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National Treasures

Co Author:
Bernadette Larkin

The National Neighbourhood has been keeping us busy for the past few weeks as we’ve been out and about in the South East area of Dublin with some very active students. We’ve had a flurry of activities with workshops led by writer Enda Wyley and also visual artist Yvonne Cullinan with students from Synge St CBS and St. Patrick’s Cathedral Grammar School in their schools and local cultural venues.


With artist Yvonne Cullivan the TY students from Synge Street have visited the National Archives on Bishop Street, the site of the Jacob’s Factory. Keeper Tom Quinlan showed us the original copy of the Anglo Irish Treaty on the anniversary of its signing. We felt privileged to see this and trace local landmarks on 18th maps.

Next we dashed on to see the Jacob’s exhibition in the beautiful surroundings of City Hall. Drawing on the vast Jacob Biscuit Factory Archive held at Dublin City Library and Archive, this major exhibition explores all aspects of the factory’s twentieth century history and its impact on lives of Dubliners. Colourful panels demonstrate the history of the factory, the workers, the products it produced and its role in Irish life. The students discovered the fascinating history of the Jacobs cream-cracker, who was the marketing genius to develop the concept of Jim Figgerty, and how major national and international events from World Wars to 1916 Rising impacted the business, customers, and staff.

There were also photographs of the workers enjoying the swimming pool. The boys were amazed at how young some of the workers looked – younger than them. Starving now, the boys finished at that other well-known Dublin cultural institution, Burdock’s and set off back to school with bags of steaming chips in the bright freezing day!

ArchivesWriter Enda Wyley also visited the National Gallery of Ireland with students from Synge Street and St. Patrick’s Cathedral Grammar School. The renovated building itself is so wonderful that we had to make sure to concentrate on the collections we were there to see. Enda read her poem Pygmallion inspired by Magnus Modus by Joseph Walsh beside the sculpture. Many of the boys from Synge Street picked Jack Hickey’s portrait as the winner of The Hennessy Portrait prize, the day before it was announced.

Painter James Hanley visited Synge Street school to talk about his life and work and later joined the boys as they wrote over cups of hot chocolate in Grantham’s Café around the corner, keeping up the tradition of the long line of writers who work in cafés. We are very excited about the work produced so far.

While working in St. Patrick’s CGS, we had to stop ourselves from looking out the windows – there is an amazing view from every angle, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Marsh’s Library and more. The students have begun to create words and images in response to their Dublin and their visit to The National Gallery of Ireland.Yvonne will pay her first visit to the school later this week and is looking forward to working with this group. We have heard that they are talented artists so are very excited to the images that emerge from the inspiration of the works there and the poetry from Enda.

Working with the National Archives, the National Gallery of Ireland and Dublin City Council, The National Neighbourhood in Dublin South East takes place mainly around Kevin Street, Bishop Street, Whitefriar Street, Patrick Street and Rathmines. So far it has engaged with groups that are young and old, spanning schools, students, international residents and senior citizens, and the artforms being investigated include literature, visual arts and animation. The themes and the projects are still emerging, but they’re thinking a lot about flux and stability, looking at the Dublin skyline and taking a bird’s eye view of the area.

By Bernadette Larkin, Project Manager, South East area.

Dublin’s Culture Connects aims to connect Dubliners to their city through culture and conversation. We develop activities and events that bring communities together, and to life: all based on people’s stories, wishes and experiences. It’s all about making and taking part in culture.
One of our programmes is The National Neighbourhood. We want every neighbourhood to know and ‘own’ their city’s cultural resources, so we connect artists, groups and villages with libraries, museums and creative places – including our National Cultural Institutions – to make cultural events in their communities.

Images by: Anne Maree Barry




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