Archive for November, 2011

Pue’s Christmas Gift List

29 November 2011

We at Pue’s thought we would start a new Christmas tradition this year.  The following gift ideas are not just things that historians would like, but also gifts that historians might like to give to others!  Enjoy and feel free to add other ideas in the comments section.

1. Irish Film Institute, archival film DVD.  Available online and in the shop. 2. Complete Wallander, Rocky Road to Dublin, Fire in Babylon, all available on  3.  Book stand.  Comparable model available from Eason’s.  4.  Replica London Olympic Games poster, from Next.  5.  Rory’s story cubes.  Also available as an iPhone app.  6.  Napoleon’s head on a plate.  National Gallery, London.  Available from Article, Dublin.

7.  iPad2, so we can dream…8.  U2 Achtung Baby uber deluxe edition.  9.  Reissue of Dierdre Madden’s All about home economics.  10.  Jane Austen earrings (from recycled book pages) from Bookity on  11.  Buy a piece of history.  1950s handbag, from the Flourescent Elephant.  12.  The Civil Wars, new album.  13.  Reaktion books ‘Animal‘ series, Owl.  Histories of all your favourite beasts.  14.  Fingerless gloves.  For the unheated archive…15.  Book weight.

16.  Dublin 1911, ed. Catriona Crowe. Royal Irish Academy.  A particularly nice kind of coffee table book.  17. Vintage book shaped locket.  From Freshyfig on 18.  Vintage style recipe cards. 19. The beast in Boston Harbor, print.  From Alternate Histories on 20. New illustrated edition of E. H. Grombich’s classic. 21.  Anatomical plate, National Gallery, London.  22. Toasting fork.  23.  Seeds from the Irish Seed Savers Association.  Grow your own Irish food history.

Sleeping Beauty

25 November 2011

Not only was yesterday Thanksgiving, it was also the deadline for a big grant application I’ve been working on seemingly forever. As you read this, therefore, chances are I’ll be found sleeping, napping, or generally relaxing….

Have a great weekend! – Tina

Happy Thanksgiving!

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers! I couldn’t resist a little turkey-related cartoon….  Tina

Standing by its own Worth: Amory’s The Life of John Buncle

23 November 2011

Contributed by Eoghan Smith

The Life of John Buncle, Esq, by Thomas Amory, and edited here by Moyra Haslett, is to the modern reader a remarkable book. Although not as famous as Irish eighteenth-century novels such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, it is nonetheless a brilliantly eclectic offering of Enlightenment possibility, and, in its eccentricity, an exemplary piece of eighteenth-century fiction. Before Ezra Pound tricked the world into believing that it was twentieth-century modernism that was “making it new”, there were novelists such as Amory, whose range of styles, experimentalism and literary reference – to the point of whole-scale plagiarism – points to the great formless democracy that is the early novel.

The book is a carnival of voices, registers and media – aptly described in the introduction here as “by turns that of pastoral, sermon, romance, learned disquisition, theological debate, experimental science, poetry, travelogue, eulogy and prayer”. A sort of journey through the consciousness of the mid-eighteenth century, the novel is ostensibly a memoir of one John Buncle, who, after leaving Trinity College and becoming alienated from his father and exiled from home, travels to England to seek out a friend with whom he can live. Along the way we are treated to Buncle’s extravagantly unusual encounters with, among other things, a woman-only society of mathematicians, and a range of religious communities through which Amory advances what Haslett describes as “Whig, libertarian politics”. (more…)

A History of the Humble Pumpkin Pie

21 November 2011

By Christina Morin

With the US celebrating Thanksgiving this Thursday, I thought I might take the opportunity to extol my favourite Thanksgiving Day food: pumpkin pie. As far as I’m concerned, Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a sliver – however small (or large!) – of pumpkin pie, eaten plain or topped with a dollop of whipped cream. There are, of course, a multitude of variations for pumpkin pie, but the one I’ve always known and loved is the recipe on the back of the Libby’s tin (yes, you can buy pumpkin – already cooked and mashed – in a tin. Such a time saver!). The resulting pie is gorgeously custardy, sophisticatedly spicy and, yes, decidedly orange. I’ve made it a few times for friends and family here in Ireland and have been extremely disappointed at the negative reception it has received. If you didn’t grow up with it, it seems, you don’t understand it… pumpkin? In a pie? for dessert? Impossible!

Be that as it may, I plan to eat some pumpkin pie this Thursday in celebration, fully acknowledging that it, like most of the dishes gracing the average, twenty-first century Thanksgiving Day table, is a far cry from what the Pilgrims ate at that first Thanksgiving dinner in 1621. Read more

The great book conundrum: the more you readeth, the less you taketh back to the library (apparently)

18 November 2011

Ok, from the title of this post you might think I’ve been stealing books. Well, no. It’s just been one of those weeks. Books come in, get read, and go back out. The ‘articles to read’ folder on my hard-drive sees more passing traffic than a fox on the M50. So why, pray tell, does the balance between the ‘to read’ pile and the ‘bring back to the library’ pile (foreground, obviously) on my desk remain ever thus?


The streets of Dublin

16 November 2011

By Juliana Adelman

I was very excited to delve into Lief Jerram’s Streetlife: the untold history of Europe’s twentieth century.  Unlike pretty much everyone I’ve talked to, though, I was rather disappointed.  In fact, I still haven’t finished it.  I could see what Jerram was trying to do.  I liked the writing and the integration of material.  But for me the book wasn’t really getting to the heart of the matter.  Jerram repeatedly asserted the importance of the street in history without really discovering what the street IS.  In fact, the book is really urban history rather than much to do with street life per se.  What makes things happen in one street and not in another?  We all know that some streets ‘feel’ different to others and that landing into a foreign city can throw off our personal radar that detects which streets are friendly and which are dangerous.  But Jerram wasn’t really interested in this, as far as my reading of the first few chapters could gather.  He was merely asserting the importance of the space or place in which history happens.  No one with even a passing acquaintance with historical geography could find this argument novel.  I’m sure Jerram fans will pepper the comments section with complaints that I am completely wrong based on the last two chapters of book.  So fire away and I promise to go back and read them.

My knowledge of the historiography of the twentieth century is admittedly limited.  Ninteenth-century historians seem to have been far more interested in street life, perhaps because of the evocative picture of vice and decay that can be found in many primary sources and in Charles Dickens’ extensive output.  Victorian London, in particular, has been the subject of numerous volumes devoted to its underworld and to the varieties of urban life it housed. Read more

Game-changing histories – tell us yours

14 November 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

I have a serious question for you. You know those texts – books, articles, chapters, whatever – that changed your history world? The ones that gave your work a little jolt, that changed your whole approach to how you read and understand the past. What are they?

Because here’s the thing. And it’s ok to admit it. You know that pile of books that sits beside the historian’s bed? The ones you just had to have; all that you couldn’t leave behind. Well look closer. Notice anything? There are way too many non-fiction books for one. But look deeper again and you’ll uncover a less talked about but no less visible trend. Most historians will read anything as long as it’s not related to what they study.

Don’t believe me? Fair enough. Surely, you say, these individuals, so lucky in the first instance to get paid to do what they love doing, are so enamored by their subjects that they love nothing better than to wile away an evening keeping up to date with the latest scholarship from their chosen field. Well here’s the thing: they don’t. Read More

For the day, and times, that’s in it

11 November 2011

Here we go again. In more ways than one. Thinking about tonight’s match and the world that’s crumbling around us, my mind was immediately drawn to this: Dermot Bolger’s fictional account of following Ireland to the 1988 European Championships (or ‘Euro ’88’ in the vernacular) through the eyes of a migrant. The following scene takes place in Gelsenkirchen just after Wim Kieft has scored a late goal for the Netherlands to effectively knock Ireland out of the tournament.

I stood up amongst the silent men and women, their faces white, and I raised my hands.

“Ireland!” I screamed. “Ireland! Ireland!” I had six minutes of my old life to go. Six minutes more to cheat time. The crowd joined in with me. Every one of them. From Dublin to Cork. From London and all over Europe. And suddenly I knew this was the only country I still owned. Those eleven men in green shirts, half of whom were born abroad.

Shane and Mick stood firm at my right and left shoulders. I knew they were thinking too of the long train journeys ahead. The tunnel was being pulled out for the end of the match. Men gathering down on the touch-line. We lifted our voices in that wall of noise, one last time to urge the lads on.

Ireland! Ireland! Ireland!

(From: Dermot Bolger, In High Germany, New Island edition (Dublin, 1999), p. 52.)


Revolution: A Photographic history of Revolutionary Ireland, 1913-1923

9 November 2011

Contributed by Orla Fitzpatrick

This new book covers a period that is particularly fascinating, albeit somewhat confusing, for photographic historians.  The Irish revolutionary period offers a rich photographic archive.  Portraits range from official mugshots held in government archives to family portraits commissioned from commercial photographic studios. Snapshots taken by onlookers and documentary images captured by press photographers offer powerful depictions of armed combat and its aftermath. All of these could be and were manipulated and circulated for the purpose of propaganda or indeed suppressed or hidden by the various sides. The chaos which prevailed at certain times during the period scattered photographs far and wide and has left a bewildering array of personal and private collections which both excite and perplex the researcher and historian of the period.

The matter of provenance can be challenging for such a disparate group of photographs. Prints can be held simultaneously by multiple institutions and individuals. Generally speaking, the holder of the negative, if it exists, takes primacy over the print owner although many have been lost over the years. The further you move away from the original source negative the poorer the image quality becomes, so that second, third and even later generation prints can lose definition and clarity. For these reasons, when conducting photographic research, I tend to use photographs where the negatives or original prints are held by public institutions.  The assignation of a verifiable number to each image and clear provenance and copyright for the collection make them more accessible and usable than those held by private companies and individuals.

Revolution: a photographic history of revolutionary Ireland, 1913-1923 covers the period leading up to the Easter Rising of 1916; the War of Independence and the Civil War and its aftermath. Read More