What Survives…

The historian Francis Xavier (F. X.) Martin (1922–2000), joined the Augustinian Order of Friars in 1941 and was ordained a priest in 1952, having received a BA degree at UCD in 1949. His Master’s thesis won him an National University of Ireland travelling studentship to Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he completed his doctoral thesis in 1959. In the same year, he joined the staff of UCD as an assistant lecturer in history where both his teaching and personality were loved and appreciated by his students. Martin was appointed to the chair of medieval history at UCD in 1962 and served as a member of the Irish Manuscripts Commission from August 1963. In 1967, Martin was also elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

In addition to his work as a medievalist, Martin also worked on aspects of the history of the Irish revolution, concentrating on the 1916 Rising. In collaboration with T. W. Moody, he organised a series of television lectures in 1966 later published by Mercier Press as The Course of Irish History. In collaboration with Moody and F. J. Byrne, he worked on the production of a standard work of reference on all periods of Irish history, the nine-volume A New History of Ireland (1976–2004).

Outside of his publishing interests, Martin is perhaps best known for his involvement in the ‘Save Wood Quay’ campaign throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. This was the attempt to prevent the erection of civic offices on the important Viking archaeological site on Wood Quay, Dublin. Although the campaign ultimately failed, the delay he helped procure allowed the completion of the site’s excavation.

Among the photographs in Professor Martin’s papers in UCD Archives, are four which concern Irish historical figures, one of which was explicitly given to him to ensure its survival. The other three were likely collected during Martin’s research for his work on the Irish revolutionary period: all four are indicative of the range of material that may be found in private paper collections, as well as the unpredictability of what may survive without intervention.

This black and white photograph shows the Irish-American political activist Joseph McGarrity (1874–1940) and co-founder and Chief of Staff of Fianna Éireann, John Bulmer Hobson (1883–1969). Shown in profile and shaking hands, Hobson is wearing a great coat and holding a brimmed hat. The photograph is annotated on reverse: ‘Bulmer Hobson and Joe McGarrity in USA 1907 or 1913’.

In this black and white studio portrait taken at Allison Photographers, Belfast around 1913, we see Hobson seated, right shoulder slightly inclined towards the camera. The annotation on reverse (written in an unknown hand) tells us that ‘This firm no longer exists’ and gives an approximate date range for the photograph.

Another studio photograph (taken around 1913) also shows Hobson, this time with the first treasurer and later secretary of Fianna Éireann, P[adraig] Ó Riáin (1893–1954). Hobson is standing on the right, with his hand on the back of the chair in which Ó Riáin is seated. Ó Riáin’s right arm resting on a table. This photograph was taken at the firm of the Keogh Brothers, located on Dorset Street, Dublin.

Perhaps the most interesting and precious photographs in the Martin papers are these two images of Ernie O’Malley (1897–1957). Labelled ‘B. Stuart’, the annotation on the reverse tells us that ‘Bertie Stuart’ was the name that O’Malley was arrested under in December 1920. Furthermore, it tells us that when he escaped from Kilmainham Gaol in February 1921, these photographs were issued to members of the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries: these photographs were then given to Major Michael Doyle of the Irish Republican Army, and he later presented them to Martin. The glassine envelope is annotated by Doyle: ‘I will lose these snaps as I have lost many more if somebody doesn’t take them. MD’.

A descriptive catalogue for the F. X. Martin Papers is available here; along with information on visiting the reading room.

This post was written by Kate Manning, Principal Archivist, UCD Archives.

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