Pearse Street library recently hosted an interesting exhibition of materials relating to ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ author Jonathan Swift. The exhibition was opened on January 7th by Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Rebecca Moynihan.Among other valuable artefacts, the display included a first edition of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ dating from 1726, a large vellum manuscript from the same year bearing Swift’s signature, and engraved portraits of Swift made during his lifetime. The exhibition marks the 350th anniversary of the birth of the internationally renowned Dublin-born poet, author and satirist.
Swift was born in Dublin in 1667 and after early schooling in Kilkenny entered what was then Ireland’s only university, Trinity College Dublin, where he received a BA in 1686. Throughout the 1690s Swift wrote poetry, the first of those works being still widely read today: ‘The Battle Of The Books’ (written 1697; published 1704).
After a time working as secretary under diplomat Sir William Temple in Surrey, England, Swift returned to Ireland in 1700 and served as chaplain to the earl of Berkeley, one of the Lord Justices who governed Ireland in the absence of the Viceroy.
He was honoured during his lifetime with the freedom of the City of Dublin and the title of Hibernian Patriot. Swift died in 1745, at the grand age of 78, in the city where he was born. He is buried in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Widely known as a humanitarian and champion of Dublin’s poor and dispossessed, in his will Swift bequeathed twelve thousand pounds for the building of St. Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin, which was the first psychiatric hospital to be built in Ireland.
Speaking at the launch of the exhibition, Deputy Lord Mayor Rebecca Moynihan said, “I am delighted to open this exhibition, Jonathan Swift And Dublin, which is the start of the wider Dublin celebrations to mark Swift’s anniversary. I commend Dublin Public Libraries for presenting such interesting exhibits, including a first edition of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, a book which is familiar to so many of us. I encourage people to come and visit Pearse Library and learn more about Swift, the author, satirist and iconic Dubliner.”
The exhibition ran until January 31st. A smaller version of the exhibition will circulate through Dublin City Public Library branches for the rest of 2017.
By Harry Bradley