BURNING BOOKS, JUNE 1922:
THE DESTRUCTION AND RECREATION OF THE IRISH PARLIAMENTARY BOOKBINDINGS
In the last decade of the nineteenth century, the book collector and amateur book binder Sir Edward Sullivan was shown a collection of 149 large volumes in exquisite bindings that had been stored, unnoticed, over many years in the Public Records Office in Dublin. They were in fact the Journals of the Houses of Lords and Commons of the old Irish Parliament that ceased to exist after the 1800 Act of Union. Fortunately, Sullivan made rubbings of all 149 volumes, now held by the National Library of Ireland, as the Public Records Office was destroyed by an explosion and all of the magnificent bindings perished in the flames at the onset of the Irish Civil War, in 1922.
In 1990 Philip Maddock, a book collector, inspired by the images displayed in Maurice Craig’s work Irish Book Bindings, 1600–1800, started to build up a visual database of Irish hand tools based on scans of original bindings with a view to making a digital reproduction of one of the lost Irish Parliamentary Journals. The first attempt, Commons Journal 1757, was very pretty but it was not a book. With the help of book binder Trevor Lloyd, Maddock embarked on the major project of reproducing fifteen of the Irish Parliamentary Journals, based on Sullivan’s work. Fourteen of these wonderful volumes are on display in this exhibition along with the finishing tools specially commissioned for the project, as well as examples of eighteenth-century Irish bindings and some of the printed editions of the Lords and Commons Journals in presentation bindings.