On the 10 September the latest books in the Maynooth Studies in Local History series were launched at Maynooth University. This series -edited by Professor Raymond Gillespie and published by Four Courts Press- has been producing valuable local history studies since 1995 and has accumulated a total of 122 pamphlets. These cover a broad geographic spread across the whole of Ireland. The pamphlets normally focus on a particular aspect of their respective area’s history. They offer an informative, enjoyable and accessible insight into the history of selected local areas. Of particular worth is the ability of the series to connect the local to the national and demonstrate how wider national trends played out in a local setting. In addition, the relatively short nature of these publications means that they are ideally suited to those with little time on their hands.
This year six books were published, namely: Gerard Dooley, Nenagh, 1914-21: years of crises; David Doyle, The Reverend Thomas Goff, 1772-1844: property, propinquity and Protestantism; Adrian Empey, Gowran, Co. Kilkenny, 1190-1610: custom and conflict in a baronial town; Pierce A. Grace, The middle class of Callan, Co. Kilkenny, 1825-45; Ann O’Riordan, East Galway agrarian agitation and the burning of Ballydugan house, 1922; Fergal Donoghue, Crime in the city: Kilkenny in 1845.
Typical of the high calibre of the series is Fergal Donoghue’s Crime in the city: Kilkenny in 1845 (Dublin, 2015). The book provides a fascinating insight into the nature and punishment of crime in Kilkenny city in 1845. The book begins by providing much context in terms of the social condition of the city in the period. It demonstrates that well-known generalisations such underemployment and the lack of a wage economy created a significant underclass in the city. In doing so the book also highlights the conditions in which this underclass lived. The author is also careful to guide the reader through the nuances of the locality and demonstrates that there were two sides to the city: one living in poverty alongside another living in relative wealth. The second chapter places justice and punishment in the city in a national context and gives the reader a good understanding of how the justice system in the Kilkenny operated in 1845.
The final chapter of this short book is a testament to the great efforts of the author to garner as wide a picture of crime and its punishment in the city as possible. The author demonstrates not only the effects of the famine on crime in the city but also through careful and insightful analysis of the statistics highlights how the study of sentences can provide an insight into the fears of the city’s elite.
Overall this short book offers a fine contribution to not only our understanding of crime and punishment in Kilkenny city but also to the wider national history of this subject. In doing this the author provides a valuable insight into the motivations and fears of those responsible for the punishment of crime in mid-nineteenth century Ireland.
This book (priced €8.95) and the rest in the series are available via the Four Courts Press website at: http://www.fourcourtspress.ie/books/browse/history/maynooth-studies-in-local-history/
Adrian James Kirwan, co-editor of Holinshed Revisited, is an Irish Research Council funded Ph.D. candidate at the Department of History, National University of Ireland, Maynooth. His research focuses on the interaction between society and technology, more about his research can be found here.
Free workshop at the Royal Irish Academy: Teaching and learning using the Irish Historic Towns Atlas at third level
Academy House, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. Date: Thursday 10 September, 09:30-16:30
This is a one-day workshop aimed at those who are either currently or intending to use the Irish Historic Towns Atlas (IHTA) as a tool for teaching at third level. Those regular readers of this blog will know that the IHTA is an ongoing project of the Royal Irish Academy which aims to trace the morphology of towns and cities through time and space. The projects has completed a number of towns and cities, of varying sizes, throughout the island of Ireland, thus, proving extremely useful for the comparative study of the development of urban centres. Each atlas consists of a number of useful maps on the development of these towns. It also contains a valuable topographical gazetteer which allows the researcher to trace the purposes to which various sections of the town were being used through time. The gazetteer –which is divided into various sections- can also help in understanding how various social aspects of the city, such as religion, impacted on the built environment. This means that each atlas can also provide an important tool for the student to investigate the development of individual urban centres.
At the heart of the atlas project is its reliance on primary sources. This allows students, very early in their studies, to access a wealth of information based on primary source material. It also provides a staging post from where students and teachers can explore the usefulness of the topographic and cartographic record while broadening their understanding of the need to explore other material to gain a fuller picture of the historic urban centre and the society which inhabited it.
This workshop would appeal to individuals across a range of disciplines including history, geography, local studies, archaeology and digital humanities. The workshop is open to not only lecturers but also to third-level tutors, demonstrators, heritage professionals and anyone who would like to be exposed to new tools and methods for teaching. It is presented as an opportunity for discussion and debate about the uses the atlases can be put to and it is hoped that this will feed back into the general atlas project.
With a board range of talks from some well-known and respected researchers and lectures in various fields this promises to be not only an interesting and informative day but also the start of a period of expanded use of the atlas as a tool for third-level teaching.
For more information and registration go to: http://ria.ie/Events/Events-Listing/Teaching-and-learning–using-the-Irish-Historic-To
Or click on the file below:
The Science Museum, London, was founded in 1857 as part of the South Kensington Museum, becoming an independent entity in 1909. Its foundation can be traced back to the Great Exhibition of 1851; this generated both the interest and money needed to found the museum. From early in the museum’s existence it was acquiring items of interest to the history of science and technology, including an early Boulton and Watt beam engine and Stephenson’s revolutionary locomotive ‘Rocket’.
Spread over a number of floors the Science Museum is divided into galleries which focus on different aspects of the history of science, technology and medicine. These include ‘Glimpses of Medical History’, ‘The Science and Art of Medicine’ and ‘Making the Modern World’. The displays vary in their focus with some concentrating on the historical collections and providing context to their creation and use while others are more concerned with the museum’s other central aim: the education and promotion of the sciences. Therefore while some displays are concerned with the preservation and contextualisation of the museum’s vast collection of historical scientific, technological and medical instruments and objects, other displays are much more interactive. These displays are more concerned with engaging and entertaining the museums younger visitors. The amount of children who were at the museum, and enjoying the experience, was definitely a defining feature.
An example of the many displays on offer is the new ‘Information Age’ gallery. This gallery traces the development of telecommunications technology with displays ranging from one of the first Cooke and Wheatstone five-needle telegraphs to satellites (in this case a real satellite rather than a replicate). Not only is there an amazing range of unique and rare telecommunication apparatus but the gallery is very successful in contextualising their development, use and the impact that these technologies had on society. A highlight is inclusion of the NeXT computer which Tim Berners-Lee used in the 1980s to develop the World Wide Web; for a brief moment in time this computer was the only server in operation and therefore it was the World Wide Web. The gallery uses multiple methods to engage the public including written panels accompanying displays, audio-visual, interactive computer panels and the availability of good, old-fashion guides to expand the visitor’s knowledge and understanding of the role that telecommunications played in the development of the modern world. The ‘Information Age’ gallery has an accompanying website which can be found at http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/online_science/explore_our_collections/information_age.
Entry to the museum is free and it is well serviced by the tube and bus routes. Several other museums are also located in the immediate area. More information can be found on the Science Museum’s website http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/home.aspx.