Theses 1000

This week the UCC institutional repository, CORA has reached a milestone moment surpassing 1,000 doctoral thesis records. Since Autumn 2013, doctoral candidates have been required to submit their thesis record and abstract to CORA therefore the bulk of our collection holds modern theses’ records. These records can be found by anyone using a search engine such as Google and are aggregated on e-thesis portals, such as the DART-Europe E-theses Portal, which makes UCC doctoral research very findable.

While we have a long way to go to catch up with our cataloguing colleagues who have added over 8,000 Masters’ thesis records and over 3,000 Doctoral thesis records to our library catalogue, it feels like an achievement to us as we also store the electronic versions of many of these theses in CORA.  The records in our library catalogue log the details of the hard-bound theses stored in Special Collections, Q-1, Boole Library where they take up almost 1,500 linear feet of shelving in closed access.  An e-thesis, or electronic thesis, describes a thesis in digital form that is accessible via the internet. Access to, and storage of, electronic theses is usually facilitated by open access repositories such as CORA. An open online e-thesis provides convenient access to readers around the world.


Of the 1,000 doctoral thesis records in CORA, 58% of them have associated e-thesis files. Not all e-theses are immediately openly accessible online, however, as many graduates choose to delay their availability while they seek publication or commercialisation of their research. As our Special Collections colleagues will agree, theses are heavily consulted by library users and the usage statistics from CORA confirm the same popularity of online theses. As with other online university repositories, theses consistently figure in the top 10 most frequently downloaded items from CORA and they account for a phenomenal 354,160 downloads from CORA since 2010 to date.

The e-theses collection in CORA spans theses submitted to the University from 1939 to those submitted by the most recent graduates of this year’s Spring Conferring. An e-thesis is useful for recent graduates to link to in their CVs and to have ready evidence of their expertise. It was for this reason that 2004 UCC PhD Engineering graduate Corinna Möhrlen added her e-thesis on wind energy to CORA in 2011. She says

“in industry, it is often necessary to have a ‘proof of concept’ by referring to a publication or a result from research that has been investigated. My electronic thesis is accessible for anybody and is proof of the knowledge and skills I gained during my PhD research.”

Digitised theses

A small digitisation project undertaken by UCC Library in 2013 has given online access to over 50 older theses. Among these was the thesis of Bridget G. MacCarthy, a graduate from 1939 whose work on women writers is the earliest doctoral thesis held in UCC Library. The thesis was dedicated to the great Cork writer Daniel Corkery who was MacCarthy’s supervisor and Professor of English at the time. Interestingly, in later years MacCarthy would take over Daniel Corkery’s position and become the first female full Professor of English since the foundation of the University.

Another  early thesis from 1945, submitted by Eileen G. Walsh features a beautiful array of hand-drawn colour plates of Irish plants and insects, one of which is shown here. The research focussed on the tumours (galls) caused by infection carried by insects in Irish native trees – a rather unpleasant topic made attractive by the detailed drawings within.

Drawings of galls found on the leaves of oak trees which are caused by the flies pictured (1) Neuroterus lenticularis (2) Neuroterus numismatis. Plate 1 from Walsh, E. G. 1945. Leaf galls in our native trees and shrubs. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.

Impact of e-theses

The real success of the thesis digitisation project is clear from the example of John M. (Seán) Ryan’s thesis which is one of the most frequently downloaded theses from CORA since archiving in 2013. Seán recently discovered that his e-thesis had received a lot of attention:

“I am astonished to learn that my thesis has to the end of February 2017 received an all-time usage of 6,932 which includes being downloaded 5,699 times with an additional 1,233 record views. It has been downloaded in six countries and cited four times in academic publications. I considered that my research for a PhD thesis should be available to the general public since my research work was supported in part by state funding to UCC.  I had thought that the subject matter  of my PhD thesis Deer Forests, Game Shooting and Landed Estates in the South West of Ireland, 1840-1970 would have little if any appeal to commercial publishers.  Without its availability in CORA my thesis would have remained a hard copy shelf document in the archives of Special Collections in the Boole Library in UCC and remained largely unknown.”

While our e-thesis collection on CORA does not yet match the extent of the physical collection of hard-bound theses in the Boole Library, the enabling technology of the internet makes e-theses infinitely more accessible and the results of UCC research more readily available. This accessibility is in contrast to the challenges faced by previous generations of researchers like the aforementioned Eileen Walsh, who recalls the difficulties of getting access to research literature during her PhD research in the abstract of her 1945 thesis:

“…due to war-time conditions much trouble was experienced in obtaining suitable literature and many invaluable books on this subject were unprocurable.”

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UCC’s Special Collections on Shush! Sounds from UCC Library

Recently I was asked to record a segment about UCC Library’s Special Collections for a music & library radio chat show: Shush! Sounds from UCC Library. The show is hosted by Martin O’Connor & Ronan Madden for UCC 98.3 FM Monday mornings 11:00-12:00 and Shush! also podcast their shows on SoundCloud. Naturally I was delighted to participate and showcase the different types of engagement we have with staff and students.

An original 1950s Bush TR82B.


Recording for Radio

I was a little wary about being recorded at the start but Ronan & Martin soon put me at my ease and I forgot that the recorder was there. It helped that I’m used to talking about what Special Collections is to a variety of people: from primary school students to postgraduates to lecturers to a variety of library staff at conferences. The disadvantage of course was I was without my usual set of props: Special Collections as a location and the myriad of items that I use there. I’d need to work hard to convey what Special Collections was in the absence of visual cues.

To hear more about Special Collections and the possibilities for engagement click here for the recording on SoundCloud.


What is Special Collections?

Special Collections is home to UCC’s unique collections of literary manuscripts, early printed books pre-1850, books from presses, collections donated from individuals, 18th – 20th century newspapers, theses, maps, pamphlets and microfilm. All Special Collections’ material must be used in Special Collections and cannot be borrowed. For many people ‘special collections’ and ‘archives’ are used as interchangeable terms but in UCC Library although there are shared spaces we administer them separately and the content is different for both. I consider Special Collections being concerned with published matter, even if only one copy survives, as well as related published material such as microfilm and maps, as well as manuscripts. Emma Horgan, UCC Library’s Archivist, describes archives as “records naturally created in the course of everyday business, public or private, which merit preservation because of their unique information content.” So not my Christmas card list then!

Special Collections: A balance between preservation & access

How do I reconcile open access library-wide with rules in Special Collections? Why is Special Collections different?  Balancing the desire to access the items with the need to preserve the items is key. Staff need to be present in the section for Special Collections to be open; this is to ensure the care and security of our collections. It’s when I give examples about how material can be damaged in our lives outside of Special Collections such as using a book while baking and having the ingredients drop onto the book leaving marks and stains, that our users see the value and reason as to why the rules exist.


New Horizons: Special Collections & Academic Staff

I believe that if postgraduates are to use Special Collections then let’s build the foundations at undergraduate level where students can become familiar with Special Collections.

“Can I bring my students to Special Collections?”

Yes please! Let’s meet to discuss.

As Tom O’Mara said in his recent podcast “it’s about having a conversation.”

A conversation with Dr Jill Rogers saw a mixed group of 2nd/3rd years visit Special Collections. This visit was followed by MA students visiting for a newly created module on soundscapes and musicology. The conversation Jill and I had meant that Special Collections’ range of historical sources, such as Beauford’s map of Cork, were incorporated into the module. These historical sources should encourage students to consider the intersections between history and geography and provide clue as to what various locations in Cork might have sounded like in the past. A third outcome of the initial conversation was a conversation with Dr Melanie Marshall about her 60 strong class of first year undergraduates using Special Collections. The class will visit Special Collections in two groups over the next fortnight to examine a variety of Special Collections’ & Archival material for their assignment.

Beauford's Map of Cork, 1801

Beauford’s Map of Cork, 1801: The river channel which had run along the course of Patrick’s Street is completely covered over. This had occurred between 1774 – 1789.


A separate conversation with Dr Małgorzata Krasnodębska-D’Aughton, Dr Damian Bracken and Dr Diarmuid Scully saw a different new module created in the School of History: Skills for Medieval Historians co-ordinated by Małgorzata Krasnodębska-D’Aughton. This module gives postgraduate students in History the opportunity to combine their history and writing skills to produce a body of work intended to be read by the general public. Over the course of the second semester students on this module will design an online exhibition based on resources available in UCC Library’s Special Collections and present it as a series of blog posts. Stay tuned for those blog posts coming to The River-side in March / April 2017!

How do you view Special Collections?

These new connections stand alongside frequent fliers to Special Collections and each use Special Collections with a different lens:


Special Collections’ Exhibitions & Events

Over the last ten years there have been exhibitions on Q floor of the Boole Library with all Colleges in UCC. These either have been exhibitions curated by departments and schools or exhibitions created in collaboration with UCC Library. For example over the last two years all departments in the School of Languages, Literatures and Culture have had exhibitions:

In September 2016 Special Collections collaborated with Dr Edel Semple in the School of English for Culture Night. Edel gave a public lecture in the Boole Library on “Shakespeare’s Sources and the Boole Library’s Resources.” As she notes in the blog post she wrote after the event the talk “sought to explore Shakespeare’s use of his sources and to give a general introduction to book history using the Library’s rare, early printed books.” In addition the lecture was part of the British Council ‘Shakespeare Lives’ programme to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.


Providing a Spark: Special Collections & Students

Can I convince the ‘everything is on Google’ cohort that Special Collections should be used? Hmm! How to do this?

Professor Fluffy is ready to tour!

One way is through UCC’s Professor Fluffy Tours. Professor Fluffy is a model designed by the University of Liverpool to widen participation in third level education in disadvantaged areas. Professor Fluffy and friends raise awareness of the impact of education on improving career and life opportunities. These tours are given to primary school children.


Another way is through the School of BEES Transition Year programme. The programme runs for a week and students have the opportunity to study areas like Plant Science, Zoology, Environmental Science and Geology, and work alongside BEES staff and students. Part of the programme includes a visit to UCC Library and Special Collections. As evidenced from the blog posts the students write in response to the programme the visit to Special Collections is well-received.

Both programmes are co-ordinated in UCC Library by Ann Byrne.


Students Using Special Collections

Example of bindings showing the materiality of objects.

Students who use Special Collections gain a different skill set, possibly one more familiar to those of us who remember doing research before online databases and journals. Each year Bill O’Flynn visits Special Collections with 1st year students in Fine Art and in Contemporary Applied Art from CIT Crawford College of Art & Design. This visit is facilitated through CorkPal and the intention is for students to view and interact with items in order to inform their artistic endeavours. Bill O’Flynn noted that “physical objects have a presence that no reproduction or digitised object can approach.” There is a richness of material culture when viewing to books as objects. This is a view already shared by Archaeology staff and students.

Students who use Special Collections will work with primary sources and the secondary sources that support them. Working with primary source material requires a little bit of care and may be a tad frustrating at times. The material may be available in multiple formats e.g. the early 20th century newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis is available both on microform and on paper. Viewing microform can prove trying on one’s eyes but manipulating the large paper volume is trying in a different way.

A different challenge can be trying to read handwriting. Think about what your own handwriting is like in this age of text and type. How could it be read 100 years from now? Would it be easy? Recently I found a letter in a book which I found difficult to read. I thought this would be a good example to give to students to illustrate how working with special collections’ material can take time and this should be allowed for. The students successfully read the opening salutation, closing remarks & date. However it’s much harder to read this stand-alone letter in comparison to reading Boole’s handwriting as there’s a greater body of work for Boole and therefore we become more used to reading his handwriting. Try your hand at reading the letter!

Letter from WH Grattan Flood


My Favourite Part of Special Collections

It’s really hard to narrow down what my favourite part is as each day is different and subject to ongoing projects, I can make of it what I’d like it to be. I can work at the Special Collections Desk and see first-hand what kinds of queries students and staff have which means I’m better prepared for doing behind-the-scenes work. This behind-the-scenes work includes: teaching and outreach, liaising with colleagues to survey unique and distinctive collections held nationally and various special events such as a seasonal guide to Harry Potter: Behind the Scenes. The highlight to date has been lending The Orphan of the Rhine to the British Library for an exhibition on The Gothic.

The Orphan of the Rhine mentioned in Northanger Abbey


To listen to Elaine Harrington, Special Collections Librarian talking about UCC Library’s Special Collections on Shush! Sounds from UCC Library click here

An original 1950s Bush TR82B.

Special Collections’ Contact Information

Elaine Harrington, Special Collections’ Librarian: | 021 4903484

Special Collections’ Desk: | 021 4902282

Special Collections’ Research Guide: For information on visiting and using Special Collections, what collections are present and highlights of the collections.

The River-side: Reflections on Research Collections: The purpose of the blog is to communicate information about research collections, projects and events in Special Collections and Archives at UCC Library. The River-side welcomes guest posts: The River-side also has a complementary Twitter account: @theriversideUCC.


Shush! Sounds from UCC Library Contact Information

Facebook: Shush! Sounds from UCC Library

Twitter: @Shush_radio

SoundCloud: Shush! Sounds from UCC Library

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Behind the Stories: Harry Potter at The River-side

UCC’s Harry Potter Society is very active and when each academic year begins holds a sorting ceremony  and has a Yule Ball at Hallowe’en. This year in mid-November the latest film in the Harry Potter universe is to be released: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. To tie into these events The River-side has created a seasonal guide on Harry Potter: Behind the Scenes. We think that this is material that Harry would like!


What Would Harry Like?

When we first thought about the guide we wondered what would Harry be interested in? Possibly some more knowledge about the real historical people seen on the Chocolate Frog Cards, also known as Famous Witches and Wizards Cards, but not as much knowledge as Hermione would like!

Possibly some more on Herbology – who remembers the shrieking mandrakes, and Alchemy. Those were always fun classes!

Entry for 'Hellebor' from John Gerard's Herball.

Entry for ‘Hellebor’ from John Gerard’s Herball.

Definitely more about the magical beasts found by Harry, Ron and Hermione. Basilisks, phoenixes and owls all played key roles over the course of the seven books.

Basilisk in Pare's Works.

Basilisk in Pare’s Works.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a slim volume but essential for knowing the background events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. If Harry liked those tales might he also like knowing more about witchcraft, folklore and other fairy tales?

Spell for Invisibility from Reginald Scot's The Discouerie of Witchcraft.

Spell for Invisibility from Reginald Scot’s The Discouerie of Witchcraft.


Possibly more about Quidditch and where it can be played in Cork & in Ireland. There is now a World Cup in Quidditch!

Lastly The River-side is run by Muggles and so we are interested in going to exhibitions, visiting museums and reading blog posts about The Danse Macabre and ghostly stories.


The Choices

All the books featured within the guide, bar J. K. Rowling’s series, are available in Special Collections.

Most of the images chosen are from published before the 18th century so they’re not as colourful as 20th century books. Ron would be asleep by now. Sometimes the British Library has digitised their copies of the same books so we’ve provided links to those:


Special Collections

Special Collections is home to UCC’s unique collections of literary manuscripts, early printed books pre-1850, books from presses, collections donated from individuals, 18th – 20th century newspapers, theses, maps, pamphlets and microfilm. All Special Collections’ material must be used in Special Collections and cannot be borrowed. Most of the material, including the material in the Harry Potter guide, must be requested in advance. We are delighted to welcome classes to visit Special Collections to use our material. Please contact Elaine Harrington to arrange such visits.

Harry Potter: Behind the Stories

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Culture Night: Shakespeare’s Sources & the Boole Library’s Resources

The River-side welcomes this guest post from Dr Edel Semple, School of English on her experience using items from Special Collections’ early modern books collections in her Culture Night talk ‘Shakespeare’s Sources and Boole Library’s Resources.’

Shakespeare’s Sources and Boole Library’s Resources

Last month, I had the pleasure of giving a public lecture in the Boole Library as part of Culture Night 2016. My talk, “Shakespeare’s Sources and the Boole Library’s Resources”, sought to explore Shakespeare’s use of his sources and to give a general introduction to book history using the Library’s rare, early printed books. The talk was part of the British Council ‘Shakespeare Lives’ programme that commemorates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death this year and is just one of several events in a year-long celebration of Shakespeare’s life and works at UCC and in universities around Ireland.

From the beginning, I should flag some limitations. Firstly, the talk and this blog post are in no way exhaustive explorations of all of Shakespeare’s sources; my research has been led by what early modern books are to be found in UCC’s Special Collections and so offers a selective discussion of some texts and their possible relevance to Shakespeare. Secondly, while Shakespeare and I are old friends, I am relatively new to the area of book history and thus any novice errors below are entirely my own. Nonetheless, in what follows, I hope to give a flavour of my talk which sought to highlight some of the early modern gems in Boole’s Special Collections and to offer a few insights into the pleasures of book history. In preparing for my talk, Elaine Harrington and the Special Collections staff were an invaluable source of information and support and I owe them many thanks.

Who is William Shakespeare?

Frontispiece to

Frontispiece to The plays and poems of William Shakspeare

In popular portrayals of William Shakespeare on film and TV – think Shakespeare in Love (1998) or the “The Shakespeare Code” episode of Doctor Who (2007) – the young Will is often shown as a genius in the making. These two screen iterations depict Will early in his career; he dashes about London, gets into scrapes, falls in love (or lust), and all of his experiences find their way into his plays. In their effort to create dramatic momentum, these screen depictions omit the fact that Shakespeare was an avid reader, a careful student of the classics, and a consumer of the latest works on the booksellers’ shelves. In the books that he read, bought and borrowed, Shakespeare found both incidental and foundational material for his writing.


Shakespeare’s London

Before exploring some of the books that Shakespeare used as sources of his plays, I opened my talk with two books that can give us a sense of Shakespeare’s world, of the sights and sounds that he experienced as an Elizabethan Londoner. John Stow’s Survey of London was first printed in 1598 and UCC’s Special Collections owns a fourth edition of the book, published in 1633. Stow’s Survey is a meticulously researched reference book on the history, topography, socio-economic conditions, and traditions of London. Such was its popularity, it was reprinted and enlarged for many years after its first iteration in 1598. As an example of the kind of information that Shakespeare could find in the book, or rather an example of an event he could have experienced in the city, I discussed Stow’s description of the “Sports and Pastimes” on offer to the average Londoner.


Shakespeare and The Bible

Using an early modern Bible, I discussed then the centrality of religion to early modern life and how details from, and the language of, the Bible may have found their way into Shakespeare. UCC’s Special Collections holds a Geneva Bible from 1587. The Catalogue’s notes on this item state that the “Old Testament is in the Geneva version, the earliest English bible printed in roman type and with verse divisions, first published at Geneva in 1560.” This book has a brown leather, blind-tooled cover (flowers and lacework patterns are discernable) and several pages have been repaired. I discussed the Bible’s typography (font, marginalia etc.), the uses of the images it contains (Eden, the parting of the Red Sea etc.) and why it is known as the “Breeches Bible” (see below the translation of Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 7).


Translation of Genesis 3:7 “”they sewed figge tree leaves together, and made themselves breeches.”


Shakespeare and Holinshed’s Chronicles

I next looked at Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, which has been long acknowledged as a key source for Shakespeare’s histories. This mammoth book was first published in two volumes in 1577, but the Boole Library owns the second edition which was printed in three volumes in 1586. I focused on Volume 3 of Holinshed’s Chronicles as here could be found the sources of several plays including Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, and Richard III. Having examined the tales of these monarchs, however, my attention was caught by the volume’s title page.


Title page to volume 3 of Holinshed’s Chronicles

Holding a light behind the page, I could see that three pages actually made up the title page: the text in the centre was a small page sandwiched between the blank page at the back, and the image that framed it at the front. Why carry out a cut-and-paste job such as this? Did the central panel of text belong with this book, that is, did it accurately describe the contents of Volume 3? And where did the framing image come from?

In search of answers I consulted other copies of Volume 3 of the 1586 edition of Holinshed on the database Early English Books Online. Here I found that the UCC Library copy was quite different; other copies had a title page showing various kings (David, Solomon, William the Conqueror etc.) and at the bottom of the box frame was Elizabeth I. The image that this refers to is here. The central panel of information however was exactly the same as the UCC Holinshed. Thus, the ornate frame did not belong with the Holinshed but the information was correct. I then worked through the title pages to discover that the ornate frame was actually from “The Description of Scotland” (Volume 2, second edition). The image this refers to is here. This framing image clearly comes from the second edition, as a small mermaid and the tag “God save the Queene” appear in the 1577 edition but do not appear on the title page from the later edition.

Following this, I checked the Library’s Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Holinshed’s Chronicles to see if the page had been cut from either of these copies. Both volumes are bound together in leather with marbled end-papers and a notable manuscript comment at the opening of Volume 1 proudly declares: “complete in two volumes – collated & found perfect. Perhaps without exception the finest copy in Great Britain.” As this remark suggests, all of the titlepages were intact and were in good condition. (Incidentally, investigating Volume 1 and 2 also enabled me to identify a watermark in some pages and to find some scraps of paper – half an old Library call card for example – tucked in the pages, but with time constraints, watermarks and found objects were a subject I had to omit from the talk.) Thus, the owner of Volume 3 must have got his/her hands on another copy of Holinshed’s Volume 2 (second edition) and took the ornate titlepage image from it. I can only speculate as to why the owner cut and pasted the “The Description of Scotland” titlepage to make a new titlepage for Volume 3 – perhaps the owner preferred the ornate style, or perhaps she/he wished to make Volume 3 similar in appearance to the titlepages of the 1577 edition of Holinshed, which are the same save for the mermaid and tag.


Shakespeare and Pliny’s The History of the World

Shakespeare gleaned details for his tragedies from various sources. In Pliny’s The History of the World (1601), for example, Shakespeare found descriptions of Eastern lands, people, and customs and these found their way into Othello (1603), written soon after the Pliny was first published. For example, there are echoes of Pliny in Act 1 Scene 3 where Othello informs the Venetians that the tales of his adventures and the exotic sights to be seen in far off lands, such as the strange creatures like the “Cannibals that each other eat, / The Anthropophagi and men whose heads / Do grow beneath their shoulders”, appealed to Desdemona.


Shakespeare and Reginald Scot’s The Discoveries of Witchcraft


Title page of Reginald Scot’s The Discoveries of Witchcraft

Shakespeare undoubtedly drew on popular folklore for the weird sisters in Macbeth, but he also consulted Reginald Scot’s The Discoveries of Witchcraft (1584). In addition, this book may have yielded him information on the sprite Robin Goodfellow, now better known as Puck, the mischievous fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In discussing the Library’s copy of Discoveries, I noted the volume’s size (quarto) and ownership history. One “Thomas Gwyllym” has written his name on the titlepage, repeatedly in fact, and his name appears at several points inside the volume. Gwyllym may have been using the blank space to practice his signature but he may also have wanted to ensure that one “John Allen”, who had borrowed the book, returned it to its rightful owner.


Shakespeare and Plutach’s Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans


Title page to Plutarch’s The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes

Shakespeare used Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans (1579) as a source for several tragedies, but in my talk I focused on Antony and Cleopatra. I discussed genre and style using as an example Plutarch’s description of Antony and Cleopatra’s first meeting on the river Cydnus and from the play Enobarbus’ “The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne” speech from Act 2 Scene 2. Turning to book history, I noted that the UCC copy of Plutarch’s Lives is from the Green Coat School collection. The Green Coat School was a charitable Church of Ireland school founded in 1715 in Shandon with the aim of educating impoverished children. According to a note on the titlepage, the volume was a “gift of ye Revd Dean Maule”, the School’s founder. On the back board, a strip of medieval vellum, about an inch wide, has been used as a strengthener. Sometimes luck can play a role in research questions and I was fortunate that Dr Jason Harris of the School of History passed through Special Collections and offered his opinion on this medieval manuscript. From his examination of the vellum strip, Dr Harris believes that the manuscript is likely from the fourteenth century and is from a medical or scientific text. Elsewhere in Lives, a reader has commented on some passages of text. The word “not” appears in the margin beside Roman troop numbers; perhaps the reader was a scholar noting such important data, or wished to learn off these details (impress your friends with facts and figures!). The same reader has also made two bawdy comments on a story in the life of Romulus.

 afklg jadf;lkdajf h

The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes


Shakespeare and John Lilly’s Sixe Court Comedies

For influences on Shakespeare’s comedies I turned to John Lilly’s Sixe Court Comedies (1632). Having taught Lilly for the first time earlier this year, I am a new convert to his work. Both as a text to read or a play to be seen, Lilly’s work is funny and engaging and it is little wonder that there is a renewed scholarly interest in Lilly in recent years. The Special Collections copy of Lilly’s Comedies is a neat volume, ideally sized to slip into a pocket. As the Library’s volume is clean and in good condition, I focused on exploring the book’s paratexts.


Lilly’s Sixe Courte Commedies

The title page does much to sell Lilly to its potential consumer; the capitalised words in the title “SIXE COURT Comedies” jump out to catch the eye (a whole six plays and ones performed at court no less!), we’re told that the plays were often performed by the elite boys’ companies, and the author is described as “Rare […] Wittie, Comicall, Facetiously-Quicke and unparalled”. If that is not enough, a Latin tag informs the learned reader that although you might read the book ten times, it will still give pleasure. Inside the slim volume, in the Dedicatory Epistle, the printer Blount even tries his hand at imitating the witty Lilly; he tells us that the Spring is upon us and so he presents us with a lily (this book) and its precious cargo: “sixe ingots of refined invention; richer than Gold”. For all the hyperbolae, this early modern PR would surely have charmed even the most reluctant of prospective buyers. To close my talk, I looked at how Shakespeare was influenced by Lilly’s Galatea (or Gallathea) (written c.1584). Traces of Lilly’s euphuistic style can be found across Shakespeare’s comedies of romance and in particular the pastoral setting, style, and concerns of Galatea appear in various guises in As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Twelfth Night. Further, Galatea’s transvestite heroines Galatea and Phillida are clearly the forebears of Shakespeare’s Rosalind, Viola, and Portia.


Further Events

Further events for Shakespeare 400 are planned to take place in UCC, on October 18th and on November 14th-15th, and in several universities around Ireland over the coming months. Details will be available on the “Shakespeare in Ireland” blog and the UCC School of English website in due course. Information on these and related events can also be found on the British Council’s “Shakespeare Lives” website.



The Bible. London: Imprinted by Christopher Barker, Printer to the Queenes most excellent Maiestie, 1587.

Holinshed, Raphael. The … Chronicles Comprising the Description and Historie of England, the Description and Historie of Ireland, the Description and Historie of Scotland. [London] : Finished at the expenses of John Harison, George Bishop, Rafe Newberie, Henrie Denham, and Thomas Woodcocke, 1586-87].

Holinshed, Raphael. The Third Volume of Chronicles, beginning at duke William the Norman,commonlie called the Conqueror; and descending by degrees of yeeres to all the kingsand queenes of England in their orderlie successions. 1586. Copy from the Huntington.

Holinshed, Raphael. The Second volume of Chronicles: Conteining the description, conquest, inhabitation, and troblesome estate of Ireland; first collected by Raphaell Holinshed; and now newlie recognised, augmented, and continued from the death of king Henriethe eight vntill this present time of sir Iohn Perot knight, lord deputie. 1586. Copy from the Huntington.

Lilly, John. Sixe Court Comedies: often presented and acted before Queene Elizabeth, by the Children of Her Majesties Chappell, and the Children of Paules. London: Printed by William Stansby for Edward Blount, 1632.

Pliny. The Historie of the World: Commonly Called the Natvrall Historie of C. Plinivs Secvndvs. Trans. into English by Philemon Holland. London: A. Islip, 1601.

Scot, Reginald. The Discouerie of Witchcraft: Wherein the Lewde Dealing of Witches and Witchmongers is Notablie Detected. London: Imprinted by William Brome, 1584.

Shakespeare, William. The Plays and Poems of William Shakspeare: in sixteen volumes. Dublin: Printed by John Exshaw, 1794.

Stow, John. The Survey of London: Contayning the Originall, Increase, Moderne Estate, and Government of That City, Methodically Set Downe, with a Memoriall of Those Famouser Acts of Charity, which for Publicke and Pious Uses Have Beene Bestowed by Many Worshipfull Citizens and Benefactors. London: Printed by Elizabeth Pvrslovv, and are to be sold by Nicholas Bovrne …, 1633.

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Curating ‘Cervantes “Prince of Wits” (1616-2016): Life, Work Legacy’

The River-side welcomes this guest post from Dr Stephen Boyd, Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies on his experience curating the exhibition Cervantes “Prince of Wits” (1616-2016): Life, Work Legacy.’

I hope that this post which recounts and reflects on the experience of preparing the ‘Cervantes “Prince of Wits” (1616 – 2016): Life, Work, Legacy‘ exhibition, currently running (until 16 September 2016) in UCC Library, might help to inspire and orientate others considering creating something similar.

As the exhibition space is reserved up to two years in advance there are a number of stages to consider before proposing and designing an exhibition:

  • Exhibition proposal (2 months)
  • Scheduling & planning (2 months)
  • Material selection (3 months)
  • Collating material and images and drafting text (9 months)
  • Design (2 – 3 months)
  • Printing & Mounting (1 month)
  • Budget (affects the entire timeframe)

Most library exhibitions require a 12 – 18 months’ planning schedule and the time given for each stage is an indication of how long the activity may take. In our case, some activities overlapped with others, for example, design began mid-way through the process and continued until the storyboards were ready to go to print.

The exhibition ‘Cervantes “Prince of Wits” (1616 – 2016): Life, Work, Legacy‘ was completed from initial proposal to delivery in a very tight turn-around (November 2015 – April 2016). This six months’ turn-around was the tightest of margins for delivery of an exhibition; an exhibition cannot be delivered in a shorter time-frame. The short turn around had significant implications for the exhibition team in terms of project deadlines and for the type of design chosen.  It also had a significant impact on the images that could be acquired from external sources due to copyright permissions.

Printer's device from facsimile of La primera edicion del Ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha

Printer’s device from facsimile of La primera edicion del Ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha


Exhibition Proposal

The idea of mounting an exhibition to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’s death (22 April 1616) grew out of a lunchtime conversation with the Spanish Ambassador, H.E. José María Rodríguez Coso, during his visit to Cork and UCC in November 2015. This was a principle reason why he was subsequently invited to open it (14 April 2016). Once UCC Library had agreed, in principle, to host the exhibition, there followed a series of meetings with Crónán Ó Doibhlin (Head of Research Collections and Communications, UCC Library) and Elaine Harrington (Assistant Librarian, Special Collections).


Scheduling and Planning

The issues addressed between Crónán, Elaine and me in initial meetings in November 2016 were generic ones:

  • Provisional timeline from initial meeting to opening of the exhibition
  • Possible dates (there was a last-minute cancellation for April – October 2016)
  • Budget (extremely important as it had implications for the number of images that could be acquired!)
  • Location of the exhibition within the library
  • Format (a combination of a series of storyboards and material selected from the Library’s collections to be exhibited in display cases)
  • Possible layouts of storyboards and display cases
  • Basic principles of exhibition design: e.g. the importance of visual attractiveness, of a consistent ‘look’ based on thematic visual elements, and of a layout that would attract and sustain the interest of non-specialist viewers of varying ages.

Crónán and Elaine described previous exhibitions which focused on comparable material and allowed me to see storyboards from one of these. This was very helpful, since it allowed me to form a clear idea of their actual size and of potential designs and formatting. One of the very first meetings was attended by Brian Carty, Director of Optima Signs (Little Island), who has manufactured and installed storyboards for previous exhibitions in the Library. He advised about materials, design possibilities, word limits per storyboard, and about the production schedule and deadlines.

I should note that throughout the entire process, all involved in putting together the exhibition had access to a shared folder.

Printer's device from facsimile of Don Quijote de la Mancha

Printer’s device from facsimile of Don Quijote de la Mancha


Selection of Materials

Seán Ó Riordáin’s copy of Don Quixote

Seán Ó Ríordáin’s copy of Don Quixote

The first step involved using the Library catalogue to draw up an inventory of all of its holdings of Cervantes’s works, of translations of each of them into the major European languages (including Irish), and of novels, stories, plays, films, works of art and musical scores inspired by them.

The second step involved creating a shorter version of that list, consisting of the earliest and / or most significant editions, translations and derivative works. Elaine then located all the books on this shortlist and arranged them in the Rare Books Reading Room in Special Collections. This was in order to make a final selection for display in exhibition cases according to the criteria that she sets out in the first post and so that potential images and texts for reproduction on the storyboards could be identified.  It was a great pleasure for me to see, for the first time, the full range of fine editions of Cervantes (especially of Don Quixote), many going back to the eighteenth century and forming part of the Cooke Collection, held by the Library, as it was also to discover and read some of the interesting marginal notes made by Seán Ó Ríordáin in his modest paperback edition of Don Quixote, and the letter of 23 July 1929 (reproduced and described in detail in the first post) from David Garnett to William Cooke discussing the relative merits of some of the most influential translations of Cervantes’s great novel.


Collating Material: Storyboard Texts

Storyboard: Impact of Cervantes’ work

Storyboard: Impact of Cervantes’ work

The subject of Cervantes’s life, work and influence is a vast one. Trying to do some kind of justice to it in just fourteen storyboards was challenging. Having decided to sequence the storyboards so that they would cover (fundamentally chronologically):

  • historical context (Golden Age Spain)
  • Cervantes’s life and works
  • his wider cultural influence (especially in England, and including on Shakespeare) and legacy
  • references to and connections with Ireland

The next steps were to decide what the theme or sub-theme of each storyboard would be, and – most challenging of all – to decide what information and which ideas were really essential in each case, and how they could most effectively be conveyed within the confines of the suggested 200 words of text allowed for each board.


Collating Material: Storyboard Images

Perhaps even more challenging and time consuming than drafting the storyboard texts was the process of selecting and acquiring suitable images. Identifying what images are required should start as early as possible within the exhibition process as the time needed to complete an institution’s reprographic process can vary widely. In practice three months is required to agree the copyright clearance, the format of the chosen image and how it can be used, and the necessary fees. Images are generally only supplied after payment is received.

The images were of two kinds: those sourced from the Library’s holdings and those sourced externally. In the former case, the selection depended on the relevance, visual attractiveness, quality, and therefore suitability for reproduction, of the originals. In the latter case, the same criteria applied, but the fundamental constraint was budgetary and as the acquisition process began later what images could be delivered in time. I began by using the internet to put together an extensive ‘wish-list’ file of paintings, drawings, engravings, frontispieces, maps, archival documents, and photographs of buildings and artefacts from which to make a final selection.

In relation to UCC Library’s Special Collections’ material photography and editing of the required images took approximately 20 hours spread over a number of days. Some suggested images had to be discarded as after the photo was taken significant bleed-through from text on the other side was noticed. When tight bindings are photographed a curve can appear on the image. When the image is blown up the inevitable distortion is too great. The outcome is similar if the original book printing process placed a curve on the page. In these cases the photographed images are discarded. Each item was photographed under strict archival conditions so no book was harmed in the making of the photos!

Dublin printing (1783) of Smollett’s Don Quixote on foam mounts

Dublin printing (1783) of Smollett’s translation of Don Quixote on foam mounts

The following are some observations about sourcing images from institutions external to UCC which I hope might be helpful. How to go about accessing information on terms, conditions and costs for reproduction is made clearer on some institutional web sites than on others. Most institutions require completion of a reprographics request form although in some cases (mostly Spanish, I regret to say!) the process is rather more complex and bureaucratic. Typically, a reprographics request form asks for more or less detailed information about:

  • the precise intended use of the image
  • the size at which it will be reproduced
  • the number of times that it will be reproduced
  • in the case of an exhibition, the entry cost (if any)
  • duration of the exhibition.

Most, but not all, institutions offer a discounted rate when images are reproduced for educational / non-profit purposes, but, even so, the fees charged can vary quite widely. In the case of the images for the Cervantes exhibition, the fees charged ranged between €45 and €200, and could have been higher had our budget permitted. The fee of €200 allowed for reprographic reproduction twice (i.e. on one wall and on a storyboard) but not for use on social media or on a brochure. That would have required an additional fee for each use.

Credits to ‘Cervantes “Prince of Wits” (1616-2016): Life, Work Legacy.’

Credits for ‘Cervantes “Prince of Wits” (1616-2016): Life, Work Legacy.’

The response rate to enquiries also varies greatly from institution to institution. Generally, I found archival institutions to be (quite dramatically) slower in replying to queries and in processing reprographics’ request forms. All institutions required an appropriate and / or specifically worded acknowledgement to accompany reproduced images. Some institutions which did not charge a fee for supplying images of their own premises or artefacts make them available on condition that photographs of the relevant exhibition panels in situ were sent to them for their records.


Drafting Text and Design

At a very early stage, Brian Carty (Optima Signs) sent previews of design alternatives, based on previously agreed images, texts and decorative elements, for the large external wall panel. A short while later, on the basis of draft texts and selected images for the first few storyboards, he prepared a series of design format proposals, and invited Elaine and me to view them on-screen in his in business in Little Island. We were able to select our preferred format (background colour; fonts; decorative elements etc.) and then, through a process of discussion, see the details and relative dimensions being refined on-screen, as well as deciding on the precise way in which the Spanish tile design we had selected for this purpose would function as a link between the storyboards. Finally, at a later stage, Brian sent us a PDF file of complete drafts of all the storyboards, of the internal title panel, two additional, non-narrative panels (featuring Cervantes’s family tree and an image of Don Quixote), and of a list of acknowledgements, for editing.

Versions of the Exhibition Poster

Versions of the Exhibition Poster

In relation to the display cases located within the exhibition space, captions for the material in these cases also had to be written. A word limit on the caption means that the content should be more accessible and does not distract from the object. A brief 50 word synopsis was written for each item describing its relevance. Fortunately, the captions were printed in-house by the Library and so were not under the same time constraints as the storyboards’ material.

For each item placed into the display cases suitable mounts had be found dependent on which page was to be shown and where the item would be located within the case. For example a page of text which needed to be read didn’t work as well on an upper shelf of an exhibition case as it might not be seen.

Balfe’s The Bohemian Girl

Balfe’s The Bohemian Girl



After each exhibition and once the previous material has been removed the exhibition space is painted. A budget for the exhibition is agreed between the Library and the proposing department, with the specification of the design subject to budget constraints.  The Library expects costs to be shared equally between the Library and the exhibition proposer.  In additional Library staff and material costs are significant. Yet in reality each exhibition is produced on a shoe-string budget in comparison to other institutions.


Printing and Mounting

A week minimum is required to print the storyboards and vinyl text for the exhibition title. Another week is required for the fitters to hang the storyboards and place the vinyl text on the exhibition walls. Vinyl may vary from text of the exhibition titles to a tile border.

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Storyboard: Cervantes as a soldier



I found creating an exhibition to be a time-consuming and demanding process, but also a very enjoyable and gratifying one through which I learned a great deal about the technicalities involved and about the extent and quality of the Library’s holdings. It was a particular pleasure, on the day of installation, finally to see what had previously existed only on paper and on screen gradually emerging in large-scale physical form. I would like to end by saying a word of sincere thanks to Crónán and Elaine for their professionalism, and invaluable help and advice. It was a great pleasure to work with them.

Cervantes' Signature

Cervantes’s Signature

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Cervantes ‘Prince of Wits’: A Printed Legacy

‘Sancho Panza and Don Quixote.’ Cervantes’ The History of Don Quixote. Illust. by Gustave Dore.

This year we celebrate the 400th anniversaries of the deaths of two literary geniuses: Shakespeare (died 3 May 1616 in Stratford-upon-Avon) and Cervantes (died 22 April 1616 in Madrid). To mark Cervantes’ anniversary UCC Library in conjunction with the Dept. of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies in UCC is running an exhibition entitled “Cervantes ‘Prince of Wits’ (1616 – 2016): Life, Work, Legacy.” The exhibition will run until 16 September 2016.This post is the first of two on the exhibition and focuses on the material that is currently on display in the exhibition cases on Q floor. Stephen Boyd, the initiator of the exhibition, will discuss next month how he created the exhibition and what concerns may face anyone considering creating their own exhibition.


Choosing the Material

Stephen and I chose the material to place on display in part based on:

  • the condition of the material
  • how we felt the material would look within the exhibition cases
  • how we felt the material would best sit within the narrative of the display

Some material was bound exceptionally tightly which means the item cannot be opened further than 30° – 45°. Material of this nature is difficult to view. Material that didn’t have interesting images, relevant provenance or a local connection was rejected. Items that were non-textual such as music scores were included. Much of the material chosen for the exhibition cases contains items from William Cooke’s collection. Cooke (1865-1955) was the first lecturer of Spanish in UCC (1911 – 1938) and his collection represents his extensive interest in travel, biography and the history of America, Latin America, and Spain. Further details on William Cooke may be found in UCC Record 31 Easter 1956.


Title page of facsimile edition of Don Quixote

Title page of facsimile edition of El Ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha

El Ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha

El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha, or as we know it Don Quixote, was first published in two volumes between 1605 and 1615. In front of the exhibition title is an exhibition case containing a facsimile edition by Francisco López Fabra of the first edition of El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha. This is la primera edición el Ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha. The work has two volumes and was published in Barcelona, 1871-79. The facsimile is open to the title page of the first edition of Don Quixote II which was published in Madrid in 1615. The title page shows the printer Juan de la Cuesta’s emblem, and motto, ‘Post tenebras spero lucem’ (‘After darkness, I hope for light’; Job 12, 17).


English Translations of Don Quixote

Frontispiece to

Frontispiece to The History of Don Quixote of the Mancha.

In 1612 Thomas Shelton (1604–1620) was the first person to translate Don Quixote I into English as The History of Don Quixote of the Mancha. Indeed this was the first translation into any language. It could have been read by Shakespeare (1564-1616) and some scholars believe that it was. Shelton didn’t use any of the authorised editions for his translation; instead he used an edition published in 1607 in Brussels which was then part of the Spanish Netherlands. Shelton’s translation Don Quixote II appeared in 1620.




In 1755 a different translation was completed by Tobias Smollett (1721 – 1771). Smollett translated Cervantes’ work as The History and Adventures of the Renowned Don Quixote in a work that spans four volumes. UCC Library holds a Dublin printing (1783) of this translation, but only of volume 3. This Dublin printer was Daniel Graisberry and he operated from the 1770s to his death in 1785 whereupon his wife and later their son ran the Graisberry printing firm.


Other Works by Cervantes

In 1585 Cervantes published a pastoral novel Galatea. However it was during the last nine years of his life that his reputation as a writer was solidified. During this period he published:

  • 1613: Novelas ejemplares (Exxemplary Novels)
  • 1614: Journey to Parnassus (Viaje al Parnaso)
  • 1615: the second part of Don Quixote and the Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses.
  • 1617: posthumous publication of Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda: Historia setentrional (The Works of Persiles and Sigismunda)

On display are a 1743 Antwerp printing of Novelas exemplares and a 1802 printing of Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda. Novelas exemplares is bound in half calf with gold tooling on the spine and with marbled endpapers. Cervantes’s only allusions to Ireland appear in his last work as in one passage (from I, 12), the Irish astrologer, Mauricio, describes a Hibernian version of the ius primae noctis.


Musical Items Inspired by Cervantes’ Work

Title page of The Padlock.

Title page of The Padlock.

Charles Dibdin’s (1745 –1814) The Padlock: A Comic Opera As It Is Performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane (1768) contains a libretto by Isaac Bickerstaffe. The libretto is based on Cervantes’s ‘The Jealous Extremaduran’ (‘El celoso estremeño,’ Exemplary Tales, 1613) and is the story of an elderly, obsessively jealous husband who keeps his young wife under lock and key. The opera’s title comes from the large padlock that the old man keeps on the cottage door.

The Irish composer Michael William Balfe (1808- 1870) loosely based The Bohemian Girl: An Opera in Three Acts on Cervantes’ ‘The Little Gypsy Girl’ (‘Preciosa,’ Exemplary Tales, 1613). The opera was first performed at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, London in 1843 and is best known for its aria ‘I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls’. The aria is sung by the character Arline, who is in love with Thaddeus, a Polish nobleman and political exile. Listen to ‘I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls’ here (access via UCC Library). Although Balfe composed at least 29 operas, almost 250 songs and other works, The Bohemian Girl was his most popular work and productions of it ran throughout Europe and America. Subsequently it was translated into French and Italian.

The opening two pages of 'I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls.'

The opening two pages of ‘I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls.’


Cork Connections to Don Quixote

Title page to

Title page to Don Ciochote

An t-Athair Peadar Ua Laoghaire (1839 – 1920) is regarded as a pioneering writer in modern Irish and was born outside of Macroom, Co. Cork. His best known works are Séadna (1904) and Mo Scéal Féin (1915).  In 1921 Don Cíochóté was one of Ua Laoghaire’s last published works and it is a partial and considerably bowdlerized Irish-language version of Don Quixote I. It is the only Irish version to date. In 2001 Don Cíochóté was reprinted with Gabriel Rosenstock writing an introduction to the 1921 translation.



In 1930 the Nonesuch Press published a translation by Peter Motteux, originally written in 1743, of Don Quixote de la Mancha. Edward McKnight Kauffer provided illustrations for the volumes. The Nonesuch edition of Don Quixote de la Mancha is in two volumes and consists of 1475 copies; The copy in UCC Library is number 615 and is part of William Cooke’s collection. Inside the first volume of Don Quixote de la Mancha was found a letter (of 23 July 1929) from David Garnett, co-founder of the Nonesuch Press, to Charles Cooke, Esq., Vailima, Bishopstown, Cork referring to the Censorship Bill and comparing translations by Ormesby, Motteux and Ozell.


Letter from David Garnett to William Cooke comparing translations of Don Quixote.


Dr Hiram Morgan, School of History, UCC kindly lent his copy of Philip O’Sullivan Beare’s Historiae Catholicae Iberniae Compendium published in Lisbon in 1621 for the exhibition. The item is better known as O’Sullivan’s Catholic History and is one of the most important polemical works of Irish political thought published in the early modern period. The intention was to provide Catholic dissidents at home and abroad with an interpretation of Irish history and of their contemporary difficulties by establishing Ireland’s unique contribution to Catholicism and showing how it had been wrecked by the English misrule. The solution propounded was a Spanish conquest by the new king, Philip IV, to whom O’Sullivan dedicated the book. Philip IV reigned during the publication of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. O’Sullivan wished Philip IV to answer his true calling by recognising the terrible plight of Irish Catholics and to liberate their country. The solution propounded was a Spanish conquest by the new king, Philip IV, to whom O’Sullivan dedicated  the book. Philip III, Philip IV’s predecessor, had reigned during the publication of Cervantes’ Don Quixote and O’Sullivan Beare would have compiled his Compendium at that time. O’Sullivan wished Philip IV to answer his true calling by recognising the terrible plight of Irish Catholics and to liberate their country. To this end O’Sullivan made much of Irish connections with Iberia including the famous myth that the Irish were descended from King Milesius of Northern Spain. In doing so he emphasized the sufferings of his own family at the hands of English heretics – providing the epic account of his cousin Donal Cam’s retreat from Bantry Bay to Breifne – and, afterwards in exile, their military services to the Spanish crown.

“Cervantes ‘Prince of Wits’ (1616 – 2016): Life, Work, Legacy” runs until 16 September 2016.

Cervantes' Signature

Cervantes’ signature

Note: Within The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography are biographies of Thomas Shelton, Tobias Smollett, Charles Dibdin, Michael Williams Balfe and Peter Motteux. Within The Dictionary of Irish Biography are biographies of Michael Williams Balfe and Peadar Ua Laoghaire as ‘Peadar Ó Laoghaire.’


Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. La primera edición del Ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha. Facsimile edition by Francisco López Fabra. Notes by Juan Hartzenbusch. 2 vols. Barcelona: 1871-79.

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. Novelas exemplares. 2 vols. Antwerp: Bousquet, 1743.

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. The History and Adventures of the Renowned Don Quixote. Trans. T. Smollett. Vol 3. Dublin: D. Graisberry, 1783.

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda: Historia setentrional. 2 vols. Madrid: En la Imprenta de Sancha, 1802.

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. The History of Don Quixote of the Mancha. Trans. Thomas Shelton. Reprinted from the 1st ed., 1612-1620, with a new preface by F.J. Harvey Darton. 2 vols. London: Navarre Society, 1923.

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. Don Quixote de la Mancha. Trans. Peter Motteux. Rev. J. Ozell (1743). Illustrated by Edward McKnight Kauffer. 2 vols. London: Nonesuch Press, 1930.

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. The History of Don Quixote. Text ed. J. W. Clark; Illust. Gustave Doré. New York : Cassell, [1880?].

Balfe, M. W.  The Bohemian Girl: An Opera in Three Acts. Words by Alfred Bunn. Ed. Arthur Sullivan and J. Pittman. London: Bosey; New York: William A. Pont, c. [18–].

Cervantes, Miguel de.  Don Cíochóté. Trans. An t-Athair Peadar Ua Laoghaire. Baile Átha Cliath: Brún agus Ó Nóláin, 1922.

Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Cíochótae. An t-Athair Peadar Ó Laoghaire a d’astrigh agus a ghiorraigh; eagarthóir, Gabriel Rosenstock. Baile Átha Cliath: Cló Thalbóid, 2001.

Dibdin, Charles.  The Padlock: A Comic Opera As It Is Performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. London: Printed for the author & sold by J. Johnston, [176-?].

Letter (of 23 July 1929) from David Garnett, co-founder of the Nonesuch Press, to Charles Cooke.  Inserted into Don Quixote de la Mancha. Trans. Peter Motteux. Rev. J. Ozell (1743). Illustrated by Edward McKnight Kauffer. 2 vols. London: Nonesuch Press, 1930.

O’Sullivan Beare, Philip. Historiae Catholicae Iberniae Compendium [Compendium of the Catholic History of Ireland]. Lisbon, 1621. On loan from Dr. Hiram Horgan, School of History, UCC.

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The Sullivan Barry Collection

UCC Library is pleased to open to the public the Sullivan Barry Collection. This collection, generously donated by John and Patricia Barry in 2013, consists of 24 handwritten letters (1874-1898) by siblings and cousins of the Sullivan and Barry families of Cork of their experience of life as an emigrant from Ireland to the USA – in Fulton, Oswega, New York; St. Louis, Missouri; Roswell, South Dakota; Onieda, New York; Rock Island, Illinois; and New Holland, Illinois.

The Sullivan Barry Collection

The Sullivan Barry Collection

The letters are written by the family members – Denis Sullivan, Hanorah Sullivan, Mary Barry, Annie Sullivan, and Nora Sullivan – when in the USA. They have a colloquial style of language and spelling, so much so you can almost hear the words voiced from the pages “…hoping to find you in as good a state of health as this leaves us all at present thanks be to god for his mercies to us all.” (BL/PP/SB/3). Their handwriting is very uniform and of the time, illustrating that all were taught to write in this style when schooled as children in Ireland.

"...thanks be to God..."

“…thanks be to god…”


Loneliness and missing home is a common thread when reading these letters. Communications in the late 19th century were mainly done by letter-writing; telegrams were only for short announcements or news-worthy information. Annie Sullivan writes in February 1885 “nothing on earth gives us more comfort than [it] to hear from home” (BL/PP/SB/9).


“…gives us more comfort”


The receipt of letters from home is sporadic and due to the transient nature of work they often give forwarding addresses of acquaintances based in a town so letters will remain safe until their return or if passing through again to another location.

As much as they can from what they know they mention news of relatives – their location, work, illnesses, births and deaths – normal day-to-day concerns but it might be the only mention of a family member to another in years. It was not unusual to lose contact with family in America and the only way of finding out about them was via letters from home asking if they had heard from them. In an unsigned letter from [1898], the writer mentions it is almost four years since they heard from Denis or Norah, that both Johny and Denny Sullivan are dead, and Dennie has sent a number of letters without reply and is worried “to know if his people lives yet” (BL/PP/SB/20).

BL_PP_SB_20 - Copy

“…if his people lives yet.”


America is a place of extremes where some are “starving and others rolling in riches” (BL/PP/SB/9). Denis Sullivan writes in April 1876 about the economic conditions for women and men. He has “seen many hard nocks {sic} now” and due to “misfortunate poverty…would cut my head off before i would encourage a man to come to this country…but as for women it is a good country [and] if Tom and Pat were here they could get women.” (BL/PP/SB/4)


“I would cut my head off….”

Hanorah Sullivan writes in September 1876 that her brother Denis is working on a railroad in Iowa (BL/PP/SB/5). By March 1879 economic conditions have deteriorated in the last three years with many men idle due to lack of work and others work for half the pay they once earned (BP/PP/SB/7).

They comment frequently about weather conditions – Hanorah Sullivan writes in March 1879 that it has been the worst winter in New York for 21 years, with the snow expecting to last until July (BL/PP/SB/7). Annie Sullivan writes in February 1885 that it has been the worst winter in 14 years with snow on the ground for the 3 months and strong gales (BL/PP/SB/9). Denis Sullivan writes in January 1887 from South Dakota that less than an inch of rain has fallen from the previous April to October resulting in a poor crop yields (BL/PP/SB/11) and Denis writes again in July 1889 that the wheat and oats in the fields are drying out due to it being the third dry year in a row (BL/PP/SB/13). By 1897 Denis Sullivan, writing from Illinois, expresses his desire to leave America for Australia or New Zealand.

BL_PP_SB_13 - Copy

“…wheat and oats is drying out fast…”


There are two letters written in Ireland in the collection. Mary Conway in Lismore, Co. Waterford, writes to her cousin Mary [Barry] in December 1885 that during a visit to Mount Mellary {sic} she has made herself “a holy girl Thanks to God” (BL/PP/SB/10). In another letter dated January 1888, Jeremiah Sullivan in Cork writes to his aunt seeking advice on marriage (BL/PP/SB/12).

"I intend to get married..."

“I intend to gett married…”


The remaining items in the collection include a prescription for Norah Barry dispensed by William Harrington & Sons Ltd., Patrick Street, Cork in April 1891, and a receipt for cloth “to the value of 13 shillings” dated March 1870.

Envelope for Harrington Chemists, Cork

Envelope for W. Harrington & Son, Ltd. Chemists, 80 Patrick St., Cork


Access to the Sullivan Barry Collection is via UCC Library Archives Service by appointment via email to









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Eoin MacNeill: Easter Rising 1916

Earlier this year a handwritten letter by Commander Eoin MacNeill (Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Volunteers) was donated to UCC Library.

Dear Mrs. McKean....

Dear Mrs. McKean….

This letter, dated 19th April 1916, signed by MacNeill and addressed to Mrs. McKean, was a cover letter to an enclosed military plan “for the suppression and disarming of the Volunteers” prepared by the British Government. This plan, later known as the ‘Castle Document’, was a fake document created by the organisers of the Easter Rising 1916 to convince those who needed convincing e.g. Eoin MacNeill, to rally the Volunteers throughout the country for an organised rebellion.

MacNeill notes specially in the letter the plan mentions that “a state of siege to be enforced, Archbp. Walsh to be imprisoned in his own house, the police (R.I.C. & D.M.P) not be entrusted and carte blanche to military officers to use the necessary means without reference to Headquarters”.

Note specially...

Note specially…

MacNeill knows “the Government will not allow this to be published” so it must “be circulated in the country as widely as possible”. widely as possible

Circulated…as widely as possible

Gabriel Doherty, School of History, UCC commenting on the letter said: “the letter from Eoin MacNeill is significant because it indicates that, on the date in question, he sincerely believed in the authenticity of the ‘Castle Document’.”

When asked why the ‘Castle Document’ was created in the first place, he explained that MacNeill as Chief-of-Staff , who wasn’t a republican in the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) mould, was in a position to frustrate the plans of the Military Council. Those involved in the planning, most particularly Plunkett, sought to overcome MacNeill’s scruples about the use of force by the Volunteers by in effect saying that the British were about to use force against them. Rallying the Volunteers would be morally and politically justified as an act of self-defence, in essence, the conditions laid down for armed actions by the Volunteers had been met.

Later in Easter week 1916 MacNeill learnt that the ‘Castle Document’ was not authentic and he countermanded his original call to arms, as published in newspapers on Easter Sunday.

Reverse of letter showing sticky tape along folds

Reverse of letter showing sticky tape along folds



The letter came to the library in a relatively good condition, given its age. There was tears along the edges and folds, with some spotting and staining, all of which would be expected for a 100 year old document. It was obvious that it had been folded many times in its past and adhesive tape secured the back of the letter to ‘strengthen’ these folds. This tape was in the process of naturally aging.



Reverse of letter conserved

Reverse of letter conserved



It was decided to have the letter conserved i.e. removal of the adhesive tape and the letter cleaned, with any tears mended. This was done professionally by Paul Curtis, Conservator, Mucros Bindery, Muckross House, Killarney.




The MacNeill letter is on display in the foyer of the Boole Library, University College Cork, until the end of April. All are welcome to visit during the opening hours of the library – please check the calendar on library webpage .

MacNeill letter on display in foyer of Boole Library, UCC

MacNeill letter on display in foyer of Boole Library, UCC

The letter can be ordered for research by appointment from early May from UCC Library Archives Service via email

UCC Library would like to thank the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, for the generosity shown in donating this piece of Irish history to University College Cork, thus allowing it to be made available to the public.

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Mountaineering: Being On Top of the World

In 1856 a British team calculated the height of Mt Everest as 29,002 feet (8,848 metres) above sea level. 2016 marks the 160th anniversary of this calculation and until mid-April there is a display on mountaineering on Q floor, Boole Library.

In 1865 Mt Everest was named for George Everest, a Welsh surveyor and Surveyor General of India from 1830 – 1843. One of Everest’s younger brothers was Rev. Thomas Roupell Everest, father of Mary Everest. In 1855 Mary married George Boole.

vesci aura aetherea jucundum vertice montis, ardua respicere, et dextram conjungere dextrae from South Col title page.

‘Vesci aura aetherea jucundum vertice montis, Ardua respicere, et dextram conjungere dextrae’ from South Col title page.

There are 14 mountains that are 8000 metres above sea level: Mt Everest, K2, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Dhaulagiri I, Manaslu, Nanga Parbat, Annapurna I, Gasherbrum I, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum II and Shishapangma. They are known as eight-thousanders and are all located in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges in Asia. The first recorded attempt on an eight-thousander was in 1895 when Albert F. Mummery and J. Norman Collie tried to ascend Nanga Parbat. However the attempt failed when Mummery and two Gurkhas, Ragobir and Goman Singh, were killed by an avalanche.


Climbing the First Peaks Over 8000 Metres

Cover to Annapurna

Cover to Annapurna with introduction by Eric Shipton

In 1950 Maurice Herzog (1919 – 2012) with Louis Lachenal climbed the first peak over 8000 metres. This was Annapurna. They climbed it in 1950 without supplemental oxygen. In 1952 Herzog published his account of the expedition, Annapurna. Since then the book has sold over 40,000 copies. UCC Library has two copies:

  • One has an introduction by Eric Shipton who was a leading 20th century British mountaineer in the Himalayas.
  • The second was donated by UCC’s Mountaineering Club and has an introduction by Joe Simpson. Joe Simpson is best known as the author of Touching the Void which describes the descent of Siula Grande (21,000 feet high) in the Peruvian Andes by mountain climbers Joe Simpson and Simon Yates in 1985. The documentary of Touching the Void is available on Q+3.

Hermann Buhl (1924 – 1957) was an Austrian mountaineer and in 1953 was the first person to ascend Nanga Parbat. Nanga Parbat is the most westerly peak in the Himalyas and it has a summit elevation of 8126 metres. Buhl made the ascent solo and without bottled oxygen. Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage: The Lonely Challenge was first published in English translation in 1955.

Nanga Parbat Map

Map to Nanga Parbat from Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage


1953 Team to Climb Mt Everest

In 1953 a British-led team reached the top of Mt Everest. Many members of the expedition wrote accounts of the ascent afterwards. The members of the expedition were:

Team members on South Col endpapers

Team members on South Col endpapers. Drawn by AJ Veilhan.

  • John Hunt (Expedition leader and mountaineer)
  • Charles Evans (Deputy expedition leader and mountaineer)
  • Michael Ward (Expedition doctor and mountaineer)
  • Griffith Pugh (Doctor and mountaineer)
  • Charles Wylie (Organising secretary and mountaineer)
  • Tom Stobard (Cameraman and mountaineer)
  • Tenzing Norgay (Mountaineer & guide)
  • Sherpa Annullu (Mountaineer & guide)
  • George Band (Mountaineer)
  • Tom Bourdillon (Mountaineer)
  • Alfred Gregory (Mountaineer)
  • Edmund Hillary (Mountaineer)
  • George Lowe (Mountaineer)
  • Wilfrid Noyce (Mountaineer)
  • Michael Westmacott (Mountaineer)
Map from Ascent of Everest

Routes on map from Ascent of Everest


On 21 May Wilfrid Noyce (1917 – 1962) and Sherpa Annullu were the first members from the 1953 expedition to reach Everest’s South Col. South Col is Noyce’s account of the 1953 expedition.

Our Everest Adventure is a pictorial history of the 1953 expedition. It is the companion book to The Ascent of Everest.





The Ascent of Everest has multiple contributors. Sir John Hunt is the author of the book however Sir Edmund Hillary has written ‘The Summit’ (chapter 16), and members of the expedition have written the appendices.  Acclimatization routes of Hunt, Evans and Hillary are on display. The Ascent of Everest is part of the Cooke Collection. William Cooke has inserted clippings from newspapers about the ascent as well as cut-outs of photographs of the mountaineers.

Selection of newspaper clippings and inserts made by Cooke.

Selection of newspaper clippings and inserts made by Cooke.

See here for an interview with Sir Edmund Hillary on mountain climbing. The Everest expedition (2:31 – 8:43).


19th Century Irish Mountaineers 

Frank Nugent, author of In Search of Peaks, Passes and Glaciers was deputy leader of the successful Irish expedition to Everest in 1993. Nugent’s book takes its title from Peaks, Passes and Glaciers: Being Excursions by Members of the Alpine Club, second series by Edward Shirley Kennedy. Kennedy (1817–1898) was a founding member of the Alpine Club. In Search of Peaks, Passes and Glaciers describes the achievements of Irish mountaineers from the 1850s to the early 20th century. Significant climbers of the time include:

  • John Ball
  • John Tyndall
  • Anthony Adams-Reilly
  • Robert Fowler
  • Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshed
  • Valentine Ryan

Although John Tyndall (1820 – 1893) is better known as a physicist and chemist, during the 1850s and 1860s he was an avid climber in the Alps. Tyndall visited the Alps in order to better understand glaciers and glacier motion. Tyndall describes his mountaineering activities in The Glaciers of the Alps.

Tyndall on

Tyndall on his first ascent of Monte Rosa, 1858.  The Glaciers of the Alps, p 124- 125.

Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshead (1860 – 1934) was a celebrated alpinist, photographer and author. She was born in Greystones, Co Wicklow. In 1881 she moved to Switzerland and climbed regularly until 1904. In 1907 she became the first president of the Ladies Alpine Club. Over the course of her lifetime she married three times and was known as Mrs. Fred Burnaby, Mrs. Main, and Mrs. Aubrey Le Blond.

Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshead. Frontispiece to High Alps

Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshead. Frontispiece to High Alps in Summer.


20th Century Irish Mountaineers 

On 27 May 1993 Dawson Stelfox became the first Irish person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, following the route first attempted by Mallory and Irvine in 1924. Everest Calling has been revised from the 1994 edition to include accounts of Clare O’Leary and Pat Falvey’s ascents by different routes. In 2012 Noel Hanna completed his fifth ascent of Mt. Everest.

Pat Falvey is the only person to have completed the Seven Summits Challenge twice, including Mt Everest from both its traditional routes on the north and south sides.

From South Col title page.

From South Col title page. Drawing by AJ Veilhan.


Buhl, Hermann. Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage: The Lonely Challenge. Trans. Hugh Merrick. Seattle, WA.: The Mountaineers, 1998.

Falvey, Pat. A Journey to Adventure: Stories I Never Thought I’d Tell. Cork, Ireland: Collins, 2007

Herzog, Maurice. Annapurna, The First Conquest of an 8000-Meter Peak. Trans. Nea Morin and Janet Adam Smith. New introd.  Joe Simpson. London [England]: Pimlico, 1997.

Herzog, Maurice. Annapurna: Conquest of the First 8000-Metre Peak (26,493 feet). Trans. Nea Morin and Janet Adam Smith. Introd. Eric Shipton. London: J. Cape, 1952.

Hunt, John. The Ascent of Everest. [London]: Hodder & Stoughton, [1953].

Hunt, John. Our Everest Adventure: The Pictorial History from Kathmandu to the Summit.  Leicester [Leicestershire]: Brockhampton Press, 1954.

Le Blond, Elizabeth Frances Alice Hawkins-Whitshed. High Alps in Winter, or Mountaineering in Search of Health. London: Sampson Low, 1883.

Noyce, Wilfred. South Col: One Man’s Adventure on the Ascent of Everest 1953. Foreword Sir John Hunt. London: William Heinemann, [1954].

Nugent, Frank. In Search of Peaks, Passes & Glaciers: Irish Alpine Pioneers. Cork: Collins Press, 2013.

Siggins, Loran. Everest Calling: The Irish Journey.  Wilton, Cork: Collins Press, 2013.

Tyndall, John. The Glaciers of the Alps: Being a Narrative of Excursions … and an Exposition of the Physical Principles. Herts.: Oahspe, 1860.

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