Deevy and the Archive

This section considers the ways Deevy’s work is shared through public and private archival holdings. There are two papers in this section: the first is from Róisín Berry and the second is a joint presentation from Dr Úna Kealy and Dr Kate McCarthy.

To join the conversation, please use the ‘Leave a reply’ section under each paper.

How do I access the recorded papers? Scroll down through the title, the presenter’s name, and abstract to the recorded paper link. Follow the instructions with regards to closed captions if you wish to switch on captions. Scroll to the end of the page to select page 2, and so forth, which will bring you to the next paper.

Paper 1

Title: In her own words: Rediscovering a forgotten Irish playwright through the Teresa Deevy archive

Róisín Berry, Archivist, Maynooth University Library

Abstract

In this paper, archivist Róisín Berry will examine the life and work of forgotten Irish playwright Teresa Deevy as captured in her own words, though her literary archive. The Teresa Deevy Archive was acquired by Maynooth University Library in 2011, ensuring its long-term preservation and use for academic research. The Archive contains letters, scripts, short stories, essays, articles, programmes and newspaper cuttings relating to Deevy’s life and work. This important material forms part of the Library’s ‘Outsider’ series, a number of collections relating to figures operating on the margins of Irish society in the twentieth century. This paper will put the archive into context by looking at Deevy’s background in more detail, including her early life in County Waterford and the development of her career as a professional playwright. There will be a special focus on the Teresa Deevy Archive, how it came to Maynooth, the fascinating documents it holds, the steps that have been taken to preserve it, and the importance of these unique documents to literary scholars both nationally and internationally. Examples will be given of some the rich and varied documents held in this fascinating collection, with extracts read aloud by the speaker to capture the very essence of one of Ireland’s most enigmatic playwrights. Attention will also be given to some of the challenges faced by the archivist when cataloguing the collection, relating particularly to privacy and access. The paper will explore how outreach activities including lectures, exhibitions, and blog posts have helped to promote the significance of the Teresa Deevy Archive to a wider audience.  It will conclude by looking at the role of digital humanities in promoting the collection in the future.

How do I access this recorded presentation?

  1. Click on the play button below. You can watch the video on this website, or click on the YouTube button on the bottom-right hand corner to watch the video on a full-size- screen.
  2. To access the captions: click on the CC button, or the subtitles icon.
  3. Press play and enjoy!

Biography

Róisín Berry has an academic background in archaeology, art history and archival studies and began her career in the heritage sector working in the areas of archaeology and building conservation. Following on from this, she began working as a professional archivist in 2002. Róisín’s work in this field has involved preserving and promoting the archives and records of banks, local authorities, universities and other academic bodies. Highlights from her archival career to date include conducting a nationwide survey of bank archives for Ulster Bank, cataloguing the Kate O’Brien Papers for the University of Limerick, her exhibition on the Roger Casement Papers while working as Clare County Archivist, working on the Dublin Unitarian Church Collection for the Royal Irish Academy, and cataloguing the Teresa Deevy Archive at Maynooth University Library. Róisín has expertise in literary archives and has worked with collections including the private papers of Teresa Deevy, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Sean O’Faolain, and Kate O’Brien. Róisín has been part of the Special Collections and Archives staff at Maynooth University Library since 2008. She is a registered member of the Association of Records and Archives Ireland, and a member of the Irish Society for Archives.

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11 replies on “Deevy and the Archive”

Oh! I loved your style of presentation! It was great and really enlivened what can sometimes be tedious snippets of archival material. I got a real sense of Deevy’s personality (through the selection of letters- and channeled wonderfully by Una!) and how truly generous of spirit and expertise Deevy was to aspiring writers.

I am really enjoying working my way through the wonderful talks- thanks so much for all the work you both put in to make this possible!

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Hi Róisín,
Thank you for archiving and cataloguing these Deevy documents, it is wonderful that they are all so well preserved and, as they are digitized, that they are so readily available. It was also wonderful to see some of the documents at the co-curated exhibition at WIT in 2016 which coincided with the beginning of my PhD journey at WIT!
It was great to listen to such a succinct overview of the varied contents of this Deevy archive; which identifies the types of documents and then offers more detailed insights into a selection of the documents. I found the description of the different drafts of Deevy’s plays and their catalogue numbers particularly helpful. I felt that your selection of correspondence brought to life Deevy’s engaging and energetic personality, as well as her interest in the work of her friends (such as Jack Yeats). It also provided a hint of the vivacious personalities of characters like Robinson (his humour) and Jack Yeats. In my focus on Deevy, huge and important figures like these sometimes become just a series of names on the page- so it was great to hear their words spoken aloud. Like you, I also find the letter, written by Deevy about herself, so interesting as she selects the moments in her life which she found significant (and doesn’t mention that she is deaf despite the huge impact this must of had on her life and writing). It is also interesting in its brevity- modestly surmising, ‘I think that is about all’…just when I was dying to hear so much more!

Dayna Killian

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Róisín, Agreeing with everything Dayna said above and adding my own thanks for a presentation that was sensitive to Deevy’s personality, to the significance of the different items within the Deevy collection and to the rich tapestry of opportunity offered by copies of multiple versions of the “same” scrips. The phrases “PP.6.98” and “PP.6.99” shouldn’t be so thrilling…..but they are! I’m planning to organise a WIT trip to Maynooth when Covid restrictions ease and H&S allow…. Thanks to all in Maynooth Libraries for being such wonderful collaborators and a special mention of thanks to our friend and former MU Special Collections Librarian, now working with the RIA, Barbara McCormack.

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Roísín – thanks for your wonderful presentation and your ongoing work with the archive. It is wonderful to hear that the collection continues to grow with the new correspondence that was secured last year. I have found the Maynooth Archive a stunning resource and I really appreciate all that you do to make it accessible. Looking forward to working more with you in the future.

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I loved this presentation, Úna and Kate! I find this research into this network of studio theatres in the 50s to be really inspiring and interesting. As you know, I am also intrigued by networks / correspondences so I think it is a super lens to bring to this material. I love how your presentation style allowed Deevy’s mentoring persona (in her relationship with Cheasty) to shine through. It is great to see that side of her and to challenge some of the stereotypes that exist about her later creative life. The material seems very rich and I can’t wait to hear how your paper develops.

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Thank you Caoilfhionn,

You know, of course, that we were guided and inspired by your work with Angus Mitchell on Vernon Lee and Alice Stopford Green and also the wonderful research undertaken by your colleague Deirdre Brady in relation to literary networks and in particularly Blanaid Selkeld.

See you on Friday and a special thanks to you for all your support for this conference from the very outset!

Una

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Thanks Úna – I was just thinking we first discussed a Teresa Deevy conference in the summer of 2017 at the MIC conference 🙂
I must flag that Deirdre Brady has a monograph on literary networks and the Irish Women Writers’ Club coming out this summer (with Liverpool UP). She has uncovered so many interesting connections, projects and events from the 40s and 50s.

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Dear Róisín, thank you for this detailed presentation and for all you have done for us in terms of providing access to the Deevy archive and the conference. I think it is so important that researchers and drama and theatre students understand, acknowledge, and appreciate the role of the archivist as a key one in Irish drama and theatre scholarship. As Dayna also comments, the way Deevy describes herself is fascinating, particularly that line about wasting much time before realising that “the best thing in the world was to be a playwright”.

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Wonderful presentation, Kate and Una! Loved your back and forth scenes of Deevy dialogue! Hope you continue to develop this, since it’s a great idea! Many thanks for such an enjoyable presentation!

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Congratulations, Roisin, on a wonderful presentation. Your organizational skills as an archivist shine throughout! How wonderful to be in on the ground floor of locating, collecting, and archiving all these materials on Deevy. I hope my own contribution will add to the archive. Look forward to meeting you someday when Covid has lifted and we can all travel again. Many thanks for an engaging exploration of the archive!

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Thank you all for these lovely comments. This last week has been such a revelation, not just in terms of the exciting and ground-breaking research being carried out, but the generosity of spirit within the Deevy community. I am really looking forward to seeing many of you in our reading room in Maynooth University Library in the coming months and years.
A special thank you to you Eileen for donating your Deevy research papers to MU Library. We are so grateful to receive them. In a letter to Jack Deevy, Sean Dunne once referred to a student from Oregon visiting Cork by the name of Eileen Kearney. He describes this visitor as ‘an enthusiastic Deevy-ite’. We owe a great deal to that enthusiasm!

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