Canvas-bound Irish schoolbook


The Department of Early Printed Books has recently acquired a rare example of a canvas binding, covering the 6th edition of a mathematics textbook, “A treatise on mensuration” (Dublin, 1845), first printed in 1836 at the behest of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland and widely used in Irish primary schools during the mid-19th century. Canvas was used as a covering material on books from the late 1760s to the early 19th century, as a sturdy alternative to sheepskin on heavily-used publications such as schoolbooks. Its use diminished with the introduction of cloth as a binding material in the 1830s, so that it is unusual to find a book bound in canvas after 1840.

20278 Canvas Binding

This school textbook complements the volumes in the Pollard School-book Collection, which may be consulted in the Early Printed Books Reading-Room.

International Children’s Book Day

International Children’s Book Day is celebrated each year to to help promote the role of children’s literature and the right of every child to become a reader.

Celebrated since 1967, this event generally falls around 2 April – the birth date of Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875). This year it is the turn of the Irish branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) to launch the festivities. Library staff member Louise Gallagher is a committee member of IBBY and – with the assistance of Clodagh Neligan, Niamh Harte and Helen McGinley – has mounted two exhibitions of Hans Christian Anderson titles as part of the celebrations.

Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, originally published in 1835, have been translated into over 125 different languages. Many of the world’s most celebrated illustrators have produced beautiful images inspired by his stories, including Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielsen, Harry Clarke and Arthur Rackham. Interestingly Dulac’s friendship with William Butler Yeats led to a variety of artistic projects, including the design at Yeats’s suggestion of a proposed coinage for the Irish Free State, and collaboration on his play ‘At the Hawk’s Well’. For this Dulac designed the scenery and costumes, composed the incidental music, and took part in the first performance in 1916.

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The display case in the BLU contains a selection of titles mostly from the Pollard Collection including a copy of ‘The ugly duckling and other stories from Hans Andersen’s fairy tales’ (London, 1896) and an interesting primer in Gaelic type ‘Leabhrín na leanbh’ (Baile Átha Cliath, 1913). The case in the Orientation Space of the Ussher Library features a selection of material from our modern collections including ‘Snow queen’ (London, 1993) illustrated by Irish artist P.J. Lynch.

In Tune with Michael Bublé?


One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked about the ‘In Tune’ exhibition is: ‘Why Michael Bublé?’

The simple answer is that we received the printed score of Michael Bublé’s latest album ‘To be loved’ through legal deposit in July last year, and because of its high profile at the time it was an obvious choice to illustrate the range of our music collections. The earliest item in the exhibition is the ‘Canterbury Pontifical’, a liturgical manuscript believed to date from the last decade of the 11th century. The inclusion of a popular item from the second decade of the 21st century therefore justifies the exhibition’s claim to represent ‘a millennium of music in Trinity College Library’.

The question implies that somehow Michael Bublé doesn’t quite belong in the display. The item is included in the section headed ‘Collection Expansion’, which deals with two key developments in the growth of our music collections: the purchase of Ebenezer Prout’s music library in 1910, and the application of the legal deposit provision to music scores.

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Though the Library was entitled to claim printed music under the legal deposit privilege since 1801, it actively declined to do so until the last decades of the nineteenth century. After this policy was reversed, large quantities of sheet music were received, much of it popular in nature. Whatever judgements are made about its musical merit, the value of this material is now recognised for what it reveals about the social attitudes, political concerns and popular tastes of its time. Many of the covers also show changes in how popular musicians are perceived: the performer associated with the work is often given much greater prominence than the composer.

In Tune, sponsored by KBC Bank, runs until 1 April 2014.The exhibition is also available online. Full details of the accompanying lecture and concert series are available here.

Roy Stanley – Music Librarian

Words and Music

Concert programmes are often regarded as ephemeral publications, intended to guide the listener through a particular performance and to be discarded afterwards. However, there is a growing realisation that concert programmes can contain valuable evidence of concert activity, performance trends and the reception of musical repertoire.  In recent years a database of concert programme collections in the UK and Ireland has been developed: the Concert Programmes Project.

The ‘In Tune’ exhibition includes several word-books from performances in 18th century Dublin, the most famous of which is the word-book published by George Faulkner in 1742 for the first performance of Handel’s Messiah. Also included is a book published in 1741 containing libretti for vocal repertoire regularly performed by the Philharmonic Society, Dublin, often in aid of Mercer’s Hospital. This item, acquired in the 1890s by Ebenezer Prout, complements the Mercer’s Hospital collection of manuscript and printed part-books (one of which is also on display).

George Frideric Handel: Messiah word-book (Dublin: George Faulkner, 1742)  Shelfmark: OLS 198.t.70 no.8

George Frideric Handel: Messiah word-book (Dublin: George Faulkner, 1742)
Shelfmark: OLS 198.t.70 no.8

Te Deum, Jubilate, anthems, odes ... (Dublin, 1741) Shelfmark: 109.u.151

Te Deum, Jubilate, anthems, odes oratorios and serenatas … (Dublin, 1741) Shelfmark: 109.u.151


Perhaps the most interesting item in this group is the word-book published for the performance of ‘The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus’ at Dublin Castle on 6 February 1711. This birthday ode in honour of Queen Anne, composed by John Sigismond Cousser, is one of a series of such works by Cousser and several of his successors as Master of the State Music.

John Sigismond Cousser: The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus (Dublin, 1711) Shelfmark: P.hh.16 no.1

John Sigismond Cousser: The Universal Applause of Mount Parnassus (Dublin, 1711) Shelfmark: P.hh.16 no.1

In almost all cases the music for these odes is lost, so the word-books, several of which are preserved in TCD’s collections, provide the only remaining evidence of their content. Uniquely, the music for the 1711 ode does survive (in the collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford), so this single work could still be performed.

In Tune, sponsored by KBC Bank, runs until 1 April 2014.The exhibition is also available online. Full details of the accompanying lecture and concert series are available here.

-Roy Stanley, Music Librarian.

Green Week 2014 – the Rise of the Electric Tram

To mark Trinity College Green Week 2014, the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections has mounted a mini-exhibition in the foyer of the Berkeley Library that looks at sustainable transport in the late 19th century. The need for efficient transportation that increases access, improves quality of life and has a low environmental impact is not a recent concern. As populations increased in the 19th century, more people were travelling in the crowded cities than ever before. By the 1870s, innovations such as the horse-drawn omnibus and tram made public transport more affordable and the city more accessible.

Punch, or the London Charivari

Punch, or the London Charivari (London, 1890) Shelfmark: Gall.DD.26a.39

However traffic congestion was a major problem. The exhibition includes a cartoon from Punch, or the London Charivari (1890) titled “Metropolitan Metamorphosis, The Awful Result of Persistent ‘Crawling’.” It shows a horse drawn cab gradually turning into a snail as it crawls along the congested streets of Victorian London.

Illustrated London News April 6, 1889 (London, 1889) Shelfmark: OLS

The horses that powered public transport were increasingly expensive to maintain in urban areas. They had to be fed and stabled and their manure was a major source of pollution on the city streets. This led to the development of a more sustainable form of transport – the electric tram. Also on display is the Illustrated London News from April 6, 1889 showing the first electric tramline in Europe on the “series system” at Northfleet, Kent. The cost of this new system was less than half that of horse powered trams and tramway company representatives were “delighted at the prospect of its speedily displacing the horse with the attendant evils and sufferings.”

Dublin welcomed its first electric trams in 1896 and by 1901 the system had been completely electrified. There were about 66 miles of electric route, the majority of which was owned and operated by the Dublin Tramway Company. Dublin trams were characteristic of the city with many built at Spa Road Works in Inchicore. Several photographs in Maurice Gorham’s Ireland from Old Photographs feature electric trams in Dublin including one on display showing trams crossing O’Connell Bridge, taking their power from overhead lines just as the LUAS does today.

To find out about more Green Week activities in the library check out the Trinity College Library Blog.

Haggis, neeps and tatties!

Born on January 25th 1759 in Alloway, Ayrshire, Robert Burns is considered to be Scotland’s national bard. His poetry covers a vast range of subjects, including politics, death, drink and, most famously, love. An unsuccessful farmer, Burns took up an offer of work in Jamaica but lacked the money for the passage. At the suggestion of a friend, he decided to publish some of his poems and his first book, now known as the Kilmarnock Edition, sold so well that he postponed the decision to emigrate. Further publications followed but his health deteriorated and he died in Dumfries aged just 37.

Every year, on the anniversary of his birth, Burns Suppers take place throughout the world. These celebrations take various forms but usually include the poet’s address ‘To a Haggis’, an Immortal Memory (a talk about Burns’s life) and a Toast to the Lassies. Supper itself is haggis, bashed neeps and chappit tatties, accompanied by a dram and often followed by dancing and/or singing.

To coincide with the anniversary there is a new exhibit on show in the Berkeley foyer displaying the first Dublin edition of ‘Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect’ (1787) and a limited edition of ‘Tam o’Shanter: a tale’ (Edinburgh: 2008) illustrated by Alexander Goudie.

- Helen McGinley

'Burns Supper' Berkeley Library

‘Burns Supper’ Berkeley Library

Battling brothers and Moore’s ‘Irish Melodies’

Two editions of the eighth issue of Thomas Moore’s ‘Irish Melodies’ are currently displayed side by side in the Long Room exhibition ‘In Tune’. At first glance their title pages look similar, but on closer inspection they bear witness to a bitter dispute between two brothers, the music publishers James and William Power. This will be the theme of the next lecture in the ‘In Tune’ series, given by Dr Una Hunt: ‘Thomas Moore: his musical collaborators and publishers’. The lecture will take place in the Trinity Long Room Hub on Thursday 16 January at 6.00pm (admission free).

Thomas Moore: Poetical works (London, 1840)

Thomas Moore: Poetical works (London, 1840)

In 1807 the Power brothers commissioned Moore to produce a collection of songs based on Irish airs. The first ‘Selection of Irish Melodies’ proved highly popular and led to a contract for further selections, giving Moore his first regular income. The music, with accompaniments by Dublin composer Sir John Stevenson, was printed first by James Power in London, who then sent the plates to William in Dublin.

Thomas Moore: A selection of Irish melodies, 8th number (London, [1821])

Thomas Moore: A selection of Irish melodies, 8th number (London, [1821])

Thomas Moore: A selection of Irish melodies, 8th number (Dublin, [1821])

Thomas Moore: A selection of Irish melodies, 8th number (Dublin, [1821])


After the seventh number of ‘Irish melodies’ was published, an acrimonious legal dispute between the Power brothers brought the customary arrangement between them to an end.  Thereafter, any further publications in the series were to be issued solely by James Power in London, using accompaniments by then-fashionable English composer Henry Rowley Bishop. The eighth number was published in London in 1821, with accompaniments by Bishop. However, a pirated edition soon appeared from William Power’s press in Dublin, with accompaniments by Moore’s original collaborator, Sir John Stevenson. But James had the last word  – the final two issues were published in London alone.

In Tune, sponsored by KBC Bank, runs until April 2014.The exhibition is also available online. Full details of the lecture series are available here.

- Roy Stanley, Music Librarian.