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Irish Film features Digital Library Images

The 2008 film, Cromwell in Ireland, also marketed as Cromwell: God’s Executioner, features numerous images, plates and maps from Villanova University’s Digital Library. In 2007, writers and researchers working on the script of the film were looking for archival images depicting individuals, locations, and events pertinent to the story of Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland in the 4 year period from 1649 and 1653, an event in which an estimated 500,000 people, one quarter of the population of Ireland, died from war, disease and starvation making this the greatest catastrophe ever to befall the country.

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After browsing through the Joseph McGarrity Collection of the Digital Library they noted several specific images that were of interest for their educational enterprise. The writers, after contacting the Digital Library staff for permission to use these images, asked for assistance in locating other images which were proving difficult to find. An extensive search of the print Joseph McGarrity Collection and the Early European Rare Book Collection found a considerable number of rare sources with plates and maps that fit the needs of the film makers. These materials were soon digitized and added to the Digital Library for use by the international film makers and for scholars studying these tragic events.

The film produced by Irish national broadcaster RTE and the UK’s History Channel aired on Irish television in September 2008 and is scheduled to be broadcast on the UK History Channel in November of this year. The film makers hope that the series will be broadcast on a North American channel such as Smithsonian Networks or the History Channel in 2009. Directed by double IFTA Award-winning director Maurice Sweeney, the cast includes a host of international stars and features commentaries by leading historians of this period of Irish history including: Micheál Ó Siochrú, John Morrill, Professor of History at University of Cambridge, Jane Ohlmeyer, Professor of History at Trinity College, Dublin, Pádraig Lenihan, Lecturer in History at University of Limerick, Nicholas Canny, Professor of History at NUI Galway, and Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at University of Bristol.

Cromwell in Ireland is presented and largely authored by Dr. Micheál Ó Siochrú, a vibrant young Irish historian who has just published a full-length study of Cromwell’s campaign in Ireland: God’s Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland. Throughout the film, he and the other historians guide the viewer through the historical narrative and action, offering challenging new insights into the war and its legacy.

The historical figures that feature most prominently in the film are: Oliver Cromwell, England’s greatest general and a Puritan deeply inimical towards the Irish Catholic Church; Henry Ireton, his second-in-command and successor; Sir Charles Coote, his uncompromising lieutenant in Ulster; Owen Roe O’Neill, Gaelic Ireland’s greatest leader; his kinsman Hugh Dubh O’Neill; and the Marquis of Ormond, the ineffectual leader of the doomed Royalist coalition.

The film consists of 2 52 minute episodes, each episode including credits featuring the contributions of Villanova University’s Digital Library.

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Poems, Songs and Pictures from the Cuala Press

The latest issue of Compass has a Blue Electrode article written by our own David Burke.

Check out the piece at:

http://newsletter.library.villanova.edu/283

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Demand Drives Digitization / Three Shafts of Death

We use a number of different strategies to increase the number of available offerings beyond those physically held at Villanova University including individual Digital Donations and contributions from Partners, like the American Catholic Historical Society. On the other hand, in selecting which materials to digitize from the Villanova University collections and the order and priority of digitization of these materials the needs of readers and researchers must be weighed heavily in calculating what and when to scan. While many scholars have a need to physically touch and manipulate a rare book or artifact to hunt out an elusive watermark or other textual evidence, others may be quite satisfied with a digital surrogate of a work. Distance can stand in the way as a hurdle to scholarship in this matter and sending rare books and manuscript materials via Interlibrary Loan presents significant difficulties in maintaining appropriate care and custody of the ofttimes fragile and monetarily valuable works. A way around this conundrum is to digitize materials that scholars request and to do so as immediately as practicable so as to provide the greatest access possible. We use demand driven digitization as a way to provide remote access to unique Villanova University materials, materials that have been collected through the years and which serve as a physical treasure chest of our collective wisdom and community heritage. Note the earlier article by Bente Polites on the Digital Library’s first request for remote access to a manuscript.

With the publication in 2007 of William Mahon’s Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in Villanova University, Pennsylvania new scholarly attention was focused on the Irish language materials held at Villanova University. Over the last year, 5 different scholars all working at colleges or universities in Ireland, have requested either entire or partial access to 7 of these manuscripts. Just a few years ago that would have meant expensive flights to Philadelphia; today we are able to provide the high level of access demanded by textual scholars by digitization at high resolution. And not only for access by one scholar, all can share in looking at these works, which can be viewed in the Digital Library Manuscript Collection.

One noteworthy requested item is the interesting Tri Biorghaoithe an Bhais or the Three Shafts of Death.

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Written in the Irish language in 1630 by Geoffrey Keating (known in the Irish tongue as Seathrún Céitinn), the manuscript copy at Villanova was scribed by Diarmuid O’Connail in 1824 and so serves as a witness to the continued literacy and written tradition of the Irish language in this period. The work itself is a series of three meditations on death. Drawing on the Fathers of the Church including St. Jerome and St. Augustine, Keating held forth that there were 3 forms of death: bodily death, spiritual death, and eternal death. In describing death eternal he provided a tour of the hell of eternal suffering.

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Last Modified: September 12, 2008