Thomas Moore was made an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy in 1846 and after his death in 1852 his wife donated approximately 1,200 items from his personal library to the Academy. Moore’s Library, which is stored in the Council Room at Academy House, contains eighteenth- and nineteenth-century texts in English, French and Italian. Its contents include works by Shakespeare and Voltaire, titles on oriental and eastern cultures and traditions, and books about Irish history and politics. Moore was an accomplished scholar and thorough researcher as evidenced by the extensive library he acquired. His researching skills and attention to detail are also evidenced by the presence of numerous footnotes throughout the Irish Melodies, National Airs and printed text for Lalla Rookh. Titles on oriental customs and cultures extant in Moore’s Library no doubt provided the poet-songwriter with the knowledge required to write his epic oriental poem. The following quotation, which provides a definition for the word Lalla, is taken from Bibliothèque orientale: où dictionnaire universel, contenant tout ce qui fait connoître les peuples de l’Orient by Barthélemy d’Herbelot (page 143).
“Laleh Ce mot, dont les Persans & les Turcs se servant pour signifier une tulipe, est chez eux le symbole d’un Amant passioné, à cause que cette fleur a ordinairement se feuilles rouges, & qu’elle est marquée au fonds d’une noirceur, qui a quelque ressemblance à la marque que laisse l’application ou l’impression d’un bouton de feu. Ainsi, disent-ils, l’Amant à le feu sur le visage, & la blessure dans le coeur. Laleh Deschti & Lalech Gouhi. Tulipe de campagne & de montagne, c’est-á-dire, sauvage & non cultivée. Les Persans appellent ainsi les anémones, que les Arabes nomment Schacaik al Noôman, à cause que ce fut Noôman, Roi d’Arabie, qui les transporta le premier de la campagne dans ses jardins.”
Image Courtesy of Special Collections, McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast
Cover, Lalla Rookh: an oriental romance, illustrated by John Tenniel
During the month of June I spent 2 days researching at the Royal Irish Academy Library (RIA), which is located at Academy House, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. With Grafton Street, Trinity College and several busy cafés located close-by, the RIA Library provides a research haven in the heart of Dublin city. The unique reading room, which dates from the early 1850s, seats 10 readers. As suggested in previous posts, it’s best to make contact with a librarian by email in advance of your visit to help ensure you can access all the material you require. A reader’s ticket costs €15 and information about visiting the library is available online (see the link below). Bags and coats are not allowed in the reading room, lockers for storing personal belongings are available and are located downstairs. The library staff are very friendly and helpful and wifi is available onsite.
Academy House, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin
I examined and catalogued ten music sources of relevance to ERIN; eight nineteenth-century editions of the Irish Melodies and two nineteenth-century editions of the National Airs. These sources were donated to, or purchased by, the library. Several volumes bear the name(s) of former owners and all volumes are beautifully bound and in very good condition.
Since its foundation in 1785 The Royal Irish Academy has had many distinguished honorary members including Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Thomas Moore. Moore’s association with the Academy dates back to 1846 when he was made an honorary member. A number of tributes to the poet-songwriter are displayed in Academy House including a portrait and bust of the poet, both of which are displayed in the Council Room, located on the right as you enter the building. Also stored in the Council Room are the contents of Moore’s Library; access may be limited so check in advance that you can access material on the day you plan to visit. My next blogpost will provide an overview of Moore’s Library and some of its contents.