Presentation to National University of Ireland, Galway of the Shields Family Arc

Sep 30 2004 Posted: 00:00 IST

- giving students greater insight into Arthur Shields and his contribution to the Irish Cultural Revival and Abbey Theatre- Collection includes:

  • Unpublished letters of Yeats, Lady Gregory and O'Casey
  • Rare first editions of books signed by the authors, including Pomes Penyeach (the 1927 Paris edition) by James Joyce
  • Collection of Abbey plays from the 1920s onwards
The National University of Ireland, Galway is delighted today (Thursday 30th September) to announce the gift to the Library and the University of the papers of the late Abbey actor Arthur Shields and those of the Shields Family (Barry Fitzgerald was a brother of Arthur Shields). The collection was presented to the President of the University, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, by Arthur Shields' daughter Christine Shields, at an event hosted in the James Hardiman Library.

This extensive archive which includes posters, programmes, and playscripts - including annotated directors' playscripts of many Abbey productions from the 1920s and 1930s and material relating to the administration of those tours: press cuttings, photographs, correspondence, and financial accounts, will complement the Library's existing theatre archives.

Commenting on the donation, The President of NUI Galway, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, said: "Outside of the Abbey itself and the National Library, this archive is the strongest collection relating to the Abbey and will be of enormous benefit to the study of twentieth century Irish theatre in the University. This donation will give our students greater insight into the work and contribution of Arthur Shields. We are committed to the advancement of Film and Theatre Studies at this University and the growth of our theatre archive along with the progress of the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, demonstrates this commitment."

Marie Reddan, Librarian at the James Hardiman Library added, "We are honoured to receive this outstanding donation which will enhance our Library's existing theatre archives which include those of Druid, Macnas, An Taibhdhearc, Galway Arts Festival, The O'Malley Lyric Theatre Belfast and also the John McGahern literary archive."

The collection also comes with Arthur Shields' book collection, which includes many of the Abbey plays from the twenties onwards. Shields was from his youth, committed to the Irish cultural revival (he was one of the last fighters to remain in the GPO in Easter 1916), and he acquired a very complete library of Irish poems, plays, and stories of the period. This collection includes rare first editions with copies signed by the authors, such as a copy of Pomes Penyeach (the 1927 Paris edition) by James Joyce.

The bequest resulted from the enthusiasm of Dr Adrian Frazier of the Department of English at National University of Ireland, Galway who in his research on Irish actors in Hollywood in the 30s and 40s, (when Arthur Shields managed Abbey tours to America), became aware of the papers which were in the possession of Arthur Shields' daughter Christine, who lives in Oakland, California. Aware of Christine's desire to see the collection located in Ireland, Frazier signalled the particular interest of the National University of Ireland, Galway and in a relatively short time, the collection was donated to the University.



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