The latest Special Collections display, ‘The Balloon of the Mind’: Yeats, Donnelly and Cuala Press, explores the poetry of William Butler Yeats amid the turmoil in Ireland in the early 20th century, the private press run by his sister Elizabeth, and the rich collection of modern Irish literature amassed by New Zealand journalist and author Ian Donnelly.
The display showcases choice items from the collection assembled by Donnelly (1901-1956), a newspaper journalist and editor for 35 years in Christchurch, Auckland and Timaru. Among the volumes are the Cuala Press editions of Yeats’ poetry which he purchased from Elizabeth Yeats during a ‘pilgrimage’ to Dublin in 1935,1 the poet’s influential 1928 collection, The Tower, and works by other key figures from the Irish Literary Revival.
Curated by Professor Michele Leggott, letterpress printer and MA student Makyla Curtis, and Special Collections Assistant Librarian Jo Birks, the display runs until 9 June outside Special Collections, Level G of the General Library.
1 Elder, A. & Donnelly, I. (2011). Irish pilgrimage: Ian Donnelly’s journal of 1935 visit to Dublin. Waiheke Island: A Elder.
Thank you all for the beautifully done displays. I imagine Ian Donnelly would be bemused to see that picture of him at his desk at “The Sun” office in Christchurch up there beside the picture of Yeats. Of the modern Irish literature he acquired, he valued the Yeats books most, not least because so many were so finely published by the family Cuala Press, The choice of Cuala and other books made in the display case on him seems particularly well done, I especially like the “Arable Holdings” with the Fred Higgins inscription.
I shall now be in touch with John Stacpoole, whose careful cataloguing of those Irish books led to the university’s acquisition of them in 2002.
Again: a big thank you to all concerned.
Ann Elder nee Donnelly