WW II Era Letter From Séan Lemass To A Cork Politician And 1960s Posters From Mallow Cinema House Acquired By National Library Of Ireland

A World War II era letter from then Minister for Supplies, Seán Lemass to a Cork politician regarding tea rations, and posters from the 1960s from the Central Cinema in Mallow are among a range of items acquired by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) during 2022 to be unveiled today (20.12.22).

The letter from Minister Lemass to TP Dowdall TD is part of the Fawsitt-Dowdall Papers. This is a selection of correspondence, photographs, personal papers, and ephemera from Cork politicians Diarmuid Fawsitt; TP Dowdall; James C Dowdall and Jennie Dowdall, and their son, Finbarr Dowdall. The material dates from 1918 to 1975. The Lemass letter offers an entertaining insight into the perennial lobbying pressures on public figures. In 1941, Minister Lemass responded wryly to Deputy TP Dowdall, who had been pleading for an increase in his tea ration: “Keeping up with your correspondence is imposing a strain on the resources of my Department. However, I feel I must write to you in reply to your representations concerning tea … If, as you say, you require four to six pints of liquid every day and won’t drink whiskey, coffee, cocoa, milk, or even water, you are going to have a problem. I fear, however, that you will have to solve this problem by yourself.

The posters from the Central Cinema in Mallow highlight the excitement and popularity of cinema-going in the 1960s, when Alec Guinness and George Segal starred in spy-thriller ‘The Quiller Memorandum’ and John Wayne, James Stewart and Debbie Reynolds could be seen in ‘How the West was Won’. The period represents the height of cinema in the social life of Ireland, just ahead of the advent of TV.

The NLI acquired more than 20,000 items in 2022. Other material collected this year includes the Stanyhurst Grant of Arms, which dates from 1554 and is the earliest known Irish grant of arms; a hand-captioned photograph album from Elizabeth ‘Lollie’ Corbet Yeats, sister of WB Yeats, and political letters.

Speaking about the new additions to the national collection during 2022, Acting Director of the NLI, Katherine McSharry said: “The job of collecting Ireland’s memory in every age, whether from the 16th century or 2022, is a year-round one for the team at the National Library of Ireland.  Tens of thousands of items – books, newspapers, photographs, letters, websites and much more – are added to the NLI’s collections and catalogued every year. Some are acquired under legal deposit – the statutory requirement for a copy of all material published in Ireland to be deposited with certain libraries including the NLI – some are donated by individuals or organisations, and some are purchases. All help us to tell the stories of Ireland.”

All the acquisitions in 2022 join the NLI’s 12 million items, including books, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, prints, drawings, maps, letters, diaries, websites and more. The NLI’s work is funded from its annual grant from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Items are in the process of being catalogued and will be available to consult next year.


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