NUI Galway Acquires Rare Archive of Writer Thomas Kilroy

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

From the Ireland of the 1960s arose a generation of writers that created a cultural revival that compares with, and perhaps exceeds, the 'Irish Renaissance' of the early 1900s. This second flowering contributed to Ireland's current reputation as a uniquely creative nation. The papers of all its major creators are in public archives, bar one - those of Thomas Kilroy. To mark the acquisition of the Thomas Kilroy Archive by the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway, a public interview with one of Ireland's most important living writers was held on campus earlier today. Thomas Kilroy is world-renowned both as a dramatist and as a novelist. His novel, The Big Chapel (1971), received a Booker Prize nomination, and his plays include The Death and Resurrection of Mr. Roche (1968), Double Cross (1986), The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde (1997) and Christ Deliver Us! (2010). The Archive contains research notes, drafts and scripts of his novels and of his plays. All creative work is complemented by correspondence from agents, theatre practitioners, publishers, and members of the public, as well as production material from the stage plays. The Archive contains a collection of correspondence from literary friends and associates, as well as Kilroy's own private correspondence with other members of The Field Day Theatre Company. There are also papers relating to the Abbey Theatre of which Kilroy is a longstanding board member. The Archive complements other purely literary Archives at the Library, such as the John McGahern and Eoghan Ó Tuairisc Collections, as well as theatre Archives pertaining to the Druid Theatre, the Lyric Players' Theatre, and Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe. A live stream of the public interview was relayed to students of the Drama Department of Queen's University Belfast and will be made available as a podcast on the School of Humanities website (http://www.nuigalway.ie/humanities/). NUI Galway's Professor Adrian Frazier, who conducted the public interview, says it was a great opportunity to delve into the mind of one of Ireland's greatest contemporary authors. In congratulating the Library on this acquisition, Frazier remarked that "the Kilroy Archive was the last remaining unhoused treasure of a great generation of writers. It will be a mine of scholarly inquiry for many years to come". Dr. Lionel Pilkington, Chairperson of the University's Archives Group and Head of the School of Humanities, added that "The distinctiveness of Kilroy's papers relates to their scope in time and achievement (a writing career from late 1950s to the present), their range in terms of the material involved (drafts of plays, essays, early versions of published canonical plays) and extensive correspondences and the detail and depth of the material contained in the Archive." University Librarian John Cox, adds; "I can see us welcoming scholars from all over the world to the Library at NUI Galway in order to consult this magnificent archive. Its cataloguing is well advanced and it will be open to researchers from August this year." In welcoming the announcement, NUI Galway President Dr James J. Browne said: "We celebrate today the accomplished writings of Thomas Kilroy and we acknowledge with pride our longstanding relationship with the writer, who was Professor of English here for a period in the late 1980s. As a University we also celebrate the benefit to literary scholarship in the humanities which having these papers in the James Hardiman Library will bring. As a research-focused institution, NUI Galway is constantly striving to support scholars and to build centres of research excellence in specific disciplines. We are fortunate to have enjoyed considerable success in recent years. The Thomas Kilroy Archive will become an incredibly significant attraction to many such international scholars, making Galway a world-leading centre of literary research and study. We look forward to the many new research possibilities that have been made possible as a result of this acquisition." An exhibition of a selection of materials will be on display in the James Hardiman Library and will be open to the public from Wednesday, 23 March to Sunday, 27 March inclusive. The James Hardiman Library is open until 10 pm Monday to Friday, and until 5.30pm at weekends. Admission to the exhibition is free.
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