Small Collections

UCD Archives holds a category of collections which we have designated ‘Small Collections’. These are collections which consist of a single item, a series of disparate items or a few files. There is no defining attribute other than the number of items is too small to create a full descriptive catalogue but the item or items have historical value. For example, some of our ‘small collections’ include:

  • Photograph album of Harold Barbour (UCDA P168). The black and white photographs contained in the album cover the period 1911–1913. They mainly depict co-operative societies in various locations in Ireland; folklore collecting expeditions in the West of Ireland; historical sites such as Gallarus Oratory, County Kerry, the beehive huts on Achill Island; and events such as Puck Fair, Killorglin, County Kerry, the Sunday Parade Unionist Clubs of Lisburn Special Service (Aug 1913) and the Lurgan Horticultural Show. 
  • Papers of Maighréad and Siobhán de Paor (UCDA P140). This is a typescript copy of an account (entitled Blaze away with your little gun) by Maighréad and Siobhán de Paor, of their experiences in three prisons: Tralee, Kilmainham and the North Dublin Union in 1923. They outline the propaganda activities for which they were arrested; the circumstances of their arrest; the food and conditions in each of the prisons; prisoners’ pastimes and occupations; with anecdotal reference to their fellow prisoners and hunger strikers including Maude Gonne MacBride, Mary MacSwiney, Eithne Coyle and Sighle Humphreys.
  • Papers of Séamus Hughes (UCDA P148). This is an album of songs and hymns, set to music by Seamus Hughes, with various texts, some by prisoners in Lewes Prison in 1917, others by prominent national figures such as Thomas Davis, Douglas Hyde, P.H. Pearse and James Connolly. It includes the manuscript score of Wayfarer, music by Seamus Hughes, arranged by A. Keane, words by Padraig Pearse and the music for various songs by Hughes. It also includes the music for The Watchword of Labour, with words by James Connolly.

Recently, Library Assistant Selina Collard was tasked with digitising these collections, to create both preservation and access surrogates. Selina has chosen examples from the small collections she has digitised so far, which have caught her attention.

This is a copy of Elizabeth Bloxham’s statement to the Bureau of Military History, concerning her association, as a Protestant, with the Sinn Féin movement during the struggle for independence, including her dismissal from her teaching position.  She describes her childhood in the west of Ireland and how she made friends with two brothers who were boat builders ‘they allowed my little brother to imagine he gave them great help in caulking the seams of a boat; as proof of his skill he used to show us the tar on his hands.’  She gives an account of her involvement in Cumman na mBan, and her acquaintance with Seán McDermott:

The effect on Protestant friends and relations of open association with such an unpopular Movement

My elder brothers and sisters had left home and were married at the times when I got in touch with the National Movement. I remember a brother of mine telling me of a friend of his who expressed disapproving surprise that I should be “mixed up” with “Sinn Fein”. My brother’s reply was, “Hasn’t she as good a right to her own opinions as we have”. That was the general attitude of the family. Later on when I was dismissed from my position in Newtownards none of them thought it a disgrace as I have reason to suppose did some of my in-laws in the North. The members of my family had their own interests and preoccupations. I was fending for myself and they were in no way accountable for me. They just thought that to risk my job for the sake of my convictions showed a bit of pluck.

Page 10 of Elizabeth Bloxham’s statement to the Bureau of Military History

This is a copy of a typescript statement of evidence to the Bureau of Military History, concerning his involvement with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Irish Volunteers in Glasgow, Scotland, from 1915 and subsequently in Dublin; his participation in the Easter Rising; his court-martial and detention in Kilmainham, Mountjoy, Portland, Lewes, and Pentonville prisons; describes IRB split in Glasgow in 1917, reprisals in Manchester for Black and Tan outrages in 1920, and imprisonment in Dartmoor from 1921 to 1922. 

He describes raiding gunpowder magazines at the colliery where he worked, and his quick departure to Dublin with his brother in January 1916. On arrival in Dublin they had trouble finding somewhere to stay, and were advised to go to Tom Clarke’s shop on Parnell Street but they couldn’t find it, “it did not seem to strike anyone to tell us that Great Britain Street was the official name at that time.”  They stayed at the Kimmage Camp, and on the morning of the rising fifty-six men from the camp, led by George Plunkett, boarded a tram at Harold’s Cross: ‘We were a unique body of soldiers; going into action on a tram.’

Copy of a sketch of John McGallogly

Eugene Downing was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, having enlisted in the 15th International Brigade in 1938. From a Republican background, he remembered being raised during the War of Independence and Civil War with the ‘sound of bombs and bullets’ in his ears.  His papers consist of letters and other items, including a photograph relating to his period in the International Brigade in Spain; money sent to Downing from the International Brigade Association via the British Red Cross for Fred Stark; Downing’s hospitalisation in and departure from Spain. To read more about this collection, revisit Meadhbh Murphy’s previous post, A Homeland Free of Foreign Invaders.

Black and white photograph of Eugene Downing (wearing glasses) with some members of the British Battalion.  Taken in Marsa, Spain 1938.  

This is a typescript copy of a statement by Liam Gaynor [to the Bureau of Military History] concerning his national activities as a member of the No.1 Dungannon Club in Belfast; the Irish Republican Brotherhood of which he was eventually a member of the Supreme Council; the Belfast Volunteers; Sinn Féin, and the Belfast Brigade of the IRA (October 1948, 21pp). Biographical notes on Sean Gaynor, his brother, shot dead by the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1920 (3pp) and on Séamus Dobbyn, a contemporary (2pp). Manuscript and typescript drafts of a series of c.9 articles entitled Fighting for Freedom mainly dealing with the 1916 Rising and the subsequent transition from the Volunteers to the IRA. Includes an account of Jim Larkin’s 1907 labour movement in Belfast, ‘for the first time Catholic, and non-Catholic workers united.’ 

During the year 1915 we carried out our weekly parades and engaged in a number of manoeuvres, on a small scale, in the adjacent hills. We practiced rifle shooting secretly in a quarry on the side of the mountain, using a couple of our Martini Henry rifles and also some old Mauser rifles which had been previously smuggled in at Howth.

About January 1916, Patrick Pearse lectured in St. Mary’s Hall, Belfast. He gave a very interesting picture of the organizing and planning in Dublin of Emmet during his time. He enthused us by stating that we were fortunate in having as our constant supporter in America that old warrior, who was both hated and feared by the British Government, John Devoy, and he paid a great tribute to the service of John Devoy in the cause of Irish freedom. Feeing between the physical force party and the Constitutional Party in Belfast was running high then and we found it necessary to march back armed to our Headquarters from this meeting, with Patrick Pearse in the ranks.

Page 9 of Liam Gaynor’s statement to the Bureau of Military History

Papers of Douglas Hyde (UCDA P33/B).

The Irish language and the folklore of the west of Ireland captivated Douglas Hyde and he penned many books of collected verses and folk-tales, such as Beside the Fire (1889) and Love Songs of Connacht (1893). Hyde was a  founder-member of The Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) and became its first president in 1893. By 1915, however, when Hyde saw that the Irish language movement was becoming inseparable from republican political ambitions, he resigned the presidency and pursued his literary interests.  This collection consists of five letters from Douglas Hyde to Sister Evangelist (Brigidine Convent, Goresbridge, County Kilkenny) in connection with his translation into Irish of a hymn to Saint Brigid; sheet music included.

Translation into Irish by Douglas Hyde of the text Hymn to Saint Brigid

Far above enthroned in glory, Sweetest/ Saint of Erin’s Isle, See thy children kneel be/fore thee; Turn on us a mother’s smile./

Dearc anuas, feuch mar támuid, A Naomh/ áluinn feuch sinn! Féacamuid ár n-glún id’/ láthair, Dearc mar mháthair ar do chloinn./

Sancta Mater, hear our pleading, Faith and hope and holy/ love, Sweet Saint Brigid, Spouse of Jesus, Send to us from Heav’n above./ Sweet Saint Brigid, Erin’s children Far and near, o’er land and sea, ‘Mid the/ world and in the cloister,/ Fondly turn with love to thee.

Cuidigh linn a mháthair aoibhinn bhí achoidhche ag éisteacht/ linn. A Naomh Bhríghid a chéile Chríosta Mar an faoileán ar an toinn./ Níl aon áit a bhfuil na Gaedhil Ar an t-saoghal so bhus no thall, nach bhfuil/ grádh aca ‘na g-croidhthibh Ortsa Bhríghid Gheal, moch is mall,/

Sancta Mater, soothe the mourner, Shield the/weary tempted soul, Sweet Saint Brigid, guide thy/ children, To the bright and happy goal./

líon le grádh an croidhe tá brúighte Bain de’n/t-súil tá fluich a deór, Stiúrthaigh, treóruigh, árduigh/ sinne, Nó go d-tigmid in do ghlóir./

Transcription available on

This post was written by Selina Collard and Kate Manning, UCD Archives.

One thought on “Small Collections

  1. Brenda Ryan says:

    Wonderful post. Just shows how even the smallest bit of information can broaded our insight into past events. I hope this encourages donors to pass on any nuggets they may have to UCD Archives, no matter how insubstantial it may seem.

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