By Mark Sullivan
Irish Famine art, books from the Balkans, and extensive collections donated by former University Librarian Thomas OíConnell í50 and Prof. Emeritus John McAleer (English) highlight recent acquisitions at the Burns Library.
"Friends of the Burns Library have been very generous and sustaining in their support of the libraryís efforts to strengthen its research collections," said Burns Librarian Robert OíNeill. "These are very dynamic collections. We are not sitting on our laurels."
Soon to arrive on a two-year loan to the library is one of the few contemporary Irish oil paintings on the theme of the Great Famine. The painting, alternately titled "A Tear and a Prayer for Erin" or "An Ejectment in Ireland," is by R. G. Kelly and dates to 1848-1851. The work has been lent by Chicago real-estate developer Arthur Mourek, a Burns benefactor who previously backed the libraryís acquisition of the papers of former Burns Scholar Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill.
On display in the second-floor British Catholic Authors Room is a newly arrived bronze work by noted Irish sculptor John Coll, "Famine Burial," acquired from the George Moore Society of County Mayo, Ireland. The piece depicts a standing figure, hollowed in the middle, run through by a levitating corpse in a shroud. Viewed from the side, the sculpture has a cruciform shape, and is meant to suggest the faith of the Irish afflicted by the horrors of the Famine.
A limited-edition folio volume of James Joyceís
illustrated and signed by Henri Matisse, has been acquired with support
from a donation by Daniel Fishman of New York City, a friend of Burns Library
founding benefactor Brian Burns. The Fishman gift was made in recognition
of Brian Burnsí selection by Irish America magazine as one of the outstanding
Irish-Americans of the 20th century.
Burns Librarian Robert O'Neill (center) examines materials recently
donated to the library by former University LibrarianThomas O'Connell (left)
and Prof. Emeritus John McAleer (English). (Photo by Gary Gilbert)
Some 200 volumes from fine presses, a number of them signed first-editions, have been donated to the Burns Library by OíConnell, who served as University librarian from 1976-86. Among the books given by OíConnell are first editions of T. S. Eliotís Poems, 1909-1925 and Village Voice critic Nat Hentoffís Boston Boy.
McAleer, a longtime Burns benefactor, has given a selection of books on the New England poet Emily Dickinson, and an assortment of volumes on Bostonians and their city. The latter includes a first edition of 19th-century literary figure William Dean Howellsí 1873 work A Chance Acquaintance, with a handwritten poem by the author, "The Sarcastic Hair," tucked inside the cover.
Recent additions to the Burnsí Balkan Studies Collection include 1,500 volumes from Bulgaria, Croatia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe donated by Balkan Studies scholar Annie Newman, a colleague of Prof. Emeritus Radu Florescu (History), director of the East European Research Center of New England.
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