Irish Roots


December 17th 2012

Chest-beating in order

John Grenham

Trinity College is not an institution noted for its bashfulness. Any worthwhile TCD achievement tends to climb to the top of a tall building and loudly beat its own chest. All the more surprising, then, that the launch of Trinity Library's Digital Collections (digitalcollections.tcd.ie) has been so low-key.

The only way to convey the extraordinary range of its contents is to pick out a few plums. They include: The full manuscript expedition journal of the 1924 British Everest expedition (the one on which Mallory and Irvine died) kept by the expedition doctor, Major R.M.G. Hingston; Thirty-one maps from 1812 of the estates of Sir Nicholas Conway Colthrust in Cork and Kerry, with tenants' names; Two hundred and forty-six (beautifully-imaged) pages of Annales Ultonienses, the fifteenth-century Annals of Ulster; The pocket diaries and literary commonplace books of J.M. Synge between 1892 and 1907; The entire Robinson Collection of 2,074 eighteenth and early nineteenth century political caricatures; The Arthur Warren Samuels Collection of printed ephemera (especially pamphlets and posters) of the 1916 Rebellion, World War I, the War of Independence and the Civil War.

From the point of view of genealogy, the most directly useful items are the eighteen manuscript volumes of Trinity's own admission and matriculation registers from 1607 to 1907. Much of the information is already published, but it is always worthwhile to be able to examine the originals. They have also added the original term examination books for the second half of the eighteenth century. Good to know that Senior Freshman Kenny was cautioned for his performance at Greek in the term ending December 15 1750.

Perhaps the Library's long-standing and unswerving defence of its precious holdings against the grubby-fingered hordes has left it a little unsure of its welcome as it emerges, blinking, into the light. But the digital collections are astonishing. Chest-beating is most certainly in order.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.

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