Newgrange, Trinity College, Dublin Castle and a whole host of historical sites across the country. You can banquet, medieval style, at Bunratty. You can watch re-enacted cavalry training or musket fire at the Battle of the Boyne site near Drogheda. Or, if you’re not the going-out type, you can turn on the television any night of the week and watch a high-quality documentary on some period of Ireland’s recent – and not-so-recent – past (take a bow, TG4).

But still you get the feeling that something’s missing.


On Communion Wafers and Time to Think

9 September 2011

By Christina Morin

I’m in the midst of writing a long overdue journal article, and, with the start of teaching looming ominously over me, I’m starting to feel the need for a metaphorical communion wafer to stick to my forehead. If that sounds odd, let me explain: my man Maturin was famously supposed to have fixed communion wafers to himself when he was writing in order to warn his family not to disturb him. Part of a myth of Maturin? Possibly, though Maturin certainly was well known for his histrionic eccentricities. Whatever the case, I’m very drawn to the idea of a specific sign that both attests to my concerted effort – no matter how much it might look like I’m simply dossing or staring off into space – and cautions colleagues against approaching me with unrelated work.

I’ve particularly felt the need for such a charm in the past few weeks. After attending an information session for the European Research Council’s new Starting Grants – mentioned in my recommendations for this month – I felt a growing sense of panic. On the one hand, I wondered, how could I not apply for such a significant amount of money and, perhaps more importantly, five more years of lucrative academic employment? On the other hand, when was I going to find the time to prepare such an application, especially when the instructions alone amount to a dizzying number of pages? As the wheels turned frantically in my head – how could I frame the project I had in mind in such a way as to make it more ERC friendly? Who could I contact to help me with my application? Was there anybody (preferably more senior) with whom I could forge a connection that would make the project more attractive? – I consulted a wise friend who has a habit of speaking reason to me in my (not infrequent) bouts of work-related panic. Read more

Time for a change

8 September 2011

By Juliana Adelman

Autumn has always been my favorite season.  Where I come from in New England (see picture to the left) it is certainly the most spectacular season.  Even in Dublin there is a noticeable clarity to the air and a certain brightness that you don’t get any other time of year.  Perhaps it is because I can’t seem to get away from places of education, but I always think of autumn as the start of the year.  I tend to make my resolutions in September and not in January.  This year there have already been lots of changes (moving house and my son starting ‘big’ school) but I also feel the need for some changes of my own.  I thought I would share my autumn resolutions with Pue’s.  Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

1. Read more novels.  I don’t know about you, but I have an office full of nonfiction and a pile of nonfiction next to my bed.  Some of this is pleasure, most of it is work.  I am beginning to think that I have lost touch with story telling and good writing, which is sadly in scarce supply in many history books.  I am hoping fiction is the antidote. Read more