(3.26 minutes). When I was in Ireland studying history, it was at Trinity College in Dublin. Though there was access to the Berkeley Library (pronounced Barkley) as well as the Old Library that housed the Book of Kells, I ended up using almost exclusively The National Library of Ireland, established in 1877 (though its origins are in the early 18th century), which was a 5-minute walk from the Trinity College campus. Through its decorative iron gates off Kildare Street was Ireland’s “library of record” whose rich collection of books, manuscripts and other documents (over 12 million items) was deeply related to the expanse of Irish history, particularly from its medieval period to before 1800. Taking up a desk day after day in the Main Reading Room designed in 1890 by Irish architect Sir Thomas Deane (1828 –1899) I searched their catalogs and spoke with reference librarians which resulted in requested materials which were then delivered by runners to my assigned desk.
After months of work in Ireland and back in the U.S., the end result was a 75-page paper on the Franciscan Order in Ireland between the 13th and 16th centuries. James Joyce set the ninth episode of Ulysses in the National Library where Stephen Dedalus is depicted talking about Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It was in fact the rejection of membership in the mid1830s to the Roman Catholic archbishop of Dublin (Daniel Murray) to the National Library’s immediate predecessor organization (The Royal Dublin Society) that led to a campaign in the House of Commons by the Conservative MP for Limerick (Will O’Brien) to reform this elitist Society so that it, as well as any reference institution connected to it, would extend admission privileges without concern of party affiliation or religion.