Exhibitions and Events


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Book of Ballymote Conference

Venue: Academy House, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.
Date: Thursday 5 February - Friday 6 February 2015.

The Book of Ballymote (BB), compiled between the late-fourteenth and early-fifteenth centuries, is one of the most remarkable Irish manuscripts we have. Its size and extent, the range of material it contains and its striking illumination all mark it out as an important work of late medieval learning. Its 251 folios contain, among many other works, texts such as Lebor Gabála Érenn, Lebor na Cert, Dindshenchas Érenn, Banshenchas Érenn, Cóir Anmann, extensive genealogical tracts listing the pedigrees of some of the most prominent Irish population groups and families, lists of saints, biblical texts and adaptations of classical material.

There are many questions that can be asked about this remarkable codex and the society in which it came into being. What was the intent of the scribes and scholars who compiled it? Why were the texts found in the BB so chosen? What sources were used in its compilation? Why was it so extensively and richly decorated? How does BB relate to other medieval manuscripts, in particular, the slightly later Great Book of Lecan? What do we know of the later history of BB?

These and other questions will be explored at this conference at which scholars from institutions in Ireland and the United Kingdom will examine many aspects of this extensive and imposing manuscript.

Click here to download programme. Advance booking is essential.  



Mapping city, town and country since 1824: the Ordnance Survey in Ireland

Our exhibition (1 July 2014– 30 January 2015) is ‘Mapping city, town and country since 1824: the Ordnance Survey in Ireland. Organised by the Library and the Irish Historic Towns Atlas (IHTA), the exhibition focuses on the Academy’s extensive collections relating to the ‘great national work,’ the mapping of Ireland at a scale of 6 inches to one mile. The 6-inch maps are an essential source for the investigation of nineteenth-century Ireland – city, town and country. Every headland, mountain, river, field, plot, bleaching green, public building, is recorded for posterity. These maps form the basis of two forthcoming IHTA publications:

Frank Cullen, Dublin 1847: city of the Ordnance Survey.

Rob Goodbody, Irish Historic Towns Atlas No. 26, Dublin, part III, 1756 to 1847.

In the course of the OS mapping, directed by Col. Thomas Colby, assisted by Lieut. Thomas Aiskew Larcom (later under-secretary for Ireland, 1853-68), the project expanded to include a range of activities. For example, a significant feature of the project was the compilation of Memoirs – information on the landscape, topography, features of antiquarian interest, population, economy and society, gathered systematically. The purpose of this information was to supplement the maps and ‘to collect and diffuse information for the benefit of every class in society.’ The Memoirs contain a fund of information and include 1,640 sketches of archaeological, antiquarian and architectural features. Funding for the Memoir compilation was cut in 1839-40, thus only the Ulster counties are fully documented. Intended for publication from the outset, the OS Memoirs were finally published in 40 volumes in the 1990s. The Academy has now published a selection of the Memoir drawings:

Angélique Day, Glimpses of Ireland’s past – the Ordnance Survey Memoir drawings: topography and technique.

This publication seeks to illustrate the skill of the OS artists/engineers and the scope of the material selected for sketching and recording.

The importance of placenames was recognised at an early stage and John O’Donovan, the renowned Irish scholar, was engaged at the Placenames & Topograpical Department which generated the Name Books (originals held at the National Archives), ‘the alpha of the memoir.’ The objective was to adopt names closest to the original Irish form. George Petrie, artist, antiquarian, musician and collector, ran the department from his house in North Great Charles Street, Dublin. This was the base from which O’Donovan, Eugene O’Curry (lexicographer), James Clarence Mangan (poet and scribe), William Wakeman and George Victor du Noyer (artists) sallied forth on fieldwork of various kinds. O’Donovan, O’Curry and others, whilst dispersed around the country working on the placenames, reported back to Larcom, often on a daily basis. The resulting OS Letters, from 29 Irish counties (Antrim, Cork and Tyrone were not covered), concerned as they are with local families, antiquities and lore, form a major resource for antiquarian scholars, lexicographers and local historians.

Other material generated by the project, the OS Extracts, contain relevant material culled from primary sources, in Latin and Irish, some of which are not extant.

Our exhibition uses all of these resources to illustrate the scope and depth of the OS engagement in nineteenth-century Ireland.

The exhibition is on view Monday-Friday, 10.00 -17.00 hours, except on conference days at the Academy. Check the website for up-to-date viewing times.

Mapping city, town and country lecture series

A series of lunchtime lectures was organised covering all aspects of the OS project. Lectures were held in the Meeting Room, Academy House, and were recorded for podcast purposes.

27 August 2014 Heritage Week Lecture Dr Jacinta Prunty,
NUI Maynooth: ‘The map-making of the Ordnance Survey: challenges on every front’

1 October 2014 Prof. William Smyth, MRIA, UCC: ‘The Ordnance Survey Six-inch Mapping Project: political and cultural agendas’

8 October 2014 Prof. Nollaig Ó Muraíle, MRIA, NUI Galway: ‘Translations?: The Ordnance Survey and Irish place-names’

15 October 2014 Paul Walsh, Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht: ‘George Petrie’s “Topographical Department” (1835-42)’

22 October 2014 Angélique Day: ‘Glimpses of Ireland's past: drawings in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs’

29 October 2014 Prof. Michael Herity, MRIA: ‘John O'Donovan's work for the Ordnance Survey’

5 November 2014 Rob Goodbody: ‘From Rocque to the Ordnance Survey: mapping Dublin 1756 to 1847’

12 November 2014 Dr Frank Cullen, IHTA: ‘Dublin in 1847: city of the Ordnance Survey’

19 November 2014 Colin Bray, Chief Executive, OSI: ‘Ordnance Survey Ireland: mapping our future'

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