By Ian Kenneally, Historian, Author and Broadcaster. He is currently a PhD student at the History Department, NUI Galway.

The Irish Bulletin began publication on 11 November 1919 and ended publication in December 1921. During that period it was published as a daily newspaper. It was funded by Dáil Éireann; specifically the Department of Propaganda (renamed the Department of Publicity around February 1921). It was edited by Desmond Fitzgerald and, from February 1921, Erskine Childers. Frank Gallagher and, to a lesser degree, Robert Brennan provided much of the content for each edition. Another important figure was Kathleen McKenna who worked on the production and printing of the paper throughout its existence. Its initial print run was thirty copies, sent to newspapers in Britain and Europe. By May 1921 this figure had increased to 650 copies sent to newspapers and politicians around the world. By the time of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921 this circulation had increased to around 900 copies.

Irish-Bulletin_002-(2) Irish Bulletin, 11 March 1920 – Headline: ‘Starving Irishmen into Emigration’


The paper was a publicity newspaper, whose goal was to place news of Dáil Éireann’s activities and those of the Irish Republican Army in prominent foreign newspapers. By so doing, the Dáil hoped to make foreign journalists and public figures aware of events in Ireland. The Irish Bulletin also highlighted the actions of the Crown forces in Ireland, specifically reprisals conducted by various sections of the police and the British army. In its early days the Irish Bulletin’s contents were mostly confined to lists of raids and arrests. It was gradually expanded so that, from early 1920, the paper compiled more detailed and dramatic accounts of incidents believing that such reports would provoke more interest among journalists.

Desmond Fitzgerald by Shemus (Ernest Forbes), 1923 Desmond Fitzgerald, 1st editor of the Irish Bulletin by Shemus (Ernest Forbes), 1923


Fitzgerald, Gallagher and Childers believed that it was vital to use the limited funds available to the Bulletin to target persons in positions of influence, especially in Britain. This strategy achieved much success in the months after the ‘Sack of Balbriggan’ in September 1920. The paper was quoted in many English newspapers and its reports were cited in the House of Commons by Members of Parliament hostile to British government policy in Ireland. By using the Bulletin as a source these journalists and public figures enhanced the influence and reach of the paper far beyond its limited circulation.

The paper’s history is examined by Kenneally, Ian, ‘a tainted source? – The Irish Bulletin 1919-1921’ in Larkin, Felix and O’Brien, Mark (Eds), Periodicals and Journalism in Twentieth-Century Ireland, (Four Courts Press, 2014). Other publications to analyse the paper include Kenneally, Ian, The Paper Wall: newspapers and propaganda in Ireland 1919-1921 (The Collins Press, 2008) and Inoue, Keiko, ‘Propaganda II: propaganda of Dáil Éireann, 1919-1921’ in Augusteijn, Joost, The Irish Revolution, 1913-1923, (Palgrave, 2002). Kathleen McKenna wrote an important memoir of her time on the paper in ‘The Irish Bulletin’, Capuchin Annual, 1970. The Aubane Historical Society has published the first of a proposed multi-volume reprinting of each edition of the paper: Lane, Jack (Ed), Irish Bulletin: Volume One (Aubane Historical Society, 2012). Biographies of Fitzgerald, Childers, Gallagher, McKenna and Brennan can be found in the Dictionary of Irish Biography.

The Irish Bulletin can be consulted on microfilm in the main reading room of the National Library.

Irish Bulletin, 11 Nov. 1920 - Headline: 'Lecture on Technical Education Supressed' Irish Bulletin, 11 Nov. 1920 – Headline: ‘Lecture on Technical Education Supressed’


[This is the latest in a series of blogs connected to a joint project (Newspaper Descriptors Project) by the National Library of Ireland and the Newspaper & Periodical History Forum of Ireland (NPHFI). The project aims to provide short descriptors or pen notes for the newspaper titles listed in our Newspaper Database here at the National Library. The descriptors include such information as publication dates, proprietors and funding, editors and significant journalists, circulation figures (if known), comment on the newspaper’s political affiliation, and mention any histories written on the various titles - Justin Furlong, NLI Newspaper Librarian]


by Karl Leonard, DIT NPA Internship, Sept-Dec 2013.

The Archiving in Context module for BA Photography students at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) provides third year photography students with practical experience of working with a photographic collection at the National Photographic Archive (NPA). This internship was undertaken in the NPA under the Supervision of Elizabeth Kirwan, curator at the National Photographic Archive, and with Matthew Cains the NLI Conservator and Keith Murphy, Reading Room Manager.

Hinde postcard of Connemara Hinde postcard of Connemara (1968)


My task was to sort, rehouse, and list the contents of an archival box full of photographs, the NPA’s John Hinde postcard collection.  It was an opportunity to learn about the work of John Hinde, whom I had only previously known for his stereotypical Irish postcards with rolling green hills and red-haired children. I hoped that it might be possible to track down any remaining Hinde family members or Hinde studio employees to get a first-hand account of the work done by Hinde.

Mathew Cains, the National Library of Ireland’s (NLI) conservator, trained me in preservation methods, so I could handle and rehouse the Hinde Collection according to best international practice.  This included how to use Mylar housing, acid-free cardboard folders and nitrile gloves when handling photographic prints. The prints could then be catalogued, digitised and ultimately made accessible online.

I discovered that the Hinde photographic collection was produced by six photographers (including John Hinde himself) at the Hinde studios in Cabinteely, between 1957 and 1972. The NPA Hinde Collection consist of 441 colour A6 size postcards, 47 large 9”x6½” colour postcards, 10 pictorial letter guides and several miscellaneous documents and magazines related to the collection and Hinde’s career. However, it was missing its accession notes, in which museums and archives typically record the provenance of their collections.

Galtee Mountains (Hinde, 1972) Hinde postcard of Galtee Mountains (1972)


The Hinde Collection postcards were organised by location, under Irish county, and numbered sequentially on the back of the postcard in pencil. Through discussion with NPA staff, I gathered that the Hinde collection was in its original order.  The lack of accession notes necessitated further research to uncover who had previously organised the collection, whether it had been donated or sold to the NPA directly from the Hinde Studios in Cabinteely, or whether it had been donated or sold by a private collector.

What had happened to the Hinde Company after it was sold to Waterford Glass in 1972?  Were there any other existing archives of Hinde’s work?  I contacted the co-curator of, Michelle Abadie, who along with Marcus Davies had exhibited Hinde postcards at the Photographers Gallery in London in 2013.  Hinde’s family had donated his collection to the NationalMediaMuseum in Bradford after his death and it remains to be catalogued.

I contacted senior curator at IMMA, Christina Kennedy, where the 1993 Hindesight exhibition had been presented, and Joe Lee, who had produced Hindesight, a documentary on Hinde’s work. I also contacted Sean Hillen, who had worked with Hinde during the production of his Irelantis photomontages, and David Lee, photographic historian and writer for Source magazine. He advised contacting one of the remaining Hinde studio photographers Edmund Nagele, which I did with the assistance of Michael Pritchard, who like Hinde was a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (FRPS).

Edmund Nagele explained the process of commissioning, photographing, printing, retouching, and archiving at the Hinde studios.  As written codes like those pencilled on the NPA’s collection weren’t used, this suggested to me that the NPA’s Hinde collection was probably a donation from a private collector.

The NPA’s Hinde collection promoted Irish tourism before the development of digital imaging. Justin Carville (2011:10) argues that Hinde identified a “spiritual positivity, a sort of evangelical vision that could be projected throughout society by the humble tourist postcard.” This idealised view of Ireland was at the time in stark contrast with the grim realities of a stagnant economy and repressed society in 1950’s Ireland, thus often causing Hinde’s postcards to be “identified as emblematic of an ‘imaginary’ view of Ireland propagated by foreign photographers.”

The Hinde Studio created what Moroney (1998:20) describes as an “impossibly sunlit Ireland, dotted with red-haired kids in shawls, thatched cottages, jaunting cars, donkeys, lupin-fringed lakes: over lit landscapes of idealised rustic beauty and vivid fruit-flavoured colours.” Nagele described how all photography was undertaken with Plaubel Junior 4×5 cameras using Ektachrome-X sheet-film which was processed by hand at the factory in Cabinteely. The photographic department made black & white prints to the exact postcard size on which John Hinde made his now famous ‘colour-notes’.  These include: “make sky blue with white clouds”, “make (black) car RED”, and “remove telegraph post”.  The original transparencies together with the black & white colour-notes were sent to Milan, Italy where the colour-separation films were produced for John Hinde Ltd., and returned, after approximately six months, with the separation films and original transparencies including colour-notes. The 4-colour print separations were passed to the Platemaking Department to copy the CMYK separations onto printing plates.

Postcards Two Hinde postcard images


I discovered that using this technique of colour manipulation enabled Hinde to create impossibly Mediterranean blue skies and lush green fields which were to become the stereotypical representations of Ireland for many years. The scene was always very carefully constructed often with numerous return visits, and the composition was also very precisely designed often placing flowers or bushes in the front corner to add colour and fake the closeness of nature, while telephone poles and TV aerials were removed.

I was unable to establish who originally owned the collection.  I did rehouse each item in Mylar sleeves and created a detailed description of all 498 postcards.  In due course, this metadata can be transferred to the NLI’s online catalogue. I also discovered that the postcards consisted almost entirely of scenes from the thirty-two counties on the island of Ireland, with only three exceptions, two of those being airplanes in flight and the third being from one from the island of Jersey. My research revealed that Hinde photographers had travelled not only throughout Ireland particularly to Butlins Mosney holiday camp, but also throughout the UK, and to Africa and the Canary Islands.  As none of these locations feature in the NPA’s collection, it seems that the NPA Hinde Collection is a limited private collection focused on the island of Ireland.

collectionringbinder_small Hinde Collection in acid-free cardboard ringbound folder with two-pocket mylar sleeves


It was very rewarding to have completed this work for the NPA, sometimes laborious, but never dull. I especially enjoyed the investigative journey that unfolded which afforded me the privilege of meeting and interviewing some thoroughly interesting artists, film-makers and critics. For me it was a great learning opportunity to research and engage with such an interesting collection.


Carville, J. (2011): Photography And Ireland, London: Reaktion Books

Moroney, M. (1998): ‘Postcards From The Edge’, Cara, Vol. 31 No. 2, 20-8

Weski, T. (2008): ‘Introduction by Thomas Weski’, In: Parr, M (ed)(2008): Postcards [selected by] Martin Parr, London: Chris Boot


by Justin Furlong, Assistant Keeper, National Library of Ireland

On August 29th, 1890, the present day National Library Ireland building was opened. Inspired by the suggestions of William Archer, NLI Librarian, designed by Thomas Deane & Son (Thomas was knighted on the day of the opening) and built by Messrs. Beckett of Ringsend, it was described on the day by the Dublin Evening Mail as ‘a magnificent pile’. This blog will outline some of the architectural features of the building and credit the craftspeople & builders who created it.

The building’s main walls are of Ballyknocken granite with exteriors constructed of MountCharles sandstone. However, this material proved to be unsuitable due to the constant weathering and acidic conditions from city pollution. In 1969 the sandstone was replaced with Ardbraccan limestone which was further restored in recent years. The range of wrought-iron railings and gates, which the library shares with our neighbours in Leinster House and the National Museum, is by J. & C. McGloughlin.

An outdoor colonnade leads into the magnificent rotunda which mirrors the Museum’s entrance across the courtyard. The entrance hall is decorated with a detailed mosaic floor and 12 beautifully designed stained glass windows by Jones and Wallis of Birmingham (including the Irish writer Thomas Moore). The mosaic floor, designed by Oppenheimer of Manchester, is in tones of green, blue, grey and gold. The owl, symbol of the library, is featured in the floor design along with the motto “sapientia” meaning wisdom. Supporting  columns encircle the owls.

Sapientia mosaic floor detail Sapientia mosaic floor detail


To the right of the main hall is the former Director’s Office. This room is painted a deep red and features the wood work of Carlo Cambi of Siena. It now connects the old building to more recent additions, which include Café Joly, the Yeats exhibition and Seminar Room. The magnificent fireplace in the room is of particularly interest featuring elaborate carvings; the painting above the mantlepiece is ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ by C.H. Cook. This room balances the other side of the building, being the same size and shape as the Trustees’ Room (not currently accessible to the public) and continuing the neo-classical theme. Cambi’s work can also be observed in two (public) rooms behind the reading room counter. (Further details on Cambi can be found at*%23 )

Fireplace detail by Cambi of Siena Fireplace detail by Cambi of Siena


Ascending the main stairwell from the entrance hall, you will notice the green, black and white marble banisters. The marble was sourced primarily from Kilkenny, Cork, Mitchelstown and Galway. The staircase leads to the first landing, with rooms to the left and right. Both of these rooms maintain neoclassical characteristics, further balancing the right and left sides of the building.

The staircase leads to beautiful stained glass windows and finally wraps around to the entrance of the reading room. Images of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci grace the stained glass, intended to inspire the individual walking upwards to the reading room.

The reading room itself is D-shaped with a coffered ceiling and the light blue and green colours of the walls, which are accurate to the period in which the library was built, but not original, provide a contrast to the fine oak woodwork. Borders of white plaster depict Neoclassical geometric forms of squares, circles and octagons. The half circle of the back wall features intertwining flowers throughout its borders; the plaster frieze in the reading room is by Harrison’s and the oak screen and doorways are by William Milligan.

Reading Room from balcony Reading Room from balcony


The style of desks in the main reading room were only introduced in the 1920s and 30s; the original large desks accommodated several people at once, with chairs that featured a hat rack underneath. The microfilm room, where many of our newspapers are consulted, was originally the Ladies’ Reading Room – a facility for ladies, rather than a requirement, so that they could choose where they would like to sit.

Other interesting features to note include: the Reading Room clock by Dobbyn & Son, Dublin (still working); the plaque to Thomas W. Lyster (NLI Librarian 1895-1920) on the landing outside the reading room; the clock face in what is now the copying room (formerly the Librarian’s Office); the original wrought iron umbrella stands (unfortunately we no longer allow umbrellas in the reading room); the Victorian bookstands (supplemented/replaced by modern day books cushions (these are not pillows!); and the ‘Please Sign’ sign in the photocopying office. Photographs of the reading room from the early 20th century are also on display.

For an online 360 degree tour of the Reading Room click . For more photographs see the Library’s Flickr page at

Friendly Face at the National Library! Friendly Face at the National Library!