About Greg Sheaf

Greg is a Subject Librarian at Trinity College Library Dublin, as well as looking after its website and social network streams.

“Hello Stranger” – Handmade Books by Primary School Students Make Acquaintance with the Long Room

Example page by Adam Caulfield from Our Lady of Good Counsel Boys' NS

Example page by Adam Caulfield from Our Lady of Good Counsel Boys’ NS

On Wednesday, March 25th, the Old Library will be given the pleasure of hosting the Bookmark Awards Ceremony and exhibition launch, brought to us by the Trinity Access Programme (TAP). Hosted by Helen Shenton, the Trinity College Librarian, this evening will feature an exhibition of hand-written and -illustrated books created by pupils from:

  • St Mary’s Boys’ National School, Haddington Road
  • Our Lady of Lourdes National School, Inchicore
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel Boys’ National School, Drimnagh

In preparation for the evening, the students were brought on an extended tour of the Old Library and the Book of Kells. Dr Lydia Ferguson introduced the pupils to some of the Pollard collection, which includes over 11,000 children’s books collected by Mary Pollard over a period of 50 years. The students were also introduced to the theme “Hello Stranger” and given examples to assist them with their projects. Further information on this day and the theme itself can be found in detail on the associated blog by Catherine Ann Cullen.

This has become an annual event and is a fantastic experience for all involved. We are looking forward to welcoming the students, and their families, on Wednesday evening. The handmade books will be displayed in the Long Room until April 10th. It is free of charge for friends and families of those in the three schools involved, as well as any students, staff and alumni of the College who wish to view these creative additions to our Old Library.

St Mary’s Abbey Manuscript Acquired for Trinity

MS11500Trinity College Library Dublin has acquired the only medieval Irish manuscript to have been offered for sale for a century, a highly significant early 14th-century manuscript produced at St Mary’s Cistercian Abbey in Dublin. Lost to the world of scholarship since the 18th century, it has not been in Ireland since the 16th century.

Librarian and College Archivist Helen Shenton said the manuscript includes a “considerable body of new information which will help to re-evaluate the history and culture of St Mary’s Abbey and the civic life of Dublin in the 14th and 15th centuries”.

The Cistercian Abbey of St Mary’s, after which Dublin’s Mary’s Street and Abbey Street are named, was the wealthiest monastic house in medieval Ireland. So important was it that the parliament, having no permanent building in the city, frequently met there.

Apart from legal texts, such as an early version of the 14th-century Ordinances which restricted the power of King Edward II, the manuscript also includes an account of the Trojan war by Dares Phrygius; Geoffrey of Monmouth’s pseudo-history of the kings of Britain, and works by Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales, died 1223), the Topography of Ireland and Conquest of Ireland.

After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII the manuscript fell into private hands; it was eventually purchased by the first earl Somers whose bookplate is in the volume. The manuscript was acquired by Trinity College Library Dublin at Christie’s auction in London in November 2014.

The acquisition of the manuscript aligns with Trinity College’s strategy of engagement with the city of Dublin as it contains a considerable body of new information which will help to re-evaluate the history and culture of St Mary’s Abbey and the civic life of Dublin in the 14th and 15th centuries. Digitising, scientific analysis, textual and codicological examination of the manuscript will provoke widespread research and popular interest. This ‘new’ manuscript will, through research, focus further attention on other manuscripts, from the same Abbey, which are held in major international repositories, including the British Library and the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

The level of enthusiasm among scholars, across the university and among the wider historically-minded community in Ireland, for the return of this manuscript to Dublin, was given practical expression: when the Library turned to its alumni and friends, seeking much needed support for this acquisition, the response was unprecedented.