Monday 2 March 2015

More magic lanterns make C of I archive of the month further set of lantern slides (created by a forerunner of the modern slide projector) was recently recovered from St Patrick's Deanery in Dublin and is the focus for March’s online Archive of the Month from the Representative Church Body Library (RCBL).

The magic lanterns in this collection were originally used during the Church of Ireland’s commemoration of the 1500th anniversary of St Patrick’s coming to Ireland, in 1932.

They accompanied three 'lantern lectures' which aimed to visually connect members of the Church with its Celtic past and origins in the early Irish Church, and also to remind audiences of the spirit in which St Patrick had come to Ireland in the 5th century, to celebrate the ‘missionary tradition of the Irish Church’.

In various promotional literature produced for the commemorative year, it was advertised that interested parishes and church groups could hire one or all three of the relevant slide sets, at a cost 10s.6d each, which were posted out free, together with the typed copy of each lecture.

The materials uncovered in St Patrick’s Deanery appear to be some of the boxed slide sets, together with the relevant texts of each of the three lectures themselves, as they were distributed for use in parishes around the country. Just like a modern day Powerpoint, numbers or references in the text indicate where different slides were to be shown.

Judging from the number of stamps and other distribution marks on the boxes in which they were contained (and stamps on the lecture texts themselves), the slide and lecture sets were widely posted, indicating how popular the St Patrick’s series became during, and presumably after, the commemoration year.

For whatever reason, the complete collection ended up in St Patrick’s after 1932. As the national cathedral, dedicated to the patron saint, it was probably not the most unlikely location for such a collection. From here they were transferred to the safe-keeping of the Church of Ireland record office in the RCB Library, where they have been listed and catalogued.

A selection of images, together with the digitized texts of the three commemorative lectures, are now available to view in the RCBL's free online Archive. Click link above.