There and back again.

Exams are starting next week.  Just think, if you’d been studying English in 1949 you would have had Professor Tolkien marking your paper…


“Has the race of Orcs been unfairly stereotyped in literature and cinema?  Discuss and give reasons for your answer, using imaginary languages if possible.”

Go n-eirí libh.

John Behan – The Bull Of Sheriff Street

John Behan: The Bull of Sheriff Street

NUIG Professor Adrian Frazier’s fantastic book on one of Ireland’s most famous living sculptors, John Behan, is now available at Charlie Byrne’s. Some who know John Behan think of him as without question a Dubliner. For others, after forty years there, he is a fundamental part of Galway. His work, however, belongs to Ireland as a whole and, artistically speaking to the world.

Behan’s art employs numerous representations: songbirds, crows, fish, boats, Icarus and Dedalus, but the iconic figure for him is the bull. Bulls of many sizes and breeds, in various castings and styles, are anxious or angry, contented or fighting. Sometimes they belong to the story of King Minos in Crete, sometimes to Maeve and The Táin, to a Spanish bullring or a field in Tipperary. Some are king of the herd, some are led to slaughter. Behan’s hundreds of bronze bulls are a poignant and profound exploration of the fate of the male, particularly the Irish male, in our coming times.

This generously illustrated tribute to John Behan by his friend, the distinguished writer and academic, Adrian Frazier, is a fitting celebration of one of Ireland’s most famous living sculptors.

[ and yes, they’re using some of our scans :-) ]

A Victorian bestseller: David Roberts’ ‘The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Egypt & Nubia’.


Library Ireland Week Talk by Marie Boran, Special Collections Librarian –  happening today, Friday 20th, in room G011 of the Hardiman Research Building at 1.00 p.m.

Featuring some amazing watercolours from our Ringling-North Collection.  Here’s an interesting article about Roberts and his work and another article from The Scotsman.

Chapter and verse.

With a new semester coming around, it’s as good a time as any to draw general attention to a very useful service that’s available to all instructors or teaching assistants with access to the Blackboard online virtual learning environment at NUI Galway. Since 2010 our license with the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency has been extended to allow the scanning of library material for Blackboard, with some restrictions.

We can scan up to 5% of any library book (or a single chapter, whichever comes first) and make it available on specific Blackboard courses in high-quality, searchable PDF format. The service also applies to articles from print journals in the library – a single article or 5% of the issue. We can upload as many different chapters to your Blackboard course as you like – as long as no two chapters come from the same book.

This all follows on from the library’s Reading List Support Service. Every year, instructors are invited to submit the reading list for their course to, so that staff can check the availability of course material in the library. Where necessary, the library can order extra copies of books, or, in the case of high-demand titles, put some on short loan. If requested, the digitisation centre can scan individual chapters for Blackboard under the guidelines laid out above.

Interested parties are welcome to contact me; alternatively you can request chapters for scanning via our web help desk.  There’s more detailed information about our scanning service at the Chapter Scanning FAQ.

(Unfortunately for legal reasons we can’t send scanned library material directly to users, and we are for the present limited to posting chapters on Blackboard only. Other open-source VLEs such as PBLearn or Moodle aren’t currently supported.)

“Just a line…”

Michael Vincent McKiernan was born on 22nd September, 1895 in Ballyquirke, Moycullen, Co. Galway.  He showed promise in school, was passionate about the Irish language, and got good grades on his Intermediate exam.  He would have liked to have become a teacher but, like so many other men of his age, he joined the Army and went off to fight in the Great War…

From Pte McKiernan
Address reply to. Pte.M.McKiernan No.7777 Irish Guards
C/o Father Roe, Caterham, England
4th May 1915
Dear Mother,
Just a line to let you know how I am getting along here at the Irish Guards Depot. To begin with I’m in the best of health and spirits. We are well fed and badly paid here. The Guards are made up of men from all positions in life. A red-haired chap who sleeps opposite me was printer who threw up a job worth 47/6 per week to come here. He knows Galway town well and refused a job worth 42/- in O’Gormans Printing House, Galway. Below me is a baker in another bed and drilling with me in my squad is a tailor, a solicitor and a Liverpool policeman and engine driver so you see we are quite a mixed crowd. I will say nothing about why I came here for I told Tina explain to you. I would have written sooner but waiting to get my proper address which you will see above. Life as a soldier is a change from what I was used to in Ballyquirke.We have to get up at a bugle call at 6 o’clock wash and shave and polish up my boots and shine up with paste my buttons on my uniform. Breakfast next then help to clean up our hut. The hut is a wooden building about 30 yards long and 7 yards wide roofed with zinc each holding 30 men each. After cleaning up the hut we go on parade at 8 o’clock till 9 o’clock and on again at 10.30 to 12 noon then dinner consisting of beef peas and potatoes and as an after course a sort currant cake called “duff’. Breakfast consists of bread tea and meat with tomato sauce. Other days we get salmon tinned instead of meat for breakfast and dinner. Supper consists of tea with bread butter and cheese or instead bread butter and jam. We have to do four parades each day except Saturday (two parades) and Sunday one parade i.e. church parade. There is about six thousand troops quartered here consisting of Irish. Scots, Welsh and Coldstream and Grenadier Guards. You sec nothing here but soldiers in hundreds drilling everywhere. We have to be in our huts at 9.30. to answer roll call and in bed at 10 o’clock p.m. I must end now by asking all of ye and hoping to hear soon from you but if you have anything disheartning to say for goodness sake dont as I have a lot to go through here

your fond son
M. V .M

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