Book History and Provenance in the Green Coat School Collection

The Green Coat School Collection is now held in UCC Library but was originally formed in Cork City during the 18th century under the aegis of the Green Coat School trustees. The Green Coat School, also known as ‘Shandon Charity School’ and ‘St Mary Shandon Corke’ opened in 1717 and first admitted twenty boys and twenty girls.

History of the Green Coat School

The school started as a private foundation for the children of poor Protestant families on the north-side of Cork City in Ireland. The School was so called because the uniform was green and keeping the uniform was dependent on good behaviour and knowing one’s catechism. The school was vocationally oriented and in UCC Library’s Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) trustees’ descriptions noted which students were bound out as apprentices to a variety of trades such as bookbinders, button-makers and seamstresses (23 June 1719).

The image is an excerpt from William Beauford's 1801 map of Cork City. The Green Coat Hospital & School is present on the map  as building 'B'. The Green Coat Hospital is adjacent to Shandon Church.
“Building B in the centre of the map is Green Coat Hospital & School.” William Beauford. Map of Cork, 1801.

Henry Maule (1676?–1758), as rector of Shandon (1706–26), was closely associated with the founding of the Green Coat School and served as a trustee. From its founding to midway through the 18th century the school was a prototype and model to follow in the Irish coat and charter school movement and “the movement’s equation of Protestantism with civilisation and industry gave the schools additional meaning in the Irish context” (DiIB). Maule was instrumental in its success: “Maule toured Europe, [particularly English and Scottish models] to investigate similar schemes” (DiIB). However by the end of the 18th century the School had declined (McCann 108) and as evidenced from a circular within UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book soliciting funds for the School’s Trustees. This circular is signed by Richard Lee, treasurer and grandfather to Dr Philip G Lee, and is dated 28 January 1822.

Furthermore Maule wrote about his intentions for forming the Green Coat School in Pietas Corcagiensis: or, A view of the Green-coat Hospital and other charitable foundations in the parish of St. Mary Shandon, Corke. In UCC Library’s copies the plates are present whereas they’re frequently removed. Jos. Harris was a noted Cork engraver and he provided the plates.

Architectural print of the "South Prospect of the Green Coat Hospital, Cork." taken from 'Pietas Corcagiensis'. The building is large with two wings and a turret in the centre of the roof. On the turret is a weather vane. Over the print of the building is the motto 'God's providence is our inheritance'.
“South Prospect of the Green Coat Hospital, Cork.” Pietas Corcagiensis.

Collection Acquistion

The collection came to light during a retrospective Special Collections’ cataloguing project in the late 1990s. UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) was donated by Brian Smyth, Dublin in the late 1990s. There is a note inside the front end paper of the Green Coat School Minute Book: “Given into the care of the Rector Rev. R. Hearn by Dr. Philip G. Lee 25 May 1930.” Philip G Lee was a doctor and local Cork historian. Underneath the note Dr Lee has written: “Given to me as ‘waste paper which I have bound. It comprises the minutes of the trustees since the foundation of the Hospital and from these minutes was extracted the rare valuable report of the School Manor as ‘Pietas Corc.’ They are very valuable and important.” It is probable for this reason that it was seen as waste paper and that the first page is page 13. The Representative Church Body Library in Dublin has a different minute book of the Green Coat School (Manuscript 986).

The Green Coat School Collection

The collection in UCC Library has 280 books. The collection has: 10 items from the 16th century, 195 from the 17th century and the remainder are from the 18th century. The items in the collection are predominantly in English (209 items), with 20 items in Latin. However there are also 20 items in French, 1 item in Spanish and 1 item in Irish Gaelic. As this is an early modern collection the imprints of each item show the spread of printing throughout Europe and the map and list below illustrate this spread.

Map showing the different locations across Europe for the place of printing for items in the Green Coat Collection.
Places of printing as on imprints in the Green Coat School Collection
  • Lyon (3 items ranging from 1562 – 1653)
  • Lausanne (1 item from 1577)
  • London (201 items ranging from 1579 – 1729)
  • Hamburg (1 item from 1592)
  • Leiden (5 items ranging from 1597 – 1648)
  • Cologne (2 items from 1602 and 1682)
  • Geneva (7 items ranging from 1606 – 1679)
  • Hanover (1 item from 1610)
  • Frankfort (2 items from 1610 and 1665)
  • Oxford (10 items ranging from 1610 – 1717)
  • Amsterdam (11 items from 1628 – 1718)
  • Cambridge (3 items ranging from 1649 – 1654)
  • Paris (7 items ranging from 1653 – 1713)
  • Utrecht (1 item from 1660)
  • Dublin (12 items ranging from 1670 – 1786)
  • Rotterdam (2 items from 1680 and 1690)
  • La Haye (2 items from 1695 and 1710)
  • Liege (3 items ranging from 1699 – 1717)
  • St Malo (1 item from 1704)
  • Brussels (1 item from 1711)
  • Cork (2 items from 1721 and 1725).

The composition of the subject matter of the collection is largely related to the Bible and Christianity with a number of items relating to language, literature (14) and history (40 items). Like many early modern collections there are a large number of works relating to classical writers. Dr Edel Semple in UCC’s School of English discusses The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes in this blog post.

However, there are no books with clasps and ties in the collection. In UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book it states: “Orderd that no books be lent out of the town nor any Book in the town unless the person who borrows it enters his name in the Register Book and leaves double the value till he returns it” (15 December 1718) therefore none of the books were chained.

In addition, UCC Library holds an ecclesiastical collection, St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Library which was started in 1720 by Bishop Peter Browne and contains similar subject matter to that of the Green Coat School Collection. UCC Library’s general Older Printed Books Collection was established by withdrawing items published before 1851 from the Library’s general holdings. Of the 270 items held in the Green Coat School Collection 246 items are not held in any other collection in UCC Library. St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Collection and the Green Coat School Collection have 35 items in common; whereas Older Printed Books and the Green Coat School Collection overlap on 5 items. Three titles are present in three different collections including: Leabhar na nornaightheadh ccomhchoitchionn or The Book of Common Prayer in English and Irish.

Description of Ownership Marks

Maule wrote Pietas Corcagiensis anonymously and within this book is a catalogue of the books that were donated to the Green Coat School Library (pages 37 – 48). Most of the donors to the Green Coat School Library were a who’s who of early 18th century Cork life: clergy, brigadier general, sheriffs, a lord mayor and gentry. Examples of provenance include signatures in the hand of the donor, stamps and former classification scheme markings. There are no bookplates, mottoes, armorial stamps or ciphers as evidence of provenance in the collection.

Donors As Listed In Pietas Corcagiensis

  • Honourable Brigadier General Stearne: 37 titles.
  • The Reverend the incumbent of the parish (presumably Maule): 132 items.
  • John Morley, Esq., Mayor of Cork in the year 1718: 4 items.
  • Henry Arkwright, Esq.: 2 items
  • The Right Honourable Early of Inchiquin: 3 items
  • Mr Daniel Thresher: 6 items
  • Capt. Charles Maule: 25 items
  • Mr Richard Pomeroy: 3 items
  • Mr Henry Sheares: 7 items
  • Mr Sheriff Austin: 3 items
  • Mr Sherrif Croker: 10 items
  • Unknown provenance: 38 items.


Many of the items Maule donated are ecclesiastical in nature. According to ESTC Of the Sacraments in General is held in Great Britain in Cambridge colleges, Oxford colleges and cathedral libraries. It not that unusual that a 17th century Anglo-Irish bishop has acquired a copy. Knowing one’s catechism played a fundamental role in the Green Coat School.

Rev. Henry Maule’s signature above the title on the title page 'Of the Sacraments in General.'
Rev. Henry Maule’s signature on the title page Gabriel Towerson. Of the Sacraments in General.

Samuel Croker was Sheriff in Cork, a court officer elected by the freemen of the borough. Laud’s A Relation of the Conference is a good example of the interest in publishing material to doctrine and religious controversy in the late 17th century. This item is significant as it contains fragments of an old almanac used as strengtheners in the binding and has a variety of annotations.

Sheriff Croker's signature on end-papers of 'A Relation of the Conference betweene William Lawd.'
Sheriff Croker’s signature on end-papers of A Relation of the Conference betweene William Lawd

In the Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) is a list of subscribers to the School including Mr Bowyer (p.13). He donated money and A Rational Account of the Grounds of Protestant by Edward Stillingfleet for unknown reasons. Stillingfleet was a remarkable scholar and preacher and much of his library is now in Marsh’s Library in Dublin. This title is in two collections in UCC Library and is one of 29 works by Stillingfleet held between the Green Coat School Collection and St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Library. The aforementioned conference is between Laud and Fisher which further shows how important Laud was at this time. The manuscript note reads ‘Mr Bowyer, bookseller in London, to the Green-Coat Hospitall of St Mary Shandon, Corke.’

Provenance: Stamps

Henry Arkwright was a customs’ port officer in Cork at this time. Arkwright donated two different editions of Burnet’s History. This copy is a ‘4th edition’ but no 3rd edition was published by Burnet. This title is a good example of how popular titles were.

Evidence of provenance: Gold tooling of letters stamped on front board. Name: Henry Arkwright, Esq.

Gold tooling of letters stamped on front board. Name: Henry Arkwright, Esq.

Evidence of provenance: Gold tooling of letters stamped horizontally on back board. Name: Shandon Charity School Library.

Gold tooling of letters stamped horizontally on back board. Name: Shandon Charity School Library.

The Pomeroys were a prominent Cork family. This is one of the many Books of Common Prayer in the GCSC. In total 21 items were stamped with ‘Shandon Charity School.’ From the Green Coat School Minute Book it is “Ordered that the books given to the library be lettered by Combra (?) Daniel.” (2 February 1720). It is unknown how many tradesmen were engaged in gold lettering but it is likely that Combra (?) Daniel also did other gold lettering for Arkwright and Pomeroy.

Gold tooling of letters stamped on back board The Book of Common Prayer. Name: Rich Pomeroy.

Gold tooling of letters stamped on back board The Book of Common Prayer. Name: Rich Pomeroy.

Further Research Possibilities

Little recent research has been conducted on the Green Coat School Library either as a stand-alone institution, as a library within the coat school system or on the survival rating of coat school libraries. To date most scholarship was conducted between the 1940s and the 1970s (see the articles in the Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society listed in the bibliography). Further work could be carried out on the bindings, older classification schemes and fragments in the binding throughout the collection.

Manuscript fragments in the spine binding of 'The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes.'
Manuscript fragments in the spine binding of The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes.

Gold-tooling on binding and former classification scheme marking on William Oldisworth A Dialogue between Timothy and Philatheus. London: Printed by W.B.for Bernard Lintott, 1709-11.


Burnet, Gilbert. The History of the Reformation of the Church of England: in two parts. London: Printed for J. Walthoe and B. Tooke [etc.], 1715.

Conlon, Michael V. “Some Old Cork Charities.” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (1943): 86-94.

Donlan, Seán P. “Maule, Henry.” Dictionary of Irish Biography. (ed.) James McGuire, James Quinn. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Green Coat School Collection. Special Collections, UCC Library.

Green Coat School Minute Book. U335. Special Collections, UCC Library.

Laud, William. A Relation of the Conference betweene William Lawd: then Lrd Bishop of St. Davids, now Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbvry, and Mr Fisher the Jesuite, by the command of King James of ever blessed memorie. With an answer to such exceptions as A.C. takes against it. / by the said Most Reverend Father in God, William, Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbury. London: Printed by Richard Badger, MDCXXXIX, [1639].

Leabhar na nornaightheadh ccomhchoitchionn: agas mhiniostralachda na Sacraimeinteadh: agas reachdadh agas dheasghnáth oile na Heaglaise, / do rēir usáide Eaglaise na Sacsan; maille ris an tSaltair no Psalmuibh Dhaibhidh. Ar na bpunneadl. mur cantar no raidhtior iad a tteampollaibh. Lunnduin: ar na chur a gcló ré E. Ebheriongham, ag na Seas Realt a Sráid Abhé Máiria, [1712].

Manuscript #986 held at The Representative Church Body Library (RCBL), Dublin.

McCann, Peadar. “Cork City’s Eighteenth-Century Charity Schools: Origins and Early History.” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (1979): 102-11.

Ó Coindealbháin, Seán. “Schools and Schooling in Cork City’” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (1943): 44-57.

Oldisworth, William. A Dialogue between Timothy and Philatheus: In which the principles and projects of a late whimsical book: entituled, The rights of the Christian church &c., are fairly stated and answer’d in their kind, and some attempts made towards the discovery of a new way of reasoning, intirely unknown both to the ancients and moderns. London: Printed by W.B.for Bernard Lintott, 1709-11.

Pietas Corcagiensis: or, A view of the Green-coat Hospital and other charitable foundations in the parish of St. Mary Shandon, Corke: shewing the several steps that have been taken in erecting and supporting those charities. Cork: Publish’d by order of the trustees (and sold for the use) of that hospital: Printed by Samuel Terry, 1721.

Plutarch. The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes / compared together by that graue learned philosopher and historiographer, Plutarke of Chaeronea; translated out of Greeke into French by Iames Amyot … and out of French into Englishe by Thomas North. London: Imprinted by Thomas Vautroullier and Iohn VVight, 1579.

Stillingfleet, Edward. A Rational Account of the Grounds of Protestant Religion: being a vindication of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury’s relation of a conference, &c., from the pretended answer by T.C.; wherein the true grounds of faith are cleared and the false discovered, the Church of England vindicated from the imputation of schism, and the most important particular controversies between us and those of the Church of Rome throughly examined. London: Printed by Rob. White for Henry Mortlock… , 1665.

Towerson, Gabriel. Of the Sacraments in General: in pursuance of an explication of the catechism of the Church of England. London: printed for Richard Chiswell, at the Rose and Crown in S. Paul’s Church-Yard, 1686.

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“Ring Them Bells”: Father Prout and The Bells of Shandon

When listing archives even the smallest collections can draw you into the lives and works of the individuals who inhabit the material. Such was the case when I recently listed the Francis S. Mahony Collection. The collection consists of just five items, with the key item being an autographed final verse of the poem ‘The Bells of Shandon’ by the Cork born humourist and journalist Francis S. Mahony, better known as ‘Father Prout’.

Francis S. Mahony, aka Father Prout

Francis Sylvester Mahony (1804-1866) was born in Cork on 31 December 1804 to Martin Mahony, co-founder of the Blarney Woollen Mills, and his second wife, Mary Mahony. He attended Clongowes Wood College from 1815 to 1819 before continuing his education at Jesuit colleges in Amiens and Rome and beginning his novitiate at the Jesuit seminary in Paris. He returned to Clongowes in 1825 where he was appointed master of rhetoric but lost his position following a night of heavy drinking with his students. Despite his subsequent expulsion from the Jesuits, he was ordained as a priest in 1832 and appointed chaplain of the Cork Cholera Hospital during the outbreak of an epidemic in the city. However, tensions with his bishop led him to abandon his ordination and, in 1834, he moved to London where he became a leading contributor to Fraser’s Magazine (and later Bentley’s Miscellany) writing under the pseudonym ‘Father Prout’.

Rev. F. Mahony ('Father Prout') from The final reliques of Father Prout.
Rev. F. Mahony (‘Father Prout’) from The Final Reliques of Father Prout.

The character of Prout was named after a real Father Prout from Watergrasshill, Co. Cork who had died in 1830. In the essay ‘Dean Swift’s Madness’, Mahony describes his fictional Prout as the child of Jonathan Swift and Stella. His essays, later collected as The Reliques of Father Prout, contain fabricated biographical details of the life of Prout alongside his reflections on life and literature. At the time of their publication they were much admired for their sharp wit and entertaining style, with subjects of ridicule including Thomas Moore and Daniel O’Connell (the latter given the moniker ‘Dandeleon’). They secured a wide readership and established Mahony’s reputation, enabling him to mingle with many distinguished artists and literary figures of the day, including Thackery, Dickens and Maclise.

The Fraserians (contributors in 1835 to Fraser's Magazine) from The Reliques of Father Prout.
The Fraserians (contributors in 1835 to Fraser’s Magazine) from The Reliques of Father Prout. Figures depicted include Thomas Carlyle, William Makepeace Thackeray and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Mahony is the second figure to the right of William Maggin, co-founder of Fraser’s Magazine, who stands at the centre of the group.

“The Bells of Shandon”

Interspersed throughout his essays are several original poems, together with translations of verse from (and into) various languages, including Latin, Greek and French. The best-known example of his poetic output is ‘The Bells of Shandon’, a nostalgic poem about Cork. The style of the poem is clearly captured in the first verse:

With deep affection and recollection
I oft times think of those Shandon bells
Whose sound so wild would In days of childhood
Fling round my cradle their magic spells,
On this I ponder, where’er I wander,
And thus grow fonder sweet Cork of thee
While thy bells of Shandon sound far more grand on
The pleasant waters of the river Lee.

The bells being referred to are those housed in the tower of the Church of St. Anne in Shandon on the north-side of the city of Cork. With its gold salmon weather vane and situation overlooking the River Lee, the tower is a noted landmark in the city. The poem appears in the essay ‘The Rogueries of Tom Moore’, a satirical take-down in which Prout accuses Moore of having plagiarised his work for the composition of ‘Evening Bells, a Petersburg Air’ during a visit to Cork.

Francis Sylvester Mahony. "Father Prout." (From a Photograph.) from The bells of Shandon : with the annals of the Church of St Anne Shandon, Cork.
The Church of St. Anne Shandon, Cork. (From Photo by Guy & Co.) from The bells of Shandon : with the annals of the Church of St Anne Shandon, Cork.

The copy within the Francis S. Mahony Collection (see below) is an autographed final verse of the poem in Mahony’s hand. The printed version reads as follows:

There’s a bell in Moscow, while on tower and kiosk O!
In Saint Sophia the Turkman gets,
And loud in air calls men to prayer,
From the tapering summit of tall minarets;
Such empty phantom I freely grant them,
But there’s an anthem more dear to me-
‘Tis the bells of Shandon that sound so grand on
The pleasant waters of the river Lee.

However, a letter from Peter Burke accompanying the verse notes that the handwritten version corrects a common misprint, with the term “Kiosk, O !” in the first line corrected to “Kiosko”.

Mss of the final verse of the poem "The Bells of Shandon" by Frank Mahony, alias Father Prout
Ms of the final verse of the poem “The Bells of Shandon” by Frank Mahony, alias Father Prout

The poem remains the most enduring of Mahony’s work and has since become a popular song, a rendition of which can be listened to on website of the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

Mahony left London in 1837 to travel to the Continent. He was Rome correspondent for the Daily News from 1846 to 1858 before settling in Paris where he was correspondent for The Globe until his death in 1866. Following his death, his remains were brought to Cork where they were interred in the family vault in St. Anne’s Shandon Graveyard.

The Burke Connection

In terms of the provenance of the item, the collection contains four additional items unrelated to O’Mahony: two letters from Peter Burke (1811–1881) to a Miss Gould of Beaconsfield, and two letters from Sir John Bernard Burke (1814–1892) also to Miss Gould.

Peter Burke was an English barrister, serjeant-at-law, and writer. He was the son of John Burke, an Irish genealogist, and the original publisher of Burke’s Peerage. In the first of his letters, dated 10 November 1855, he refers to the enclosed “far-famed and exquisite lyric” which he had Mahony write for Miss Gould during a recent visit to Dublin (and notes Mahony’s correction). In both of his letters, the second dated 13 March 1860, he discusses his research into the life and work of the Irish politician and philosopher Edmund Burke, widely regarded as the father of modern conservatism. Peter Burke published two works on Edmund Burke: The Wisdom and Genius of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke in 1845 and The Public and Domestic Life of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke in 1853, as well as several works on legal matters.

Regarding the identity of Miss Gould, she appears to be one of the daughters of John Gould, Rector of the Beaconsfield Rectory in Buckinghamshire, with the letters including references to Peter Burke’s visits to the rectory and Edmund Burke’s burial and memorial at Beaconsfield. The collection ends on something of a melancholy note. The final two letters are from Peter’s brother, Sir John Bernard Burke, who took over publication of Burke’s Peerage (and related titles) following the death of their father. In his first letter, dated 18 August 1869, he informs Miss Gould of his brother’s illness. His second letter, dated 6 April 1879, tells that his brother is in the same state he has been for years, unable to leave his room or see anyone. It concludes: “I have however conveyed to him the kind remembrance you entertain of him, and those old times when he delighted to visit Beaconsfield.” Peter Burke died two years later, on 26 March 1881.

The complete descriptive list for the Francis S. Mahony Collection can now be accessed on the Archives Collection LibGuide at:


Mahony, Frances, The final reliques of Father Prout. (London: Chatto and Windus, 1876)

Mahony, Francis, The reliques of Father Prout. (London : James Fraser, 1836)

Mannin, Ethel, Two studies in integrity : Gerald Griffin and the Rev. Francis Mahony (“Father Prout”). (London : Jarrolds, [1954])

Moore, E., The bells of Shandon : with the annals of the Church of St Anne Shandon, Cork. (Cork : Printed by Guy & Co. Ltd, [ca. 1890])

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Topographical Prints: A Rich Visual Record of the Irish Landscape

Over the past few months I have been listing a collection of 18th and 19th century topographical prints held in Special Collections. The prints primarily relate to locations across Ireland and depict a diverse range of landscapes and townscapes, including tranquil lakes and mountains, quiet ruins of medieval castles and abbeys, bustling streets and harbours, grand estates and national monuments. The project involved listing each print and recording information such as the caption, signature, date, publisher, printing technique, dimensions, condition and annotations. The prints were then cleaned (as required) and rehoused in acid free archival folders, with any fragile items placed in Mylar pockets. The material had previously been arranged by province and county, with a total of 80 prints for Munster, 22 for Connacht, 37 for Ulster, and 144 for Leinster (excluding duplicates). While there was no prior listing for the collection, many of the images fortunately had accompanying notes to work from. Below is a small selection, touching on various aspects of the collection.

Sources of prints

Topographical Prints: The South East Prospect of Ye Cathedral of St. Patrick's Dublin
IE BL/CV/TP/DublinCity/21 The South East Prospect of Ye Cathedral of St. Patrick’s Dublin

While the provenance of the collection is unknown, the source of many of the individual prints can be traced. The majority of items have been extracted from illustrated history and travel books, such as N.P. Willis’ The scenery and antiquities of Ireland, Thomas Cromwell’s Excursions through Ireland, and S.C. Hall’s Ireland, its scenery, character, etc., or serials, such as Copper Plate Magazine, Gentleman’s Magazine and Illustrated London News. Among the oldest items in the collection are prints from the first volume of The whole works of Sir James Ware concerning Ireland, published in 1739. Sir James Ware (1594-1666) was an Irish MP and antiquarian with the volume tracing the ecclesiastical history of Ireland. Originally written in Latin, the English edition was translated by Walter Harris (1686-1761). Depicted above is the south east prospect of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Other prints from the volume include Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin and St. Columb’s Cathedral in Derry.

Print creators and techniques

Topographical Prints: Adare Manor
IE BL/CV/TP/Limerick/3 Adare Manor

The prints represent the works of many notable artists and engravers of the period, including the artists Paul Sandby (1731-1809), George Petrie (1790-1866), and William Henry Bartlett (1809-1854). In terms of printing methods, the collection contains a selection of engravings, lithographs, chromolithographs and aquatints. The above chromolithograph of Adare Manor in County Limerick is from Francis Orpen Morris’ A series of picturesque views of seats of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland. The work was originally published in six volumes from 1866-1880 and contains an extensive collection of colour prints, each accompanied by a historical and descriptive letter press (printed text). Other locations extracted from Morris’ work include Ardtully in Kerry, Dromoland in Clare and Bishop’s Court in Kildare.

Prints of familiar places…

Topographical Prints: The Cork River (from below the Glanmire Road)
IE BL/CV/TP/Cork/12 The Cork River (from below the Glanmire Road)

The prints provide an important visual record of the Irish landscape, offering unique perspectives on many familiar (and some not so familiar) locations. Among the Munster material are 24 prints relating to County Cork, including images of Bantry, Blackrock Castle, Blarney Castle, Cobh Harbour, Cork Harbour, Glengariff, and Youghal Abbey. The above image, providing a striking view of Blackrock Castle on the bank of the River Lee, is from the second volume of The scenery and antiquities of Ireland, published in 1842. The text by J. Stirling Coyne accompanying the image provides a similarly compelling account of the scene:

The Castle of Black Rock, a conspicuous and beautiful object, as we approach the city, is picturesquely situated on the extremity of a peninsula. It was originally intended as a fortress for the defence of this part of the river, but the taste of the good citizens of Cork being more pacific now than formerly, the corporation have latterly converted it, at considerable expense, into a handsome structure, where they hold a court of Admiralty annually, and assemble at certain periods in summer for the discussion of the more important business of eating and drinking. Adjoining to the castle is a lofty tower, in which a light is exhibited at night for the guidance of vessels coming up the river. The shores on the right-hand increase in beauty as we proceed upward. Opposite to the village and castle of Black Rock, the romantic river of Glanmire mingles its waters with the Lee. From this point the hills are thickly clothed with woods, groves, gardens, parks, plantations, and tasteful pleasure-grounds. Handsome villas are seen peeping through the tufted trees in every direction; many of them splendid, and all picturesquely situated… – The scenery and antiquities of Ireland, Vol. 2, p. 88.

…forgotten places…

Topographical Prints: Glengariff Castle
IE BL/CV/TP/Cork/20 Glengariff Castle

A particularly intriguing aspect of the collection is its depiction of a changing landscape. While there are plenty of images of medieval ruins, there are also many examples of places that either no longer exist or have since fallen into disrepair. Examples include Dartrey Castle, Rossmore Castle and the Poulaphouca Waterfall, to name but a few. The above image is of Glengariff Castle, once home to the Earls of Bantry. The two storey gothic structure was originally built by Colonel Simon White, brother of the first Earl of Bantry, in the 1790s. Providing a panoramic view of Glengarriff Bay, it was later used as a hotel, hosting figures such as Yeats, Thackery and Synge. Today, it stands as a derelict ruin.

…and other items

Topographical Prints: Tankard in the Possession of His Majesty, Composed of Irish Bog Oak
IE BL/CV/TP/Dublin/21 Tankard in the Possession of His Majesty, Composed of Irish Bog Oak

That said, not all of the prints are in fact topographical. The collection also includes a small number of prints of people and objects. Above is one of the more unusual subjects. It is a lithograph of a tankard made from Irish bog oak carved by Edward Lorenzo Percy. The carving depicts reveling people at the Donnybrook Fair in Dublin above a series of grotesque faces. The lid is carved with oak leaves and acorns, while the handle is in the form of a branch with a harp thumb piece. As the caption on the print suggests, the tankard is part of The Royal Collection and was presented to Willaim IV by the Marquess of Anglesey.

Further details on the Topographical Prints Collection, including the complete listing, can be found on the Special Collections’ Cartographic Visual LibGuide.


Cromwell, Thomas, Excursions through Ireland: comprising topographical and historical delineations of each province; together with descriptions of the residences of the nobility and gentry, remains of antiquity, and every other object of interest or curiosity. Forming a complete guide for the traveller and tourist. Illustrated with … engravings. (London : Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown; [etc., etc.], 1820.)

Elmes, Rosalind M., Catalogue of Irish topographical prints and original drawings. (Dublin: Malton Press for National Library of Ireland Society, 1975)

Hall, Samuel Carter, Ireland : its scenery, character, &c. (London: Hall, Virtue, and Co., [1841-1843]).

Morris, Francis Orpen, A series of picturesque views of seats of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland. (London: William Mackenzie, 1866-1880).

Ware, Sir James, The whole works of Sir James Ware concerning Ireland : revised and improved. In three volumes. … Embellished with copper plates. (Dublin: Printed for the author, by E. Jones, 1739-1746).

Willis, Nathaniel Parker, The scenery and antiquities of Ireland. (London: G. Virtue, [1842])

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Community Week: Ye Olde Social Media

This year Special Collections & Archives took part in UCC’s Community Week #MakingWaves. Community Week is a week long programme of free public events celebrating community engagement with UCC across our campus and beyond. During the year groups and communities partner with UCC and together we are making waves for a more inclusive, ethical and sustainable society. Special Collections & Archives held two show & tell workshops. We were inspired by our wall graphic “Portal to the Past” and drew our tag line from it: “Discover the social media and apps of times gone by.” We would take you on a journey to a time when…

…RTE News Was the Latest Decree!

Vellum document with attached seal of a royal letters patent creating Sir Maurice FitzGerald Baron of Drommana and Viscount of Decies.
Royal letters patent creating Sir Maurice FitzGerald Baron of Drommana and Viscount of Decies.

January 1569: This lovely example of a vellum (calf skin) document with attached seal (though not intact) are Royal letters patents creating Sir Maurice FitzGerald Baron of Dromana and Viscount of Decies. Take a closer look at the seal, what do you see? Letters patent are a legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch, in this case Queen Elizabeth I, generally granting an office/title/right to a person or corporation. [T3131 A/1/38A, The Villiers-Stuart Collection, UCC Library Archives Service]

…Google Maps Was Cartography!

Map of Cork from Civitates orbis terrarvm. The map is orientated west / east. Shown is North & South Main Streets.
U.314: Cork from Civitates orbis terrarvm.

17th century: The Civitates orbis terrarvm is a magnificent work comprising detailed illustrations with commentaries of various cities. Apart from its visual splendour and its importance as a topographical work, it is useful for its depiction of costumes and customs. The atlas comprises 363 double plates with views /plans of over 500 cities and towns. Volume 6 containing maps of Ireland and Irish cities was published in 1617. Civitates orbis terrarvm was produced by Braun & Hogenberg. Georg Braun (1541 – 1622) was a topo-geographer and principal editor of the multi-volume work. Frans Hogenberg (1535 – 1590) created the tables for volumes 1-4. Civitates orbis terrarvm contains mostly European cities however Casablanca and Mexico City are also present.

We’re used to seeing Cork on a north/ south axis but here north is where we usually find the west! Cork of this time is only North and South Main Streets with laneways off both and the bridges crossing the river are actual gates. Elizabeth Fort or Star Fort is behind the then St Fin Barre’s Cathedral. See this image to see how close they really are! Underneath the map are the top places to visit in Cork at this time. However, some of these may have changed since! [U.314: Braun, Georg and Franz Hogenberg. Civitates orbis terrarvm. Coloniae Agrippinae: apud Petrum a Brachel, 1576-1617, 6 vols, Special Collections].

19th century: We also used William Beauford’s Map of Cork from 1801. As with the earlier map of Cork Beauford includes a hit list of places to visit. For more about changes to Cork shown on the map see here.]

Map of Cork from 1801.
William Beauford. Map of Cork (1801)

…Twitter Was Postcards

A selection of Cork City postcards.

19th / 20th century: This album of Cork city postcards shows the city and characters from the late 19th century through to the 20th century. Though most are blank, some were posted with a quick ‘update’ from the sender to the intended receiver on how they’re enjoying their time or something of note they’ve seen and want to share, much like a tweet.

This collection of late 19th century and early 20th century postcards was collected and compiled by Mr John James. The postcards are all sourced from towns in County Cork and the city and are arranged alphabetically. [BL/VC/PP/8, John James Postcard Collection, UCC Library Archives Service]

…Pop-up Ads Was Playbill Advertising

2oth century: We showed a series of playbills from the Opera House, Special Collections.
Each varies in content and size showing different advertisements and programmes. Some of the businesses and products still exist or are sold today. The item shown above dates from 21st November 1919, almost 100 years ago! [MP 792: Programmes of Opera House, Cork, Special Collections]

…Instagram Was Friedlander Designs!

An Elizabeth Friedlander binder showing the range of graphic designs.

20th century: Elizabeth Friedlander was a Jewish, German born, graphic designer. She was forced to flee Germany at the beginning of the second world war and went on to work in Italy and the UK settling in Ireland in her later years. She is most famously known for her designs of the iconic penguin for Penguin Books, and her Friedlander Borders. The Friedlander Collection is the largest visual collection in the archive and has been featured in exhibitions in both UCC and the Ditchling Museum of Art+Craft, UK. [BL/VC/EF, Elizabeth Friedlander Collection, UCC Library Archives Service]

…Blogging Was a Nature Book

One of the personal memorabilia items in the Bantry Estate Collection.

20 Oct 1913 – 4 Oct 1918: This interleaved nature book belonged to Clodagh Leigh-White when she was a child and has handwritten notes and watercolour drawings of her observations of nature around the areas of Bantry and Glengarriff. There are lovely drawings of plants (sweet william, buttercup) and a woodcock that give us a little insight of what was growing and prevalent in these areas in the early 20th century. There are also very child-like fairy-tale drawings at the front and back (the frog prince) which may indicate what Clodagh had been reading at the time. This nature book is from the estate and family papers generated by the White/Leigh-White/Shelswell-White family of Bantry House, Bantry, Co. Cork. [BL/EP/B/2667, The Bantry Estate Collection, UCC Library Archives Service]

…Pinterest Was Scrapbooking

One of the personal memorabilia items in the Bantry Estate Collection.

5 Aug 1916 – 31 Oct 1958: This album belonged to Geoffrey Shelswell-White during his time with the Colonial Service in Zanzibar and Gibraltar. There are newspaper cuttings on family, national and international events, invitations to Court and various official dinners, letters from family, and his travel plans. This gives us an accurate impression of his interests and activities. [BL/EP/B/2754, The Bantry Estate Collection, UCC Library Archives Service]

Community Week 2020

We look forward to seeing you during Community Week 2020 when UCC will celebrate its 175th anniversary!

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Portal to the Past: You’ll Be Surprised By What You’ll Find! The Special Collections Edition!

This is the final blog post in the series about the new wall design outside Special Collections & Archives. Over the last few weeks Emer, Emma and I have tried to dispell notions of what people think of may be in Special Collections or Archives. For Special Collections inevitably books is the first choice. However Special Collections is more than old 📖 or rare 📖 . There’s actually quite a lot to Special Collections including:

  • items or collections donated by individuals
  • unique collections of literary manuscripts
  • 18th – 20th century newspapers
  • books printed before 1850
  • limited edition books
  • theses
  • maps
  • pamphlets
  • photobooks
  • artists’ books

Choices, Choices

So when it came to deciding what to choose that fitted the criteria: visual, not necessarily a ‘treasure’ and representing the theme ‘portal to the past’ I had quite a bit to choose from. The final design has 14 images of varying sizes. Certainly it’s not possible to place all eleven images I initially selected, being that Archives Service also wished to select images from those collections. But what to place to one side for another time?

Lady Gregory's bookplate in Popular Tales of the West Highlands.

Lady Gregory’s bookplate from Popular Tales of the West Highlands.

Special Collections has many items that used to belong to many different people. A truly nerdy search would be a collection search ‘ex libris’ and limiting the results to items in Special Collections with some 13,500 results! One of the ways we identify who used to own a book is through bookplates. Bookplates can show names, mottoes, crests, coats of arms or pictorial scenes. One possibility was Lady Gregory’s bookplate placed on the paste-down of Popular Tales of the West Highlands (Manuscript Collection U.346). Lady Gregory is associated with the Irish Literary Revival, co-founding the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre with WB Yeats and Edward Martyn.

A second bookplate possibility was Histoire des Celtes: et particulièrement des Gaulois et des Germains (1771) which shows Henri Arbois de Jubainville’s bookplate with Robert Gibbing’s bookplate adjacent to it. Henri d’Arbois de Jubainville was a noted Celtic Studies scholar in the late 19th century and UCC Library acquired his collection in 1907. In 1908 under the Irish Universities Act Queen’s College Cork became University College Cork. Robert Gibbings, the Cork-born wood engraver and sculptor and who also attended UCC for three years designed a replacement bookplate for the Queen’s College Cork bookplate. The Gibbings’ designed bookplate was placed on the paste-down end-paper of many books acquired by the University Library from 1914 until at least the 1930s. The metal bookplate (U.238) is part of our manuscript collections.

Patterned endpapers showing Arbois de Jubainville’s bookplate and UCC Library’s bookplate designed by Robert Gibbings in Histoire des Celtes: et particulièrement des Gaulois et des Germains.
Patterned endpapers showing Arbois de Jubainville’s bookplate and UCC Library’s bookplate designed by Robert Gibbings in Histoire des Celtes: et particulièrement des Gaulois et des Germains.

However none of these bookplate images were selected. Next year, 2020, is the 175th anniversary of the founding of the university, then known as Queen’s College Cork. To acknowledge the last near two centuries of acquisitions we included the Queen’s College Cork bookplate which is found on many items published before 1908. As we wanted to show the variety of formats present only one bookplate was possible but if you’re interested in others look at the Special Collections & Archives Art Subject Support page.

One of my favourite manuscript items was an early casualty of the criteria remit. This was Sir George Macartney’s official correspondence from his embassy to St Petersburg, 1765- 1766 [Manuscript Collection U.19]. The letters are a good early example of cryptography in use. The letters are written in code and then solved but only if one has the right cipher! In this manner diplomatic letters could be transmitted between St Petersburg and Whitehall without security breaches. The letters below show the range of what was written should be intercepted: nothing of consequence viewable followed by part of the letter in code and deciphered, an entire letter written in code and deciphered, and lastly an entire letter written in code but not deciphered. Unfortunately we don’t have the cipher but we’d be interested to hear if anyone has possible solutions.

Let’s Talk About the Wall

So let’s talk about the wall – not a Game of Thrones reference! If one bookplate was chosen and one of my favourite manuscript items wasn’t chosen, how did two maps come to be on the wall? I find that when people visit Special Collections that maps are easily relatable to. Quite often what makes it interesting is the level of detail or if the focus is on an area they know or if the area shows a different version of what they’re used to. This is despite most people now using an app on their phone for navigation. Beauford and Lindsay’s maps of Cork show different parts of Cork city and county over 200 years ago.

William Beauford’s Map of Cork c.1801

Below shows detail from William Beauford’s c.1801 Map of Cork. Beauford’s map shows the river channel which had previously run the course Patrick’s Street covered over and as a street. Suddenly the bend in the street makes sense – it’s really a meander! This covering of the river channel took place between 1774 and 1789. The map is placed on the wall as if it’s a watermark so it’s slightly faded. However the magnification on the map is amazing! When I see the map on the wall I can see the individual trees on the Mardyke and around St Fin Barre’s Cathedral. I could spell incorrectly and it would be fine because spelling wasn’t quite standardised at the start of the 19th century e.g. wiers not weirs!

A New and Correct Charte of the Harbour of Corke

A New and Correct Chart of the Harbour of Corke (1759) by the Rev. John Lindsay shows a different part of Cork. This is an ungaduated chart of Cork with two compass radiates. The soundings and shallows are making indicating what boats and ships may traverse the channel. The islands in the lower harbour are named: Great Island, Spike Island, Little Rocky Island, Great Rocky Island and Haulboling Island. In addition the map shows a variety of trees, buildings and boats. The map is dedicated to the Lords Commissioners for Executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of Great Britain. The scale on the map is ‘English miles’ and there is a noted indicating that this map is a continuation of ‘Corke Harbour’ from a smaller scale.

We first know of the Rev. John Lindsay as chaplain in the Royal Navy in 1755 and by 1757 he was chaplain on H.M.S. Fougueux (64 guns, 500 men). The chart of Cork is based on a survey started in 1757 when H.M.S. Fougueux was in Cork for a period. Lindsay had noticed that the old charts were “laid down by the antient rule of thumb and even in that way itself finished in a very bungling manner” (Voyage 13). When H.M.S. Fougueux returned to Cork as part of an expedition to French West Africa in 1758 Lindsay completed the chart. The chart was first published in A Voyage to the Coast of Africa in 1758 (1759). The map is sold by W&I Mount T&T Page on Tower Hill in London. Who were they?

Irish Language Manuscripts

Special Collections has over 300 Irish language manuscripts across four collections: Torna, Murphy, Power and a general collection. Many of these are written by the same scribe and one such scribe is Pádraig Ó Standúin. Pádraig Ó Standúin or Patrick Stanton lived on Evergreen Street in CorkIn the 1901 census he describes himself as an ‘Irish interpreter.’ Shown here is the title page of Ls 202: Focalóir póca bhéarla agus gaedhilge (1890). Ls 202 contains a Focalóir póca bhéarla agus gaedhilge or Pocket dictionary in English and Irish, an Ogham Craobh or an Ogham Branch, and a poem by Ó Standúin. He produced a number of Irish language manuscripts with this type of title page in the 1890s. In addition UCC holds other manuscripts scribed by Pádraig Ó Standúin are Ls 88, Ls 104, Ls 150, Ls 151 and Ls 199.

Title page to Ls 202 scribed by Pádraig Ó Standúin.

Title page to Ls 202 scribed by Pádraig Ó Standúin.

The last item to feature on the wall is the book cover to Francis O’Neill’s Irish Minstrels and Musicians: With Numerous Dissertations on Related Subjects (1913). Francis O’Neill was a collector of traditional Irish music in Chicago in the early 20th century. While Special Collections has many copies of this item this cover is part of the Irish Literary Society CollectionFrancis O’Neill has inscribed the endpapers of this item: “To the distinguished Alfred Perceval Graves as a slight tribute from the author. Capt. Francis O’Neill, Chicago, U.S.A., Nov. 19, 1913.” The Irish Literary Society purchased the item from Graves in 1915 and this particular item features in an online display about the Irish Literary Society Collection. In 1907 Francis O’Neill sent field recordings on wax cylinders of the music he’d collected in Chicago to Prof. Richard Henebry in Cork. Henebry also collected traditional Irish music. These wax cylinder recordings have been digitised by UCC Library in collaboration with the Department of Music, UCC. The digitised collection also features as part of the CONUL Treasures online exhibition.

Where To Next?

Over the next few months the Special Collections & Archives team will post about new collections and different activities. If you’ve any comments about our new wall design please let us know!

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Portal to the Past – You’ll be surprised what you find in the Archives

Taking up from Emma Horgan’s post last week I’d like to introduce some of the thought-processes behind our choice of images.

From past experience when I introduce the idea of what archival material is, some people can look blankly at me….”what did she say?“, some will answer “old stuff”, or else it’s “dusty things”, which I’ll grant you is usually the case.

So, when Elaine, Emma and I sat down to discuss what would we choose from the collections in Special Collections & Archives, we all agreed we wanted visual material and we wanted people to realise that “old stuff in a library” is not just books, text and paper, but memories, ideas, and maybe even a little bit of time-travel to bring you to a place or experience you’ve had that others have had before you.


Who hasn’t sat on a rock along a coastline and looked out to sea, like Frank O’Connor (see previous post) or posed awkwardly for a photograph you don’t really want to pose for and think to yourself “would you get on with it” which, if you look at the photograph of George Boole (BP/1/356), could this have been running across his mind?

George Boole (BP/1/356)

I’m often asked by visitors why isn’t George Boole smiling in that photograph or that he looks really serious. Well, maybe he didn’t feel comfortable or was thinking he should be somewhere else, but it’s more likely mid-19th century photography meant you had to hold still for a long time in order to get the exposure and image. You might look a little stiff too if you had to stand still in the alien environment that was a photographic studio with its props and mechanisms (the loud bang and after-smoke of a flash?). However, by all accounts from his letters between him, his family, friends and peers that form the majority of the Papers of George Boole held in UCC Library, George was a considerate, thoughtful individual, quick to discuss an idea introduced by himself or by others, and not just mathematical. There are even examples of Boole’s poetry, and its probably fair to say after reading them that we’re glad he concentrated on mathematical processes.


Speaking of time-travelling, one of the first annual Summer school-tours I remember from national school was a trip to Bantry and Glengarriff which included, if the weather was good i.e. not too wet, a boat-trip to Garnish Island. I chose the colourful watercolour of Garnish from one of the many sketchbooks (BL/EP/B/3304) contained in the Bantry Estate Collection, as it reminds me of those school trips. Sketchbooks can show the places that people lived near or visited, and they are the pre-photographic album of their day, capturing the view of the mountain, lake, street, port or the people observed by the artist. By the way, if you haven’t been to West Cork yet, do yourself a favour and make the time.

Garnish Island, Co. Cork (BL/EP/B/3304)


If you don’t have time to go to West Cork, a place featured nearer to UCC is the Coal Quay in the centre of Cork city. The image of Paddy’s Market at the Coal Quay (BL/SC/P&E/10) is actually a postcard and looks like a colourised copy of a B&W photograph. We think this was taken around the 1900s. It shows the crowds milling about with barely room to move, the traders at their stalls, carts on the other side of the street, and lots of stacked wicker baskets. Take a closer look at the image and you’ll notice the buildings on the left side are still there if you visit the Coal Quay today, whereas the buildings on the right have been developed over the years. Postcards are found within many archival collections, or as collections in themselves, like this one from Postcards and Ephemera. They are the quick note of greetings from a writer, usually assuring the receiver of a good time being enjoyed, with all going well.

Paddy’s Market, Coal Quay, Cork (BL/SC/P&E/10)

Graphic Designs

In the blog post last week Emma wrote about a number of other images chosen for our Portal to the Past, including a bookmark design by Elizabeth Friedlander. Another image chosen from this collection illustrates Friedlander’s intricated border designs and her own custom designed font ‘Elizabeth’ (BL/VC/EF/Box 3/Folder 5).

An example of borders and ‘Elizabeth’ font from the Elizabeth Friedlander Collection

Friedlander began her foray into the world of graphic design by studying art at the Berlin Academy, specialising in typography and calligraphy, under Emil Rudolf Weiss. She then worked for the Jewish publishing house of Ullstein Verlag, Berlin, designing headings for its fashion journal Die Dame. In 1927-8 Friedlander was invited to design a typeface for the Bauer Typefoundry; which was completed in 1938. Normal practice would have named the typeface by the designer’s surname, but ‘Friedländer’ was considered too Jewish for the time and it was instead issued as ‘Elizabeth’. It was also considered unusual at the time for a woman to be commissioned to create a font.

Archival Collections at UCC Library

The images chosen from these featured archival collections are only a sample of the type of material we hold across the personal, business, landed estate and visual collections in UCC Library Archives Service. We’d like you to consider that any material can form part of an archive and that more than likely, you or your family have these.

In the final blog post for Portal to the Past next week, our colleague Elaine Harrington will explain her choices of images from publications in Special Collections.

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Portal to the Past- Discover what you’ll find in the Archive

In a follow up to Elaine Harrington’s previous post, I will be examining in more detail, the first of the images from the archival collections, outlining why we chose them to be displayed on the wall.

Firstly, the criteria underlying the choices was simple- to reflect both the range of collections held by the archive, and our collection policy. UCC Library Archives Service is a repository for archival collections from the Province of Munster, and currently has sixty-nine collections open for research, which fall under one of fourteen different topics.

The images depicted on this side of the wall are from the; Bantry Estate, Woodford Bourne, Nancy McCarthy, and Elizabeth Friedlander Collections. These images were ultimately chosen by both Emer Twomey and myself as we felt they represented a good cross reference of the type of collections that the archive holds.

Bantry House Collection

The Bantry Estate Collection is both one of the largest in the archive, containing some four thousand items, and was one of the first collections donated to the archive, in 1997. The image chosen to represent the collection is an early 20th century photograph of Bantry House and gardens. The current owners of the estate, the Shelswell- White family, have owned land in the Bantry area since the 1690s, and at one point were the largest land owners in east cork. Since the destruction of the public records in Dublin, private estate collections, such as Bantry Estate, provide an invaluable resource to researchers. Here in the archive the collection is used by the archivists in teaching classes for modules as varied as History of Art and Architecture.  

Woodford Bourne

The next images on our wall come the Woodford Bourne collection. The first features a drawing of the company’s building on their headed notepaper. This building facade can still be recognised today as the McDonalds restaurant on Patrick Street. The second is a label for a rich fruit cake. An example of many from the Collection.  The Woodford Bourne Collection is the business archive of Woodford Bourne & Co. Limited, Cork (wine and tea importers). The company can trace its origins back to a firm of wine merchants named Maziere and Sainthill which was trading in Cork as early as 1750. Woodford Bourne was for generations one of the icons of business in Cork City, occupying one of the premier sites on the corner of Patrick Street and Grand Parade (currently Macdonald’s). The firm also owned extensive warehouse premises on Sheares Street (currently the Mardyke bar). In the 1980s, the shop was converted to a fast-food outlet named ‘Mandy’s’ and the premises was taken over by McDonald’s in the mid-1980s. The collection is a wealth of resources on Cork commercial history, and ethnography.

Nancy McCarthy

The above photograph is of the famed Irish author Frank O’Connor and is from the Nancy McCarthy Collection. Ms McCarthy was a lifelong friend of Frank O’Connor, and they corresponded widely during their relationship.  A pharmacist, she managed her own chemist shop in Douglas and was active in the cultural and literary life of Cork up until her death. Her papers are a testament to her wide-ranging interests and contain much important material relevant for the study of women’s history, quite apart from the insights into the Irish literary world at that time. In 1927 she had been cast by O’Connor to play the lead in a production by the Cork Dramatic League, and she retained her interest in the theatre until her death. She corresponded with many of the leading Irish literary and artistic figures of her day (FOC , Eric Cross, Bill Naughton, Cyril Cusack and Seamus Murphy).

Elizabeth Friedlander

The final item featured in this week’s post is a vellum bookmark featuring an Irish proverb, from the Elizabeth Friedlander Collection. Elizabeth Friedlander was a Jewish, German born, graphic designer. She was forced to flee Germany at the beginning of the second world war and went on to work in Italy and the UK settling in Ireland in her later years. She is most famously known for her designs of the iconic penguin for Penguin Books, and her Friedlander Boarders- which can be seen further along the wall and will be discussed by Emer Twomey in next week’s post. This bookmark was made by Friedlander in Kinsale, under her Kinsale Crafts company, as part of a range which she sold to tourists. The Friedlander Collection is the largest visual collection in the archive and has been featured in exhibitions in both UCC and the Ditchling Museum UK.

In next weeks blog post, my fellow archivist Emer Twomey will write about the remaining images from the archival collections featured on our Portal to the Past wall.

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Portal to the Past! You’ll Be Surprised By What Can Find!

Have you spotted the new wall design outside Special Collections & Archives? In an age where people use and rely on the web and digital content we wanted to show we are more than old text-based documents or old and rare books. We wanted to showcase a variety of primary sources in a tangible manner and to do that we used different images of people, places and things. These images give a snapshot of the range of what UCC Library’s unique and distinct collections encompass. Any library can have a copy of George Boole’s An Investigation of the Laws of Thought. After all it has been printed numerous times by numerous publishers. However no other library has George Boole’s personal copy of An Investigation of the Laws of Thought or his personal papers. UCC Library has unique and distinct George Boole collections. However it’s not all about Boole!

Wall outside Special Collections & Archives' Rare Books Reading Room, Q-1, UCC Library.
Wall outside Special Collections & Archives’ Rare Books Reading Room, Q-1, UCC Library.

Thematic Choices

We deliberately haven’t chosen obvious material from the collections as Special Collections & Archives is more than JUST treasures. We chose items we thought anyone might be interested in. Special Collections & Archives isn’t for learned scholars alone but for everyone. Once we had this frame of mind we brainstormed to the theme “You’ll be surprised by what you can find.” We adapted Mitchell, Seiden & Taraba’s book title Past or Portal? to form the other part of the tagline: Portal to the Past.

Selecting Items

We deliberately chose visual examples – who reads text?! We weren’t creating an exhibition so we selected individual images rather than using panels on the wall. We wanted the objects to talk to the viewer: a ‘speed-dating’ with the object as it were. All the captions for the images are quite short but are present, so if you like the look of something and would like to see more then you know the call number to request it.

When selecting we always have more possibilities than space. We considered using an Elizabeth Friedlander border along the wall’s edge to show the end to the display but instead used one part of a Friedlander graphic design.

 Examples of borders from the Elizabeth Friedlander archival collection which contains the working papers of a graphic designer famed for her intricate boarder designs, and her custom designed font 'Elizabeth'.
Examples of borders from the Elizabeth Friedlander archival collection which contains the working papers of a graphic designer famed for her intricate boarder designs, and her custom designed font ‘Elizabeth’. 

We considered using George Boole as a ‘tour guide’ for the wall but instead chose to reverse a photo of Frank O’Connor and now it seems as if George and Frank are having a conversation across time. We wanted to show the depth of the business archives and could have used items from Murphy’s Brewery but ultimately the advertising produce labels of Woodford Bourne won out.

Graphic design on outside wall of Special Collections & Archives: Frank O'Connor and George Boole chatting to each other across history.
Frank O’Connor and George Boole chatting to each other across history.

Design Choices

In some instances our choices were limited by which images we had copyright clearance on and others where we couldn’t get a high enough quality image and this was important for the graphic designers. We worked with Babelfís over a six month period from initial assessment on site to installation. During this time a number of preliminary proofs were proposed and we distilled various parts until we had a working proof. Babelfís incorporated the windows looking from the corridor in Q-1 into the Rare Books Reading Room into the design as the eponymous ‘portals.’ We liked using an image as if it were a watermark for the background but swapped the image initially used for William Beauford’s 1801 map of Cork. At one point the fonts for ‘Portal to the Past’ and ‘You’ll Be Surprised By What You Can Find’ were reversed. As the graphic design proofs grew more detailed we realised that the captions on the top part were harder to read: white text against an orange map background. The next version saw the captions in black on white transparent boxes. Towards the end of the design process we finalised captions and stylistic choices: using italics for titles, and Babelfís wrapped the design around the wall to the entrance to Special Collections & Archives.

Outside wall of Special Collections & Archives showing a graphic design with images from the collections.
Outside wall of Special Collections & Archives showing a graphic design with images from the collections.

What Didn’t Make It?

So what didn’t make the cut? What didn’t make the brief of ‘Portal to the Past. You’ll Be Surprised By What You’ll Find’? Over the next few blog posts Emer Twomey, Emma Horgan and I will describe each of our choices and talk to you about what we would have included if we could have:

“Portal to the Past – Discover what you’ll find in the Archive” by Emma Horgan

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HI6091: Work Placement in Special Collections (2019)

The River-side welcomes this guest post from Patrick O’Dwyer, a student on the 2018/2019 MA in Medieval History in UCC, that includes the HI6091: Skills for Medieval Historians module. HI6091 is taught by Dr Malgorzata  Krasnodębska-D’Aughton and Elaine Harrington. Dr Krasnodębska-D’Aughton was selected for a President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2016/2017 award and this module featured as part of the application illustrating a teaching approach that combines traditional skills of a historian with a creative use of technology. Part of the HI6091 module, Dr D’Aughton designed, includes specifically tailored work placements that focus on public outputs. Patrick O’Dwyer spent six weeks in Special Collections sorting a donated collection and creating indices to manuscript recipe books. Patrick has previously written posts for The River-side as part of The Luttrell Psalter student exhibition hosted on The River-side.


Behind the scenes the Special Collections team works to make collections and information related to the collections available. Over the next few months information relating to catalogued collections, similar to what is present for library archival collections, will be published on the library website. Stay tuned to the Special Collections Guide for these as they’re released over the next few months! I asked Patrick to write about his favourite book in a recently acquired collection: the Duncan Lunan Collection, and his favourite recipes from the manuscript recipe books.

Duncan Lunan

In 2017 a Scottish author, Duncan Lunan (b. 1945) donated his entire collection of books, magazines, journals, manuscripts, notes and records to UCC Special Collections. Lunan attended Marr College and Glasgow University, and completed his MA with Honours in English, Philosophy with Physics, Astronomy and French, as well as obtaining a Diploma in Education. He is an author, researcher, critic, editor, lecturer and broadcaster, and maintains his research interests in astronomy, space travel and science fiction.

Duncan Lunan wrote five books and contributed to thirty-three books; his other publications include over 1250 articles and thirty-eight short stories. Lunan’s collection donated to UCC contains works that date from the early 1950s to 2005, including The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, 1688-1744 published in the nineteenth century. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects and exciting topics, and includes some of the most fascinating scientific works that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. Most books in the collection deal with science fiction, astronomy and space flight. What is shown on the photo above, is a small fraction of the entire Lunan collection in UCC. This collection is now sorted by subject area in preparation for cataloguing and listing.

While working on the Lunan collection, I stumbled upon two books that caught my attention: a book of The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, 1688-1744, and a volume by Konrad Lorenz dealing with scientific matters and titled King Solomon’s Ring. I became curious about these books and wished to study them a bit more.

The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope

Cover to the Poetical Works of Alexander Pope

Book cover to The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, Lunan Collection, Special Collections, UCC Library. Photo: Patrick James O’Dwyer.

A volume of The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope was published in 1872 by William P. Nimmo Publishing House, based in Edinburgh and London. The book provides a description of the life of Alexander Pope and his notable works, while also critiquing his poetry and essays. The volume includes Pope’s poems, translations of Ovid and Homer, An Essay on Criticism, The Rape of the Lock, An Essay on Man and his Moral Essays.

What attracted me to the book was its appearance, with all pages including golden print around their edges, and with pages being fragile and light to touch. The entire layout of the book enhances its appearance of richness, yet this book was inexpensive to print, and the cost of the volume is displayed inside the copy.

Portrait of Alexander Pope.

Portrait of Alexander Pope in The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, Lunan Collection, Special Collections, UCC Library. Photo: Patrick James O’Dwyer.

The book opens with a portrait of Alexander Pope as a young man. From his young age, Pope had health issues and suffered from what is known as Pott’s disease, a type of tuberculosis that affects the spine. His body became deformed and his growth stunted with the effects of TB manifesting themselves throughout his life. Despite his poor health, Pope started to write and his passion for the craft of writing grew stronger when he learned Latin and Greek by himself. In 1704 at the age of sixteen, he wrote his first Pastorals that brought him an instant literary recognition. Pastorals were followed by publications of satirical verse such as An Essay on Criticism, The Rape of the Lock and his translation of Homer’s Iliad.

Decorated title page

Decorated title page to The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, Lunan Collection, Special Collections, UCC Library. Photo: Patrick James O’Dwyer.

This volume contains a fully decorated page that displays the artistry of calligraphy and vegetal marginalia which enrich the overall appearance of the book. The page shown above also presents the name of the institution that published the book. Throughout the book, there are ten full-page images. A fine example of imagery features in An Essay on Man that discusses a person’s liberation from the teachings of God. A black-and-white image displays a native Indian family and possibly the image helped the reader to appreciate the text.

Image accompanying excerpt from 'An Essay on Man'.

Image accompanying excerpt from ‘An Essay on Man’ in The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, Lunan Collection, Special Collections, UCC Library. Photo: Patrick James O’Dwyer

The entire book is in a perfect condition and shows the care given by Duncan Lunan towards his collection.

King Solomon’s Ring

Dust-jacket to King Solomon's Ring, Lunan Collection, Special Collections, UCC Library.

Dust-jacket to King Solomon’s Ring, Lunan Collection, Special Collections, UCC Library. Photo: Patrick James O’Dwyer.

King Solomon’s Ring is another book I found while working on the Lunan Collection. Written by an Austrian zoologist, Konrad Z. Lorenz (1903-1989), this volume is a scientific study on attachments within the animal kingdom. Lorenz is viewed as a founder of the study of modern animal behaviour (ethology); he established ideas and principles behind the animal behaviour and noted the transmission of behavioural patterns between animals. Lorenz’s research won him a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973, which he shared with a biologist and ornithologist, Nikolaas Tinbergen and an ethologist, Karl von Frisch. The Prize recognised the importance of his discovery of the principle attachment that newborns of some species display towards a caregiver. Lorenz’s studies furthered the development and advanced the modern scientific understanding of the basics of animal instincts.

King Solomon’s Ring discusses the animals that Lorenz kept and studied, as he observed their behaviour on his own property. While this is a scientific book, it is more humorous than one would expect.

King Solomon’s Ring, p. 65, Lunan Collection, Special Collections, UCC Library. Photo: Patrick James O’Dwyer.

King Solomon’s Ring, p. 166, Lunan Collection, Special Collections, UCC Library. Photo: Patrick James O’Dwyer.

Throughout the book, Lorenz showed himself to be an amazing artist: he depicted animals on almost every single page and also portrayed himself, often in an amusing manner.  Here are three examples of his illustrations from the book. 

King Solomon’s Ring, p. 66, Lunan Collection, Special Collections, UCC Library. Photo: Patrick James O’Dwyer.

Cooking Recipes, 1783

As part of my work experience in UCC Special Collections, I also had an opportunity of working with two volumes of the eighteenth-century recipe manuscripts. Both books are slightly worn on the outside, and their writing although beautiful, was difficult to read. Some of the recipe names were illegible, to the point where I could not decipher the words. A note in the first book, suggests that this volume was passed down from a grandmother, to a mother and to a daughter, and the handwriting differs accordingly. It is difficult to identify who owned these books. In the first volume, the words ‘Mary Connell Sept 15 1829’ feature inside the front cover. In addition to this note, there are multiple names throughout the recipe book. The book was presented to the UCC Library by Mr Denis O’Leary, BA and a Cork University Library stamp can be seen inside the front cover, identifying that it was held in UCC Library c. 1930s. The second volume was auctioned in 2011 and was bought by the UCC Library. The auction catalogue describes the book as ‘a late 18th /early 19th-century manuscript recipe book’. In addition to handwritten recipes, printed recipes are glued onto a few pages, and small handwritten pieces of paper are also added. The two volumes contain interesting recipes that I have tried out, as I was a chef before my BA Degree and MA in Medieval History.

Below are two recipes transcribed from the manuscript. The first recipe that I have chosen is for the Snow Cheesecake and is included in the first volume on page 82, and the second recipe is for making the noyau, a French liqueur with an Irish twist, and features in the second volume on page 49.

Note: These recipes are exact word-by-word descriptions from the original volumes.

Snow Cheese or Snow Cheesecake

A recipe for the Snow Cheese is in fact a recipe for the Chinese Snow Cheesecake.

“Snow Cheese” U.59, p.82. Manuscript Collection, Special Collections, UCC Library.

The recipe itself: one pint of good cream, juice of two lemons, rind of one lemon, ¼ lb of loose sugar. Whip all together till it is very thick, then put a piece of fine muslin in a hair sieve and let it stand 24 hours to drain. The lemon peel is best rubbed on the sugar and the sugar should be grilled afterwards.

Recipe for Making Noyau

“Receipt for making Noyau.” U.368, p.49. Manuscript Collection, Special Collections, UCC Library.

The recipe itself: one quart of the best whiskey, put the rind of three lemons pared as thin as possible. A pound of lump sugar pounded. Four ounces of bitter and an ounce of sweet. Almonds blanched and pounded. When all are mixed add three spoonfuls of boiled milk (let cool), put them into a jar, shake it every day for three weeks. Filter through whited brown paper. It is then fit for use.


Deichmann, Ute, Biologists under Hitler, Harvard University Press, 1996.

Lorenz, Konrad, King Solomon’s Ring, Routledge, 2002.

Moody, T. W., F. X. Martin and F.J. Byrne, ed., A New History of Ireland: Volume III: Early Modern Ireland 1534-1691, Oxford University Press, 1987.

O’Malley, Eoin, Contemporary Ireland, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Pope, Alexander, The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, William P. Nimmo Publishing House, Edinburgh and London, 1872.

Website of Duncan Lunan.

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