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The Tailor and Ansty: correspondence

Mainly consists of correspondence between Kenny and a number of individuals involved in a documentary researched and presented by Colum Kenny for RTÉ television about 'The Tailor and Ansty’ (husband and wife Timothy [‘the Tailor’] and Anastasia ['Ansty'] Buckley). The Tailor and Ansty were the subjects of a book by Eric Cross about their storytelling and home in Gougane Barra, County Cork, which became a hub for notable figures of the Cork arts scene in the 1930s and 1940s such as writers Frank O'Connor and Seán Ó Faoláin, sculptor Seamus Murphy, students of the Irish language, and folklorists. The book was published in 1942 and banned soon after. The RTÉ documentary included interviews with Cross, Ó Faoláin, and the Tailor and Ansty's close friend Nancy McCarthy-Allitt, and recounted the aftermath of the banning; including an episode when the Tailor was forced by three priests to burn a copy of the Eric Cross book in his fireplace. The documentary also included dramatised accounts of debates which took place in Seanad Éireann in December 1942 following the banning of the book. The RTÉ documentary was broadcast on 31 October 1978.

Seán Lester Collection

  • IE DCUA C1
  • Collection
  • 1935-2003

The collection mainly consists of eleven diaries written by Seán Lester from 1935- 1942 when he was High Commissioner of the League of Nations in Danzig [Gdansk, Poland], then Deputy and subsequently General Secretary of the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Lester's diary entries and the numerous letters, telegrams and other documents included in the diaries give an invaluable insight into his work in the League of Nations, the momentous historical events that were taking place, and his personal thoughts and struggles during this period. The first diary opens with the following entry by Lester written in October 1935: 'So I've opened a diary at last, the odds are against a dozen entries.' In fact, Lester would go on to write hundreds of entries over the next few years, recording the background workings of the League 5 of Nations with accounts of meetings, public events, conversations with political leaders and diplomats, transcripts of telephone calls, copies of letters he sent, and many of the letters he received and pasted into the pages of the diaries. They provide an invaluable insight into some of the most significant historical events during this period, including the rise of the Nazis in Danzig, the increasing persecution of Jews, the failed attempts to appease Hitler in the run-up to war, and the eventual outbreak of the Second World War.

They also chart Lester's career in the League of Nations as it developed in tandem with these events: the increasing pressure and intimidation he faced as High Commissioner in Danzig from the Nazis as they undermined the authority of the League, his promotion in late 1936 to Deputy Secretary General in Geneva (essentially as a form of appeasement to the Nazis), and his assuming the role of Acting Secretary General of the League after Joseph Avenol left Geneva for Vichy France in 1940. The diaries also show his courage and determination to keep the League (albeit, only its basic functions) running throughout the course of the Second World War.

Details of Lester's personal life and struggles during this period are also recorded, particularly the torment and loneliness he felt being separated from his wife Elsie and three daughters Dorothy Mary, Ann and Patricia following their evacuation from Geneva to Ireland in 1940. Ireland is never far from his thoughts during the period, and the diaries feature numerous correspondence with Irish friends, accounts of brief trips home for Christmas and family holidays to Connemara in the years up to 1940, and reflections on Irish current affairs and political figures. One of the most notable entries in the diaries is Lester's extensive account of his meeting with James Joyce and his family in Geneva in December 1940. The Joyce family had fled their home in Paris the previous May and sought Lester's help in obtaining a visa for their daughter Lucia; the Nazis had refused to issue her with a visa and she remained in a mental health clinic in German-occupied France. A related letter from Joyce to Lester prior to this meeting is also included in the diaries, as is correspondence between Lester and members of the Joyce family and friends following the death of James Joyce in Zurich less than a month later.

The collection also includes a metal case in which Lester – fearing that the Nazis could invade Switzerland at any moment – placed his diaries before burying them next to a bench in the Palais des Nations, the headquarters of the League of Nations in Geneva. This may account for why the diary entries stop in 1942. Also included in the collection is an address book kept by Lester during the period of the diaries, and a television documentary about Lester written and presented by John Bowman which includes a segment on the diaries.

Lester, Seán

RTÉ television documentaries and current affairs programmes

Series relates to three RTÉ television documentaries that Colum Kenny worked on as a researcher and producer. One of the sub-series relates to a documentary titled ‘The Tailor and Ansty’, broadcast in October 1978, and includes numerous letters from Seán Ó Faoláin, Eric Cross, and Nancy McCarthy-Allitt.

The other two sub-series relate to a documentary on the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake and a Frontline television programme on the sale of old national schools in the Beara Peninsula respectively. The sub-series on the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake is currently closed for access, while part of the sub-series on the Frontline programme is currently closed.

RTÉ [Raidió Teilifís Éireann] television Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake television documentary.

Series relates to three RTÉ television documentaries that Colum Kenny worked on as a researcher and producer. One of the sub-series relates to a documentary titled ‘The Tailor and Ansty’, broadcast in October 1978, and includes numerous letters from Seán Ó Faoláin, Eric Cross, and Nancy McCarthy-Allitt.

The other two sub-series relate to a documentary on the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake and a Frontline television programme on the sale of old national schools in the Beara Peninsula respectively. The sub-series on the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake is currently closed for access, while part of the sub-series on the Frontline programme is currently closed.

Published material and memorabilia

Newspapers, magazines, postcards, flyers and other published documents mainly relating to Irish nationalism. It is possible that Kevin J Kenny worked as a commercial manager or advertising agent for some of the publications, and/or that his company, Kenny’s Press, published some of them. It is also very likely that Kevin simply collected the material in this series due to its historical significance.

Colum Kenny purchased and added some items to this series, such as item C2/1/3/13.

Promotional photographs, postcards and flyer featuring Cyril Cusack

Promotional photographs and postcards of Cyril Cusack acting in various theatre and television productions in the 1970s and 1980s. These items were enclosed with a letter from Cusack to Grave Watt [see item C2/3/3/3 (8)]. Most of the photographs and postcards include handwritten captions by Cusack on the reverse of the item.

File includes: photographs of Cusack in ‘You Never can Tell’ [Abbey Theatre production from 1978]; ‘Cry of the Innocent’ [television film from 1980]; ‘Merchant of Venice’ [?Abbey Theatre production from 1984]; ‘Carousel’ [Tivoli Theatre, Dublin from 1991]; two photographs of Cusack in unidentified productions (one appears to be a theatre production). Postcards depict Cusack in the title role of the Abbey Theatre production of ‘Hadrian VII’ in 1970 (includes caption by Cusack: ‘This speaks for itself – my papal blessing’) and as Frederick Dorrit in the film ‘Little Dorrit’ [1987].

File also includes a promotional flyer for a National Theatre production of ‘The Plough & the Stars’ featuring an image of Cusack in the role of Fluther Good [?in 1977].

Also included is an envelope [in which the items were originally contained] with handwritten annotations by Grace Watt and Colum Kenny. Watt notes: ‘My favourite – “Cry for the Innocent”. I have kept a couple – he sent me two of himself as the Pope. This was his sense of humour. He knew I was an atheist.’

Professional Life

Series mainly relates to the early part of Kevin J Kenny's career as managing director of Kenny's Advertising Agency, with numerous letters from clients relating to advertisements in various newspapers and publications. Several of these clients were leading figures of nationalist movements of the day, such as Patrick Pearse, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, Arthur Griffith, and James Creed Meredith, and later, representatives of the Second Dáil. The series (and its constituent sub-series) reflect the dramatic changes that were taking place in the Irish political landscape, with various parties from across the political and social spectrum seeking Kenny’s services in his capacity as a commercial manager. Thus, the series includes letters and notices from the aforementioned leading nationalists among others, but also British establishment figures and offices of government, such as the Admiralty, War Office and Press Committee in London.

Pro-Home Rule postcard featuring images of John Redmond and other notable Irish and British political figures.

Two copies of postcard featuring a photograph of John Redmond surrounded by a garland and two shamrocks on a green background. Above the image is printed 'Éire Saor' [Free Ireland] and below the images is written 'home rule', and also two verses in Irish entitled 'Curaí'. A tab enables one to raise the image of Redmond off the card allowing a folded strip of six photographs to drop down. The strip includes photographs of following: William E Gladstone, Charles Stewart Parnell, HH Asquith, the 'Old Irish Parliament' [Parliament Building, College Green], Joseph Devlin and John Dillon. Beneath the portraits are three verses of ‘A Nation Once Again’. Postcard printed by Valentine & Sons Limited, Dundee.

Photographs of Grace and John Watt, and 1 Herbert Terrace, Bray.

Consists of a colour photograph of Grace and John (Jack) Watt sitting on an armchair in a living room, and a colour photograph of 1 and 2 Herbert Terrace, Herbert Road, Bray, County Wicklow. A handwritten annotation on the reverse of the photograph of Herbert Terrace identifies number 1 as the house with the red door. These photographs were originally included with letters from Grace Watt to Colum Kenny [see items C2/3/3/1 (2) and C2/3/3/1 (6)].

Petition to King George V from the Protestant British-Israel League regarding 'the British mission to the Pope'

Stencil copy petition to King George V from the Protestant British-Israel League regarding Sir Henry Howard's role as the first formal British envoy to the Vatican in over 300 years. Petition warns of a conspiracy to overthrow the Protestant succession and restore a 'Roman Catholic Dynasty' in England. Also warns that the placing the Home Rule Bill on the Statute Book will make Ireland 'a base for Jesuit wirepullers and plotters in the cause of subverting Your Majesty's Throne and Authority'. Lists examples of 'manifestations of Divine displeasure' when past concessions to Rome have been made by the British government, such as the sinking of the RMS Empress of Ireland (29 May 1914) following the passing of the Home Rule Bill, and that the 'Royal assent to the Bill was followed by the sinking of the three Cruisers “Hogue, Cressy and Aboukir.”’ The petitioners are listed as Agusta Cook, President; Heywood Smith MA, MD, Vice President, and CW Burge, Honorary Treasurer.

The petition is undated, but references in the text to the '[Air] Raid' on [Great] Yarmouth and King’s Lynn, [Norfolk, UK] (19 January 1915), and Sir Henry Howard's mission to the Vatican, dates it to between 19 January 1915 and August 1916 (when Howard retired).

Personal mementoes

Personal items and mementoes relating to significant events or causes in Kevin J Kenny’s life.

Personal Life

Consists of two sub-series. The first relates to personal mementoes such as newspaper cuttings, cards and photographs relating to various events in Kevin J Kenny’s life. The second sub-series relates to the Battle of Gallipoli and includes British Army transcribed signals from the front. These signals may have been written by John Murphy, Annette Kenny’s (née Murphy) brother and Kevin J Kenny’s brother-in-law.

Original finding aid and newspaper cuttings

Series consists of the original finding aid for the collection created by Colum Kenny, and a file of newspaper cutting printouts collected by Colum Kenny.

The finding aid was included with the collection when Colum Kenny donated it to DCU Library on 23 November 2011. The pages in this finding aid relating to Colum’s work on certain RTÉ television programmes have been removed as they are currently closed for access.

The newspaper cuttings mainly relate to the careers and lives of Kevin J Kenny and Michael B Kenny, and the history of Kenny’s Advertising Agency.

Note from Roger Casement to 'the Manager' of The Nationist newspaper.

Undated note from Roger Casement to 'The Manager, The Nationist, 53 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin'. Note reads: 'Dear Sir, I should be obliged if you would now send my copy of The Nationist to the Quay, Ballycastle, Antrim, instead of to the English address hitherto given. Yours faithfully, Roger Casement.'

The note is handwritten on headed paper from Exchange Station Hotel (Lanc & York Rly), Liverpool [the address is scored out]. The Nationist, edited by Tom Kettle, was a weekly newspaper that appeared in 1905 and 1906. Kenny was the business manager of the newspaper.

Note from Major-General Aylmer Hunter-Weston CB DSO to the 29th Division of the British Army on the eve of the landings at Gallipoli, 25 April 1915.

Undated printed page which reads:

'Personal note from Major-General Aylmer Hunter-Weston, C.B., D.S.O., to each man of the 29th Division on the occasion of their first going into action together. The Major-General Commanding congratulates the division on being selected for an enterprise the success of which will have a decisive effect on the War. The eyes of the world are upon us and your deeds will live in history. To us now is given an opportunity of avenging our friends and relatives who have fallen in France and Flanders. Our comrades there willingly gave their lives in thousands and tens of thousands for our King and Country, and by their glorious courage and dogged tenacity they defeated the invaders and broke the German offensive. We must also be prepared to suffer hardships, privations, thirst, and heavy losses, by bullets, by shells, by mines, by drowning. But if each man feels, as is true, that on him individually, however small or however great his task, rests the success or failure of the expedition, and therefore the honour of the empire and the welfare of his own folk at home, we are certain to win through to a glorious victory. In Nelson’s time it was England, now it is the whole British Empire, which expects each man of us will do his duty. A. H-W.' Major-General Aylmer Hunter-Weston was commander of the British 29th Division on the Gallipoli peninsula in April 1915. 'Keep this and never loose [sic] it' is written in pencil underneath Hunter-Weston's message. Another lightly written and mostly illegible note in pencil is also visible on the reverse of the page.

Note discussing the proposed cessation of Civil War hostilities

Stencil copy of typed single page. Lists conditions upon which a cessation of hostilities may occur. One of the conditions includes the '[d]eclaration of [Éamon] De Valera and [WT] Cosgrove [sic] that unless requested by two-thirds of new Parliament neither will accept office of head of State.'

Newspaper cutting from the Evening Herald concerning a campaign to make St Patrick's Day a national holiday.

Newspaper cutting includes a report of a meeting of the National Holiday Committee campaigning for St Patrick’s Day to be made a national holiday. Those reported as present included Kevin J Kenny. Cutting also includes letter received from Archbishop of Dublin, William J Walsh in support of the campaign.

Michael B Kenny

Sub-fonds consists of a few items relating to Michael B Kenny’s career in advertising. These include a brief history of the Kenny’s Advertising Agency written by Michael, and two photographs: one of the Council of the Advertising/Press Club in 1956 or 1957, and the other of the Kenny’s Advertising Agency premises at Lower Baggot Street, Dublin. Sub-fonds also includes a short biography of Michael [?written by his son Colum Kenny].

Kenny, Michael

Metal case container

Fearing that the Germans would invade Switzerland during the Second World War, Lester buried his diaries in this metal case next to a bench in the Palais des Nations in Geneva. This is likely why the diary entries stop in 1942.

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