Sixty Years of the Cuala Press:
A Collaboration of the Yeats Family and Mollie Gill
October 2008 - March 2009
The exhibit Sixty Years of the Cuala Press examines the contributions of the Yeats family, the Cuala Press, and Mollie Gill to the Irish struggle for a distinct cultural and political identity from the beginning of the twentieth century until the 1970s.
» View slideshow (from Boston College Magazine)
Sixty Years of the Cuala Press features the Cuala Press Printed Materials Collection, also known as the Mollie (or Máire in Irish) Gill Cuala Press Archives. "Cuala," pronounced COOL-a, is an early name for Dublin. The Cuala Press (originally the Dun Emer Press) was founded by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats in 1908 in Dublin, Ireland. As Liam Miller says in his history of the Cuala Press, the Cuala Press "published living Irish writers at a critical time in the development of modern Irish culture" (The Dun Emer Press, Later the Cuala Press, 1973, p. 11). Although Elizabeth Corbet Yeats died in 1940, two of her loyal assistants - along with her sister-in-law, Mrs. Georgina Yeats - kept the press running until 1946.
Mollie Gill was one of these assistants, and it is her archives that are the focus of this exhibition. Gill started working for Cuala Press in 1908 as an assistant to Elizabeth "Lolly" Yeats, and she soon became principal compositor. Gill was also an active participant in the Irish Republican movement. She was a charter member of Cumann na mBann, or League of Women, and an athlete who served as President of Cumann Camógaíocht na nGael, the Camogie ruling body, for eighteen years.
This wonderful collection was carefully maintained by Mollie Gill and later by Loretta Clarke Murray of Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland, who made the collection available to Boston College. The Gill Archives contains Cuala Press books with Gill's name printed in the colophon, as well as Cuala Press Christmas cards, Easter cards, hand-colored prints, calendars, frontispieces, broadsides, bookplates, proof copies and Christmas booklets. Jack B. Yeats illustrated many of these items, but the collection also includes illustrations by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats, Ann Price, Mrs. Jack B. Yeats, Lady Glenavy, and Emma Duffin. In addition, the Gill Archives has Gill’s manuscript catalog of the Cuala Press publications.
The exhibit is supplemented by materials from the Burns Library’s outstanding collection of Yeats materials, including W. B. Yeats’s original poetical notebooks, letters from W. B. Yeats to his sisters "Lily" (Susan Mary Yeats) and "Lolly" (Elizabeth Corbet Yeats) and correspondence relating to the Cuala Press by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats.
Photo: Silver Apples, a Christmas card, from the Mollie Gill Cuala Press Archives, John J. Burns Library, Boston College. Photograph by Gary Wayne Gilbert.