A history of Ireland in 100 objects by Fintan O'Toole

By Fintan O'Toole

Items do not simply have tales, they inform tales. yet what they stated to their contemporaries might be diversified from what they are saying to us. even if it is a silver tea urn from Georgian Dublin or an illuminated web page from the publication of Kells, those gadgets support us achieve a extra advanced realizing of our prior. over the last years Fintan O'Toole has selected a hundred items, the vast majority of which are present in the National Read more...

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The Irish instances literary editor Fintan O'Toole selects a hundred gadgets to relate a background of Ireland. Read more...

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Objects do not just have stories, they tell stories. What they said to their contemporaries may, however, be very different from what they now say to us. For this very reason, historians would tend to be sceptical of the very idea of a history of Ireland in 100 objects. History is based above all on documents—the written word reveals not just actions but intentions. Texts open up contexts. Mere objects, on the other hand, are seldom eloquent in themselves. The fish trap with which we start our selection, for example, is an amazing thing—but only if someone tells you what it is and how extraordinary is its survival.

Emigrant’s teapot, late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century 83. William Smith O’Brien gold cup, 1854 84. Parnell silver casket, 1884 85. Carlow Cathedral pulpit, 1899 86. Youghal Lace collar, 1906 87. GAA medal, 1887 88. Reclining Buddha, late-nineteenth century 89. Titanic launch ticket, 1911 90. Lamp from River Clyde, 1915 91. James Connolly’s shirt, 1916 92. Rejected coin design, 1927 93. Boyne corracle, 1928 94. Eileen Gray chair, 1926 95. Emigrant’s suitcase, 1950s 96. Washing machine, 1950s 97.

For this very reason, historians would tend to be sceptical of the very idea of a history of Ireland in 100 objects. History is based above all on documents—the written word reveals not just actions but intentions. Texts open up contexts. Mere objects, on the other hand, are seldom eloquent in themselves. The fish trap with which we start our selection, for example, is an amazing thing—but only if someone tells you what it is and how extraordinary is its survival. On its own, it looks like a bunch of sticks stuck in a slab of turf.

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